Scope and arrangement
The collection is divided into four series: Central Office, City Projects, Organizations and Subject Files, and spans across all series from 1962 to 1966.
The Northern Student Movement records are arranged in six series:
Series provides an overview of the organization as a whole, its leadership structure, its activities and inner working, the thinking of its cadres, and its funding mechanisms. It is divided into 14 subseries or clusters, some more sizable or substantive than others. The Organization files documents the group's ongoing efforts to revise its goals and programs, including attempts to reassess the role of whites in the civil rights movement. The Board of Advisors and Sponsors consisted for the most part of clergymen, foundation executives and representative African-Americans like Bayard Rustin, Anna Hedgeman and John Conyers. The Correspondence deals with attendance at meetings, new memberships, funding needs and NSM's shift in orientation. The Congress files are mostly minutes and agendas for meetings, with some staff assessments for 1964. The Executive Committee subseries includes correspondence files for key members like Countryman, Tom Gilhool, Peter Morrill, Daniel Schechter and Charyn Sutton, in addition to circular letters to city projects, minutes, reports and tax exemption materials.
Freedom North, NSM's monthly magazine, ran irregularly from October 1964 to June 1966. It replaced an earlier newsletter, NSM News. Included are draft articles, the layout for several issues and some correspondence. Also included under Other Publications are copies of the group's internal newsletter, The Organizer, materials for a revised brochure, press releases and a file entitled "Complaint against Police" (1965). The Conference files are mostly correspondence and background papers. Two fairly well documented conferences are the October 1964 "Crisis in Black and White" conference, also referred to as NSM's Fourth Annual Intercollegiate Conference, and the May 1966 Afro Student Conference held at Rev. Paul Washington's Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia. Activities in this series refer primarily to a summer of 1964 Adult Literacy Project organized jointly with SNCC and the National Student Association, and to a 1964 Research and Training Institute for staff led by Chuck Turner. Correspondence in the latter file includes Jack Minnis, Tom Hayden and Stanley Aronowitz.
Included under Reports are materials of the National Committee for Free Elections in Sunflower County in rural Mississippi, reports of the Southern Regional Council's Voter Education Project, and NSM reports for 1964 and 1965. The Staff files consist of minutes of selected NSM meetings, and research and training materials. Two Tutorial folders in this series are compilations of training materials for tutors and information on how to set up a tutorial project. The Foundations subseries consists for the most part of funding appeals, correspondence and proposals to philanthropic organizations; it highlights the drying up of funds with NSM's turn to black nationalism in 1965.
Series is divided into five subseries: Philadelphia, Boston, Harlem, Detroit and Hartford, with each subseries further dividing into tutorial and community action projects. The series ends with single folders of material for the Baltimore, Chicago, Newark and Morristown, N.J. summer projects. The files for the Philadelphia Tutorial Project (PTP) in the Philadelphia subseries include by-laws, correspondence between NSM's Central Office (Countryman followed by Strickland) and the PTP director (Tim Parsons followed by Thurman Harrison), correspondence and biographical data from prospective tutors, prospectuses and reports, training material for tutors and printed matter. The NSM Freedom Library in Philadelphia is documented with a small group of correspondence between its founder, John Churchville, and Strickland; a prospectus, a 1965 report, and copies of the Library's newsletter; and a sampling of material from the Library's community action projects, including leadership training for youth and an intra-city cooperative venture.
In Boston, tutorials and community action evolved around the same time. The Boston NSM correspondence in the early part of 1962 was concerned with fund raising activities on SNCC's behalf. The tutorial project gained momentum in 1963, at the same time that the organization was raising funds and laying the ground work for more effective community organizing. Non-tutorial activities included a school stay-out to protest segregation in Boston's public schools, a voter registration campaign led by Byron Rushing, and a student-led effort to pressure the Welfare Department to hire welfare recipients to work on food surplus distribution. The Boston NSM files show an overall concern with staff evaluations, group performance and internal reports regarding the failure of the Boston Action Group to gain traction in the Black community in Roxbury.
New York. The Harlem Education Project's programs are documented with reports, fact sheets and a detailed prospectus for 1963-1964. Some early correspondence (1962) addressed the difficulties of a racially mixed community group operating in the intensely nationalistic Harlem of that period. The Harlem Action Group files deal with rent strikes and housing issues, the preschool program run by Dorothy Stoneman, and cursorily with adult literacy, consumer education, a park project in the St. Nicholas public housing complex, and a stay-out of school campaign organized in 1964.
The Detroit files are quite substantive and revolve around Frank Joyce, Detroit NSM coordinator and chairman of the NSM Congress in 1964-1965. The correspondence relates to staff matters, funding, NSM's activities, change of orientation and relationship with other civil rights and New Left organizations, and ACME's mobilization against police brutality. Materials of the Detroit Education project include reports, prospectuses and other data on the mechanics of the tutorial program, as well as copies of a tutee newsletter and newspaper clippings. The ACME files involve Joyce and group members Alvin Harrison and Wilbert McClendon, and deal with issues of police violence, a 1965 Michigan Summer Project against discrimination in housing, education and employment, and the launching of the Afro-American Youth Movement.
The Hartford NSM files consist of correspondence between Peter Morrill and later Chuck Turner, on the one hand, and Peter Countryman and later William Strickland, on the other, project reports, publicity and by-laws of the North End Community Action Project (NECAP), training materials for tutors, housing factsheets, and newspaper clippings on selective patronage as well as NECAP's demise at the beginning of 1966. Other city project files provide glimpses of Baltimore's successful tutorial program known as the Baltimore Area Youth Opportunities Unlimited (BAYOU), Chicago's Student Woodlawn Area Project (SWAP), and the Morris County Citizenship Project in Morristown, New Jersey.
Begins with an A-Z file of letters between the Central Office in New York, and contacts and campus affiliates at colleges and universities, including at some black colleges in the South. The focus was on organizing black students, participation at various conferences, NSM's turn to Black Nationalism, and tangentially on Black Power and draft resistance. Correspondents included Sam Anderson, Lincoln University student and author of a paper, "Afro-Americans and the White Radical Left" (March 1966), and Herbert Flamer, A and T College of North Carolina student and former SNCC field secretary. Charyn Sutton, NSM communication director, is the main correspondent in these files.
The bulk of the correspondence is filed chronologically, from 1962 to 1966, with a few name files at the end for significant correspondents like Tom Kahn and Robert Spike among others. The emphasis throughout 1962 and 1963 was on developing new tutorial projects and new NSM chapters, raising funds from campus affiliates for SNCC and NSM projects, and organizing student conferences. Peter Countryman and Sharon Jeffrey, campus coordinator and later research director, are the main correspondents in these files. Countryman wrote freely about his personal life, frustrations and politics. His May 18, 1963 letter to SDS field secretary Tom Hayden brought out some of the personal dynamics and philosophical differences between NSM and SDS. Another letter from SDS organizer Rennie Davis to Jeffrey adds a touch to the interpersonal relations between the two groups. While the two groups followed a similar trajectory until 1965, especially in their relationship with SNCC and the civil rights movement, NSM was more pragmatic and reform-oriented. Many NSM white cadres joined SDS after NSM's turn to Black Nationalism.
Samuel Leiken, the new campus coordinator after NSM's fall 1963 reorganization, handled the bulk of the correspondence throughout 1964, with occasional input from Strickland, Jeffrey, and Field Secretaries Julian Houston and Daniel Schechter. In addition to the many requests from college campuses across the Northeast for speakers and literature on tutorials, topics of substance discussed in 1964 included recruiting volunteers for the Freedom Summer project in Mississippi, the seating of the Mississippi Freedom Delegation at the Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City, and a Thanksgiving Fast for Freedom on November 19. In discussing the group's new attitude toward campus organizing, Leiken remarked that it was part of NSM's task "to make the student aware of the real issues rather than be guided by his misinterpretations", and called on students "to make a lifetime commitment to a 'radical vocation'ô.
With the shift away from tutorials in 1965 and the demise of the Harlem Action Group, the Central Office staff in New York devoted much of its energy to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party's challenge to unseat the all-white Mississippi congressional delegation and to its new publication Freedom North. Correspondents include Donald W. Jackson, former SDS member and Executive Director of the all-black New Independent Committee for Jobs, Homes and Schools, in Chester, Pennsylvania, whose advice to white SDS members in the black ghetto was: "Pack the hell up. Get out. Go to work in your own communities...." [See: The People of this Generation: the Rise and Fall of the New Left in Philadelphia by Paul Lyons, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, p.49] In a March 1965 reply to Jackson, Strickland writes of his conviction that "the movement for black unity is the only hope for this country". The white staff remained in place, however, through the beginning of 1966. A sequence of letters to and from Frank Joyce, from mid-September to early October 1965, including a letter to the Detroit Committee to End the War in Vietnam (published in Freedom North as "A Letter to the New Left"), highlights some of the issues involved in the black-white split. By the spring of 1966 NSM is no longer involved in independent community work, Freedom North's publication becomes irregular, but efforts to organize black students around the theme of black unity gained momentum.
This series consists of correspondence and documents of related organizations, the most significant of which are highlighted here. Bill Strickland was a member of the advisory board of the African-American Institute, a group that promoted better understanding between Africans and Americans; its file includes reports, the group's Constitution and Bylaws. The file Americans for Democratic Action has some correspondence with the national chairman of its campus division, Harry Wachtel. Associated Community Teams was a national umbrella of grassroots organizations; included are surveys, reports and other documents of its Harlem chapter, including the minutes of an April 1964 meeting with Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Dick Gregory and housing Activist Jesse Gray. The Citizens' Crusade Against Poverty was launched in 1964 by Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers union. NSM raised funds and recruited volunteers for the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project organized by the Council of Federated Organizations, whose file consists of training material, summaries of incidents, correspondence, and a report written by Daniel Schechter. The East Harlem Block Development Project was organized in 1963 by a young civil rights activist, Jo Adler, who reportedly killed herself in 1970; included here are correspondence, reports and materials of the East Harlem Project and the East Harlem Action Committee.
The Lowndes County Freedom Party file includes an exchange of letters between Strickland and Jack Minnis, SNCC's research director, about the need for independent black political organizations (1966). Strickland was the representative of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in New York State. Included here are MFDP press releases, reports, affidavits, declarations and organizing materials, in addition to documents of the New York Ad Hoc Committee for MFDP which lobbied the New York Congressional delegation for support of NY Congressman William F. Ryan's resolution in favor of sitting the MFDP delegation in lieu of the five white Mississippi representatives. The file of the National Council of Churches consists of reports, printed matter and minutes of its Commission on Religion and Race chaired by Robert Spike; Strickland was a member of the Commission. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People file relates to NAACP work in the South, whereas the National Urban League folder contains correspondence with Whitney Young and the League's Youth and Community branch. Materials of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference relate to nonviolence in opposition to Black Power, a Don't Buy campaign against the Hammermill Paper Company and SCLC's 1965 Summer Community Organization and Political Action campaign (SCOPE). Other organizations represented in the collection include the New Independent Committee for Jobs, Schools and Homes, a civil rights initiative in Chester, Pennsylvania, launched by Donald W. Jackson; the National Conference for New Politics, chaired by Julian Bond; and the Poor People's Corporation that provided technical and financial assistance to self-help groups in Mississippi.
The Student Christian Movement in New England ushered NSM into existence at its 1961 summer conference and served as NSM's fiscal sponsor. Included are correspondence between Countryman and SCM's Samuel Slie regarding Christian responsibility and the role of white students in particular toward racism and social action, and SCM documents on interracial relations. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) files in this collection include correspondence, declarations, fact sheets, field reports, emergency bulletins and printed matter, and pertain to attendance at conferences, the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, police repression against SNCC workers, and NSM's activities in Philadelphia in 1966. Files of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) include correspondence about NSM and SDS relations, and the 1965 March on Washington to End the War in Vietnam; a copy of the Port Huron Statement; various declarations and discussion papers by SDS leaders Tom Hayden and Alan Haber; newsletters, press releases and other SDS publications; and compilations of articles and occasional letters by Paul Potter, Todd Gitlin, Rennie (Rennard) Davis, Jane Adams, Clark Kissinger and Jack Minnis. The SDS National Council voted a resolution in June 1966 to set up fraternal relations with NSM in recognition that the two groups were moving in "similar directions". Other student organizations represented in the collection include the National Students Association, the Southern Student Organizing Committee, the United Southern Christian Fellowship at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, NC, and the Western Student Movement.
This series groups a broad range of materials on subjects of interest to the organization, including education, civil rights, social change, housing and urban renewal, and community organizing. The Alabama file documents some aspects of SNCC's organizing efforts in Selma and Montgomery in 1965, including attempts to build a Freedom Democratic Party structure in Alabama. The Rent Strike file, under Housing, complements similar materials in the Harlem Action Group subseries. The Milwaukee Summer Study Program was a local Urban League tutorial project. Mobilization for Youth was an inter-agency program in New York City to combat juvenile delinquency. The Police Brutality file is about events that happened in New York. The "Triple Revolution" was an appeal to President Johnson by an Ad-Hoc Committee warning against the dangers of cybernation and war. The Vietnam file is a compilation of anti-war and anti-draft material, including some correspondence, manuscripts and documents relating to draft objector David Mitchell and the End-the-Draft Committee. The Woodlawn Urban Renewal folder includes materials by and about Saul Alinsky.