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Guide to the Vassar College 1969 Black Studies Sit-in Records, 1966-1974

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Collection Summary

Repository: Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries
Creator: Vassar College. Africana Studies Program.
Title: Guide to the Vassar College 1969 Black Studies Sit-in Records
Dates: 1966-1974
Quantity: 0.9 cubic ft. (4 boxes)
Abstract: Materials related to the early years of the Vassar College Black Studies Program and the student sit-in staged in 1969 for improvements to the program along with other demands relating to the African-American community both on campus and off.
Forms of Materials: Correspondence, reports, clippings

Administrative History

Vassar's College's Black Studies Program was established in 1969 along with similar programs at colleges and universities across the country. With recommendations and urging from the Students' Afro-American Society (SAS), a multidisciplinary program in black studies was approved in February, 1969. The Urban Black Studies Center was also established and opened off-campus that year to provided educational opportunities for Poughkeepsie residents. Nevertheless, both initiatives were considered experimental and not assured of permanent funding.

On October 22, 1969, the SAS presented the College's administration a list of demands related to the Black Studies Program, the Urban Center, and student services, particularly contiguous housing for African-American students. Dissatisfied with the administration's response, 32-35 students occupied the first floor of the Main Building on October 30. They remained until November 1, when the College and Trustees (confirm in documents) agreed to most of the protestors demands. The occupation drew substantial national publicity. The Catlin Report, formally the report of the Joint Ad-Hoc Committee on the Education of Minority Students, recommended increasing the number of black students, faculty, staff, administration and trustees, a larger proportion of financial aid to black students, a commitment to black studies concentration equal to others in the Vassar curriculum, a commitment to the Urban Center as part of the academic Black studies program, separate housing as an option available to black students (but no dormitory assigned exclusively to black students for legal reasons), and a cultural center for black students. The Board of Trustees approved the report in December, 1970.

Now the Africana Studies Program, the program is the oldest of Vassar's multi-disciplinary programs.

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Scope and Content Note

The records document the creation of the Urban Center for Black/Africana Studies, beginning in 1968. Included are faculty, trustee, administration, and student reports and correspondence documenting the establishment and early growth of the program. Also included are student handouts, administrative correspondence and reports, and press clippings recording the extensive coverage of the 1969 occupation of Main, which played a significant role in the program's development. Records of the Urban Center and material related to its activities within the Poughkeepsie community are included. Correspondence also records fund-raising efforts for the projects.

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This collection is arranged in seven series by materials type.

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Access and Use


This collection is open for research according to the regulations of the Vassar College Archives and Special Collections Library without any additional restrictions.

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Related Material

  • The Vassar College Africana Studies Records, Vassar College Archives and Special Collections.
  • The "Special Projects - Black Students Sit-in, October 1969" files in the Alan Simpson Papers, Vassar College Archives and Special Collections.
  • Sanders, Joshunda VC '00. "Making History: 40 years of Africana Studies at Vassar." Vassar, The Alumnae/I Quarterly, Spring, 2007.

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Subject Headings


  • Vassar College--Students.


  • African American students.
  • Student movements.
  • Student protesters.

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Encoding Information

Encoded by Jessica Kemm, October 2009.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Vassar College 1969 Black Studies Sit-in Records, Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries.

Processing Information

Date of original processing unknown.

Acquisition Information

Materials were transferred from several Vassar College offices.

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Series List

Series I. Articles and Clippings

Series II.Flyers and Handouts

Series III. News Releases

Series IV. Reports

Series V. Correspondence

Series VI. Black Studies Program

Series VII. Miscellaneous

Container List


Folder 1.1 Pre Sit-In: Articles on Black Studies & Housing, May 1968-November 1969
Folder 1.2 Pre Sit-In: Miscellaneous Articles & Clippings, November 1966-November 1969
Folders 1.3-4 Sit-In: Clippings, 30 October-1 November 1969
Folder 1.5 End of Sit-In: Clippings, November 1969
Folder 1.6 Post Sit-In: Articles & Clippings, November 1969-February 1974
Folder 1.7 Editorial Comments, November-December 1969


Folder 1.8 Flyers & Handouts


Folder 2.1 News Releases from Vassar
Folder 2.2 Media Contacts
Folder 2.3 Summary of Media Coverage, Nov 1969


Folder 2.4 Demands, Proposals, Actions, May 1969 - March 1973, n.d.
Folder 2.5 Reports and Minutes, 1969
Folder 2.6 Reports and Minutes, 1970
Folder 2.7 Reports and Minutes, 1972, 1973, 1974


Folder 3.1 Inter-departmental Communications, Nov 1968 - Oct 1969
Folder 3.2 Inter-departmental Communications, Nov 1969
Folder 3.3 Inter-departmental Communications, 1970
Folder 3.4 Inter-departmental Communications, 1972
Folder 3.5 Inter-departmental Communications, 1973
Folder 3.6 Correspondence, Apr - Nov 1969
Folder 3.7 Correspondence, Jan 1970 - June 1974


Folder 4.1-2 Curriculum
Folder 4.3 Urban Center for Black Studies Proposal for Tutorial
Folder 4.4 Proposals for Outside Funding
Folder 4.5 Africa-Study Field Trip Fund Raising


Folder 4.6 Miscellaneous

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