Knolls Action Project Records, 1969-1994
- Knolls Action Project
- These records document the day-to-day activities and interests of the Knolls Action Project (KAP).
- 24.25 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Knolls Action Project Records 1969-1994 (APAP-105). M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Knolls Action Project Records).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted, except for Series 7, Box 1, which has restrictions.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
These records document the activities and interests of KAP from 1978 to 1994. Some of the information pre-dates the founding of the organization, but was obtained by members of KAP for research or informational purposes. The collection is comprehensive, and contains meeting minutes, newsletters, leaflets, clippings, reports, books and publications, audiovisuals, and peace-related memorabilia. Though abundant, some of the information is redundant and some of the same clippings, leaflets and reports can be found filed in several different locations.
Materials from 1979 and the early 1980s come from John Ragusa and/or Mike Baum. Notebooks and folders contained meeting notes, flyers, clippings, slide show presentation notes, and photographs of the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.
The records consist primarily of information relating to subject matter of relevance to KAP. The collection is divided into nine series, four of which contain subject files. Important topics have been filed within their own series. Series 6 contains miscellaneous subject files. Historical information for the group can be found in newsletters, meeting minutes, annual reviews, and fact sheets filed in Series 1. The meeting minutes provide insight into the organization and operations of KAP between 1982 and 1993. There are no minutes from meetings prior to July, 1982. The most recent minutes are from the annual meeting of November 21 and 30, 1993, and includes an income/expense statement and notes on the discussions regarding the strengths and weaknesses of KAP. Some of this information is summarized in the Spring 1994 newsletter, and illustrates the difficulties and issues the organization faced after 15 years. Series 2 contains information on other activist groups involved in the anti-nuclear movement. Series 8 contains copies of legal documents and transcripts. Series 9 is a small collection of audiovisual materials. The files are arranged in alphabetical order within each series.
The collection contains many copies of leaflets distributed at KAPL between 1979 and 1994. Most can be found in Series 1, but many have been filed within their subject files. In addition to leafleting KAPL, members of the group were involved in issues such as radioactive contamination, radioactive waste transport, draft resistance and nuclear disarmament. KAP formed alliances with many national and regional organizations. Its work with the Snake River Alliance and Nukewatch on the Nuclear Waste Track Watch (1992-1993) is well documented. The collection is a good source of information on the national anti-nuclear movement as well as local. There are newsletters and flyers prepared by the Center for Economic Conversion, Economists Allied for Arms Reduction, Native Americans for a Clean Environment and many others (see Series 2 and Series 7).
KAP conducted extensive research on nuclear issues, and collected and saved publications and newsletters from numerous sources. Many of these were adapted for use as leaflet topics. Series 5 contains official government reports from such agencies as the Government Accounting Office, the U.S. Department of Energy and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It also contains books and other publications by such organizations as Worldwatch Institute, Institute for Policy Studies, American Friends Service Committee, and The Boston Study Group. Oversize boxes contain newsletters and publications from national and international organizations such as Greenpeace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Government Accountability Project, and many grassroots organizations.
The collection contains an abundance of information on draft resistance. Billy Aul, a member of KAP, was a local draft counselor. During the 1980s through the Gulf War in 1991, KAP provided assistance to conscientious objectors, appeared at high schools and street fairs to counteract military recruitment efforts, and worked in the capital region for the conversion of military resources to civilian use. Series 7 contains five boxes with information relating to these efforts.
There are several items of ephemera in series 9.
This glossary identifies some of the more frequently used acronyms in this finding aid and in the materials in the KAP collection.
AFR - Advanced Fleet Reactor.
CABEC - Capital Area and Berkshire County Economic Conversion study group.
CARD - Committee Against Registration and the Draft.
CCCO - Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors.
CERCLA - Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
DEC - Department of Environmental Conservation.
DOD - Department of Defense.
DOE - Department of Energy.
ECAAR - Economists Allied for Arms Reduction.
ELF - Extremely Low Frequency.
EPA - Environmental Protection Agency.
ERWM - Environmental Restoration and Waste Management.
FOIA - Freedom of Information Act.
GAO - Government Accounting Office.
HEAL - Hanford Education Action League.
IEER - Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
INEL - Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.
KAP - Knolls Action Project.
KAPL - Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.
LLRW - Low Level Radioactive Waste.
MPN - Military Production Network.
MTRAF - Military Tax Resistance and Alternative Fund.
NARMIC - National Action Research on the Military Industrial Complex.
NIRS - Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
NISBCO - National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors.
NLG - National Lawyers Guild.
NNP - Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.
NRDC - National Resources Defense Council.
NRF - Naval Reactors Facility.
NRP - Naval Reactor Program.
NWFNP - Nuclear Weapons Facility Networking Project.
NWTW - Nuclear Waste Train Watch.
ONR - Office of Naval Research.
PEIS - Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.
PSR - Physicians for Social Responsibility.
RCRA - Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (EPA).
SNF - Spent Nuclear Fuel.
SNR - Schenectady Naval Reactors.
SPRU - Separations Processing Research Unit.
SRA - Snake River Alliance.
SRS - Savannah River Site.
SSN - nuclear attack submarines.
SSN-21 - Seawolf Submarine.
TMI - Three Mile Island.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Knolls Action Project based in Albany, New York grew out of the Blue Karner Affinity Group that was formed by local activists to participate in anti-nuclear protests at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire in 1978. The group decided to focus on the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL), a General Electric facility that conducted research and training on nuclear propulsion systems for the United States Navy. The KAPL site, located in Niskayuna, N.Y., designed propulsion systems for the nuclear navy, including the Trident submarine system. The West Milton, N.Y. KAPL facility (or Kesselring site) was where naval crews trained to operate the Trident and other nuclear submarines [KAP fundraising letter, 1983, Series 1, Box 2, Folder 4]. In October 1978 the group began its Friday morning leafleting of KAPL workers at the facility's two sites. The purpose was to educate workers to the issues related to KAPL and the arms race. Each leaflet began with a message to KAPL employees, and included a reprint of articles, news clippings, and reports that often contradicted information that was disseminated in the mainstream media. Leaflet topics included disarmament, radiation safety, economic conversion, US-Soviet relations and nonviolence. In December 1978, the Knolls Community Action Conversion Project was formed with "goals of public education related to the work of KAPL, economic conversion and nonviolent resistance" [Leaflet dated Nov.18, 1988, Series 1, Box 2, Folder 4]. Informal conversations with workers led to the knowledge of problems regarding worker and environmental safety. In October 1979 the Knolls Action Coalition was officially formed and in 1981 the name Knolls Action Project (KAP) was adopted. By the summer of 1981, KAP was distributing 450-500 leaflets weekly to KAPL employees as they drove to work. According to a KAP newsletter, one of the objectives of the leafleting was "to create a dialogue and speak to people's conscience. We have made a great effort not to be 'pointing the finger' at the individuals who work at Knolls. In fact the strength of our presence is in the way we actively respect Knolls workers as people, greet them with openness, keep our sense of humor and choose not to respond to the occasional expressions of anger or violence with the same. The strength of our message is that we incorporate the necessity of economic conversion and job security as we work for an end to the destructive work that Knolls is involved with" [Newsletter dated Summer 1981, Series 1, Box 3, Folder 7].
In addition to its educational efforts, KAP actively worked to effect changes. It put military personnel in touch with draft counseling organizations, and developed a program to support KAPL workers who decided to seek alternative employment. The group faced its first direct challenge when, in July 1982, it was banned by KAPL management from entering the grounds of the Niskayuna facility. Leafleting continued across the road. The New York Civil Liberties Union took the case to Federal Court claiming KAPL violated the group's Constitutional rights and right of free speech. The Judge ruled in favor of KAPL in January 1985 explaining it was a classified facility with a right to limit public access. The U.S Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision. In 1986 KAP organized opposition to the naming of a nuclear submarine after the city of Albany. KAP also organized a caravan to follow the rail route of the Seawolf nuclear reactor containment vessel that was dug up and transported from West Milton to Ballston Spa where it was shipped by rail to a nuclear waste dump [Newsletter dated Fall 1988, Series 1, Box 3, Folder 7].
Other KAP activities involved public education, including house meetings, personal contact with groups and individuals, and door-to-door canvassing. Beginning in 1979 KAP organized annual vigils to commemorate the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Though nonviolent and generally non-confrontational, they practiced civil disobedience on several occasions. The first time, in January 1981, twelve members of the group were arrested. KAP's interest in disarmament led some of its members to become involved in other activist groups as well. Billy Aul became a local draft counselor and joined Upstate Resistance. KAP members were also involved in military tax resistance.
The early 1990s saw KAP increase involvement in regional and national activities, including "campaigns for legislation affecting the nuclear weapons complex, participation in regulatory and oversite hearings, and national networking and support for the work of other groups allied against the Department of Energy's military nuclear complex. . involvement in additional peace, environmental, and public policy issues relating to Knolls and the weapons complex" [Meeting Minutes, March 2, 1993, Series 1, Box 3, Folder 4]. With the apparent end of the Cold War, environmental issues began to take on importance. One larger project was the Nuclear Waste Track Watch Project (NWTW). KAP worked with the Snake River Alliance and Nukewatch to track KAPL radioactive waste as it was shipped to a DOE site in Idaho. The project was intended to yield national coverage of "secret" KAPL/Navy waste shipments [Meeting Minutes, July 22, 1992, Series 1, Box 3, Folder 6].
By 1993 KAP was able to claim numerous successes. It had obtained national grants and recognition, maintained a committed core group and its philosophical cohesion, was active in several coalitions, and was able to claim successes in its work against nuclear navy programs. On the other hand, there was concern about the reduction in donations, the over-reliance on grants and the lack of enthusiasm for fundraising. There was apprehension regarding the declining energy in the core group and interest in the broader community. There was concern about the perception that the Cold War was over and that the work at KAPL was no longer an issue [1993 Annual Meeting Minutes, November 21, 1993, Series 1, Box 3, Folder 5].
In 1994, amid rising tensions and disagreement over the direction of the group, KAP members decided to discontinue leafleting and to end formal meetings.
KAP was involved with a network of local and national groups including the Military Production Network (MPN), Mobilization for Survival, the regional Weapons Facilities Conversion Network, Upstate Nuclear Weapons Facility Networking Project, the Coalition to Stop Trident, the Economic Conversion Study Group, and the Coalition for a Clean Mohawk River. Publications from these and other organizations can be found in this collection.
KAP was staffed mostly by volunteers and financed through donations and fundraisers. It's members came from the religious, women's, and peace communities. Due to the informal nature of the group, KAP did not have any prominent leaders. At any given time there was a core group of approximately 8-10 volunteers. There was usually one part-time, paid, staff person. Foundation grants totaling $15,500 in 1993 allowed KAP to increase the hours of the staff person. As an organization it was instrumental in forming the Social Action Center in Albany, which later became known as the Social Justice Center.
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Colia Clark, the Social Justice Center and Billie Aul.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2001 by Joan Seidman (2001), Michelle Powers (2003).
- Social Activists and Public Advocates
Schenectady, New York
Military and Armed Conflict
Conservation and the Environment
Albany, New York
Antinuclear movement--New York (State).
Peace movements--United States.
Minutes (administrative records)
- Knolls Action Project
American Civil Liberties Union
General Electric Company
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory
Nuclear Waste Track Watch
Snake River Alliance
United States Department of Energy