Center for Community Studies Records, 1946-1976
- State University of New York at Albany. Center for Community Studies
- Created in 1950 in part to study education in school districts. The Center's mission was to identify the research factors that aid in constructing and maintaining strong democratic communities and to promote such factors through education.
- 14.2 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Center for Community Studies Records, 1946-1976. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Center for Community Studies Records).
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- Scope and Content:
This collection documents the organization, evolution, scope, thinking, activities and programs of the Center for Community Studies over a period of about 25 years. The earliest items contained in this collection date from 1825 and were part of the Census Classification Project for Albany, New York, but continuous records for the CCS itself start at its inception in 1950 and continue to the apparent date of its disbanding. There are also some records, mostly memos and letters, that postdate the apparent discontinuation of CCS that run up to 1976. Major collectors of records appear to be professors William E. Vickery and Donald Van Cleve.
Topics which are extensively documented in this collection include action research projects, extensive course materials, the Three Wishes Project, the development of educational television, the New York State Citizens’ Council, the Poliomyelitis Project of 1956, in-school testing materials, student and faculty questionnaires, materials on different areas in which CCS was of service to the wider community, student papers, the Study of Opinions on Medicine and Child Health of 1956, the University-Community Cooperation Project and materials on workshops given by CCS. Also contained in this collection are photocopies of street maps of Albany, New York from the 1800s and early 1900s.
Several collections in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives provide further information on education and policy issues that were of concern to the faculty, staff and students of the Center for Community Studies. For complete listings of related collections, consult the subject guides for University at Albany, SUNY Administrative Records and Education. Of particular note are the records of the Capital Area School Development Association (APAP065) and the School of Education (UA650).
- Biographical / Historical:
In 1950, the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York accepted a proposal and a $10,000 grant from the Bureau of Intercultural Education for the academic year 1950-1951 and established a Center for Community Studies (CCS). The CCS had its headquarters at the New York State College for Teachers in Albany, New York, although its staff worked with all thirty-three affiliated institutions in the state university system. CCS was set up as a pilot organization with Dr. William E. Vickery, Professor of Intercultural Education, as its director. CCS’s mission was to identify through research factors that aid in constructing and maintaining strong democratic communities and to promote the factors through education. On the basis of modern research in the field of community studies, the staff of CCS chose two main areas in which to experiment. The first of these was rooted in the notion that democratic communities thrive when individuals feel that their input counts and when they believe that they have the right and responsibility to share in community life and to help make important decisions that affect them, their neighbors and their whole community. The second principal for CCS’s research was guided by the idea that communities become stronger when individuals balance their personal needs and desires with those of the community at large. Given the above principles, the staff of CCS set out to find ways to promote participation in community affairs, especially the decision-making process and actions that democratic citizenship imply. It also sought to aid individuals in developing the ability to live and work productively while crossing the lines of race, religion, ethnicity, and membership in socio-economic groups so as to promote the common welfare of the whole community.
One of the most interesting fields for carrying out its mission was teacher education, as it was assumed that all schools reach all of the children of all of the people. It was recognized that how good schools were as training grounds for good community living depended a great deal on their teachers. Consequently, CCS’s working hypothesis was that the field of community studies was an effective means of training such teachers. As an organization, it emphasized its role of alerting teachers to their responsibilities in order to promote better human understanding and constructive thinking in inter-group relations. Teachers were to help their students acquire the ideals, skills and patterns of living necessary for living and working together in a complex modern society. Thus, teachers were expected to become active participants in community affairs to show in their daily lives the respect for other people that characterizes the free, humane and enlightened citizen, and to make their classrooms laboratories where students would learn good citizenship by living it each day. Moreover, the staff of CCS believed strongly that experiences in community studies could not come from books alone. It was thought that undergraduates and teachers in service needed real first-hand experiences in community living under competent guidance and direction. It was also thought that without such guidance and direction, community experience could well discourage further community participation rather than stimulate increased activity in community affairs. In order to fulfill these purposes, the staff of CCS developed several projects in community study and human relations. Their work was carried out according to the interests, needs, and facilities of the participating colleges and communities. The programs of the Center for Community Studies included working with school people, members and affiliates of clubs and other organizations, government workers and officials, lay community leaders, and other community workers in solving problems that required the activation and mobilization of social forces, community interest, and citizen participation. The staff of CCS worked to develop a broader awareness and understanding in communities of individual and community needs. These aims were attained through: classes, workshops and seminars in community organizations during which participants would relate theory to specific problems in their communities; guidance counseling and leadership of specific efforts in a single community or neighborhood to define problems and propose solutions, and act upon them, including work of general and special nature relating to the effective functioning of groups, committees, clubs, associations, etc.; internships in community study and development during which students and others were placed as aids, interns, or in some other position in citizens’ councils or councils of community service so as to work, cooperate and observe; and research to inquire into the processes by which individuals cooperate to solve community problems and broaden their perceptions of community needs.
A key concept of CCS’s approach was the principle of action research developed by Kurt Lewin and his associates as they endeavored to find ways to work effectively toward rational social management and social engineering. Operating on the principles of action research, the Center for Community Studies consisted of three divisions. First, the State University Conference on Community Studies was made up of representatives of each of the eleven state teachers colleges of the State University of New York. This conference helped to formulate CCS policy, stimulated action-research programs on local college campuses, and distributed information about CCS and its activities to other members of their respective faculties. The second division was a five-person executive committee drawn from this Conference whose duties were to screen projects submitted to CCS for support through grants in-aid and to allocate funds to local programs. The Executive Committee also defined issues and problems to present to the Conference for policy decisions. The third was the staff of CCS whose function was to coordinate the program, provide consultant services, administer the research fund, and help the local college communities interpret the program to their colleges. The staff also engaged in research at the colleges and helped the local communities prepare their reports for publication and distribution.
According to the undergraduate and graduate bulletins for the State University of New York at Albany, the Center for Community Studies ceased to exist as a separate entity from the School of Education between the fall of 1964 and the spring of 1966. Its programs and research seem to have been absorbed and restructured as an integral part of the School of Education.
- Acquisition information:
All items in this collection were transferred to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives.1988 June
- Processing information:
Processed in 2006 by Tim Bridgman, Tajon Rice, and Kayla Misner .