CUNY Digital History Archive

CUNY Digital History Archive

A participatory project to collect and preserve the histories of the City University of New York — A work in progress
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CUNY SEEK and Open Admissions Oral Histories

This is a website of oral histories by CUNY students and teachers telling stories about the founding and early years of SEEK at City College. It also contains stories about teaching writing in the first decade of Open Admissions across CUNY.

SEEK Matters, Spring 1969

SEEK Matters, a bilingual literary magazine produced by the SEEK University Center in 1969 published student essays, poems and illustrations that reflected their experiences. Short for "Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge," SEEK was [...]

A Proposal for the Establishment of Community College Number Seven

This proposal for the founding of Community College Number Seven (later named Medgar Evers College) was put forward by the Board of Higher Education in November 1967. In this excerpt (pages 11-15), the Board establishes their desire to place a new [...]

Minutes of Proceedings: Establishing Community College Number Seven

In these minutes of proceedings from a January 22, 1968 meeting of the Board of Higher Education, the Board resolves to create the "Committee to Seek Presidents for Community Colleges Seven and Eight." The committee is first tasked with filling the [...]

Press Release – A New Experimental College

In this press release, The City University of New York's Office of University Relations announces the creation of a new, experimental, two-year college to be "established on a community-oriented basis in central Brooklyn." The press release [...]

Handwritten Notes from a September 12, 1968 Meeting

These handwritten notes are from a September 12, 1968 meeting of CUNY officials concerning the creation of Medgar Evers College. The notes suggest that the criteria for presidential candidates be established and that a selection be made by January [...]

Minutes of the Board of Higher Education - November 25, 1968

These minutes of proceedings from the November 25, 1968 meeting of the Board of Higher Education record the establishment of new admissions criteria for CUNY four-year institutions as well as university-wide budget requests for the following year. [...]

"Taught" by Marie Jean Lederman, 1973

In this piece of narrative nonfiction, Baruch College Professor Marie Jean Lederman reflects on her experience teaching remedial Freshman English at the University Center SEEK in the late 1960s.

Belle Zeller Memorial Video

Produced in 1998 by the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union which represents CUNY faculty and staff, this short memorial video celebrates the professional achievements of Belle Zeller, a “one-of-a-kind figure” in the history of CUNY. [...]

Student Help Project Art Book

The Student Help Project Art Book was produced by Queens College graphic design students to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Student Help Project. The Art Book visualizes the legal struggle for desegregation and equal opportunity to quality [...]

Oral History Interview with Allen Ballard

This oral history interview was conducted on April 4, 2014 at SUNY Albany. Allen Ballard grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and arrived at the City College of New York in 1960 as an assistant professor of Political Science. He was one of the [...]

Oral History Interview with Henry Arce

In this interview conducted about CUNY’s Open Admissions program, Arce describes his journey from the NYC Public School system to graduating from college. He credits his mother, who raised him alone in a Puerto Rican, immigrant community, for [...]

Newton Hall Statement

“We as white students, can either be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. At Huey P. Newton Hall of Political Action we are attempting to become a part of the solution.” In solidarity with black and Puerto Rican students, a group of [...]

Oral History Interview with Blanche Wiesen Cook

Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor Roosevelt biographer, grew up in the Bronx and Queens, and attended Hunter College as an undergraduate when it was an all female school. She treasured her time learning from Ruth Weintraub and Mina Rees, whom she [...]

Student Help Project Timeline

The Student Help Project was a collective of Queens College student activists who volunteered to tutor schoolchildren in Jamaica, Queens and Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1963. The Student Help Project Timeline exhibits archival items donated by [...]

"The Faculty Council Interim Report of the Committee on Enrollment Policy"

This April 1964 report shows the deep conflicts within the CCNY faculty with regards to expanding access to new students. Complaining about limited facilities and student unreadiness, the faculty committee resisted both loosening admissions [...]

"Will Everyman Destroy the University?"

In this article, CUNY’s new Vice Chancellor Timothy Healy writes of SEEK as both a practical and theoretical model for open admissions. He cites the success of the program--intended to improve higher education access for the underserved--as proof [...]

"A three-pronged experimental approach to the problem of undiscovered college potential among the young men and women of New York City"

This memorandum from Chancellor Bowker’s office called for three new forms of CUNY desegregation programs (pp. 1-2). This “three-pronged experiment” would be excused from CUNY’s general obligation to admit only students with the highest [...]

Minutes from 4/8/1965 CCNY Faculty Council Meeting

In these notes from a liberal arts and sciences faculty council meeting at City College, CCNY President Gallagher describes a tentative plan to admit 100 “disadvantaged” students into an experimental program in fall 1965. After discussion, the [...]

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