Gerald R. Gill Papers, 1921 -- 2007


Overview

Title: Gerald R. Gill Papers
Dates: 1921 -- 2007
Bulk Dates: circa 1980s -- 2007
Creator: Gill, Gerald R.
Call Number: MS170
Size: 59.86 Cubic Feet, 46 record cartons, 2 document boxes, and 2 oversize boxes, 575.2 Megabytes, 14,626 Digital Object(s)
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10427/010666
Location:
    Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University
    archives@tufts.edu
    http://sites.tufts.edu/dca/

Description

The Gerald R. Gill papers consist primarily of professional papers relating to his career as a professor of American history at Tufts University (1980-2007). His papers include correspondence, research and subject files, teaching materials, records of university service, and writings. The collection also includes biographical materials, audiovisual materials, photographs, and objects. Photographs chiefly document black student life at Tufts, the bulk apparently sent to Gill by black alumni. There are also photographs of Gill, often at university events. Audiovisual materials include black alumni oral histories. Digital files include student papers, teaching materials, event programs and fliers, and university memos.

Research and subject files, teaching materials, and writings reveal Gill's research interests, which focused on African-American history. Topics include the history of protest, the civil rights movement, pacifism, American sports history, Boston race relations, and the experience of black faculty, staff, and students at Tufts. Teaching materials contain syllabi, class handouts, course readings, exams, assignments, and papers, some of which consist of oral histories conducted by students about the civil rights movement. Gill's university service records detail his work for many Tufts committees and his extensive undergraduate mentoring and advising duties. The bulk of the materials in this collection date from the 1980s-2007, with a small amount of material from the 1950s-1980s.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in ten series: Audiovisual materials and photographs; Biographical materials; Correspondence; Events; Objects; Research and subject files; Teaching materials; University service; Writings; and Digital files.

Biography/History

Gerald R. Gill (1948-2007) taught American history at Tufts University from 1980-2007. He began as an assistant professor, served as an associate professor beginning in 1987, and became the history department's deputy chair in 1998. He was a leading scholar in the field of African-American history and the history of the civil rights movement. He was also a founding and core member of several interdisciplinary programs at Tufts, including American Studies, Africa in the New World Studies, and Peace and Justice Studies.

Gill was born on November 18, 1948 in New Rochelle, New York, to Robert and Etta Gill. He received a bachelor's degree in history in 1970 from Lafayette College, where he was one of the founders of Lafayette's Association of Black Collegians and the Black Cultural Center. He then earned a master's degree in United States history (1974) and a doctorate in history (1985) from Howard University in Washington D.C. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, Gill wrote his dissertation on the history of twentieth-century African-American pacifism.

Gill taught at Howard University (1975-1978), University of the District of Columbia (1978), Harvard University (1979), and UCLA (1986), in addition to Tufts University (1980-2007). He received a number of teaching awards and honors, including Professor of the Year for Massachusetts (twice, in 1995 and 1999); the Lerman-Neubauer Prize for Outstanding Teaching and Advising (1998); the Tufts Community Union Senate's Professor of the Year Award (1999); and the Lillian and Joseph Leibner Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising (1993). The Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Tufts Community, bestowed on Gill in 2000 by the university's Africana Center, was renamed the Gerald R. Gill Distinguished Service Award in his honor the same year. He was also awarded research fellowships at the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard (1979), the Center for Afro-American Studies at U.C.L.A. (1985), and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture (1997).

Gill's university service included membership on many committees, particularly those related to undergraduate education and advising. In addition to teaching, mentoring students, and writing, Gill served as a consultant on many public television and documentary projects, including Eyes on the Prize, The American Experience, Africans in America, This Far by Faith, and I'll Make Me a World. He was the author of Meanness Mania: The Changed Mood (1980), co-authored The Case for Affirmative Action for Blacks in Higher Education (1978), edited the Faculty Guide and Student Study Guide for the Eyes on the Prize (1991), and co-edited The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (1991). At the time of his death, he was working on two unpublished books: Struggling Yet in Freedom's Birthplace: The Civil Rights Movement in Boston, 1935-1972, a history of Boston race relations; and Dissent, Discontent and Disinterest: Afro-American Opposition to the United States War of the Twentieth Century, an extension of his doctoral dissertation.

Gill was divorced with one daughter, Ayanna Gill. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 26, 2007.

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Use Restrictions

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see "Reproductions and Use" on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Any intellectual property rights that the donor possesses have been transferred to Tufts University.

Preferred Citation

Gerald R. Gill Papers, circa 1950s-2007. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

Collection History

Processing Notes

Materials were received in very little order. Where groupings of materials could be discerned, original order was maintained, particularly in the research and subject files and teaching materials.

Duplicates, reference copies, blank forms, unused office supplies, personal and family items, and some personnel and student records were separated for deaccession. For more detailed information, please see series notes.

This collection is processed at the folder level. Stefana Breitwieser, Steven Gentry, and Sony Prosper, Archives and Reference Assistants, processed the materials under the direction of Adrienne Pruitt, Collections Management Archivist, in Spring 2017.

Acquisition

Gift of Ayanna Gill, 2016, accession 2017.030.

Custodial History

After Gill's death in 2007, Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) staff packed up his office in East Hall and moved items to the East Hall basement. Lawyers for Ayanna Gill packed up personal materials for return to her at the same time. One of Gill's previous offices had been packed up by the History Department at an unknown point in the past and had also been stored in the East Hall basement. DCA also packed up books and manuscripts in Gill's apartment. Materials now in Box 50, including a manuscript for Dissent, Discontent, and Disinterest: Afro-American Opposition to the United States Wars of the 20th Century and editor's comments were brought to DCA by Susanne Belovari, Archivist for Reference and Collections, in 2007. The remaining materials stayed in the East Hall basement until a deed of gift was signed in September 2016 and the materials were delivered to DCA by Personal Movers on October 18, 2016. Two further accruals, of five and four boxes, were transferred to DCA on November 29, 2016 and December 13, 2016 by Dan Santamaria, University Archivist, and Adrienne Pruitt, Collections Management Archivist.

Separated Material

58 boxes (69.6 cubic feet) of books, serial publications, and commercially produced VHS tapes, DVDs, and CDs were transferred to Tisch Library.

10 boxes (12 cubic feet) of family and personal belongings, and items with monetary value such as gift cards and historical ephemera and memorabilia, were separated for potential return to the donor.

50 boxes (60 cubic feet)of course reserves, student work, review copies, publications, office supplies, and materials containing personally identifiable information were separated for deaccession or destruction pending donor review.

Subjects and Genre Terms
  • Conscientious objection
  • African Americans -- Civil rights
  • African Americans -- History
  • Tufts University -- History
  • Protest movements
  • Oral history
  • Political activists
  • Faculty papers
  • African American history
Related Material
  • Africana Center Records, 1969-2012. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.
  • Jeanne Penvenne Papers on Gerald Gill, circa 1995-2007. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

Series Description

  1. Audiovisual materials and photographs, circa 1974 -- 2008

    This series contains audiovisual materials and photographs. Formats include photographic prints, slides, negatives, a film strip, VHS tapes, CDs, audiocassettes, and 45 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm records. The audiovisual materials contain a small body of material (two VHS tapes and an audiocassette) that appear to relate to the "Another Light on the Hill" exhibit research. There are nine audiocassettes and related documentation from the Victoria Norman "Black at Tufts" project, which appear to contain oral histories and may also relate to the exhibit.

    The audiovisual materials also include teaching materials and student projects. There are a number of mix tapes and two audiocassettes with no label; they have not been reviewed and their contents are unknown.

    Photographs primarily document black student life at Tufts in the 1980s-1990s. Correspondence suggests that these photographs were donated by black alumni in an effort to document their time on campus as a part of the "Another Light on the Hill" exhibit. Other materials include photos of Gill at campus events and Gill's professional headshots. Additionally, there are small art prints and a signed photo of Lenny Kravitz.

  2. Biographical materials, 1963, 1995 -- 2006

    Biographical materials include curricula vitae, awards and certificates of appreciation, correspondence, an appointment book, a New Rochelle High School class schedule, and an interview with Gill in Long Term View journal titled "Vietnam's Political Legacy for African-Americans." These materials provide an introduction to Gill's academic career, scholastic achievements, and professional life.

  3. Correspondence, circa 1981 -- 2007

    This series contains correspondence sent or received by Gill. Enclosures and attachments to correspondence include artwork, brochures, CDs, fliers, forms, invitations, photographs, and writings. The majority of correspondents are Tufts University colleagues, administrators, students, and alumni. The materials in this series reflect Gill's professional activities and personal relationships.

    Significant topics include Gill's involvement in Tufts Black Alumni events, his work on various projects (including Alaska Highway and Howard Thurman, In Search of Common Ground), and his membership or association with various national organizations, such as the Golden Key National Honor Society. Current and former students often wrote to Gill, and their correspondence reflects his deep commitment to students and the Tufts community. Correspondence from colleagues and administrators touches on his university service in initiatives like the Tufts Black Caucus. The series also includes invitations to participate in various events, such as seminars held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. There is some overlap in subject materials between this series, the Events series, and the University service series.

    1. 3.1. Paper mail, circa 1981 -- 2007
    2. 3.2. Electronic mail, 1997 -- 2005

      This subseries contains Gerald Gill's Tufts email, which covers the years 1997-2005. The majority of the email is related to university business - teaching, departmental business, and commiunications with students, past and present. Gill's most frequest correspondents were his colleagues in the history department.

      Emails containing information about official university business, such as committee work, have been restricted for 20 years.

  4. Events, 1964 -- 2006

    This series documents events Gill planned, attended, or was interested in. Materials include posters, fliers, promotional materials, registration packets, conference handouts, planning documentation, and a small amount of related correspondence and research.

    Sub-series 1, General Events, contains information on conferences, lectures, movies, and documentary showings that were not held at or sponsored by Tufts. There is a small amount of material related to Gill's work on Eyes on the Prize and the teaching materials created to accompany the documentary. Seminars at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston are also represented in this subseries.

    Sub-series 2, Tufts Events, contains information on lectures, movies, fundraisers, social mixers, and other Tufts community events, including lectures given or moderated by Gill. Black alumni events and many events given by or related to the black community at Tufts are represented in this sub-series.

    Sub-series 3, Another Light on the Hill Exhibit, includes fliers, postcards, guest books, and research materials related to an exhibit Gill created highlighting the accomplishments of black students at Tufts. Exhibit-related research contains some photocopies of yearbooks and other archival material, which while not unique, were retained due to their value as a body of research.

    1. 4.1. General events, 1964 -- 2006

      Sub-series 1, General Events, contains information on conferences, lectures, movies, and documentary showings that were not held at or sponsored by Tufts. There is a small amount of material related to Gill's work on "Eyes on the Prize" and the teaching materials created to accompany the documentary. Seminars at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston are also represented in this subseries.

    2. 4.2. Tufts events, 1978 -- 2006

      Sub-series 2, Tufts Events, contains information on lectures, movies, fundraisers, social mixers, and other Tufts community events, including lectures given or moderated by Gill. Black alumni events and many events given by or related to the black community at Tufts are represented in this sub-series.

    3. 4.3. Another Light on the Hill exhibit, 1989 -- 2005

      Sub-series 3, Another Light on the Hill Exhibit, includes fliers, postcards, guest books, and research materials related to an exhibit Gill created highlighting the accomplishments of black students at Tufts. Exhibit-related research contains some photocopies of yearbooks and other archival material, which while not unique, were retained due to their value as a body of research.

  5. Objects, 1921 -- 2004

    This series contains three-dimensional objects. These include a World War II Army plaque and accompanying research for P.F.C. George R. Randolph, who was a member of the 1323rd Engineer General Service Regiment, a black regiment. The series also includes a sign reading "Colored only, no whites," and a number of buttons and patches that are largely political in nature.

  6. Research and subject files, 1942 -- 2007

    This series contains a wide variety of materials collected by Gill pertaining to his research interests. The bulk of the materials consist of newspaper clippings, articles, reference copies, and notes. They cover a wide variety of topics, mostly related to African American history, black Tufts students and alumni, sports history, and American politics. There is a large body of material on the civil rights movement in the United States, which includes a small box of index cards with information about the civil rights movement dating from 1942 to 2007.

    One particularly useful grouping of materials is the Tufts History subject files. These mostly reflect original order and provide insight into Gill's interests on campus. These materials may have been compiled as research for the "Another Light on the Hill" exhibit. There is some overlap in subject matter between this series, the Events series, and Teaching materials.

  7. Teaching materials, 1978 -- 2007

    This series contains materials relating to courses taught by Gill at Tufts and elsewhere. Materials include syllabi, class handouts and presentations, course readings, exams, and student papers.

    The list of courses at Tufts include: The African American in United States History to 1865; the African American in United States History since 1865; America in the 19th Century; America in the 20th Century; the American Homefront During World War II; the American South Since 1865; the Civil Rights Movement in America; Empires and Exchange; Film and History; Sports in American History; and various additional, unidentified courses.

    There is also a small body of materials from courses taught at other institutions from 1978 to 1983. These include: Introduction to Black History (Howard University, 1976); African American History Since 1865, Comparative Slave Systems, and History of Black America 1877 to Present (University of the District of Columbia, circa 1978); and the Civil War and Reconstruction (Amherst College, 1983).

    1. 7.1. Tufts courses, 1980 -- 2007

      This series contains materials relating to courses taught by Gill at Tufts. Materials include syllabi, class handouts and presentations, course readings, exams, and student papers. List of courses at Tufts include: The African American in United States History to 1865; the African American in United States History since 1865; America in the 19th Century; America in the 20th Century; the American Homefront During World War II; the American South Since 1865; the Civil Rights Movement in America; Empires and Exchange; Film and History; Sports in American History; and various additional, unidentified courses.

    2. 7.2. Other courses, 1976 -- 1983

      This series contains materials relating to courses taught by Gill at institutions other than Tufts. Materials include syllabi, class handouts and presentations, course readings, exams, and student papers. The courses include: Introduction to Black History (Howard University, 1976); African American History Since 1865, Comparative Slave Systems, and History of Black America 1877 to Present (University of the District of Columbia, circa 1978); and the Civil War and Reconstruction (Amherst College, 1983).

    3. 7.3. Student papers and review copies, 1974 -- 2007

      The class papers are student assignments, often graded, written by students for classes taught by Gill. Tufts theses, dissertations and senior special projects are major student works, typically involving original research. The grant proposals and review copies were materials related to Gill's interests that were sent to him by third parties for review.

  8. University service, 1975 -- 2007

    University Service records document Gill's service to Tufts University as a member of university-level and departmental committees as well as his interests in larger Boston community projects. Materials consist of correspondence, manuals, memos, reports, agendas, notes, and minutes. This series documents Gill's strong commitment to issues related to affirmative action, race, the Tufts Black community, and the Tufts History Department.

    1. 8.1. University committees and service, 1975 -- 2006

      Sub-series includes reports and correspondence by the Task Force on Race, 1997-2001, the Tufts University Black Caucus, the Equal Educational Opportunity Committee, and the Society Organized Against Racism.

    2. 8.2. Departmental committees and service, 1980 -- 2007

      Sub-series includes agendas and correspondence from the curriculum committee and undergraduate education committee, as well as course evaluations, course offerings, advising materials, and faculty records.

    3. 8.3. Other service, 1987 -- 2005

      Sub-series includes a small amount of material related to Gill's service outside the Tufts community, such as preserving the history of Boston's under-documented communities and reopening the African Meeting House.

  9. Writings, 1980 -- 2007

    Writings consist of drafts, correspondence, notes, and writing proposals. Subjects include African American history, African American protest movements, the civil rights movement, pacifism, and Tufts University history.

    This series includes drafts of the books Struggling Yet in Freedom's Birthplace: The Civil Rights Movement in Boston, 1935-1972, and Dissent, Discontent and Disinterest: Afro-American Opposition to the United States War of the Twentieth Century, unpublished at the time of Gill's death. The manuscript for Struggling Yet in Freedom's Birthplace is partial, and covers the years 1935-1965.

    Writings also include drafts of the Faculty Guide and Student Study Guide for Eyes on the Prize College Telecourse, and of the text that accompanied the exhibit Another Light on the Hill: A Brief History of African-American Students at Tufts, 1900 – present. Other writings address race relations in Boston, the history of black athletes at Tufts, the African American Center at Tufts, conservative tendencies in United States politics, youth unemployment, and many other diverse topics.

  10. Digital files, 1992 -- 2007

    This series contains files that were saved on Gill's office computer at Tufts University, and 3.5 inch floppy disks and CDs stored with his computer. The majority of the files on the computer were found in a temp folder, while the others were saved in a documents folder or were unarranged on the desktop. Most of the files are student work produced by students in a number of his courses. Other materials include syllabi for courses not taught by Gill, symposium and conference programs and fliers, documents relating to university business and administration, writings by colleagues, teaching materials, and advertisements for campus events.

    All student work, two files found on the computer, and the content of one CD are subject to privacy concerns and copyright restrictions and can be accessed in the DCA Reading Room.

    Gill's Tufts email was also discovered on his computer and is described in the Correspondence series.



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