Vietnam War Teach-Ins at Rutgers University Records
Scope and Contents
The records of the Teach-Ins at Rutgers University include correspondence, newspaper clippings, statements, and reports related to the controversy surrounding the three (3) "Teach Ins" held at Rutgers University in 1965. The bulk of the public comment was sparked by Rutgers Professor Genovese's April 23, 1965 "Teach In" statement, "I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it," and the University's subsequent handling of the matter. The "Teach In" at which Genovese made his statement was a discussion of American foreign policy in Vietnam organized by Rutgers College Faculty. Items addressing this issue also represent the bulk of the materials in the collection.
Professor Genovese had been appointed to Rutgers on July 1, 1963 as an assistant professor of history. On April 9, 1965, the Board of Governors approved his promotion to the position of associate professor with academic tenure, effective July 1, 1965.
After an investigation of Genovese's statement at the "Teach In", no action against the professor was taken, and the Board of Governors of Rutgers prepared a brochure which described the situation and explained the University's position. President Gross and the Board of Governors would later be awarded the ninth annual Meiklejohn Award from the American Association of University Professors for their stand in the Genovese case.
New Jersey Senator, Wayne Dumont, R-Warren County demanded Genovese's removal from the University and focused on the issue in his campaign in his election bid against incumbent Democratic Governor Richard J. Hughes who supported the University's decision.
In response to "attacks upon free expression at Rutgers", a Committee on Free Speech was formed by students. The committee urged the gubernatorial candidates not to make the Genovese controversy a campaign issue.
The second "Teach In" was held on September 29, 1965. At this event, Drew University political science instructor, James Mellen, made known his agreement with Genovese. Mellen would not be reappointed to his post at Drew.
The third "Teach In" was held the night of October 14, 1965. Dr. Mason Gross issued a statement before the event disapproving of its "political rally" nature. Parents of soldiers in Vietnam were urged to attend the "Teach In" by Walter Lantry of Carlstadt whose son was serving in Vietnam. During this "Teach-In", an incident occured in which Mrs. Lantry struck a student and the student struck back.
In November 1965, Rutgers students supporting U.S. policy in Vietnam traveled to Washington, D.C. to present a petition expressing their views to U.S. Senators from New Jersey, Clifford P. Case and Harrison A. Williams.
1.6 Cubic Feet (4 manuscript boxes)
Language of Materials
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, statements, and reports related to the controversy surrounding the three "Teach Ins" held at Rutgers University in 1965. The bulk of the public comment was sparked by Rutgers Professor Genovese's April 23, 1965 "Teach In" statement, "I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it," and the University's subsequent handling of the matter. The "Teach In" at which Genovese made his statement was a discussion of American foreign policy in Vietnam organized by Rutgers College Faculty. Items addressing this issue also represent the bulk of the materials in the collection.
Administrative History of the Teach-ins at Rutgers University
The records contained in this group were transferred to the Archives from the Office of Public Information in 1984. The Public Information Office, New Brunswick location, falls under the auspices University Communications. The office is still vital and plays an integral role in coordinating communications and events involving Rutgers and outside media.
Rutgers, like many other college campuses in the mid-late 1960's, experienced a surge of student expression and involvement. The "Teach In" is an example of one type of this expression. As later mentioned in the minutes of the Board of Trustees from October 15, 1965, "[there] is a restlessness among the student population. They are better educated and better prepared," thus creating a different climate than formerly seen on the college campus.
The first "Teach In" was held in Scott Hall, College Avenue, on April 23, 1965 between 12:00am and 8:00am and was billed as an all-night open discussion on American foreign policy with regards to Vietnam. Organized by Rutgers faculty, speakers lectured on the historical background and various other aspects of the Vietnam situation. Opinions and viewpoints from both sides relating to America's involvement were presented. According to the April 23, 1965 minutes of the meeting of the Board of Trustees, between 800 - 1,000 students attended the "Teach In" which was described as "orderly and well conducted". It was at this "Teach In" that Dr. Eugene D. Genovese, associate professor of history, made his famous remark, "Those of you who know me know that I am a Marxist and a Socialist. Therefore, unlike most of my distinguished colleagues here this morning, I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it." This comment was condensed and reported in the Targum as "I am a Marxist and a Socialist, and I would welcome a victory by the Viet Cong." Genovese's statement was reported in other New Jersey newspapers and generated a backlash of criticism from state residents/taxpayers, alumnae, and concerned citizens groups.
At the June 28, 1965 Board of Governor's meeting Assemblymen William V. Musto, D-Hudson, and Douglas E. Gimson, R-Hunterdon, made a report to the Board pointing out the concerns of the citizens. The report questioned Dr. Genovese's judgment and his sensitivity to the responsibility inherent in being a Rutgers professor but noted that no state laws or University regulations had been broken. At this meeting Dr. Gross read a letter from Professors Charanis, McCormick, and Winkler supporting Genovese and the mission of a university to promote academic freedom. The Board directed that this letter be inserted into the minutes.
On July 28, 1965 New Jersey Senator Wayne Dumont, R-Warren, the Republican candidate for Governor, met with Dr. Mason Gross to discuss a possible reinvestigation of the Genovese case. Dumont hoped that the result would be the dismissal of Genovese from the faculty of Rutgers University. When Dr. Gross refused to re-examine the issue, Dumont went to the press and charged that although Gross agreed with him that Genovese had misused his position, he was forced to agree with the positions of the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors in supporting academic freedom. Gross denied this accusation in the press. Dumont focused on the issue in his campaign in his election bid against incumbent Democratic Governor Richard J. Hughes.
A special meeting of the Board of Governors was held on August 6, 1965; the meeting was called to report and respond to Governor Hughes on the issues involved in the Genovese case. The minutes from this special session include Genovese's comment made at the April 23rd "Teach In".
Two additional "Teach In's" were held on the Rutgers campus in 1965. The second "Teach In" was held on September 29, 1965, Records Hall, from 10:00pm - 6:00am, and was organized by The Committee for Free Speech. This group was born out of the Genovese issue and composed of graduate and undergraduate students. The topic for this "Teach In" was on civil liberties and academic freedom. Speakers included Rutgers faculty as well as faculty from other universities and civil rights lawyers.
The third "Teach In" was organized by the Students for a Democratic Society and held on October 14, 1965, Records Hall, 7:00pm - 12:45am. The topic for this "Teach In" was the cold war and its origins. Speakers were from the faculty of Rutgers, Douglass, as well as other universities and also included non-university affiliated presenters. This "Teach In" also generated bad publicity for the university as the result of an incident of physical violence that took place between a Mrs. Lantry of Carlstadt, NJ and a Rutgers undergraduate student, Allan Martain.
Biographical / Historical
Chronology of Events
- April 9, 1965
- Board of Governors approves Genovese's promotion to associate professor granting him tenure effective July 1, 1965.
- April 23, 1965
- "Teach In". Professor Eugene Genovese makes statement "welcoming" the impending Viet Cong victory.
- July 28, 1965
- Senator Wayne Dumont meets with Dr. Mason Gross re: Genovese controversy; Genovese now the focus of Dumont's gubernatorial campaign.
- August 6, 1965
- Brochure, "A Report on the Genovese Case Prepared for Presentation to Governor Richard J. Hughes by the Board of Governors of Rutgers, the State University" re Special meeting of the Board of Governors Genovese issue.
- Sept. 29, 1965
- "Teach In." James Mellen, instructor at Drew University agrees with Genovese.
- Oct. 8, 1965
- Rutgers Board of Governors rejects Dumont's proposal that Genovese be fired.
- Oct. 14, 1965
- "Teach In." Mason Gross makes statement of disapproval of scheduled "Teach In." Lantry/Martain incident.
The records documenting the "teach-ins" at Rutgers University are arranged in the following series:
- I. "Teach In" April 23, 1965
- II. "Teach In" September 29-30, 1965
- III. "Teach In" October 14, 1965
- Academic freedom--New Jersey
- Electioneering--New Jersey
- Press and Politics--New Jersey
- Public Opinion--New Jersey
- Public Relations--Universities and Colleges--New Jersey
- Students--New Jersey--Political Activity
- United States--Foreign Relations
- Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975--Protest Movements--New Jersey
- Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975--Public opinion
- Inventory to the Records of the Office of Public Information on the Vietnam War Teach-Ins, 1965-1966 RG 07/A2/01
- Edited Full Draft
- Dorothy Ansart and Judith Grier
- April 1992
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English.
- Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
- 8-11-98: File Created
- June 3, 2004: teachins converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository
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