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LIBRARY GUIDE TO Capstone history papers: topics on Oakland University history

The Oakland University Archives house materials documenting the history of Oakland University. These materials can be used for history papers, placing OU within its broader political, social and economic contexts.

This guide provides examples of possible research topics and corresponding sources in the Oakland University Archives. The list is by no means exhaustive.

An example of a successful paper is Michael Westphal's "Death of the Oakland Observer: A Students' History of Oakland University in the 1960s," written for Professor Clark's HST497 class in Winter 2008.
Great Society War on Poverty programs

In 1964 the Economic Opportunity Act was signed into law by President Johnson. It established community action programs to address social issues such as education and job training. The Act also created the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to oversee the operation of these programs. OU worked with the Oakland County OEO to offer job training and education to disadvantaged students.

Selected sources:
  • Vertical file, folder “EEOU Oakland County”: OU Chancellor Varner and one assistant on the Board of Directors of a new Oakland County Commission to join in the federal government anti poverty program.  (1965)
  • Billie S. Farnum Papers. Numerous documents on the implementation of the OEO in SE Michigan.
  • President Varner Papers, Box 15, Folder “Oakland County Commission of Economic Opportunity”
  • O’Dowd (Provost) papers, Box 1, Folder “Anti poverty program”
  • University newsletters
See also:
  • U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, War on Poverty Projects, 1966 (in Hathi Trust). Other OEO documents have been digitized and are available  in the Hathi Trust.
African American history

Oakland University's strategies and programs to increase minority representation among students and faculty (especially in the 1960s-1980s period), relations with white students and race relations on campus, African American student organizations, OU black activism compared to other MI universities, etc. 
Selected sources:

Vertical file:
  • Folder “Council for black concerns”. Includes a report by the Dean of Student special services, denouncing racism on campus (1971). Also statistics on race for faculty, staff and students.
  • Folder “Black faculty”: booklet on black people at OU, with photos and bios.
  • Folder “Council on prejudice and discrimination”: Comments on the OPAR project to measure institutional racism at OU (1971).
  • Folder “Education reform”: Article on OU’s effort to have 15% black students to reflect local population.
  • Folder “Evening college study committee”: to draw students from Detroit.
  • Minorities. black protest; Attempts to prepare affirmative action plan met with resistance to a questionnaire deemed  To be an invasion of privacy; First black studies class (1969). 1971: 12 black students graduated, the result of "project 20", aimed a disadvantaged kids.
  • 1982 report on need for minority outreach. Black students demonstrated for establishment of an office of minority affairs (1992).
  • Folder “Operation graduation”: Administration’s meeting with The Association of Black Students in 1990 to discuss reform for minorities.
  • Folder “Prep school”: For inner city  high school dropouts (1972). First class graduated in 1973.
  • Project Upward Bound, 1967.  A federally funded program to give education to poor black students from Pontiac and other towns.
  • Folder “Public Safety”: Thefts up at OU (article, 1970): students report blacks afraid at a white campus where some students carry guns.
  • Folder “Racial problems, ad hoc faculty committee”: 1988.
  • Folder “Student organizations at OU 1959-1980”:A detailed report includes the history of SDS and minority organizations.
  • Folder “Urban affairs”: this OU department was responsible for support to African American students and outreach to the community
Chancellor Varner Papers:
  • Box 1, Folder “Administrative group meeting minutes”: Discussions and decisions made by the administrators of OU. For example, at the meeting of August 15, 1966 they expressed concern for the lack of black students. The same concern was expressed in other documents (Folder admissions 1968)
  • Box 2, Folder black students association.
  • Box 5, Folder “Continuing education 1969”: Project Pontiac with disadvantaged black male students.  
  • Box 6, Folder “Dean of Students, 1967 June”: Special program for African American students in 1967- to recruit more (full report).
  • Box 6, Folder “Dean of Students, 1968”:  Dutton letter to Varner about the need to focus on Black recruitment in Pontiac.
  • Box 6, Folders “Dean of Students -- Associate Dean of Students and Director of Special Projects -- Manuel H. Pierson -- Upward Bound”
  • Box 16, Folders “Project Hope” and “Project 20”
  • Box 16, Project 20 -- 1968-1969
  • Box 20, Folders “Urban Affairs Center”
O’Dowd Papers (Provost):
  • Box 5, Folder “Detroit Teacher Internship Program”
  • Box 15, Folder “Pontiac Community Projects”
  • Box 17, Folder “Student - Disadvantaged Students” and Folder “Student - Special Projects (Upward Bound)”
Records of the School of Education, Short Term Teacher Training Program:

A tripartite Short Term Teacher Training Program involving the Michigan Department of Public Instruction, Certification Division, the School District of the city of Pontiac and the School of Education, Oakland University in a training, evaluation and research program for the development of competency standards for teachers of the disadvantaged and for the licensing of teachers in Michigan (late 1960s-early 1970s).

Papers of Manuel Pierson
  • Files from the Office of Student Affairs and Student Services, documenting minority programs at Oakland in the 1960s to 1980s, such as Project Upward Bound. Pierson was Dean of Student Services and assistant Vice-President for 28 year.
See also:
Women's history

OU as a female-friendly campus in the 1960s-1970s; OU policies against gender discrimination; accommodation of women students’ needs; the women’s rights movement on campus.

Selected sources:
  • Folder “Equal opportunity policy”: From sex  to gender. Report on discrimination against sexual orientation (part of move to include sexual orientation in policy).
  • Folder Faculty: Article " 7 women are stars on OU faculty,” 1960.
  • Folder "Gender and sexuality center." 1974, formation of student group “Gay Liberation.”
  • Folder "Women's  Center." Opened in fall 1975. Includes reports for late 1970s and "a general schema of the curriculum, 1970 - the female situation".
  • Folder "Women's Center Advisory Board." Includes some examples of activities.
  • Folder "Women's Center - old ,"  includes newsletter for June 1975 and other dates.  Minutes of staff meeting 1975.  Topics for women's forum, 1973. A Commission on the Status of Women found under-representation on campus. Series of posters announcing events. History of the women's Center.
  • Folder "Women faculty, status of." Report on the status of faculty women at OU, 1978. Found under-representation at the full professor level.  Comparison with 1970 report.
  • Folder "Women's rights ad hoc committee," 1970.   Student demands for sexual equality.
  • Folder "Women's liberation." A child day care center at OU in 1970.
  • Folder "Women's studies."  Documents on the creation of the program, 1978.  Also onthe  Women's Center.
  • Box 5, Folder “Continuum Center for Women.” Established 1965 "to assist women in finding a more creative and satisfying place in the contemporary home and community." (Continuing Ed).  Report on 2nd conference for women.
O’Dowd Papers (Provost):
  • Box 18, Folder “Women’s Rights Committee”
  • Box 6, Folder "MSUO Reports." Newspaper clippings from the 1960s highlighting female students at OU, especially returning moms.
  • Women's Regulations - Housing handbook 1964-65
The Continuum Center
  • Continuing education for women
University newsletters
OU student newspapers
Student activism in the 1960s-1970s

Students for a Democratic Society at OU; anti-Vietnam protests; counterculture and censorship issues; civil rights movement. OU has a rich history of student activism that can be directly related to the nation-wide movements of the 1960s-1970s.

Selected sources:
  • Folder “Demonstrations, protests, etc.”
  • Folder “Huber, Sen. Robert”
  • Folder “Poetry Reading – Nude 1968”
  • Folder “Student Organizations at OU, 1959-1980, by Holly Waddell” A history of all student organizations at OU – political, religious, cultural…
  • Folder “Student Disruptions”
  • Folder “Teach-Ins”
  • Folder “Vietnam Moratorium Day – 10/15/69”
  • Folder “Recruiters – Military”
  • Box 5, Folder “Commission on Student Life -- 1967-1968”
  • Box 15, Folder “Oakland Observer -- 1962-1966”
  • Box 19, Folder “State of Michigan -- Senate -- Committee on Campus Disorder and Student Unrest”. Requests for information about OU from Senator Huber, Chair of the Committee.
  • All Dean of Students files
See also:
Hispanic American history
Papers of Manuel Pierson
  • Files from the Office of Student Affairs and Student Services, documenting minority programs at Oakland in the 1960s to 1980s. Pierson was Dean of Student Services and assistant Vice-President for 28 year.
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