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Collection Title: Schwartz (Joseph A.) Civil Rights Letters

Collection Number: M 381

Dates: ca. 1962-1966

Volume: .10 cu.ft.

Provenance: Most of the materials in this collection were created by Dr. Joseph A. Schwartz. Exceptions are a letter written by Leon Schwartz, and an article co-authored by Dr. Joseph Schwartz, Gerald A. Smith, Donald H. Miller, George R. Kalbfleisch, Robert W. Huff, Orin I. Dahl, and Gideon Alexander.

Donor: Dr. Joseph A. Schwartz, April 23, 2001

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Dr. Joseph Adam Schwartz was a Civil Rights volunteer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, from September 1964 to March 1965.

Dr. Schwartz was born to Leon Schwartz and Beatrice “Bea” Krevens Schwartz in New York City on January 3, 1938. He moved with his parents and younger brother Michael, to Los Angeles, California in 1946. After graduating from high school in 1955, Dr. Schwartz received both his undergraduate degrees in physics and sociology (1959), and his Ph.D. in elementary particle physics (1964) from the University of California (UC), Berkeley. During his time at UC Berkeley, he was involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization strongly connected to the Civil Rights movement in the south.

His involvement with SNCC at Berkeley contributed to a decision to volunteer in Mississippi. He came to the South, leaving for a time a position as Head of the Physics Department at Staten Island Community College of the City of New York. After arriving in Batesville, Mississippi for orientation in September 1964, he traveled to Hattiesburg to begin work as a volunteer. Dr. Schwartz helped with voter registration, community centers, and the Freedom library. He also worked with the White Folks Project (WFP) to facilitate discussions about racism among Hattiesburg’s poor white communities.
He left Hattiesburg in March of 1965 and traveled back to the Bay Area. He returned to Mississippi briefly before moving to New York to start a post-doctorate with Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1975 he moved to London, England, where he currently lives with his partner Susie Orbach and their two children, Lukas and Lianna. Dr. Schwartz is now a writer and psychoanalytic psychotherapist.


Contents of the Collection.
Joseph Schwartz oral history; F341.5.M57 vol. (736)

Scope and Content:

The collection is contained in three folders. Folder One holds eleven handwritten letters, mostly exchanges between Dr. Joseph A. Schwartz and members of his immediate family. One letter is to Bea and Isaac from Leon Schwartz. Folder Two holds photocopies of each of the original documents in the collection. In most of the letters, Schwartz discusses his feelings about the Civil Rights Movement and the lack of visible support from the national government regarding protection for civil rights volunteers. He mentions such organizations as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). He also makes mention of national SNCC chairman, Chuck McDew, and civil rights volunteer Michael Schwerner who was murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi in 1964. Other topics of discussion are family matters and travel.

Folder Three holds a printed article co-authored by Dr. Schwartz and a typewritten description of a dream. The article is from Volume (10), Number (4) of a newsletter titled Physical Review Letters. Dated February 15, 1963, it is co-authored by Dr. Schwartz and titled, “Evidence for K* Spin Alignment and Possible Exchange Mechanism in the Reaction ?¯p????*†.” The dream that is described is set in Africa, and was apparently dreamt by Dr. Schwartz.

This collection should be of interest to students and researchers of the civil rights era circa 1960-1965; especially those interested in researching the experiences of volunteers with academic backgrounds in sociology, psychology or the physical sciences. The collection would also be valuable to researchers interested in the letters exchanged between civil rights workers and their families during the 1960s.

Related Collections:

M376 Hamlett (Ed) White Folks Project Collection

Created by: Julie Griffin
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Revised: June 30, 2005