RG 07/A2/01

Inventory to the Records of the Office of Public Information on the Vietnam War Teach-Ins, 1965-1966

By Dorothy Ansart and Judith Grier

April 27, 1992

Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries

Terry Catapano of the Center For Electronic Texts in the Humanities

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Rutgers University. Office of Public Information.
Title: Inventory to the Records on the Vietnam War Teach-Ins at Rutgers University
Dates: 1965-1966
Quantity: 2.0 cubic ft. (5 manuscript boxes)
Abstract: 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.
Collection No.: RG 07/A2/01
Language English.
Repository: Rutgers University Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives.

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.

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Chronology of Events

Date Event
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 advocating a 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.

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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.

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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

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Name and Subject Terms

Personal Names

Dillon, C. Douglas (Clarence Douglas), 1909-
Dumont, Wayne
Genovese, Eugene D.
Gross, Mason Welch
Hughes, Richard J. (Richard Joseph), 1909-
Stamler, Nelson F.

Corporate Names

Rutgers University--History--sources
Rutgers College--History--20th century
Rutgers College. Student Council
Rutgers University--History--20th century

Subjects

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

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Detailed Description of the Records/Container List

I. "Teach In," April 23, 1965 - January 22, 1966
Arrangement: The items are arranged chronologically within each folder and have been kept in the original order designed by the Office of Public Information and have retained the original folder headings.
Summary: Contains the bulk of the documents. Includes newspaper clippings, procured by a clipping service, correspondence, records and resolutions relating to the "Teach In", the Genovese controversy, the Dumont / Hughes gubernatorial campaign, and correspondence from alumnae and concerned citizens to Dr. Gross.
Box Folder
1 1-2 Correspondence to Mason Gross: Letters of protest, May 14, 1965-January 6, 1966
Includes letters, telegrams, postcards, newspaper clippings, reprints, newsletters, religious tracts, and returned annotated university mailings sent in protest of Genovese, the University's handling of the case, "Teach Ins", and of the incident of the student striking the woman.
3 Correspondence to Mason Gross: Letters of support, July 10, 1965-November 18, 1965
Includes letters, postcards, and clippings mailed by members of the public in support of the University's handling of the Genovese case, free speech, academic freedom, and of Genovese's statement.
4-5 Correspondence to the Board of Governors: Letters of protest, July 30, 1965-January 17, 1966
Includes a copy of the "Report to the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, re Professor Eugene D. Genovese and the 'Vietnam Teach-In' at Rutgers-The State University on April 23, 1965" prepared by New Jersey Assemblymen, William V. Musto (D-Hudson) and Douglas E. Gimson (R-Hunterdon), dated June 28, 1965. A transcript of the April 23 "Teach In" is attached to this report.
6 Correspondence to the Board of Governors: Letters of support, July 2, 1965-October 31, 1965
Box Folder
2 1 General Correspondence to University Personnel, July 22, 1965-January 22, 1966
Includes letters and returned, mutilated or annotated University mailings from various offices. Some responses indicate support. Includes correspondence to New Jersey Senator Nelson Stamler.
2 Resolutions, June 28, 1965-October 13, 1965
Includes resolutions from various organizations (American Legion, VFW, Disabled American Vets, Concerned Citizens of New Milford, Woodbridge Young Republicans Club, Retired Officers Association, etc.) in opposition to and in favor of the University's stance on the Genovese issue.
3 Rutgers Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, July 2, 1965-September 17, 1965
Includes letter from the Rutgers AAUP Chapter to the Board of Governors urging support of academic freedom, and mailings from the chapter relating to the Genovese case.
4-6 Newspaper Clippings "Against Genovese," July 8, 1965-January 13, 1965
Describes requests for resignation, protests by various groups, calls for investigation and other public responses.
7-8 Newspaper Clippings on instances of support, July 19, 1965-November 27, 1965
Describes individuals and groups in favor of Genovese's retention and public figures' statements in support of University policy.
9-11 Newspaper editorials and columns, April 23 1965-October 31, 1965
Box Folder
3 1 Newspaper Clippings and editorials November 1, 1965-December 2, 1965
2-5 Newspaper Clippings, "Letters to the Editor," August 19, 1965-December 4, 1965
Clippings from newspapers around the state expressing the opinions of constituents, alumnae, and concerned individuals and groups on both sides of the "Teach In" issue, Genovese, and the Governors election campaign.
6 Newspaper Clippings: Senator Nelson F. Stamler (R-Union), August 8-9, 1965
Senator who supports more state control exercised over Rutgers University.
7-9 Newspaper Clippings: Senator Wayne Dumont, July 29-November 24, 1965
Includes the meeting with Mason Gross, the campaign for Governor, Genovese controversy. Contents includes a copy of a radio advertisement supporting Dumont for Governor re: Genovese issue. Clippings are from New Jersey and national newspapers.
10 Newspaper Clippings: Dumont's Investigation, October 4-22, 1965
Proposal by Dumont to dismiss Genovese if he is elected Governor. News clippings highlighting reactions to the proposal.
11 Newspaper Clippings: Douglas Dillon Statement, August 15-November 7, 1965
Member of the Board of Governors supporting academic freedom; includes copy of the statement and newspaper clippings with reactions.
12 Committee on Free Speech, August 15-November 7, 1965
Proposal, correspondence, newsclippings, schedules of speakers and agenda for the September 29-30, 1965 "Teach In". Includes a copy Edison Township Republican Chairman Brown's letter soliciting reports on professors from Rutgers students.
II. "Teach In," September 29-30, 1965
Box Folder
3 13 "Teach In," September 29-30, 1965
Includes correspondence, newspaper clippings,and a copy of a WABC television editorial responding to both sides of the "Teach In" issue as well as news accounts of James Mellen, Drew University professor. Includes information on the speakers and agenda for the "Teach In".
III. "Teach In," October 14, 1965
Box Folder
5 5 "Teach In," October 14, 1965
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and University official's investigation report into the Lantry / Marain incident. Includes information on the speakers and the agenda for the "Teach In" and Mason Gross' statement of disapproval of the event.
6 Newspaper Clippings: Student Petition In Support of Vietnam Policy, October 31-November 20, 1965
Includes correspondence from U.S. Senators from New Jersey, Clifford P. Case and Harrison A. Williams.
7 Miscellaneous, October 16, 1965
Folder containing a copy of The Weekly People, the official organ of the Socialist Lobor Party, and a poster advertising an organized protest to the war in Vietnam on October 16, 1965, which took place in Trenton, NJ.