The CUNY Digital History Archive and the Emergency Financial Control Board:  Hostos Archives in the News

William Casari, Associate Professor
College Archivist, Library Department

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“We Accuse” Caption: “We Accuse The Members of the Emergency Financial Control Board of Crimes Against the Community.” Flyer created by the Community Coalition to Save Hostos (CCSH) for the May 10, 1976 march that proceeded from El Barrio to the headquarters of the Emergency Financial Control Board located at 56th Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Gerald J. Meyer Collection, Hostos Community College Archives and Special Collections/The City University of New York

 

 

 

Images from the Hostos Archives and Special Collections are featured in the CUNY Digital History Archive website and an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.

During spring semester 2016 Andrea Vasquez and Chloe Smolarski from the CUNY Digital History Archive (CDHA) visited Hostos and met with Professor Emeritus Gerald Meyer and College Archivist William Casari.  Dr. Meyer meticulously saved fliers, correspondence and photos that document the 1970s “Save Hostos” movement, identified for inclusion in CDHA.  Ms. Smolarski met frequently over several months with Prof. Meyer who curated the collection that is now displayed on the CDHA website.

“The CUNY Digital History Archive (CDHA) is an open, participatory digital archive and portal that gives the CUNY community and the broader public online access to a range of materials related to the history of the City University of New York. The CDHA will conduct and collect oral history interviews as well as accept historical materials and records contributed by individuals whose lives, in diverse ways, have shaped, and been shaped, by CUNY. Faculty, staff, and students have fought to sustain CUNY’s democratic mission and one of the goals of the CUNY Digital History Archive is to document and preserve the stories of those efforts.” (CDHA website description).

The website features items that document the history of higher education, retrenchment, open admissions, and remediation, among others. These primary source items from across CUNY libraries and archives can be used for homework, primary source research, or could form the basis of a small in-class workshop on Hostos history. Numerous curricular uses are possible.

http://cdha.cuny.edu/collections/browse

 

New York at Its Core and Fear City

The original 1976 flyer from the Gerald Meyer “Save Hostos” Collection will be displayed in an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York and featured in a new book about the 1970s fiscal crisis in New York City.

The Emergency Financial Control Board (EFCB) was formed in fall 1975 to make difficult funding decisions regarding city expenses.  Many measures were taken to control spending, including increasing subway fares and cutting the budget of the City University of New York (CUNY). One of the EFCB’s decisions was to close Hostos Community College and merge it with Bronx Community College.  In response, Hostos Professor Ramon Jimenez formed the Community Coalition to Save Hostos (CCSH).  One of the coalition’s first major actions was to hold a demonstration in front of the midtown headquarters of the EFCB and put pressure on it to rescind the decision to close Hostos.

Hostos Professor Emeritus Gerald Meyer recalls that “the CCSH targeted the banks and the EFCB as opposed to political sites and individuals.”  Another Hostos group that played an integral role in saving the college was the Save Hostos Committee (SHC), chaired by Professor Meyer and supported by six subcommittees including letter writing and community outreach committees. Ultimately, through actions of several community groups, clergy and the faculty, students and staff of Hostos, the college was saved in 1976.

On November 16, 2016, the Museum of the City of New York will unveil the exhibit “New York at Its Core” which covers four centuries of New York City history.  The museum’s website indicates that the exhibit was five years in the making and will present a compelling story of New York’s rise from a striving Dutch village to today’s preeminent global city. The EFCB flyer will help document the fiscal crisis and highlight the unique role Hostos played in the local community.

New York University Professor Kim Phillips-Fein, a historian of twentieth century American politics, is the author of Fear City: The New York City Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of the Age of Austerity, scheduled for publication by Metropolitan Books in spring 2017.  It will contain the EFCB flyer and archival photographs from the 1970s.

William Casari, College Archivist, provided access to the Gerald J. Meyer archival collection for the researchers.  The collection contains academic writings, flyers, clippings, student publications, correspondence, memos, instructional materials, scholarly publications, personal papers, and other materials related to Meyer’s activities and Hostos Community College.

The collection guide is available at

http://guides.hostos.cuny.edu/c.php?g=238239

 

 

 

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