Skip to main content

Records of Radcliffe College Education for Action, 1966-2000


Records include correspondence, minutes, financial accounts, student project proposals, and reports of Radcliffe College's Education for Action, which supported student work in community service and social action.


  • Creation: 1966-2000

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open to research. Some folders are closed for 50 years from date of creation; these are noted in the inventory.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Education for Action is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


27.71 linear feet (19 cartons, 11 file boxes, 1 folio+ box)

The records of Education for Action include correspondence, meeting minutes, financial accounts, fundraising records, student project proposals and reports, and photographs relating to projects. Some administrative records have been closed due to financial or personnel issues.

Boxes #1-10 document the first five years of Education for Action. Many of the files in Box 1 belong to the program's first director, Sue Bartholomew, who corresponded with the first year of student participants.

Accession #R2002-CR19 was transferred to the Radcliffe College Archives after the closing of the Education for Action office. It is generally organized by type of file. Student board files include a run of "internal log books," later called "workbooks," that the student board members used to record ideas, notes, meeting minutes, communication in general among the group. As a set, they show the ways a cooperatively-run student-led organization was able to communicate and organize work.

Files with records of projects funded are possibly the material with the most research potential. Students were required to describe their projects in detail when applying for funding. For many years, they were also required to file a report back with the Education for Action office; in some instances these reports included photograph albums. In the late 1980s, Education for Action began referring to their funding work as giving "grants" as opposed to funding "projects." "Grant" files dating from 1988 to 1999 contain individual project proposals and reports; these files were organized by name of recipient, but individual names of students are not listed in the inventory; archivists have generally described project subjects to aid researchers. To find files describing all the projects funded, a researcher should look in Boxes #1-10; then in R90-CR17, Cartons #1-7; then in R2002-CR19, Cartons #4 and #11-13.

Co-sponsorship files document Harvard/Radcliffe programs, speakers, films, and conferences to which Education for Action contributed money. These files document many of the social justice events on campus from the late 1980s to the late 1990s.

Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this collection.

Some Education for Action material has been digitized as part of the Radcliffe College Archives subject files (RG XXIV, Series 5). This material (#11.9-11.12) includes Education for Action yearly reports, newsletters, and posters. Six audiotapes documenting early Education for Action projects are listed and described as RA.T-045 in the Radcliffe College Archives sound recordings collection, 1951- 2008 (RG XX, Series 8-9).


Education for Action was initiated in 1966 with a grant from the Ford Foundation. Originally begun as an experimental joint venture between Radcliffe College, the Radcliffe Government Association, and Phillips Brooks House, Education for Action grew to become an integral part of the Harvard/Radcliffe student experience for 30 years. The program was initiated by students who wanted to engage in community service and social action work in communities from Cambridge to Kenya, and needed funding in order to do this work in the summer between academic years at Harvard/Radcliffe. Education for Action was initially envisioned to have three components: a domestic community service experience ("Unit I"); a seminar component in which participants formally learned from each other and connected their experiences to their schoolwork ("Unit II"), and then an international component, where students could work and learn together or in conjunction with other nonprofits or service learning organizations ("Unit III"). The program was also envisioned as a way to provide adequate training for Peace Corps volunteers, but this idea was dropped after the first few years.

Education for Action, or "E4A" as it was also known, raised money, primarily from foundations, to support Harvard/Radcliffe students in their social justice experiential learning endeavors. Funding and grants were administered by Radcliffe College, and Radcliffe staff served as administrators for the program, but the decisions about which students and projects to fund were made by a cooperatively-run student board. The student board was intentional about its need to be ethnically and racially diverse. An Advisory Board, of faculty, staff, and experts on experiential and international learning, was also formed. Program directors were: Judith Newman (1966-1972), Shepherd Bliss (1973-1979), and Suzanne Motheral (1979-1990). Faith Adiele (a former student board member) was appointed Program Coordinator in 1990.

In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, student projects were often focused on doing international teaching, relief, or other aid work. By the 1980s, Education for Action began to include campus issues and events within its focus on social justice issues. Funds were also directed toward education of Harvard/Radcliffe students in situ: money was frequently allocated to bring noted speakers to campus, to fund conferences on social justice topics, to provide education to Harvard/Radcliffe students about privilege, race, and other issues. By the 1990s, Education for Action also functioned as a resource center and social space on campus. International and nationwide projects were still funded, but fewer summer grants for that work were given than in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Throughout the years Education for Action existed, students were interested in working with young people in the local Cambridge and Boston communities. Particular projects varied, but the interest in Harvard's surrounding communities continued. Funded projects were always a mix of local and international ventures. In the 1980s and 1990s, students proposed an increasing number of arts-focused projects: publishing magazines, producing films, etc. Projects in the early 1990s often included AIDS education, both on campus and in cities both local and international.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: R90-CR17, R2002-CR19

Records were first transferred to the Radcliffe College Archives in 1972; a second transfer was made in July 1990. R2002-CR19 was transferred to the Archives after the closing of the Education for Action office, following the merger of Radcliffe College with Harvard University.

Processing Information

Processed: July 1990 (R90-CR17)

By: Jane S. Knowles

Updated: March 2017

By: Jenny Gotwals

Radcliffe College. Education for Action. Records of Radcliffe College Education for Action, 1966-2000: A Finding Aid
Radcliffe College Archives, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA