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Science for the People Records

1966-2014 (Bulk: 1969-1992)
6 boxes (7 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 859

At the height of the antiwar struggle in the late 1960s, a group of scientists and engineers based in Cambridge, Mass., began to turn a critical eye on the role of their fields in the larger political culture. Calling themselves Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action (SESPA), the group took the slogan "Science for the People," which in turn became the name of their organization. With a collective membership that spread nation-wide, Science for the People was a voice for radical science and an active presence framing several of the scientific debates of the day. Through its vigorous publications, SftP explored issues ranging from the impact of military and corporate control of research to scientific rationalization of racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality; and they contributed to the discussions of recombinant DNA, sociobiology, IQ and biological determinism, women's health care, nuclear power, and the rise of biotechnology. Many members were engaged in supporting anti-imperialist resistance in Central America and Asia during the 1980s. The organization gradually waned in the 1980s and published the last issue of its magazine in 1989.

Donated by several members of the organization, the Science for the People collection provides a window into the organization and operation of a collective devoted to radical science. In addition to meeting minutes and notes, and some correspondence, the collection includes a nearly complete run of the Science for the People magazine, and a substantial representation of the national and Nicaragua newsletters and topical publications. Photographs from the group's trip to China and other areas abroad in 1978 are available online, along with videos of the talks and sessions from a 2014 conference on the history and legacy of SftP.

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Background on Science for the People

An image from the collection

In the late 1960s, a group of radical scientists and engineers began to turn a critical eye on the role of their fields in the larger political culture. Calling themselves Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action (SESPA), announcing that "if you are tired of science for the pentagon or science for business, try science for the people." Their slogan "Science for the People" (SftP), became the name of their organization.

With a collective membership, decentralized, and little hierarchy, SftP was truly a grassroots organization, spawning chapters nationwide, usually based in research universities, though not limited to them. As Herb Fox, one of the group's founders noted, there was a vigorous debate in the early years of the organization over precisely what SftP should be: whether they should see themselves as engaged primarily in class struggle (in a Marxist sense) emphasizing the issues of science, as an organization devoted to using science in the interest of the people, or more generally as a group that would take a critical approach to examining the social and political impact of science and the misuse of science.

From these sometimes contentious beginnings, SftP emerged into a powerful voice for radical science, communicating its ideas through the bi-monthly magazine it published from 1970 to 1989 and a string of pamphlets and books on the major scientific issues of the day. In the 1970s and 1980s, members of the organization were influential in building opposition to military and corporate control of research and to scientific rationalization of racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality. SftP were indispensable participants in high-profile debates over recombinant DNA technologies; sociobiology, IQ, and biological determinism; women's health care; nuclear power; and the rise of biotechnology. Many of its members were engaged in supporting anti-imperialist resistance in Central America and Asia during the 1980s.

Although the organization gradually waned in the 1980s, publishing the last issue of its magazine in 1989, the issues it confronted have not. After a conference on the history of the organization was held at UMass Amherst in 2014, Science for the People has reorganized, with chapters reappearing at universities around the country including University of Michigan, MIT, and UMass Amherst.

Scope of collection

The Science for the People Records documents the organizational life, publication history, and research of the science activist group from 1966 to 1992, as well as a conference about the group held in 2014.

The collection contains a nearly complete run of the Science for the People magazine which was published bi-monthly from 1969-1989; in addition there are various publications about sociobiology, racism, sexism, and war. There are organizational notes, as well as national and regional newsletters from New York, Nicaragua, and Boston chapters. There are also subject files related to the organization's research pertaining to sociobiology, recombinant DNA, nuclear power, anti-war, and other topics. Photographs from the group's trip to China and other areas abroad in 1978 are available online, along with videos of the talks and sessions from a 2014 conference on the history and legacy of SftP.

The collection is organized into three series:

Series descriptions

1970-2014
.5 boxes (.75 linear feet)

Series 1 contains documents related to the organization's day to day operations. There are meeting notes from the steering committee, board of directors, and various chapters. There are national newsletters and those for the Boston and Nicaragua chapters. It also contains promotional materials, correspondence between members, videos from a 2014 conference, and information about the Valentine and Unity Caucuses.

1959-2004
2 boxes (3 linear feet)

Series 2 contains publications by Science for the People, and various regional SftP groups. This includes issues of the bimonthly SftP magazine from 1970-1989. There are also subject specific publications relating to topics including food resources, nuclear power, sociobiology, the military, and health care produced by the national SftP organization and local chapters.

ca.1970-2004
3.5 boxes (3.25 linear feet)

Series 3 contains topical research for a variety of subjects which SftP published about or discussed. It contains information on China, food, energy, nuclear power, recombinant DNA, sociobiology, and war.

Inventory

Series 1. Organizational Materials
1970-2014
.5 boxes (.75 linear feet)
American Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting in Boston
1976
Box 5: 1
Benefit Cocktail Party Invitations
undated
Box 1: 1
Board of Directors
1990-1991
Box 1: 2
Board of Directors: Ross Feldberg notes
1990-1992
Box 1: 3
Boston Area Science for the People
1973-1974
Box 1: 4
Boston Area Science for the People: Meeting Notes
1976
Box 1: 5
Conference: Posters
2014
Folder OS 1
Conference: Planning and Promotion
2014
Box 1: 6
Conference: Promotional Bags
2014
Box 6
Conference: Session Videos
2014 Apr
2014 Apr 12

Session 1, Panel 1

Session 1, Panel 2

Session 1, Panel 3

Session 2, Panel 5

Session 2, Panel 6

Session 2, Panel 7

2014 Apr 12

Mentoring Comrades: The Dialectics of Political Mentoring in the Natural Sciences

2014 Apr 13

Session 3, Panel 9

Session 3, Panel 10

2014 Apr 13

Session 3, Panel 11

Correspondence
1978-1979
Box 1: 7
Correspondence: Promotional Mailings
ca.1981
Box 1: 8
Correspondence: Schneider, Scott
1977
Box 1: 9
Correspondence: Weinrub, Al
1976-1983
Box 1: 10
The Fundamental amd Principal Contradictions in SftP
undated
Box 4: 38
Historical Benchmarks
1970-1979
Box 1: 11
Impact: Report on Science and Technology
ca.1980
Box 1: 12
Internal Discussion Bulletin
1979
Box 1: 13
Internal Discussion Bulletin
1982
Box 1: 14
Magazine: Solicitations for Subscriptions
ca.1975-1980
Box 1: 15
Magazine: Statistics
1979
Box 1: 16
Nature article: Science for the People
1978 Aug
Box 4: 39
Newsclippings
1970-1972
Box 1: 17
Newsclippings
1970-1972
Box 1: 18
Newsletter: Boston
1974-1975
Box 1: 19
Newsletter: National
1976 Jan
Box 1: 20
Newsletter: National
1981 Feb
Box 1: 21
Newsletter: National
1981 Jun-Jul
Box 1: 22
Newsletter: National
1981 Aug-Sep
Box 1: 23
Newsletter: National
1981 Oct-Nov
Box 1: 24
Newsletter: National
1981 Dec-1982 Jan
Box 1: 25
Newsletter: National
1982 Feb-Mar
Box 1: 26
Newsletter: National
1982 Apr-May
Box 1: 27
Newsletter: National
1982 Jun/Jul
Box 1: 28
Newsletter: National
1982 Aug-Sep
Box 1: 29
Newsletter: National
1982 Oct-Nov
Box 1: 30
Newsletter: National
1982 Dec-1983 Jan
Box 1: 31
Newsletter: National
1982 Feb-Mar
Box 1: 32
Newsletter: National
1983 Aug-Sep
Box 1: 33
Newsletter: National
1983 Oct-Dec
Box 1: 34
Newsletter: National
1984 Spring
Box 1: 35
Newsletter: National
1984 Fall
Box 1: 36
Newsletter: National
1985 Spring
Box 1: 37
Newsletter: New York
ca.1975
Box 1: 38
Newsletter: Nicaragua
1987
Box 1: 39
Newsletter: Nicaragua
1988
Box 1: 40
Newsletter: Nicaragua
1989
Box 1: 41
Newsletter: The Principal Investigator
1990
Box 1: 42
Newsletter: SESPA
ca.1969
Box 1: 43
Organizational Chart
undated
Box 5: 2
Organizational Structure: Discussion
ca.1970
Box 1: 44
Position Paper on the Four Questions
1975
Box 1: 45
Promotional Brochures
ca.1970-1980
Box 1: 46
Publication Promotion
ca.1981
Box 5: 3
Revolution's Evolution: Radical Group 10 years later
1979 Jun
Box 4: 40
Steering Committee
1973-1974
Box 1: 47
Steering Committee
1975
Box 1: 48
Steering Committee
1988-1989
Box 1: 49
Twentieth Anniversary Benefit Reception
1989 Jun 8
Box 1: 50
Unity Caucus
1974-1975
Box 1: 51
Valentine Caucus
1975
Box 1: 52
Series 2. Publications
1959-2004
2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Science for the People magazine
1970 Aug-Dec
Box 1: 53
Science for the People magazine
1971 Feb-Jul
Box 1: 54
Science for the People magazine
1971 Sep-Nov
Box 1: 55
Science for the People magazine
1972 Jan-Mar
Box 1: 56
Science for the People magazine
1972 Jul-Nov
Box 1: 57
Science for the People magazine
1973 Jan-May
Box 1: 58
Science for the People magazine
1973 Jul-Nov
Box 1: 59
Science for the People magazine
1974 Jan-May
Box 1: 60
Science for the People magazine
1974 Jul-Nov
Box 2: 1
Science for the People magazine
1975 Jan-May
Box 2: 2
Science for the People magazine
1975 Jul-Nov
Box 2: 3
Science for the People magazine
1976 Jan-May
Box 2: 4
Science for the People magazine
1976 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 5
Science for the People magazine
1977 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 6
Science for the People magazine
1977 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 7
Science for the People magazine
1978 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 8
Science for the People magazine
1978 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 9
Science for the People magazine
1979 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 10
Science for the People magazine
1979 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 11
Science for the People magazine
1980 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 12
Science for the People magazine
1980 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 13
Science for the People magazine
1981 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 14
Science for the People magazine
1981 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 15
Science for the People magazine
1982 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 16
Science for the People magazine
1982 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 17
Science for the People magazine
1983 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 18
Science for the People magazine
1983 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 19
Science for the People magazine
1984 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 20
Science for the People magazine
1984 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 21
Science for the People magazine
1985 March
Box 2: 22
Science for the People magazine
1985 Jun
Box 2: 23
Science for the People magazine
1985 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 24
Science for the People magazine
1986 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 25
Science for the People magazine
1986 Jul-Dec
Box 2: 26
Science for the People magazine
1987 Jan-Jun
Box 2: 27
Science for the People magazine
1987 Jul-Dec
Box 3: 1
Science for the People magazine
1988 Jan-Apr
Box 3: 2
Science for the People magazine
1988 Jul-Dec
Box 3: 3
Science for the People magazine
1989-01/06
Box 3: 4
Science for the People magazine: Index
ca.1977
Box 3: 5
Science for the People magazine: Inside covers
1973-1980
Box 3: 6
The AMRC Paper
1973
Box 3: 7
Beyond Earth Day
1990 May
Box 3: 8
Biology as Destiny: Scientific Fact or Social Bias
1984
Box 3: 9
Biology as a Social Weapon
1977
Box 3: 10
Censored
1971 Dec
Box 3: 11
China: Science Walks on Two Legs
1974
Box 3: 12
Feed, Need, Greed: Food Resources and Population
1980
Box 3: 13
Feed, Need, Greed: Where Will it Lead?
1974 Dec
Box 3: 14
Hard Times: Employment, Unemployment, and Professionalism in the Science
ca.1973
Box 3: 15
Interrupt: Newsletter of Computer People for Peace, nos. 19, 20
1973
Box 3: 15a
I.Q., Scientific or Social Controversy
1976 Feb
Box 3: 16
Los Nuevos Conquistadores
1973 Jun
Box 3: 17
Nuclear Power Pamphlet
1976
Box 3: 18
Science Against the People
1972 Dec
Box 3: 19
Science and Society Series: The Energy Crisis
1973 Nov
Box 3: 20
Science and Society Series: Genetic Engineering
1973 Nov
Box 3: 21
Science and Society Series: Issues of Health Care
1973 Nov
Box 3: 22
Science and Society Series: The Politics of Ecology
ca.1974
Box 3: 23
Science and Society Series: Resources for Teachers
ca.1976
Box 3: 24
Science and Technology in Latin America
1972 Dec
Box 3: 25
Science Teaching torward an Alternative
1972 Apr
Box 3: 26
Scientists and the Military
ca.1981
Box 5: 4
Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
ca.1975
Box 3: 27
The Sociobiology Packet
1979 Jul
Box 3: 28
The 3 Mile Island Disaster
1979 Apr
Box 3: 29
Thistle: Special Science for the People issue
1990 Feb
Box 5: 5
Torwards a Science for the People
1972 Dec
Box 3: 30
Woman and Health Care Packet
1977-1980
Box 3: 31
Series 3. Subject Files
ca.1970-2004
3.5 boxes (3.25 linear feet)
American Association for the Advancement of Science Convention
1977-1979
Box 3: 32
Anarchy
1970-1971
Box 3: 33
Anti-War
1969-1972
Box 3: 34
Black Panther Party
1971
Box 3: 35
Biological Determinism Symposium
1975
Box 3: 36
Biology as a Social Weapon: Book Reviews and Press
1976-1979
Box 3: 37
Boston Racism
1974
Box 3: 38
Brazil's Economy
1972
Box 3: 39
China
1975
Box 3: 40
China: audiocassettes
ca.1970-1978
Box 6

Fifteen audiocassette tapes recorded in the early 1970s when Science for the People members travelled to China to learn more about Chinese science. Peking University, Tsinghua University, Futan University, Okinawa, May Seventh Cadre School. Photographs of a SftP trip to China and other places abroad in 1978 are available online through Credo.

China: compact disc
ca.1980
Box 6
De Paul University
1972
Box 5: 6
Energy
1974-1978
Box 3: 41
Ephemera
ca.1970-1982
Box 3: 42
Feed, Need, and Greed
1974-1977
Box 3: 43
Flyers
ca.1975-1987
Box 3: 44
Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture
1974-1976
Box 3: 45
Food and Nutrition Group
1975-1976
Box 3: 46
Food and Nutrition Group
1976-1978
Box 3: 47
Genetics and Social Policy
1973-1976
Box 3: 48
Genewatch
1985
Box 3: 49
How AMRC Helps the Army
ca.1973
Box 3: 50
Hospitals
ca.1975
Box 3: 51
Imperialism
1975
Box 3: 52
International Nutrition and Global Food Resources
1974-1976
Box 3: 53
IQ and Race
1970-1976
Box 3: 54
Jensenism
1975
Box 3: 55
Marine Science Unite: Esenada
1975-1978
Box 4: 1
Mathematics Action Group
1970-1977
Box 4: 2
May Magazine Articles
1975
Box 4: 3
Miscellaneou - advertisements, clippings, poems
ca.1970-1975
Box 4: 4
Miscellaneous - labor, occupational health
ca.1975
Box 5: 7
Miscellaneous Publications
1974-1975
Box 4: 5
New Patriotism
1976
Box 4: 6
Newsclippings
1968
Box 4: 7
Newsclippings-Chicago
1976-1980
Box 4: 8
Newsletter: What's Happening
1972
Box 5: 8
Newsletter: What's Happening-Notes
ca.1972-1976
Box 5: 9
Notes-Bob Ogden
undated
Box 4: 9
Nuclear
1978
Box 5: 10
Nuclear Power
1979-1983
Box 4: 10
Occupational and Environmental Health
1974-1976
Box 4: 11
The Outlaw: St. Louis Underground Newspaper
1970
Box 4: 12
People's Health
ca.1970
Box 4: 13
Photograph: Large Computer Machine
ca.1970-1979
Box 4: 41
Photographs-Bob Ogden
ca.1975-1980
Box 4: 14
Photographs-Terri Goldberg
ca.1980
Box 4: 15
Recombinant DNA
1975-1976
Box 4: 16
Recombinant DNA
1976-1977
Box 4: 17
Recombinant DNA
1981
Box 4: 18
Ruth Hubbard
1990
Box 4: 19
SANE: A Citizens Organization for a Sane World
1978
Box 4: 20
Science
1974-1979
Box 4: 21
Science and Society Study: Materials from a Manifest Perspective
1969
Box 4: 22
Science for Viet Nam
1971-1972
Box 4: 23
Situationalist Surealists
1976
Box 4: 24
Sociobiology
1976-1979
Box 4: 25
Sociobiology
1979-1980
Box 4: 26
Sociobiology
1975-1979
Box 5: 11
Sociobiology: Ann Arbor Group
1976-1980
Box 4: 27
Sociobiology Study Group
1978-1980
Box 4: 28
Sociiobiology Study Group
1982-1985
Box 4: 29
SPARK: Magazine by the Committee for Social Responsibility in Engineering
1971-1973
Box 4: 30
SPARK: Magazine by the Committee for Social Responsibility in Engineering
1974-1975
Box 4: 31
Students for a Demented Society
1966-1969
Box 4: 32
Subway Steel Dust
1975 Jan
Box 4: 33
Uptown Community Organization
1972
Box 5: 12
War (Vietnam and IndoChina)
1972-1973
Box 4: 34
The War Physicists (manuscript)
1976
Box 4: 35
Women
ca.1970-1980
Box 4: 36
XYY
1974-1976
Box 4: 37

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Acquired from Science for the People members Terri Goldberg, Scott Schneider, Al Weinrub, and Bob Ogden, 2014.

Additional materials related to the 2014 conference on the history and legacy of SftP is available on their Science for the People conference website.

Digitized content

Selected material from the Science for the People Records is available online through Credo.

Processing Information

Processed by Kyle Boyd, 2017.

Language:

English

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Science for the People Records (MS 859). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Ann Arbor Science for the People (Organization)
  • Protest movements
  • Science for the People (Organization)
  • Science for the People (Organization). Food and Nutrition Group
  • Science for the People (Organization). Sociobiology Study Group
  • Science--Social aspects
  • Technology--Social aspects
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements

Contributors

  • Science for the People. [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Magazines (periodicals)
  • Newsletters

Link to similar SCUA collections