1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

The Brothers Records

1966-1972

PDF Version

Abstract

The Brothers was a civil rights group that was active in Albany, New York for several years beginning in 1966.

Summary

Creator:
Brothers (Albany, N.Y.)
Date Coverage:
1966-1972
Quantity:
1.4 cubic ft. (about 1.4 boxes)

The Brothers was a civil rights group that was active in Albany, New York for several years beginning in 1966. While picketing a worksite to protest discrimination in hiring practices, Leon Van Dyke was joined by several African-American men from Albany's South End and Arbor Hill neighborhoods. Believing that it was the responsibility of the African-American community to address its own problems, the group took on issues faced by the residents of Arbor Hill, the South End and the North Side: poverty, poor access to health care, slum housing conditions, inadequate public schools and lack of political power. They pressured landlords to clean up their buildings, offered free classes in black history, ran voter registration drives and a breakfast program for poor children. They led rent strikes and protested against discrimination and alleged police brutality. The first action that brought them notoriety was their attempt in November 1966 to expose the alleged vote-buying practice of the Albany Democratic political machine. Considered enemies of the political machine, Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd kept secret police surveillance files on the members. [1] At the height of their prominence the Brothers unsuccessfully fielded African-American candidates for mayor, alderman and county legislator. The Brothers maintained the non-violent philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, but indicated that they would react with force if necessary. While not as militant as the Black Panthers, they were viewed with suspicion by many in the African-American community. However, they had the support of many activists in Albany, including lawyers, religious leaders, college students and professors.

Some of the founding members of the group included: Gordon Van Ness, Leon Van Dyke, Clarence Williams, James McBride, John Williams, Sam McDowell, Robert Gene Dobbs, William Gibson, Peter Jones and Herman Washington. [2] There were 15-20 core members of the Brothers. There was no permanent president or chairman. Instead, each week a different Brother took the leadership role so that, according to Gordon Van Ness, ".society can not buy out the Brothers." [3] There were two permanent officers, a treasurer and a secretary. There were seven committees with permanent chairmen: Labor, Welfare, Housing, Political Action, Youth and Drugs, Education and Draft Committees. [4] The Brothers published a newspaper, The Albany Liberator, between 1967 and 1971. It covered news from Albany's Arbor Hill and South End, as well as reprinting articles of interest from all over the country.

The group dissolved in the early 1970s as its members turned their attention to other matters. Some continued their community involvement in less visible ways. After a reunion in April 1990, several former members attempted to revitalize the group. Gordon Van Ness and Clarence Newton opened a community referral center in October 1990 on Clinton Avenue to help advocate for local residents. Shortly after, Van Ness died. Lacking community and financial support, the center closed at the end of 1993. [5]

1. Grondahl, Paul, Albany Times Union, August 22, 1999, p. A3 2. Gaikowski, Richard, Knickerbocker News, October 20, 1966 3. Van Ness, Gordon, Original document circa1968 4. Ibid 5. LeBrun, Fred, Albany Times Union, December 24, 1993, p.B1

The bulk of the collection was compiled or created by Gordon Van Ness and contains copies of newspaper clippings, original writings, memos and correspondence. The collection includes no formal minutes or correspondence to record the activities of the Brothers. There are, however, papers dated 1970-1972 documenting the efforts of the Albany Medical Center and the Northside Advisory Council to develop and operate a community health facility in the Arbor Hill section of Albany. The majority of the clippings covers the years from 1966 to 1968 and primarily document the activities of the Brothers, the vote-buying controversy, the arrests and subsequent legal proceedings against individual Brothers, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and articles of interest to the African-American community. Miscellaneous clippings from 1969 to 1990 document issues relevant to the African-American community in Albany, activities of Gordon Van Ness and the deaths of Samuel McDowell and Ronald Brooks. There are also original copies, as well as photocopies, of The Albany Liberator published between 1967 and 1971. Folder eight includes a report (unidentified) documenting the disagreement surrounding the arrest of 20 pickets demonstrating outside two polling places in 1966. Of particular note are original writings by Gordon Van Ness, most of them undated. Included is a description of the organizational structure of the Brothers, poetry, speeches and highlights of black history and civilization.

The collection has no series.

The Albany Liberators in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Barbara Shields in November 1992 and Dennis Mosley in 1995. Other items in this record group were donated by Gordon Van Ness.1992-1995

Processed by: Joan Seidman in 2000.

Collection record created by: Joan Seidman

Published: 2000 February

Converted to EAD, 2016 December

Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.

We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.

Access to the original newspapers is not available. Researchers may access preservation copies of The Albany Liberator in Box 2.

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Researchers do not have permission to publish or disseminate material from these collections without permission from an archivist and/or the copyright holder.

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The University Archives are eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, The Brothers Records, 1966-1972. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as The Brothers Records).

Contents of Collection

BoxFolderContentsDate

nam_apap081-1

11The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 1 1967 June 16

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-2

11The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 5 1967 July 14-20

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-3

11The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 6 1967 July 21-27

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-4

11The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I 1967 August 18-24

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-5

11The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 14 1967 October 13-19

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-6

11The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 18 1967 December 17

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-7

11The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 19 1967 December 22-1968 January 11

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-8

12The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 2 & 3 1968 February 29

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-9

12The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 5 1968 April 18-May

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-10

12The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 6 1968 May 9-21

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-11

12The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 8 1968 June 20-July 3

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-12

12The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 12 1968 September 12-25

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-13

12The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 13(?) 1968 October 28

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-14

13The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 4 1970 January 15

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-15

13The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. (?) 1970 April 3

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-16

13The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. (?) 1970 October 23

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-17

13The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 2 1970 November 23-30

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-18

14The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume IV(?) 1971 January

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-19

14The Albany Liberator (Originals) Special Black Arts Issue 1971 April

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-20

14The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 7 1971 June

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-21

14The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 8-9 1971 July-August

Originals may be restricted due to preservation concerns.

nam_apap081-22

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 11967 June 16

nam_apap081-23

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 41967 July 7-13

nam_apap081-24

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 51967 July 14-20

nam_apap081-25

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 61967 July 21-27

nam_apap081-26

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 71967 July 28-August 3

nam_apap081-27

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I1967 August 18-24

nam_apap081-28

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 111967 September 8-14

nam_apap081-29

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 131967 September 29-October 5

nam_apap081-30

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 141967 October 13-19

nam_apap081-31

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 171967 November 17-23

nam_apap081-32

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 181967 December 7

nam_apap081-33

21The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 191967 December 22-1968 January 11

nam_apap081-34

22The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 2 & 31968 February 29

nam_apap081-35

22The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 51968 April 18-May

nam_apap081-36

22The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 61968 May 9-21

nam_apap081-37

22The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 81968 June 20-July 3

nam_apap081-38

22The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 91968 July 11-24

nam_apap081-39

22The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 121968 September 12-21

nam_apap081-40

22The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 13(?)1968 October 28

nam_apap081-41

23The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) 1969 October 27-November 3

nam_apap081-42

23The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 41970 January 15

nam_apap081-43

23The Albany Liberator (Photocopies)1970 April 3

nam_apap081-44

23The Albany Liberator (Photocopies)1970 October 23

nam_apap081-45

23The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 21970 November 23-30

nam_apap081-46

23The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Special issue Undated

nam_apap081-47

23The Albany Liberator (Photocopies)1971 July-August

nam_apap081-48

24The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume IV(?)1971 January

nam_apap081-49

24The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Special Black Arts Issue1971 April

nam_apap081-50

24The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 71971 June

nam_apap081-51

24The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 8-91971 July-August

nam_apap081-52

31"A Lesson for All" Gordon Van NessUndated

nam_apap081-53

32"A Letter to a Friend (Inner Cities of America)" Gordon Van Ness1990

nam_apap081-54

33Bibliography on African-American History1967

nam_apap081-55

34The Brothers' Mission1989

nam_apap081-56

35Clippings1965 April 15, 1967

nam_apap081-57

36Clippings1967 April 16-1968

nam_apap081-58

37Clippings1969-1990

nam_apap081-59

38Clippings (The Liberator)Undated

nam_apap081-60

39Community Newspapers1971

nam_apap081-61

310Community Referral CenterUndated

nam_apap081-62

311Housing1968

nam_apap081-63

312Human Relations Seminars for Corrections Officers1973

nam_apap081-64

313Investigation of Arrest at Polling Place1966 November

nam_apap081-65

314Miscellaneous - Includes fund-raising letter, thank you letter, copies of photos of people Undated

nam_apap081-66

315Northside Advisory Council (NAC)1970-1972

nam_apap081-67

316Includes fund-raising letter, thank you letter, copies of photos of people1971-1972

nam_apap081-68

317Posters, Flyers, BrochuresUndated

nam_apap081-69

318Programs (dinners and conferences)1972, 1975, 1990

nam_apap081-70

319Reunion1990 April 27

nam_apap081-71

320Urban League (reports)1968, 1969

nam_apap081-72

321Van Ness, Gordon, Includes undated biographical material and obituary1990

nam_apap081-73

322Writings (original, Gordon Van Ness)Undated

nam_apap081-74

323Curator's News Clippings Includes copies from microfiche, DialogUndated

nam_apap081-75

41News Clippings1966-1968