1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

The Brothers Records

1966-1999

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:
1966-1999
Quantity:
2.1 cubic ft. (about 2.1 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. A32. Gaikowski, Richard, Knickerbocker News, October 20, 1963. Van Ness, Gordon, Original document circa 1964. 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 1999 document issues relevant to the African-American community in Albany, activities of Gordon Van Ness and the deaths of Samuel McDowell and Ronald Brooks. The collection includes a report (unidentified) documenting the disagreement surrounding the arrest of 20 pickets demonstrating outside two polling places in 1966.

There are also original copies, as well as photocopies, of The Albany Liberator published between 1967 and 1971. Peter Pollak, who served as editor of The Albany Liberator, also donated the publication's mailing list and related financials.

Of particular note in the collection 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 is arranged alphabetically. It has no series.

The Albany Liberator newspapers 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, Dennis Mosley in 1995, and Peter Pollak in 2017. Other items in this record group were donated by Gordon Van Ness, 1992-1995, and Peter Pollak in 2017.

Processed by: Joan Seidman

Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on

Published: 2017-09-19 09:39:32 -0400

Converted to EAD, 2016 December

Jodi Boyle arranged and described additions from Peter Pollak, 2017

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.

Copyright Statement

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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.

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright. Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) and/or by the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations. More information about U.S. Copyright is provided by the Copyright Office. Additionally, re-use may be restricted by terms of University Libraries gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks.

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Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, The Brothers Records, 1966-1999. 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

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

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 2 1967 June 23

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 3 [1967] June 30-July 6

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 5 [1967] July 14-20

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 6 [1967] July 21-27

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 7 [1967] July 28-August 3

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 8 [1967] August 4-10

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, [No. 9] [1967] August 18-24

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 10 [1967] August 25-31

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 14 [1967] October 13-19

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 15 [1967] October 27-November 2

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 16 [1967] November 3-9

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 18 [1967] December 17

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1 1The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume I, No. 19 [1967] December 22-[1968] January 11

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 1 [1968] January 25-February 7

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 2-3 1968 February 29

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 4 [1968] March 28-April 10

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 5 [1968] April 18-May

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 6 [1968] May 9-21

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 7 [1968] June 6-19

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 8 [1968] June 20-July 3

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 9 [1968] July 11-24

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 10 [1968] August 1-14

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 11 [1968] August 22-September 11

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 12 [1968] September 12-25

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1 2The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume II, No. 13 [1968] October

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1 3The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 4 1970 January 15

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1 3The Albany Liberator (Originals) Unnumbered 1970 April 3

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1 3The Albany Liberator (Originals) Unnumbered 1970 October 23

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1 3The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 2 1970 November 23-30

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1 4The Albany Liberator (Originals) Unnumbered [1971 January]

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1 4The Albany Liberator (Originals) Special Black Arts Issue 1971 April 15

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1 4The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 7 1971 June

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1 4The Albany Liberator (Originals) Volume III, No. 8-9 1971 July-August

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 11967 June 16

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 4[1967] July 7-13

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 5[1967] July 14-20

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 6[1967] July 21-27

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 7[1967] July 28-August 3

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, [No. 9][1967] August 18-24

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 11[1967] September 8-14

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 13[1967] September 29-October 5

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 14[1967] October 13-19

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 17[1967] November 17-23

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 18[1967] December 7

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2 1The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume I, No. 19[1967] December 22-[1968] January 11

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

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2 2The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 5[1968] April 18-May

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2 2The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 6[1968] May 9-21

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2 2The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 8[1968] June 20-July 3

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2 2The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 9[1968] July 11-24

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2 2The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume II, No. 13[1968] October 28

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2 3The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Unnumbered1969 October 27-November 3

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2 3The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 41970 January 15

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2 3The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Unnumbered1970 April 3

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2 3The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Unnumbered1970 October 23

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2 3The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 21970 November 23-30

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2 3The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Special issue (Sniper Attack)Undated

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2 4The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Unnumbered[1971 January]

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2 4The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Special Black Arts Issue1971 April

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2 4The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 71971 June

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2 4The Albany Liberator (Photocopies) Volume III, No. 8-91971 July-August

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31The Albany Liberator, Financial Records1968-1969

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4 1The Albany Liberator, Mailing List1968, Undated

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3 2"A Lesson for All," Gordon Van NessUndated

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3 3"A Letter to a Friend (Inner Cities of America)," Gordon Van Ness1990, Undated

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3 4Bibliography on African-American History1967, Undated

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3 5The Brothers' Mission1989

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3 6Clippings1965-1966

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3 7Clippings1966-1967

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3 8Clippings1969-1999, Undated

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4 2Community Newspapers1971

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3 9Community Referral CenterUndated

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3 10Flyers and Letters1968, 1989

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3 11Housing1968

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3 12Human Relations Seminars for Corrections Officers1973, Undated

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3 13Investigation of Arrest at Polling Place1966 November, Undated

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4 3News Clippings, Albany Publications1966-1967, Undated

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3 14Northside Advisory Council (NAC) and Northside Community Health Center (1 of 2)1970-1972, Undated

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3 15Northside Advisory Council (NAC) and Northside Community Health Center (2 of 2)1970-1972, Undated

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316NotesUndated

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3 19Programs (dinners and conferences)1972, 1975, 1990

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3 20Reunion1990, Undated

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3 21Urban League (reports)1969, Undated

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3 22Van Ness, Gordon, Includes undated biographical material and obituary1972, 1990, Undated

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3 23Writings (original, Gordon Van Ness)Undated