Arthur Gatti Collection

Table of Contents

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Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Related Material

Administrative Information

Series Descriptions and Container List

Series I: Activism

Subseries A: Civil Rights

Subseries B: Anti-Vietnam War

Subseries C: Students for a Democratic Society

Subseries D: Additional Activism

Series II: Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement

Series III: Scrapbooks

Series IV: Memorabilia 1960s-1970s

Arthur Gatti Collection


Print finding aid created by Nicholas Pavlik Fall 2010; approved by Annie Tummino, Fall 2011; edited by Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, Fall 2013. Machine readable finding aid created by Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, Spring 2014.

Some items from this collection have been digitized and are available through the Civil Rights Movement Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Department of Special Collections and Archives
Creator: Gatti, Arthur
Title: Arthur Gatti Collection
Dates: 1957-2002
Extent: 3.0 Linear feet
Abstract: The Arthur Gatti Collection contains newspaper clippings, publications, documents, correspondence, fliers, posters, photographs, scrapbooks, and memorabilia documenting Gatti’s political and social activism at Queens College in the early-to-mid 1960s. Materials are from both Gatti’s direct experience and the activities of several major activist organizations in the national political and social landscape of the 1960s. The collection also documents the political career and personal life of Mario Savio, a student at Queens College who subsequently attending the University of California, Berkeley, where he became a national leader of the Free Speech Movement in 1964.
Identification: CR.2009.001
Languages: English

Biographical Note

Arthur Gatti attended Queens College from the early to mid-1960s, where he was extensively involved in political and social activism that engulfed the campus. During the summers of 1963 and 1964, Gatti travelled to Mexico as a member of the Queens College Mexico Volunteers, a student group dedicated to improving sanitary conditions and quality of life in impoverished villages and towns. Gatti was primarily stationed in the city of Taxco, in the state of Guerrero, where, among other projects, he helped to repair a hospital and build a school that is still in use today.

Mario Savio (or “Bob” Savio, as he was known then), another Queens College student, was also in Taxco during the summer of 1963. Gatti and Savio became close friends although Savio left prematurely to rejoin his family who had relocated to California. In the fall of 1963, Savio enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, where he later rose to national prominence as the leader of the Free Speech Movement, a major catalyst for the emergence of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Gatti and Savio remained friends until Savio’s death at age 53 in 1996.

During the winter intercession (January) and Easter break (April) of 1965, Gatti joined a group of fellow Queens College students on a volunteer mission under the supervision of Queens College Education Department Professor Sidney Simon. The students helped rebuild African American Baptist churches in Mississippi burned by white supremacists during the Freedom Summer of 1964. The church rebuilding project was conducted under the auspices of the Queens College Mississippi Freedom Project and in coordination with the Committee of Concern, an interracial and interfaith group of Mississippi clergymen, Quakers, and Mennonites. During the first trip to Mississippi, Gatti’s group was stationed in Tougaloo, twelve miles north of Jackson; for the second trip they were stationed in Meridian, where Queens College student Andrew Goodman and fellow activists James Cheney and Michael Schwerner were stationed before being murdered by white supremacists the previous summer.

Gatti was an active member of the Queens College branches of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), nationally prominent organizations organizing for social, racial and economic justice. After graduating from Queens College in 1965, Gatti began volunteering at the Newark Community Union Project (NCUP); a project chartered two years earlier by SDS and headed by Tom Hayden. He worked as a community organizer until the fall of 1969 helping tenants secure better living conditions. Finally, Gatti wrote several articles documenting his activist experiences, which were featured in the Queens College newspaper, The Phoenix, as well as The Long Island Press.

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Scope and Contents

The Arthur Gatti Collection consists of clippings, publications, documents, correspondence, fliers, posters, photographs, scrapbooks, and memorabilia documenting Gatti’s political and social activism as a Queens College student in the early-to-mid-1960s. The collection details Mr. Gatti’s involvement with the Queens College Mississippi Freedom Project, the Queens College Mexico Volunteers, and the Queens College branches of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Specific protest rallies and events are documented, including responses to the murders of Queens College student Andrew Goodman and fellow activists James Cheney and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

The collection contains items on the broader national activities of prominent organizations SDS, CORE, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. There is protest literature from the the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War Protest Movement, including materials by the Youth International Party, the War Resisters League, and the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Materials also document the Newark race riots of 1967 and the U.S. presidential elections of 1964 and 1968.

The collection includes materials relating to Mario Savio, a former Queens College student and leader of the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley. There is correspondence between Savio and Gatti, photographs, a transcript of an oral history interview at Columbia University in 1985, and a tape recording of a speech by Savio at Queens College in 1964 with a transcript of the speech introduced by New York University Professor Robert Cohen. There is material on Savio’s death in 1996, including newspaper obituaries, remembrances from friends, literature on the Memorial Lecture and Young Activist Award established in Savio’s honor, and items regarding the New York memorial service in honor of Savio, coordinated by Gatti.

Items from The Lost World of Italian American Radicalism, an academic conference held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 1997, including a paper on Savio featured in the Spring 1998 issue of Radical History, are also included.

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Arrangement

The Arthur Gatti Collection is arranged into four series, with the first series having four sub-series:

Series I: Activism
Subseries A: Civil Rights
Subseries B: Anti-Vietnam War
Subseries C: Students for a Democratic Society
Subseries D: Additional Activism
Series II: Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement
Series III: Scrapbooks
Series IV: Memorabilia

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Restrictions

Access

Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.

Copyright

The Arthur Gatti Collection is physically owned by the Queens College Libraries. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

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Berkeley (Calif.)
Congress of Racial Equality
Free Speech Movement (Berkeley, Calif.)
Gatti, Arthur
Gatti, Arthur
Meridian (Miss.)
Mississippi Freedom Project
Queens (New York, N.Y.)
Queens College (New York, N.Y.)
Savio, Mario
Student movements—United States—1960-1970
Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Taxco de Alarcón (Mexico)
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States

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Related Material

Mario Savio correspondence: Mississippi, to Cheri Stevenson, Berkeley, Calif.: ALS, 1964.

Sid Simon Collection, Queens College

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

item, date (if known), box, folder, Arthur Gatti Collection, Department of Special Collections and Archives, Queens College, City University of New York

Source

Donated by Arthur Gatti in 2009.

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Series Descriptions and Container List

Series I: Activism
This series is divided into four subseries: Civil Rights, Anti-Vietnam War, Students for a Democratic Society, and Additional Activism. Each subseries contains items generated by Gatti’s direct involvement in activities, as well as items collected by Gatti. Materials include clippings, publications, newsletters, documents, correspondence, photographs, fliers, posters, handouts, and I.D. cards. Some items were originally contained in a scrapbook; however, in the interests of preservation and access they were removed and transferred to folders, as noted below.
Subseries A: Civil Rights
Clippings ( 1964-1965 ) Box-folder 1-1
Queens College ( 1964-1965 ) Box-folder 1-2
National Movements ( 1964-1965, undated ) Box-folder 1-3
Correspondence ( 1964-1970 ) Box-folder 1-4
Goodman/Cheney/Schwerner ( 1964-1989, undated ) Box-folder 1-5
I.D. Cards ( 1965-1966 ) Box-folder 1-6
Poems and Lyrics ( undated ) Box-folder 1-7
Subseries B: Anti-Vietnam War
Clippings ( 1965-1976 ) Box-folder 1-8
Publications ( 1964-1971 ) Box-folder 1-9
Queens College ( 1964-1965, undated ) Box-folder 1-10
National Movements ( 1964-1975, undated ) Box-folder 1-11
Indochina Peace Campaign Flag Box-folder 1-12
Correspondence ( 1965 ) Box-folder 1-13
Photographs ( 1971, undated ) Box-folder 1-14
Subseries C: Students for a Democratic Society
National Movements ( 1964-1965, undated ) Box-folder 1-15
Queens College ( 1964-1965, undated ) Box-folder 1-16
Subseries D: Additional Activism
Clippings ( 1963-1967 ) Box-folder 1-17
Publications ( 1957-1967 ) Box-folder 1-18
Documents ( 1963, undated ) Box-folder 1-19
Photographs ( 1967 ) Box-folder 1-20
Series II: Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement
This series contains items pertaining to the political career and personal life of Mario Savio, a friend of Gatti, a former Queens College student, and a leader of the Free Speech Movement that erupted on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley in 1964. Items include correspondence between Savio and Gatti, photographs, clippings, publications, fliers, posters, memorial items, and a transcript of an oral history interview at Columbia University in 1985. In addition, there are scholarly papers on Savio presented at a conference at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 1997 (including one authored by Gatti). Finally, the series contains a reel recording (in poor condition) and transcript of a speech by Savio at Queens College on December 11, 1964. The transcript has been provided to Queens College by New York University professor Robert Cohen, who authored it and featured it in his article, Introduction to Mario Savio Speech, in the Summer 2005 issue of New Politics.
Clippings ( 1963-2002, undated ) Box-folder 2-1
Publications ( 1960-2004 ) Box-folder 2-2
Fliers/Posters ( 1964, undated ) Box-folder 2-3
Correspondence, Savio to Gatti ( 1963-1964 ) Box-folder 2-4
Correspondence, Gatti with Various ( 2002, undated ) Box-folder 2-5
Writings ( 1960, 1995 ) Box-folder 2-6
Oral History Interview Transcript ( 2000 ) Box-folder 2-7
Photographs ( 1963-1969 ) Box-folder 2-8
Memorial Items ( 1996-2001 ) Box-folder 2-9
The Lost World of Italian American Radicalism Conference Papers ( 1997-1998 ) Box-folder 2-10
Transcript of Mario Savio speech at Queens College with Introduction by Robert Cohen ( 1995 ) Box-folder 2-11
Reel Recording of Mario Savio speech at Queens College ( December 11, 1964 ) Box-folder 2
Series III: Scrapbooks
This series contains two annotated scrapbooks documenting Arthur Gatti’s experiences as a student activist. One scrapbook documents Gatti’s work in Taxco, Mexico during the summers of 1963 and 1964 with the Queens College Mexico Volunteers, a student group working to improve conditions in several impoverished Mexican villages and towns. The scrapbook contains photographs, correspondence, and newspaper articles written by Gatti. Another scrapbook contains photographs and newspaper articles documenting Gatti’s experiences in Mississippi during the spring of 1965, where he and a group of fellow Queens College students helped rebuild African American Baptist churches burned down by white supremacists during the previous year. This series includes a third scrapbook, now empty, that originally included an assortment of items which have been rehoused in folders for preservation.
Queens College Mexico Volunteers ( 1963-1994 ) Box-folder 3
Mississippi Church Rebuilding Project (EMPTY) ( 1965 ) Box-folder 3
Series IV: Memorabilia ( 1960s-1970s ) Box-folder 4
This series contains a wide assortment of buttons and pins from various activist organizations, including SDS, CORE, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Youth International Party, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, among many others. The buttons and pins mainly pertain to the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, although other issues are briefly represented.