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Encampment for Citizenship collection

Identifier: M 391

Scope and Contents

Special Collections and Archives began collecting records of the Encampment for Citizenship (EFC) in the spring of 2010, and it is expected that the burgeoning collection will become more comprehensive as the procurement of materials continues. As of December 2010, donations have been made by: Margot Gibney, former EFC National Executive Director; Marion Silverbear [who donated materials that were compiled and collected by Margot Gibney], former EFC Alumni Coordinator and Development Coordinator; Pamela Barefoot, a former EFC staff member; and Nancy Marr, an Encampment alumna. Dr. Edward H. Peeples, Emeritus Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been involved in coordinating donation efforts. Dr. Peeples' affiliation with the EFC began when he attended the 1957 Encampment, and he remained actively involved with the organization as a recruiter, site Director, guest speaker, and advisory committee member. There are additional records related to the EFC in the Edward H. Peeples, Jr. Papers, which are also located in Special Collections and Archives.

Materials in the collection include Encampment publications, program and recruitment brochures, student applications, fundraising and sponsorship materials, staff handbooks, student and staff evaluation questionnaires, student and staff workshop materials, photographs and slides. The collection also contains correspondence and memoranda of EFC staff and board members, letters and correspondence of students and alumni, alumni and staff directories, alumni newsletters and reunion materials, yearbooks, and newspaper and magazine articles. The bulk of the materials date primarily from 1946 to 1997, with concentrations in the collection's holdings dating from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, and from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Much of the collection's correspondence records are from these periods.


  • Creation: 1939-2009


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for use without restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

The Encampment for Citizenship (EFC), a national youth program affiliated with the American Ethical Union, was founded in 1946, by Algernon D. Black, social activist and New York Society for Ethical Culture leader, and Alice K. (Nanny) Pollitzer, prominent civic leader and Ethical Culture Movement member. In response to the rise of fascism abroad and to the country's domestic problems of the day, it was their intention to create "community learning environments for youth which transcended racial, ethnic, class, religious and national boundaries," a vision inspired by their belief that "young people would grow as citizens and leaders if they lived and worked together in self-made democratic communities." From this experience, it was hoped that they would "develop a deeper knowledge of themselves and a vision of a more humane society."

The EFC's primary objective became "the creation of a responsible, informed and effective citizenship among American youth" capable of helping to solve society's most complex and intractable problems, and the organization aimed to foster youth leadership and civic involvement within a decidedly multicultural framework. Program participants were encouraged to examine current political, social, and economic issues through a curriculum designed to develop critical thinking and leadership skills. Over the years, the program came to include internship and community service projects, field trips, political activities, and community government participation. In addition, a wide variety of workshops, discussion groups, and lectures were held, in which the following types of subjects would be explored: social and economic justice, health and poverty, criminal justice, international relations, human rights, the environment, labor politics, education reform, racism and sexism, community and economic democracy, and youth empowerment.

Between the Encampment's inception in 1946 and dissolution in 1995, more than 7,000 young people from a diversity of racial, ethnic, religious, economic, and geographic backgrounds participated in EFC annual summer sessions, year-round leadership training programs, and various short-term projects. Some notable EFC alumni include: Gale Brewer, Ada Deer, Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz, Barney Frank, William Haddad, David Harris, Allard Lowenstein, Jean McGuire, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Charles Patterson, David Rothenberg, Hal Sieber, and Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman.

For several decades, the EFC enjoyed a national reputation. Prominent Encampment supporters included Eleanor Roosevelt, who served as Chairwoman of the EFC Board of Sponsors from 1946 to 1962, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the 1950s, the organization was viewed by some with suspicion, including the American Legion, which accused the EFC of being "un-American" and "socialistic." Widespread support for the organization continued through the 1970s, but began to wane in the 1980s within the country's conservative political climate. By the early 1990s, the Encampment had lost most of its funding base and programs were suspended in 1997. Efforts by former EFC leaders and alumni to revise the organization led to a summer 2013 pilot program in Richmond, Virginia. Since then, the EFC has offered summer and year-long programs to prepare young people to be "informed, responsible and effective global citizens working for social justice."


5.78 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Materials in the collection are in alphabetical order within each container.

Immediate Source of Acquisiton

Donated in 2010 by Margot Gibney, Pamela Barefoot, Marion Silverbear, and Nancy Marr.

A Guide to the Encampment for Citizenship Collection, 1939-2009
A Collection in James Branch Cabell Library, Special Collections and Archives, M 391
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108