Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum Papers
Scope and Contents Note
The Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum Papers feature personal accounts of her role as tutor, activist and student. Collection materials include administrative documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and publications. The bulk of the materials concern Padow-Sederbaum's work with the Student Help Project in Prince Edward County, Virginia, during the summer of 1963. To a lesser extent, the collection documents Student Help Project activities in Jamaica, Queens, and Queens College campus activism. Materials dated after 1965 document reunions with fellow civil rights activists.
- Padow-Sederbaum, Phyllis (Person)
Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition. Researchers may not cite or use correspondence or photographs without written permission from Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum.
The Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum Papers are 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.
Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum (then Phyllis Padow) grew up in Merrick, Long Island and attended Queens College, graduating in 1965 with honors in sociology. At Queens College, she worked with the Student Help Project to provide free tutoring services to under-served schoolchildren in South Jamaica, Queens and in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The Student Help Project was organized by Queens College students who worked in close collaboration with education professors Dr. Rachel Weddington and Dr. Sidney Simon. During the summer of 1963, Padow-Sederbaum was one of sixteen Queens College students who lived with black families in Farmville, Virginia in Prince Edward County, providing instruction to all children denied access to public education.
Later, Padow-Sederbaum went on to earn a Masters in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and worked for many years as a researcher. For the past twenty-five years, Padow-Sederbaum has been a community volunteer. Along with other Student Help Project alumni, she recently became a supporter of the Robert Russa Moton Museum. The Museum is dedicated to the study of civil rights in education with a specific focus on the role played by the citizens of Prince Edward County in the struggle for integrated schools.
In 1951, Barbara Johns, a black high school student in Prince Edward County, Virginia, led her classmates in a strike for a better school. With the help of the NAACP, Johns and her classmates then filed a desegregation lawsuit that became one of four cases that made up the historic Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. Although Brown v. Board declared racially segregated public schools unconstitutional in 1954, many schools failed to integrate. Harry F. Byrd, U.S. Senator of Virginia, called for a strategy of “Massive Resistance” and in 1958, the Virginia General Assembly passed a series of laws to help facilitate this goal. In 1959 when Prince Edward County was ordered by a judge to desegregate, the white citizens of the County responded by closing their entire public school system rather than comply. Private, segregated schools were opened for white students only. Religious and community institutions, relatives, and nearby counties provided limited educational opportunities for black children, but the public schools did not open again until 1964.
In the wake of the school closing, the NAACP organized youth to protest not only the school lock-out, but also segregated movie theaters, stores and churches. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sent field organizers to Prince Edward County to conduct trainings in direct action. It is within this context that the Queens College students arrived in the summer of 1963 to teach and live with black families for six weeks. At the request of community leaders, the Queens College volunteers focused on teaching and did not directly participate in demonstrations.
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Language of Materials
Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum graduated with honors from Queens College in 1965 with a major in sociology. At Queens College, she worked with the Student Help Project to provide free tutoring services to under-served schoolchildren in South Jamaica, Queens and Prince Edward County, Virginia. During the summer of 1963, Padow-Sederbaum was one of sixteen Queens College students who lived with black families in Farmville, Virginia and tutored African American children who had been denied formal public education since 1959. The collection includes manuscripts, printed materials and photographs, and feature personal accounts of Padow-Sederbaum's activities as a tutor, civil rights activist, and student. The collection documents the Student Help Project in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and, to a lesser extent, in Jamaica, Queens.
Series I: Student Help Project Subseries A: Jamaica (Queens, New York) Subseries B: Virginia (Prince Edward County) Subseries C: Curriculum Development Subseries D: Correspondence Series II: Photographs Series III: Queens College Subseries A: Speaker and Publication Policies Subseries B: Student Publications Series IV: Additional Publications
Donated by Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum, March 2010.
- Padow-Sederbaum, Phyllis (Donor, Person)
- Padow-Sederbaum, Phyllis (Person)
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