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Michael Wenger Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SCA-0048

Scope and Contents Note

The Michael Wenger Collection (1963-2009) comprises the papers of Queens College alumnus Michael Wenger. Correspondence, printed materials, and administrative records document the operation of the Student Help Project in South Jamaica, Queens and Prince Edward County, Virginia as well as activism on the Queens College campus during the 1960s, including Freedom Week and the Carnegie Hall Benefit Concert sponsored by Queens College C.O.R.E.


  • 1963-2009, bulk 1963-1965
  • Majority of material found within 1963 - 1965



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


The Mike Wenger 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.

Biographical Note

Michael Wenger was born to Emanuel and Rose Wenger on March 4, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. He studied at Queens College, City University of New York and received his B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Education in 1965. At Queens College, Wenger served as the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) campus chapter president circa 1963-1964 and as chairman of the Student Help Project during the 1964 calendar year. Wenger tutored under-served school children in South Jamaica, Queens from 1962-1963. In 1963, he and a group of 16 Queens College students traveled to Prince Edward County, Virginia to tutor black students who had been denied a public education since 1959 when the county closed its public schools rather than comply with court-mandated integration.

When Wenger returned from Prince Edward County, Virginia, he was awarded, along with Stan Shaw (a fellow student participant in the Virginia Student Help Project), the B’nai B’rith Human Relations Award on April 23, 1964. Wenger was involved in several other activist activities, including the organization of Freedom Week, an event sponsored by C.O.R.E. in 1964.

After his graduation from Queens College in 1965, Wenger taught special education in New York from 1965-1967. In 1967, he moved to Berkeley, West Virginia where he became the director of the Community Education Project, an anti-poverty program. Over the next several years, Wenger worked for the state of West Virginia in various community action positions; including Director of Federal/State programs for Charleston, West Virginia, Chief of the Division of Community Development for the Office of the Governor of West Virginia, and Deputy Commissioner for Operations for the West Virginia Department of Welfare.

In 1981, Wenger moved to Maryland where he became the state’s Washington Representative for the Appalachian Regional Commission. At the same time, he wrote a biweekly column on race relations for the Prince George’s Journal. In September 1997, Wenger became Deputy Director of Outreach and Program Development for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race. In 1998, he began his affiliation with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C. Wenger is currently a Senior Fellow with the Center and serves as the Editorial Consultant to FOCUS magazine, the Center’s bi-monthly magazine. He is also an Adjunct Faculty Member of the Department of Sociology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., teaching courses on institutional racism.

Over the course of his career Wenger has written several publications, and frequently gives presentations that discuss the issue of race and race relations in the United States.


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Language of Materials



The Michael Wenger Collection documents the Student Help Project and other activism on the Queens College campus during the 1960s. The Student Help Project was initiated by Queens College students, including Michael Wenger, and Queens College Education Department professors Dr. Rachel Weddington and Dr. Sidney Simon. This project brought tutoring services to under-served children in South Jamaica, Queens and Prince Edward County, Virginia. Wenger chaired the organization in 1964, but the Student Help Project was a collaborative effort, and initiative and authority were exercised all its members. The collection contains correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, reports, press releases and other miscellanea.

Arrangement Note

Series I: Student Help Project, South Jamaica, Queens NY Series II: Student Help Project, Virginia Subseries A: Preparation Subseries B: Correspondence Subseries C: Curriculum—PEC Summer 1963 Subseries D: Fundraising Subseries E: Reunion 2009 Series III: Prince Edward County, VA Series IV: Correspondence Series V: Printed Materials Subseries A: Student Help Project Subseries B: Queens College Subseries C: Prince Edward County Subseries D: General Series VI: Additional Civil Rights Organizations and Events Series VII: Queens College Education Department


Donated by Michael Wenger in 2009.

Related Collections

An interview conducted with Mike Wenger and Stan Shaw about their involvement in the Student Help Project can be found at the following record:

The following Queens College collections also include records about the Student Help Project in Jamaica, New York and Farmville, Virginia:

Debby Yaffe Papers

Elliot Linzer Papers

Jean L. Konzal Papers

Phyllis Padow-Sederbaum Papers

Rosalind (Silverman) Andrews Papers

Stan Shaw Papers

Finding aids to the collections above may be found in the Civil Rights and Social Justice Collecting Area.

Michael Wenger Collection
Processed by LuAnn Lupia, Fall 2009; edited by Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, Fall 2013. Machine-readable finding aid created by Deborah Marks, Fall 2013.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us