Archives and Special Collections
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Boston, MA 02115
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Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids

Printable Finding Aid. Back to Browsing Version.

Collection Overview
Title:Reserve Officers’ Training Corps records
Dates:1949-1981 (bulk 1951-1969)
Location: 29/2
Call Number:A38
Volume:1.00 cubic ft. (1 box)
Scope and Content Abstract:The collection documents, mainly through correspondence, the administration of the ROTC program at Northeastern University (NU) between 1949 and 1981. Records relate to curricular changes, the accreditation process, and enrollment. Of particular interest is documentation of the debate at NU in the late 1960s and early 1970s concerning ROTC on campus.
Historical Abstract:Northeastern University’s (NU) Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) division was formed in January 1951 with two units, the Corps of Engineers and the Signal Corps. ROTC trained young men (and later young women) to become officers in the United States Army by providing both academic instruction and physical training. ROTC enrolled 886 men in its inaugural year, and by the end of the decade, membership had reached 2,800. By the early 1960s, the NU ROTC program had become the largest in the country. By the mid-1960s, however, enrollment began to decline. Although student and faculty groups lodged formal complaints and demonstrated against the organization during the late 1960s and 1970s, a majority of the campus population supported it, allowing it to survive until the present day.
Arrangement:Arranged in one alphabetical sequence.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.). Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.) -- Students

  • Military education -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- Massachusetts -- Boston

Restrictions:Records are closed for 25 years from the date of their creation, unless researchers have written permission from the creating office.
Processor:Finding aid prepared by Amy Bosworth, December 1999

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents, mainly through correspondence, the administration of the ROTC program at Northeastern University. Topics covered include changes in course content, the accreditation process, and enrollment.  Of particular interest is information documenting the debate at Northeastern in the late 1960s and early 1970s concerning ROTC on campus.  Newspaper articles and correspondence represent both the pro and anti-ROTC positions. 

The collection contains publications, some generated for the general public and others for members and administrators, describing ROTC and its purpose and a report from the United States Office of the Secretary of Defense, dated 1969, that examines ROTC in America.  Much of the information discusses ROTC at a national level, but some information is specific to Northeastern. 

ROTC events and organizations at Northeastern, such as The National Society of Scabbard and Blade and the annual convocation, are also documented.

Historical Note

Northeastern's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) division was formed in January 1951 with two units, the Corps of Engineers and the Signal Corps.  Actual instruction began the following September.  ROTC trained young men (and later young women) to become officers in the United States Army by providing both academic instruction and physical training.  A military presence was not a novelty; in both 1918 and 1943-1944 the United States government implemented military training programs at Northeastern.  The Student Army Training Corps (1918) and the Army Specialized Training Program (1943-1944), however, disbanded once the wars ended.

ROTC enrolled 886 men in its inaugural year, and at the end of the decade membership reached 2,800.  By the early 1960s, the University's ROTC program had become the largest in the country.  The creation of numerous ROTC-related clubs throughout the 1950s, such as the ROTC Band, the Military Affiliate Radio System Radio Club, the Society of Military Engineers, and the Student Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, attested to its growing popularity.  By the mid-1960s, however, enrollment began to decline.  Only 200 students participated in ROTC in 1975, and at the end of the 1990s approximately 120 were involved.  Partially to blame for this decrease in enrollment throughout the 1960s and early 1970s was anti-war sentiment held by a segment of the student body and University faculty.  Protesting ROTC on campus during this time became part of an overall anti-Vietnam War campaign.  Although both student and faculty groups tried repeatedly, through demonstrations and formal complaints, to dissolve the ROTC at Northeastern, a majority of the campus population supported the organization, allowing it to survive.

Chronology
Jan 1951NU receives approval for an Army ROTC program.
Sep 1951ROTC instruction begins.
1959ROTC receives a "Certificate of Achievement" from Secretary of the Army William M. Brucker.
1964ROTC Vitalization Act passed. The Corps of Engineers and the Signal Corps become the General Military Science program.
1967Anti-ROTC sentiment begins to appear.
1973Women allowed to join.
Chairmen
1951-1953Col. Howard Price
1953-1958Col. Murray D. Harris
1958-1960Col. Sidney S. Davis
1960-1961Lt. Col. Arthur E. Cotter
1961-1963Col. John David Evans Jr.
1963-1965Col. Donald L. Adams
1965-1969Col. Frederick H. Palmbland
1969-1972Col. Richard C. Moran
1972-1973Lt. Col. Robert D. Sullivan
1973-1976Lt. Col. Clifford J. Fralen
1976-1980Lt. Col. John W. Peters
1980-1985Lt. Col. Richard A. James
1985-1988Lt. Col. Thomas J. Griffin III
1988-1993Lt. Col. Anthony J. Hoss
1993-1997Lt. Col. Marion M. Ferguson
1997-1998Lt. Col. Richard W. Lacroix
1998-2000Lt. Col. Richard D. Bourgault
2000-2005Lt. Col. Thomas Crea
2005-Lt. Col. David C. Nadeau
Bibliography

Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University - An Emerging Giant: 1959-1975. Boston, Massachusetts: Northeastern University, 1982.

Marston, Everett C. Origin and Development of Northeastern University 1898-1960. Boston, Massachusetts: Northeastern University, 1961.

Northeastern University Colleges General Information. Northeastern University ROTC website (http://www.rotc.neu.edu/).
Return to Top
BoxTitleDate
1Accreditation1950-1951
1Correspondence
1Academic (2 folders)
1951-1980 (2 folders)1951-1980
1Enrollment Reports 1956-1972
1Administrative (4 folders)1951-1977
1Faculty1951-1968
1Events 1955-1989
1Handbooks1949-1981
1Memorabilia
1National Society of Scabbard and Blade1962
1Program Information (2 folders)1954-1981
1Reports (2 folders) 1955-1958, 1969-1970
1Reports: United States Government (3 folders)1950-1969, 1980-1981
1"The Scabbard and Blade Journal" (5 folders)1954-1964
1Student Protest1969-1972