Skip to main content


Thomas N. Gardner papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 16732

Content Description

This collection contains the papers of Thomas Gardner, an alumnus of the University of Virginia, a leader in the Southern civil rights and national peace movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and Professor of Communication at Westfield State University.

The collection documents Gardner's social and political activism and involvement with civil rights, labor, anti-war, and anti-prison movements through different organizations such as the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF), the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), and the Union for Concerned Scientists (USC).

The documents date from the 1960s-1980s and include materials such as the Virginia Weekly clippings and drafts, informational pamphlets, agendas, memos, notes (taken by Gardner about meetings, to-do lists, goals, and ideas), handbooks, prospectus, correspondence, pamphlets, reports, proposals, and invitations for meetings, to the causes of the different organizations Gardner served.

Mentioned are specific cases involving unfair treatment of African Americans by the police and justice department including Snake Jones of Charlottesville, Virginia in 1970 and the Thomas Wansley case (falsely charged with rape based on an incorrect eyewitness account) in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1963, which gained national attention and was overturned after Wansley served 5 years in prison.

There are also political newspapers including Right On, Black Community News Service of the Black Panther Party, The Call, The Red Worker of the Communist Party in Georgia, and The New South Student.

There is also more recent work with the Union of Concerned Scientists from the 1980s. The collection includes topics on nuclear weapons, the prison reform system, unions and worker movements, and strikes.

The collection also documents Gardner's work on an unpublished book about Edgar Daniel Nixon, a union leader who played a critical role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Included are interviews on audiocassettes, transcripts, photographs, correspondence, research, newspaper articles, and drafts of Gardner's unpublished book. The interviews with Nixon cover a variety of topics including the Bus Boycott, the Brotherhood, the NAACP, bombings at Montgomery, E.D. Nixon's early life and life as a porter, and his community work since 1957.


  • Creation: c. 1966-2008


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Original digital media (floppy disks, zip disks, thumb drives, born digital files, etc.) and other media formats such as LPs, audiotapes, reel-to-reels, videotapes, films, CDs, and DVDs cannot be handled directly by patrons.

Please contact Special Collections via our online Reference Request form,, to request access to these materials.

Please be aware that additional actions may be required to make these items available. Items will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis before access can be made. Depending on the size of the request, it may take some time to make them available for use.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas N. Gardner a University of Virginia alumnus, was active in the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC) during his time as a student and served on the National Student Association's Southern Project in Atlanta. He continued his leadership role in the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (USC). He was born in New Orleans in 1946, and grew up mainly in the South. He became involved in the student movement in 1964 during his first year at the University. From 1967-1969 he served as Chairman of the SSOC and steered the organization toward greater involvement against the Vietnam War (during a Summer Project organized out of Cambridge University). He finished his degree in Sociology and completed two master's degrees, one in journalism at the University of Georgia and the second at the Kennedy School of Government in 1985. He was an activist during the civil rights movement and was one of the brave protesters who was arrested during a peace movement in Florida. Since 2001, he has been associate professor of communication at Westfield State University. He was formerly managing director of the Media Education Foundation of Northampton, Massachussetts, public affairs officer for Harvard Divinity School, senior editor at the Harvard Institue for International Development, and director of communications for the Union of Concerned Scientists.


1.75 Cubic Feet (3 document boxes, 1 half legal document box) : half legal box contains 19 audiocassette tapes and a handwritten guide to the tapes

19 audiocassettes

32.00144 Gigabytes (1 floppy disk, 1 5 1/4 floppy disk, 1 USB flash drive) : No information could be removed from 5 1/4 floppy disk.

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift from Thomas N. Gardner to the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia Library on March 10, 2022.

Related Materials

MSS 11192

Thomas N. Gardner papers
Ellen Welch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States