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White (J. Benton) Papers
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Collection Details
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  • Arrangement
  • Content Description
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Processing Information
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  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: J. Benton White Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: 2019.06.03
    Physical Description: 1 Box .42 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1967-2007
    Date (bulk): 1967-1971
    Abstract: J. Benton White (d. 1931- ) was the first ombudsman on racial issues at San Jose State University. His position was created in 1967 by President Robert D. Clark in response to racial conflict and discrimination on campus, and was the first of its kind at a college or university in the United States. The bulk of the papers are correspondence, news clippings and reports from 1967-1971.


    The collection is arranged in two series: Subject Files and Office Files. Folders in the first series have been alphabetized by title and materials have been kept in original order. Folders in the second series have been alphabetized by format and materials have been arranged chronologically.

    Content Description

    The J. Benton White Papers consist primarily correspondence, news clippings, some photographs and reports that White created and collected in his position as SJSU ombudsman for race relations from 1967-1969.
    White was included in discussions of racial discrimination on campus, especially against black and Mexican-American students. The papers reflect the activities of the civil rights movement on the SJS College campus, especially regarding housing discrimination. A major topic of interest documented in the papers is the decision of SJS College and Stanford athletes to wear black armbands in football games against Brigham Young University in 1969 to protest discrimination against black people by the Church of Latter-day Saints. The papers also address administration of the Economic Opportunity Program (EOP), which was created to support minority and economically disadvantaged students succeed in college.

    Biographical / Historical

    J. Benton White (d. 1931- ) grew up in Alabama and studied theology at Emory University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. He began serving as a chaplain for the Air Force in the late 1950s, before moving to the Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist campus ministry, at the University of Nebraska. In 1961, he came to California to direct the Wesley Foundation at San José State College and became active in the civil rights movement on campus. President Robert D. Clark in the fall of 1967 chose White to be the first ombudsman, a position created in response to racial discrimination and conflict. It was the first of its kind at a college or university in the United States and became a model for similar roles at other institutions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
    After serving as ombudsman for two years, White became the assistant to the interim president of SJS College, Hobert Burns in 1969. He founded the Religious Studies program in 1970 and worked as SJSU faculty until his retirement in 1992. He has written several academic books in the field of religious studies, published a novel and continues to be active in the United Methodist Church.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections & Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Monica Keane, June 2019

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    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    San José State University
    Race discrimination -- California -- San Jose