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Guide to the Bettina Aptheker Papers
MS 157  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Chronology
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Other Finding Aids

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bettina Aptheker Papers
    Dates: 1944-2006
    Bulk Dates: (Bulk 1965-1990)
    Collection number: MS 157
    Creator: Aptheker, Bettina
    Collection Size: 52 document boxes, 1 carton, 2 flats
    Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
    Santa Cruz, California 95064
    Abstract: This collection contains biographical material, correspondence, instructional materials, research notes, grant proposals, writings, speeches, lectures, and material concerning her political activism, including the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley and the trial of Angela Y. Davis.
    Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is processed and available for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Bettina Aptheker Papers. MS 157. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchase and gift of Bettina Aptheker.

    Biographical Chronology

    September 2, 1944 Bettina Fay Aptheker born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Fay Phillippa Aptheker, a life-long activist and Communist organizer, and Herbert Aptheker, a Marxist historian and scholar of African-American history.
    1958-1962 Attends Erasmus Hall High School, Brooklyn, New York
    Fall 1962 Moves to California to attend the University of California at Berkeley
    September 1964-April 1965 Serves on the steering committee which led the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at UCB
    August 29, 1965 Marries Jack H. Kurzweil on Long Island, NY
    June 1967 Graduates from the University of California at Berkeley with an A.B. in History
    Summer 1967 While seven months pregnant serves sentence at the Santa Rita Prison Farm for conviction stemming from FSM activity
    October 19, 1967 Son Joshua Mark born
    March 1968 Suffers a nervous breakdown
    Summer 1969 Trip to Europe
    March 1971 National United Committee to Free Angela Davis and all Political Prisoners (NUCFAD) begins its work
    September 1971 If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (with Angela Davis) published in England
    December 1971 If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (with Angela Y. Davis) published in the United States
    1971-1972 Works as legal investigator in the defense of Angela Y. Davis
    1972 The Academic Rebellion in the United States: A Marxist Appraisal published
    January 1972 The California Supreme Court overturns the death penalty
    February 23, 1972 Angela Y. Davis released on bail
    February 28, 1972 Angela Y. Davis murder and conspiracy trial begins
    June 4, 1972 Trial ends with "not guilty" verdicts on all counts
    1974-1975 Assistant Instructor, Speech-Communication, San Jose State University
    January 14, 1975 Daughter Jennifer born
    1975 The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis published
    June 1976 Master's Degree in Speech Communication from San Jose State University
    1976-1979 Lecturer, Women's Studies, San Jose State University
      Instructor, Speech/Drama, San Jose State University
    April 1978 Separates from Jack Kurzweil, who agrees to a divorce
    Spring Quarter 1978 Teaches (as a lecturer) her first Women's Studies class at the University of California at Santa Cruz
    Summer 1978 Attends the (for her) "life changing" 4th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women
    Fall 1978 Lecturer, Afro-American Studies, San Jose State University
    Summer 1979 Moves with her children to Santa Cruz
    Fall Quarter 1979 Starts on a Ph.D. track in the History of Consciousness program at UCSC
    October 19, 1979 Meets her life partner, Kate Miller, at a Holly Near concert at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
    1980-1987 Lecturer, Women's Studies, UCSC
    October 19, 1981 Resigns from the Communist Party
    1982 Women's Legacy: Essays on Race, Sex, & Class in American History published
    March 1983 Doctorate in the History of Consciousness, UCSC
    Fall 1983 Comes "out" as a lesbian instructor
    1987-1989 Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at UCSC
    1988 Gets tenure at UCSC
    1989-1997 Associate Professor of Women's Studies at UCSC
    1989 Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness and the Meaning of Daily Experience published
    Fall 1993 Takes bodhisatva vows in Tuscon, Arizona
    1993-1995 Takes a sabbatical from UCSC, followed by a leave
    June 1996 Chancellor Karl Pister authorizes the establishment of Women's Studies as a Department at UCSC
    1997 Becomes Professor of Women's Studies at UCSC
    May 29, 1997 Excellence in Teaching Award, UCSC
    January 1999 Her mother, Fay Aptheker, dies
    1999 The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis published with a new Introduction and Afterward
    March 2003 Her father, Herbert Aptheker, dies
    2006 The autobiographical Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel published

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection contains biographical material, correspondence, instructional materials from her years as one of the most popular instructors at the University of California at Santa Cruz, writings, speeches, and lectures, and material concerning her political activism. There is also significant material on the trial of Angela Davis, in whose defense Ms. Aptheker was a key activist.
    Series 1: Biographical Material - contains personal documents, date books and diaries, awards and diplomas, and other personal items. More information can be obtained from reading the family correspondence in Boxes 23-24.
    Series 2: Correspondence - contains correspondence related to the Free Speech Movement, letters from strangers regarding Aptheker's public affirmation of Communist Party membership, hate mail regarding FSM and CP activities, letters to Aptheker while she was in the Santa Rita jail, letters concerning the Angela Davis case, letters to and from prisoners, letters regarding the controversy over publication of Women's Legacy, and letters of appreciation from students. Family correspondence has been separated and is in Boxes 23 and 24. Correspondence with Angela Davis has been separated and is in Box 24, while correspondence concerning her trial is in Box 50.
    Series 3: Writings - contains course outlines, bibliographies, handouts, assignments, syllabi, lecture notes, course proposals and other material related to Aptheker's teaching career, mostly at San Jose State University and the University of California at Santa Cruz, as well as requests for funding to support research and writing. Also included are many articles, essays, short papers and reviews, from early compositions through student papers to excerpts of manuscripts of published works as well as reviews of Aptheker's published works and her Master's Thesis notes, material for some of her writings, bibliographic notes and miscellany. This series also includes notes, texts or transcripts of speeches given beginning with Aptheker's student activism days at UC Berkeley through the Angela Davis trial to later lesbian and feminist conferences, among many other occasions and memorials.
    Series 4: Activities - contains pamphlets, press releases, flyers, song lyrics and songbooks (including two 45 rpm Free Speech Carols records), notes, memos and statements as well as material related to various professional conferences. This series also contains material related to the evolution of Women's Studies into a Department at UCSC and other agenda, memos, and notes.
    Series 5: Clippings & Newspapers - contains newspaper and magazine articles related to Aptheker's areas of interest and teaching. Most of the newspapers are from the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas. There is one folder of articles on Aptheker herself. There are photocopied clippings in Box 51 concerning Angela Davis's trial.
    Series 6: Angela Y. Davis Trial - contains correspondence concerning Angela Davis' murder and conspiracy trial in the early 1970's, photocopies of court documents, manuscripts by Angela Davis, newspapers and articles concerning the trial and the movement to free Angela Davis, and writings by others. There is also material on George Jackson, Ruchell Magee, and the San Quentin Six.
    Series 7: Photographs & Slides - contains photographs covering Aptheker's life and slides of her wedding to Jack Kurzweil in 1965.
    Series 8: Non-Print Materials - contains CDs, microfilm, VHS videotapes, audio reels, audio tapes and vinyl LPs


    The papers of Bettina Aptheker are organized into seven series: Series 1: Biographical material; Series 2: Correspondence; Series 3: Writings; Series 4: Activities; Series 5: Clipping & Newspapers; Series 6: Angela Y. Davis Trial; Series 7: Photographs & Slides.
    Series 1, 2, 5, 7-8 have no subseries.
    Series 3: Writings is divided into four subseries: 3.1 Instructional Material; 3.2 Grant Proposals; 3.3 Writings & research; 3.4 Speeches
    Series 4: Activities is divided in three subseries: 4.1 Activism; 4.2 Conferences; 4.3 Women's Studies.
    Series 6: Angela Y. Davis Trial is divided into three subseries: 6.1 Trial Correspondence; 6.2 Manuscripts; 6.3 Related material.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Aptheker, Bettina--Archives
    Davis, Angela Y. (Angela Yvonne), 1944- --Trials, litigation, etc.
    Women's studies--United States
    Free Speech Movement (Berkeley, Calif.)
    Women--Social conditions

    Other Finding Aids