Progressive Student Union records
Scope and Content note
This collection contains flyers, correspondence, meeting agendas, attendance lists, contact information, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, clippings, brochures, organization policy statements, photographs, financial records, petitions, notes, event plans, essays, GW forms and reports, educational material, organizational records, solicitation letters, campaign material, material from conferences, stickers, political campaign memorabilia, and fact sheets. The material dates from 1966 to 2008, with the bulk of the material dating from 1988 to 1996. These are the records of the Progression Student Union of George Washington University. This collection reflects the activities and beliefs of this organization. Topics addresses in this material include anti-apartheid, education reform, economics, environmentalism, feminism, human rights, international relations, LGBTQ issues, poverty, racism, sexism, and workers rights. These records were donated to the University Archives by a student leader of the Progressive Student Union in 2009.
The records are divided into five series: Operational Documents, Campaigns, Organizations, Periodicals, and Memorabilia. Upon donation, the contents of folders in this collection often did not correspond to the folder label. During formal archival processing duplicates were removed, and materials were moved into appropriate folders when neccessary.
- Creation: 1966-2008
- Progressive Student Union (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Some records in Series 1 and 2 are restricted for 75 years from date of record creation.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
The Progressive Student Union (PSU) is a student organization at The George Washington University. The PSU was established in the 1980s as a multi-issue, social peace and justice student organization working to combat all forms of oppression. The PSU served as a coalition-building group, a direct action group, a campaign planning group, an event sponsor, and a provider of solidarity.
The organization worked on a broad spectrum of social justice issues (including but not limited to racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, homelessness, poverty, US foreign and domestic policy, environmental destruction, corporate control of the media, corporate control of educational institutions, increasing corporate power globally, exploitative labor policies, union busting, animal exploitation, censorship, free trade agreements, violence, war, and corporate globalization) with a variety of campus, community, national, and international organizations. The PSU was active in national and local movements, beginning with anti-apartheid/disinvestment campaigns in the 1980s. In the 1980s, it operated as the east coast headquarters of the Progressive Student Network (PSN), and for several years published the PSN News, the periodical newspaper of the Progressive Student Network. After the PSN declined after 1994, the PSU continued to operate as a catch-all progressive group, organizing and advocating for scores of issues, including women’s reproductive rights, the power of labor unions, Native American rights, environmental sustainability, and many others.
In recent years, PSU worked to end GW’s contract with the Coca-Cola Company, to increase the wages and benefits of security guards in non-academic buildings and food service workers in the J Street restaurant complex, and to support the Employee Free Choice Act. The PSU was also instrumental in establishing the Socially Responsible Initiatives Commission in 2007-2008, which helps distribute resources by students designated for events or campaigns that promote social responsibility. The PSU worked and works with both local organizations such as DC Student Labor Action Project and local unions, as well as national organizations like United Students Against Sweatshops and Jobs With Justice. The Progressive Student Union is non-hierarchical organization with no elected officials; the group seeks to make decisions by consensus and operates through volunteers.
15.5 Linear Feet (25 document boxes, 1 flat box, and 1 card file box)
Language of Materials
This collection consists of material gathered and created by the George Washington University Progressive Student Union as a function of their advocacy and campaign work. The type of material in the collection includes flyers, newsletters, correspondence, meeting agendas, newspaper articles, brochures, educational material, campaign material, and organizational records. This material dates from 1966 to 2008 with the majority of the material falling within the dates 1988-1996. Topics addressed in this collection include anti-apartheid, education reform, economics, environmentalism, feminism, human rights, international relations, labor union, LGBTQ issues, poverty, racism, sexism, and workers rights.
Organized into five series: Operational Documents, Campaigns, Organizations, Periodicals, and Memorabilia. The Campaigns series is organized into eleven subseries: Education/Student Issues, Environment, Foreign Countries, Human/Animal Rights, International Relations/Trade, Labor, LGBTQ Issues, Racism, War and Peace, Women’s Issues, and Other Campaigns/Issues.
Where possible, series and subseries are arranged alphabetically or chronologically.
Materials may be stored off-site, and may require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.
These records were donated to the University Archives by a student leader of the Progressive Student Union in 2009.
- Guide to the Progressive Student Union records, 1966-2008
- University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English