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Collection

Jack Preiss papers, 1940-2012 1.75 Linear Feet — 300 Items

Jack Joseph Preiss taught in the Dept. of Sociology at Duke University from 1959-1988. The materials in the collection pertain to Preiss' time at Camp William James in Vermont and race relations at Duke. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, clippings, and posters. It ranges in date from 1940-2012.

This collection consists of letters from Preiss to his mother, Mrs. Mary Sacks Preiss, and her two sisters, but there are some letters to Preiss from several friends whom he had met in a work-service camp in Tunbridge, Vermont [Camp William James]. The correspondence by Preiss is largely about the problems of organizing and operating the work-service camp, its being taken over by the CCC, the resignation of himself and some others from the CCC, and the re-establishment of the work-service camp. He also, however, writes quite a bit about social affairs.

The work-service idea was put into practice by Dr. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, who taught social philosophy at Dartmouth and had founded the pre-Hitler work camps in Germany. He got some young, city boys of privileged backgrounds to join him in establishing the camp at Tunbridge. The camp was named for Professor William James, who had lectured on a moral equivalent of war, and the purpose of the camp was to give these men from the city experience in aiding farmers with their labor, in the hope that each group would profit from their association with each other and the farmers would have some much-needed labor. Dorothy Thompson, who had a summer home in the valley of the camp, gave this project continual assistance and encouragement. Preiss comments on her and her support in his letters.

The collection also includes clippings, largely about the work-service camp and several black and white photographs, presumably of the work-camp. In 2013, Dr. Preiss donated material on race relations at Duke. Included in this accession are two posters from Black Week at Duke, information on the 1988 Duke Vigil Reunion, Alan Kerckhoff's committee and his chronology of campus race relation events from 1969, a 1968 issue of Sports Illustrated with an article on Preiss and Duke called "The Timid Generation," an unpublished Preiss manuscript about race relations at Duke and other material.