George Vickers papers, 1953-2017

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Summary

Creator:
Vickers, George and Human Rights Archive (Duke University)
Abstract:
George Vickers (1943-2018) was a policy advocate, sociologist and social activist. Collection contains materials related to Vickers' antiwar and civil rights activism, research on the New Left, engagement with struggles for social justice and democracy across Central America, and work for the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Includes research files on US social movements and on armed conflicts and democratic transitions primarily in El Salvador and Nicaragua (1980s-2000s); periodicals, election materials, photographs, and notebooks, primarily documenting Vickers' work in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua as a human rights and election observer (1980s-1990s); FBI files on Vickers and on activist organizations; writings by Vickers and others; and WOLA and OSF administrative files and correspondence. Also includes over 150 recorded interviews conducted by Vickers with Central American politicians, guerillas, social activists, and others. Organizations represented in the materials include Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Peace Union, Hemisphere Initiatives, Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, the US Southern Command, and the Grupo Conjunto para la Investigación de Grupos Armados Ilegales con Motivación Política en El Salvador.
Extent:
33.25 Linear Feet (64 boxes; 1 oversize folder)
Language:
Materials in English and Spanish, with a small percentage in French and Vietnamese.
Collection ID:
RL.13024

Background

Scope and content:

The George Vickers papers span the period of 1953 to 2017 and consist of materials reflecting Vickers' pursuits as a student activist engaged in the antiwar and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, as a sociological researcher interested in transformative social movements in the United States and Central America, and ultimately as a policy advocate for human rights and civil society throughout Latin America. Materials in the collection include: publications, correspondence, internal records, interviews, ephemera, and declassified intelligence documents related to community, campus, and national activist organizations in the US, with a geographic focus on greater Chicago and New York; academic, policy-oriented, and popular writings by George Vickers and colleagues; research files in support of an unrealized monograph on Vietnamese-born antiwar activist David Truong; official publications and internal documents produced by Central American political parties and armed forces; Central American election data and analysis; US military publications and conference proceedings concerning Latin America; declassified intelligence related to US intervention in Central American conflicts; audio recordings and in some cases transcripts of interviews collected by Vickers in Central America, with related field notes and photographic materials; records of executive leadership activities at the Washington Office on Latin America and the Open Society Foundations; and professional documents, clippings, ephemera, and photographs related to Vickers' life and career. There is also one photograph album with propagandistic photographs taken during the Cambodian Civil War, circa 1970.

Close to half of the George Vickers papers is contained in the Latin American Engagement series, which is chiefly composed of materials collected and produced by Vickers in the course of academic research, policy advocacy work, and participation in human rights and election observer missions, with a focus on Central America in the 1980s and 1990s. The greatest quantity of material relates to El Salvador, followed by Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Colombia; the collection also includes small amounts of material related to Honduras, Chile, and Cuba. The prevailing focus is on the progress and cessation of armed conflicts, the negotiation and implementation of peace accords, the functioning of civil institutions and democratic processes, and related US foreign policy.

The collection includes over 150 recorded interviews conducted by Vickers and others with human rights advocates and political actors across the ideological spectrum of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala from 1986 to 1992, as well as partial transcripts of select interviews.

Biographical / historical:

George Vickers was a sociologist who served in executive leadership roles at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Open Society Foundations.

Born 1943 in Evanston, Illinois, George Vickers was active in the antiwar and civil rights movements as a high school and college student in Chicago and its North Shore suburbs, and remained engaged with student activism througout his graduate work in sociology at the Washington University in St. Louis, earning his doctorate in 1973. Vickers' early academic research examined the development of the same social movements in which he was a participant, known in aggregate as the New Left, and he remained engaged with issues related to the Vietnam War into the 1980s.

On the faculty of Brooklyn College, City University of New York from 1975, Vickers served on national advisory boards tied to social justice movements abroad, and by the early 1980s the conflicts reshaping Central America stood at the center of his research and activism. From 1984 to the early 1990s, he made bi-annual visits to the region, foremost to El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, to conduct research and participate in human rights and election observer missions, and was a participant in the peace process that ended the Salvadoran Civil War in 1992.

After years of close collaboration with the Washington Office on Latin America, George Vickers assumed the role of Executive Director in 1993, overseeing initiatives to promote human rights throughout the Americas while remaining closely engaged with issues facing post-war Central American societies. Vickers pursued broadly similar work at the Open Society Foundations as Regional Director for Latin America from 2002 to 2007, and subsequently served as OSF's Director of International Operations from 2008 until 2018, the year of his death.

Acquisition information:
The George Vickers papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 2019.
Processing information:

Processed by Will Runyan, January, 2024.

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2019-0034.

Arrangement:

Arranged in the following series: Personal Papers, Academic Career, Early Activism, Latin American Engagement, Washington Office on Latin America, Open Society Foundations, and Writings and Speeches.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Subjects

Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Subjects:
College student newspapers and periodicals -- United States
Elections -- El Salvador
Elections -- Nicaragua
Guerrillas -- El Salvador -- Interviews
Human Rights -- Central America
Human rights workers -- El Salvador -- Interviews
New Left -- United States -- History
New Left -- United States -- Periodicals
Political violence -- Central America -- History -- 20th century
Politicians -- El Salvador -- Interviews
Politicians -- Guatemala -- Interviews
Politicians -- Nicaragua -- Interviews
Student movements -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
Student movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements
Format:
Audiocassettes
Color photographs
Interviews
Photograph albums
Slides (photographs)
Names:
Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional
Grupo Conjunto para la Investigación de Grupos Armados Ilegales con Motivación Política en El Salvador
Open Society Foundations
Hemisphere Initiatives (Organization)
United States. Southern Command
Washington Office on Latin America
Human Rights Archive (Duke University)
Student Peace Union (U.S.)
Vickers, George
Truong, David H. D.
Places:
Central America -- Foreign relations -- United States
Colombia -- Politics and government -- 1974-
El Salvador -- Military relations -- United States
El Salvador -- Politics and government
Guatemala -- Politics and government -- 1985-
Nicaragua -- Politics and government

Contents

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Restrictions:

Access note. Collection contains some fragile audiovisual/photographic materials in the form of audiocassettes that may need to be reformatted before use. Contact Research Services for access.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the Rubenstein Library's Citations, Permissions, and Copyright guide.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], George Vickers papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.