FREE UNIVERSITY OF PALO ALTO. Five semester catalogues:
i) first (Spring) 1966 term; ii) Summer 1966; iii) Fall 1966; iv) Summer 1967 (+ insert); v) Winter 1967 together with Free University News #1, #2 & #4 (East Palo Alto, CA: March 16, 1966; April 12, 1966; & June 24, 1966). Catalogues 8vo. Wrps., pagination varies (8pp.-17pp.); three stapled, two loose leaf. Newsletters quarto mimeographed sheets, stapled at top corner (4pp.-5pp.).
The Free University of Palo Alto (FUPA) was started by a group of (mainly) Stanford graduate students in January 1966, most of whom were previously active in the civil rights and peace movements (one of them, Charles Li, was dismissed from his teaching job at Woodside Priory School for his participation). Their intention was to provide off-campus courses to the local community in any subject, determined solely by student demand, and the preamble in the first catalogue echoes the SDS’s critique of education from their Port Huron Statement of 1962.
Along with their stated aim of offering an unlimited range of studies, the organisers stipulated that there would be no prerequisites for courses, no grades, no entrance requirements, and that teachers wouldn’t teach but prompt an interchange of ideas among class members. Their community-oriented approach also involved volunteers in teaching courses, among them Roy Kepler, a Bay area activist and the owner of Kepler’s bookstore, whose class on “Non-violence and Its Social Organization” is listed in four of the five catalogues.
Many of the courses demonstrate the faculty’s New Left leanings, with classes offered on Marxism, American radical movements, and neo-colonialism, leavened by others on “Instant Poetry”, “Movement and Drawing”, and “Modifying Personality”, as well as more esoteric areas, such as one called “Earth”, taught by Stewart Brand, “Acid Yoga” by Robb Crist (both Summer 1967), and Richard Alpert’s “Journey Into Awareness” (listed in the Winter 1967 catalogue).
Another FUPA class, on existential thought (run by Barry Greenberg and listed in the first two catalogues), led to a factional offshoot called The Experiment, an on-campus project founded in September 1966 by graduate students who aimed to bring “the personal element back into education” (not to be confused with The Experimental College at SF State). Despite their differences, FUPA and The Experiment amalgamated in June 1967, citing their shared “vision of cultural revolution in which a new society will develop within the shell of the old” (from the Summer 1967 catalogue).
In early July their week-long registration drive culminated in a Be-In festival in El Camino Park featuring the Grateful Dead, several other bands, and free food provided by the Diggers. Two months later, at the end of September 1967, registration began for fall quarter membership in a new organisation created by the merger, the Midpeninsula Free University (MFU), which offered nearly 100 seminars and projects, ranging from Japanese pottery making to a seminar on religion and radical politics (see item #20).
The FUPA’s newsletter, Free University News, first appeared in March 1966 (at least four further issues were produced), providing updates on courses and seminars, news of upcoming rallies and conferences, general announcements, and contributions from both students and faculty. An essay in the second issue, titled “The Free University Concept”, was written by graduate student Mike Pincus, from whom several of the items in this collection were obtained. Also included are three documents relating to a conference, “Baran and American Radicalism Today”, held on April 1-2, 1966 (one of FUPA’s seminars was led by Herbert Marcuse and Mike Pincus), including a booklet printing “The Commitment of the Intellectual” by Paul A. Baran, professor of economics at Stanford from 1949 until his death in 1964 (described on the back of one of the leaflets as “perhaps the only Marxist economist teaching in a major American university during this period”).
Short tear from mailing staple to Winter 1967 catalogue; slight age-toning to newsletters; o/w Very Good plus or better.