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College Hall Occupation Oral History Project

Identifier: CA-MS-00025


Student demonstration. Includes interviews and papers.


  • 1986


Conditions Governing Access

Some of the oral histories in this collection have restrictions on access. Please see the notes attached to an individual interview for information about restrictions that apply to it.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections ( at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Biographical / Historical

The College Hall Occupation Oral History Project was the work of two students enrolled in History 367b, Problems in American History: Autobiography, Biography, and Oral History in Twentieth Century America as taught by Maurice Isserman in spring 1986. The sixteen cassette tapes and two papers were given to the College Archives in the summer and fall of 1986 by the coordinators of the project, Donna Kenny '87 and Maureen Dooley Lawrence '87.
Feb. 20, Thursday
Student/faculty rally and sit-in encouraging total divestment prior to the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Feb. 22, Saturday
Trustees choose not to adopt the divestment proposal set forth by the Senate Ethical Investment Committee.
Feb. 24, Monday
"Round-the-clock" sit-in outside the President's office by approximately 200 students and faculty to protest the Trustees' decision.
Approximately 90 students spend the night in College Hall.
Feb. 25, Tuesday
Approximately 150 students join the overnighters and 5:30 a.m. The protesters form human chains to block all entrances to College Hall. Employees are denied entrance to the building.
President Dunn refuses to have the protesters arrested.
Feb. 26, Wednesday
Protesters hold a press conference announcing their position and reading statements of support for the occupation.
All-college meeting to discuss South Africa and the occupation of College Hall. Protesters send a group of "presidential delegates" to read a statement expressing their conviction that the takeover of College Hall was their only recourse.
Feb. 27, Thursday
Protesters agree to negotiate with President Dunn. A small group of protesters begins a hunger strike.
Feb. 28, Friday
Negotiations continue. Protesters hold a rally and announce the hunger strike to the public.
Mar. 1, Saturday
An agreement is reached between President Dunn, the Board of Trustees, and the protesters.
Mar. 2, Sunday
Occupation ends with a press conference and victory rally. Mar. 6, Thursday Required teach-in on South African-related issues and on relations between the Board of Trustees and the campus community.


0.229 linear feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown.

Related Material

For a more detailed account of the occupation see the report prepared by the 1985-86 Committee on Community Policy (CCP) subcommittee dated October 1, 1986. See also issues of the student newspaper the Sophian during the spring of 1986 starting with the February 24th issue. The October, 23, 1986 issue followed the release of the CCP report. Additional material related to the occupation is available in the file on student demonstrations: 80.Dem 1986 CHO

Processing Information

Processed by Maida Goodwin and Karen Eberhard.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.


Finding aid to the College Hall Occupation Oral History Project.
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Maida Goodwin and Karen Eberhart
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca25 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2020-06-04: Finding aid brought up to standard as part of Description QC project

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063