This series contains correspondence, news clippings, research notes, article drafts, policy papers, meeting minutes, and documents related to Gans's six decades a scholar, planner, teacher, writer, and activist. Explanatory notes written by Gans accompany several subject files.
Some files are arranged chronologically by decade, which reflects their approximate order at the time of accession. Together, these files provide a snapshot of what Gans was doing at any given time at the peak of his activity in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In 1968, for instance, he was thinking and writing about the interplay of culture and class, about the future of the suburbs, and about equality in America; he was testifying before the Kerner Commission and in an obscenity trial regarding a Swedish film; he was participating in the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the League for Industrial Democracy, Americans for Democratic Action, and the American Sociological Association. Other materials include the 1955 accusations of communist-related activities levied against Private Seymour Smidt, whose friendship with the allegedly leftist Gans was among the pieces of evidence wielded against him; research materials about Yiddish theater from the late 1940s and early 1950s; a 1967 letter signed by Robert F. Kennedy in response to Gans's inquiry about the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation; and materials pertaining to the infamous 1965 report on the black family authored by Gans's erstwhile friend, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. (Among these subject files, numbers within parentheses denote the article number to which the subject corresponds. For instance, the Series II folder labeled "1960s – City and Poverty (#48), 1965," corresponds to Article 48 on Gans's list, which is titled "The City and the Poor" and which can be found in Box 29, Folder 6.)
Other material, some of which was labeled by Gans, is arranged alphabetically. Included here are materials related to the American Sociological Association, of which Gans was president in 1988; a draft manuscript of the influential book by Peter Marris (a friend of Gans's) and Martin Rein later titled "Dilemmas of Social Reform"; a transcript of Gans's testimony as an expert witness in the obscenity trial of Lenny Bruce; Gans's resumes and articles about Gans; material documenting Gans's lobbying efforts in behalf of dissident Hungarian sociologists imprisoned by that country's communist regime; drafts and correspondence related to a festschrift Gans edited about his friend and mentor, David Riesman; and notes, course readers, and syllabi from Gans's time as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago.