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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 5 series. Series I: Tenant Activism and Columbia University, 1960-2001; Series II: Other Political Activism, 1955-2002; Series III: New York State Legislature, 1973-1976; Series IV: Harlem Organizations, 1984-2006; Series V: Personal Material and Correspondence, 1963-2008
Scope and Content
The collection contains the papers of Marie Runyon, relating to her tenant organizing and fight against Columbia's expansion in Morningside Heights as well as to her other political work and personal life. About half of the materials document her work in housing activism with flyers, minutes, and notes from the various tenants' associations that Runyon helped to create. The collection also includes records of national and local non-profit organizations for which Runyon worked between 1960 and 2000, including legislative documents and campaign materials from her two years in the New York State Assembly in 1975-1976. There are also handwritten notes and correspondence documenting her management of these organizations. Her papers include correspondence with various Columbia University presidents, clippings from newspaper articles about the university, and flyers from student organizing during the 1968 student protests.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Marie Runyon Papers; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Morningside Area Alliance Records: This collection documents the work of Morningside Heights, Inc., an organization founded by fourteen Morningside Heights institutions, including Columbia University The alliance was connected to Columbia's expansion efforts and intervention in neighborhood organizations and schools.
University Protest and Activism Collection: This collection documents the Columbia University student strikes of 1968, in which Marie Runyon participated.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
This collection was processed by Rachel Klepper and Kate Caiazza. Finding aid written by Rachel Klepper in June 2018.
The 8 boxes from the 2004 accession were partially processed by Kate Caiazza in 2004. The processing work was not extensively documented but it may have involved some rearrangement of folders by subject. A container list with folder dates was created, which was used in writing the finding aid.
Most folders in the collection had titles upon their arrival, which were retained. Some material in boxes 6 and 10 were loose in boxes upon arrival. Those materials were placed in folders by subject and supplied with titles.
2018-08-08 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Marie Runyon was an activist and former New York State legislator, 1975-1976. Born in North Carolina in 1915, she moved to New York City after college and soon rented an apartment with her daughter in Morningside Heights. The apartment, at 130 Morningside Drive, was owned by the Columbia College of Pharmacy and later Columbia University. In 1963 the College of Pharmacy sought to evict tenants to renovate and develop a new home for the college, and Runyon began a decades long fight against the university. She frequently withheld rent when her apartment needed repairs and brought a number of court cases against Columbia on behalf of herself and the other tenants.
She created the Morningside Tenants Committee to represent tenants in her building as well as the Columbia Tenants Union to organize those living in other university owned housing in the neighborhood. Runyon was also active on numerous national political issues, having worked at the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, and the National Conference for New Politics. She also participated in the 1968 student protests against Columbia University, focusing on its role in the Vietnam War, its real estate practices, and the building of a new gym in Morningside Park, among other issues. In the 1970s Runyon began working as a fundraising consultant for local organizations. She also helped to start two Harlem based organizations focused on housing and education, the Harlem Restoration Project and the Harlem Council of Elders and also worked with Harlem's Emmaus House.
In 1974 she successfully ran for the New York State Assembly where she served as a Democrat for two years representing Harlem. She lost reelection in the Democratic primary in 1976, at which point she returned to her activism and fundraising work. Runyon died October 7, 2018.