NYPD Guardians Oral History Collection Open for Research

The NYPD Guardians Oral History Collection is complemented by the Charles Coleman Collection of The Guardians Association Newsletters, where the pictured materials can be found. (“Felon Sneakers” images from Box 1, Folder 6; “Family Tree” in Box 1, Folder 9; “25th Dinner-Dance” in Box 2, Folder 83; “37th Dinner Dance” from Box 2 Folder 85)

The Columbia Center for Oral History Archives at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that a finding aid is now available for the New York Police Department Guardians Oral History Collection. The oral history project was initiated by Liz Strong in 2015 while she was studying in the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia.

The collection’s fourteen interviews document the experiences of members of the NYPD Guardians, a fraternal organization for African American police officers and civilian employees of the NYPD. Over the decades, the organization has served members by developing community; providing education and mentorship; advocating within the department; and taking legal action to combat discrimination in hiring and promotion. Interviewees discuss the impact of the Guardians on officers’ careers, the group’s advocacy against discrimination in the NYPD, and developments in police work from the 1960s-2010s. As a result of the oral history project, interviewee Charles Coleman also donated a collection of newsletters and other ephemera to the library. These materials are also open for research at the RBML.

Transcripts can be viewed in the RBML reading room. The audio of the interview is also available in the RBML reading room by emailing the CCOH Archives at oralhist@library.columbia.edu two days in advance of your visit. For more information about the NYPD Guardians Oral History Collection, planning a visit to the RBML, or the oral history collections more generally, please contact oralhist@library.columbia.edu.

-David A. Olson, Archivist for the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives