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Prepared by Scott L. Bills August 20, 1979; Prepared for the Web by Mikhail Slobodinskii, June 18, 1999; Last Updated: December 2020
Inclusive Dates: 1974-1977
Extent: 1.5 cubic feet (2 record storage boxes)
Physical Location: Storage
Storage Note: This collection is housed in a climate-controlled environment off site and requires at least up to three weeks for retrieval. Please call or email the department with requests for this material prior to planning your visit.
Scope and Content: The Kent American Revolution Bicentennial Commission (KARBC) was formed in March, 1974, as a means to combine University and the City of Kent observances of the Bicentennial. The Co-Chairpersons of the Commission were Dr. Donald M. Hassler and Loris Troyer, Executive Editor of the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier. During 1975-1976, the Commission was very active in planning numerous and ambitious Bicentennial programs. Its first major event, a "Patriots' Day Symposium," took place on April 22-23, 1975. Titled "The Morality of Change -- 1775-1975," the keynote speaker for the program was the Reverend William S. Coffin, Jr. This and subsequent KARBC activities were financed largely by grant monies received through the Ohio American Revolution Bicentennial Advisory Commission. Kent State University, the City of Kent, the Davey Foundation, the Thenus Club, and the Kent Kiwanis Club also contributed financial assistance.
Other projects of the Kent Bicentennial Commission included music concerts, a "Tour of Historic Kent," a scholarly conference, a symposium on Thomas Paine, theater and opera productions, special publication, and support for construction of Franklin Mills Riveredge Park by the Kent Environmental Council. These efforts culminated with the festival of July 3, 1976. The Commission issued its final report in November, 1976.
Researchers should consult folder seven in box two for the Kent Bicentennial Commission statement of purpose. Following general correspondence and financial records in folders 1-10 in box 1, Commission materials have been arranged topically with subject files organized alphabetically. Correspondence regarding particular topics was retained with the subject files. Within the folders, the principle of provenance was observed even where item order seemed to violate strict chronology. Subject files contain a range of materials: correspondence, financial records, press clippings, and printed matter. Bicentennial posters have been placed in the horizontal file, identified as (hf) after the respective entry.
The materials in this collection document the tentative beginnings of the Kent Bicentennial Commission and its growth into a more broadly representative organization. The correspondence clearly shows the purpose and direction of major programs developed. It also reveals certain conflicts over differing interrelations of the Bicentennial celebration and the significance of historical as well as contemporary issues. The records of the Commission offer a straightforward account of community priorities and decision-making as demonstrated in the internal debate over project coordination and emphasis. Additional and complementary records might be found with the Ohio American Revolution Bicentennial Advisory Commission and at Kent City Hall. In microcosm, the efforts of the Kent Bicentennial Commission delineate those areas of agreement and disagreement that characterize American society as a whole. During the three year period of its existence, however, the KARBC tended to emphasize cooperation more than conflict. Indeed, "everyone knew from the beginning that the constituencies were not distinct but rather complementary; and one important initial and continuing intention was to break down distinctions and barriers between the University and the Town in order to make the observance of the Bicentennial a joint effort as much as possible throughout," noted Dr.Hassler in a narrative of Commission Activities.
Acquisitions Information: Kent State University Special Collections and Archives obtained the records of the Kent American Revolution Bicentennial Commission from its Co-Chairperson, Donald M. Hassler, at that time the Dean of the Honors and Experimental College. The first installment of the collection arrived on June 25, 1975, but the bulk of the materials were delivered on July 26, 1978.
NOTE: Also in this container are an official Bicentennial Flag, two reels of a tape recording of a speech by William S. Coffin, Jr. on April 22, 1975, for the Patriots' Day Symposium, and a video-tape of Coffin's speech.