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Guide to the Ruth Acty Papers
MS 38  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ruth Acty papers
    Dates: 1927-2001
    Collection number: MS 38
    Creator: Acty, Ruth.
    Collection Size: 8.5 linear feet (15 boxes + 1 oversized box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: Educator, author, and actor Ruth Acty (1913-1998) was the first African American teacher hired by the Berkeley Unified School District in 1943. The Ruth Acty papers include curriculum material, teaching notes, writings, photographs, awards, legal and financial records, and correspondence that document her life and activities as a teacher and author.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Ruth Acty Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Ruth Acty papers, MS 38, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, 05/25/2013.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Educator, author, and actor Ruth Acty (1913-1998) was the first African American teacher hired by the Berkeley Unified School District in 1943. Born Oakland, California in 1913 to John and Gussie (née Stokes) Acty, she was raised in West Oakland and graduated from McClymonds High School before earning an A.B. in English from San Francisco State College in 1937. After taking classes in early childhood development and speech at the University of California, Berkeley, she attended Northwestern University earning a M.A. in Theater in 1941.
    Acty first taught elementary school kindergarten in El Centro, California for three years before accepting a position teaching drama at Bennett College in North Carolina. In 1942, she returned to California and the following year accepted a teaching position in the Berkeley Unified District at Longfellow Elementary School, making her the first African American teacher in Berkeley USD. Over the course of her career, she worked within the Berkeley Unified School District at various schools, including Lincoln School, Garfield Junior High School, Burbank Junior High School, and Berkeley Adult School as a drama, English, French, and English as a Foreign Language teacher until her retirement in 1991.
    In addition to her teaching, Acty was also active in theater, acting in the WPA Federal Theater Project’s performance of Run Little Chillun as Sister Stella at the Alcatraz Theater in San Francisco and the WPA theater production of The Swing Mikado in 1939. She was also the co-author of Looking Back At Berkeley: A Pictorial History of a Diverse City (1984) with Maggie Gee and Fran Packard, and she served as a member of the Berkeley Historical Board in the 1980s. Throughout her life, she continued to take classes, attending courses in French at the Foreign Studies Institute in Monterey, California in 1966, a sabbatical at the University of Poitiers in France in 1968, the summer Radio Television Institute at Stanford University in 1956, and various drama and speech classes at Harvard, North Wales, and London universities.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Ruth Acty papers include curriculum material, teaching notes, writings, photographs, awards, legal and financial records, and correspondence that document her life and activities as a teacher and author. The papers are organized into six series: biographical material, teaching, writings and dramatic presentations, religious activities, printed material, and photographs. The bulk of the papers are biographical material that document Acty’s education at Northwestern University and Stanford University, assorted legal and financial records, personal correspondence, and records related to the conservatorship of her sister Naomi Acty Harris. The papers also include Acty’s teaching notes and curriculum while she worked as an English, French, and drama teacher with the Berkeley Unified School District. The collection includes a few original poems written by Acty mostly in the early 1940s, and dramatic presentations either written or performed by Acty. The religious activities series includes mostly church programs of The Church of the Fellowship of All Peoples during the 1950s, a binder of Acty’s class notes from a Church of Christ, Scientist seminar in the early 1960s, and a few files of planning materials for a delegation to visit UNESCO in France in 1949. The papers include 517 photographs of Acty’s family and friends, her educational activities as educator at the Berkeley Adult School, classes she attended at the Foreign Studies Institute in Monterey, California, and her sabbatical in France.

    Arrangement

    Series I. Biographical Series II. Teaching Series III. Writings and dramatic presentations Series IV. Religious activities Series V. Printed material Series VI. Photographs

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Berkeley Unified School District.
    Acty, Ruth.
    African American teachers.
    Berkeley (Calif.)--History.
    Education--California--Berkeley.
    Education--California—History.
    Students -- Berkeley, Calif.
    Choral speaking.