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Tolstoy College records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 34-9-542

Scope and Contents

This collection of Papers of Tolstoy College circa 1969-1983 contains materials documenting College administration and activities. Included is information on College courses, faculty committees, chartering, budget and funding, and events sponsored by college, as well as information about the other experimental colleges founded by the University in 1968.

Also included is information on areas of faculty, student, and College interest including the draft, nuclear energy and waste (Karen Silkwood, Seabrook nuclear power plant occupation, West Valley), solar energy, organic gardening, apartheid and South Africa, conservation, El Salvador, the US House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee, and homosexuals.

Types of materials included in the collection are clippings and articles; memos; minutes from staff and committee meetings; course descriptions and proposals; reports and self-evaluations; publicity materials; notes; newsletters; petitions; weather charts; surveys; booklists; staff vitae; and correspondence.


  • 1969-1983


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

Tolstoy College records, 1969-1983, are open for research.


University records are public records and once fully processed are generally open to research use. Access to student and personnel records is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. See reference staff for details. No restrictions on access apply to published records. The restriction of university records is subject to compliance with applicable laws, including the Freedom of Information Act. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the archives' usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

The Mass Media Course folders (2.2-1.3) in Series 3: Courses contains a number of unpublished student papers which cannot be copied.

Historical Note

In 1968 President Martin Meyerson of the University of Buffalo announced that he would receive suggestions from the faculty for the experimental colleges that were to be set up as part of the new Amherst campus facility. The formation of College F, otherwise known as Tolstoy College, was first proposed by Charles Planck of the Political Science Department. Tolstoy College's theme was one of anarchism and emphasized the construction of small, decentralized communities, in response to Tolstoy's questions of "How to live?" and "What to live for?"
Planck offered Charles Haynie a position in the new college and organized course offerings from faculty in the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science.

From its inception in the fall of 1969, Tolstoy College fostered student activism in both university and social causes. Indeed, in May of 1977, most of Tolstoy College's staff formed a Buffalo affinity group and joined the occupation of the Seabrook, New Hampshire nuclear power plant. Along with roughly 3,000 other protestors, many of the college faculty and staff spent two weeks in jail. Tolstoy College courses instructed students on matters of living off the land, building environmentally sensitive dwellings, avoiding dependence on urban technology and a variety of courses focused on specific gender, socioeconomic class and ethnic experiences as well as gay rights and ageism.

In 1975, the College received a two-year contract with a review provision, attributed to the shift of Tolstoy College's theme from anarchism to one of the study of oppressed entities in American society. As other radically-oriented colleges failed or were terminated by the University, Tolstoy College picked up their subjects and themes. The college was conditionally rechartered through July 29, 1977 after review.

In 1980, a review subcommittee recommended a five-year charter, which was apparently granted in 1981. After the resignation and departure of the Dean of the Colleges and both assistant deans circa 1983, a proposal was drawn up suggesting the incorporation of Tolstoy into the Department of American Studies. The proposal was rejected by the Dean of Arts and Letters, James Bunn, on February 6, 1984 citing a Faculty-wide concern about appointing Haynie to a tenure-track position within Arts and Letters as a basis for the program’s rejection.

Tolstoy College was eliminated at the end of the 1984-1985 academic year during a reorganization of the college system wherein all remaining colleges were absorbed into existing academic and administrative units. Tolstoy itself was subsumed into the Faculty of Social Sciences and Charles Haynie was accepted into the Faculty's Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Program at that time.

Charles Planck was the first master of Tolstoy College, serving from 1968 to 1973. Upon his departure, Robert Newman served as master. In 1980 Charles Haynie took over as director of the College. He served in that capacity until the College was disbanded.


4.58 Linear Feet (3 cartons, 1 manuscript box, 1 half manuscript box, 1 flat box)


Records of Tolstoy College (also known as College F) from 1969-1983.


This collection is arranged in four series: I. Tolstoy College Administration, II. Tolstoy courses, III. Colleges, and IV. Issues and organizations.

Acquisition Information

The University Archives received a collection of materials from Charles Haynie, former Director of Tolstoy College, in 1985 (accession 85-026). The collection was processed by Archives staff at that time and assigned collection number 34/9/542.

An additional collection was received from Peter Murphy in 1988 (accession 88-043). In 2004 Kerry Fender began to process this collection under the supervision of Karen Walton. Materials directly related to Tolstoy College were integrated into collection 34/9/542, which was reprocessed by Fender. A large segment of radical and anarchist publications were separated from the accession and became a separate collection (MS 116).

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Resources

03/7/00-26, The Colleges, course catalogs, 1969-1996
34/1/556, Director of the Collegiate Assembly records, 1968-1976
34/1/660, Colleges records, 1968-1983
34/1/694, Colleges records, 1974-1984
34/3/152, Tolstoy and Social Sciences College Review, 1976
34/3/158, Faculty Senate Committee on the Colleges evaluation reports, 1973
34/3/329, College Chartering Committee records, 1974
34/3/389, The Colleges Chartering documents, 1974-1975
34/9/230, Charles Planck papers, 1968-1973
34/9/1071, Charles Haynie papers, circa 1963-2000
34/9/1092, Tolstoy College records, 1974-1983

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Kerry Fender, April 2004.
Finding aid encoded by Danielle White, March 2015.


Finding Aid for the Tolstoy College records
Finding aid prepared by Kerry Fender.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)