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Ylvisaker, Paul N. Papers of Paul N. Ylvisaker, 1939-1992: an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUGFP 142
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Ylvisaker, Paul N.
Title: Papers of Paul N. Ylvisaker, 1939-1992
Date(s): 1939-1992
Quantity: 11 cubic feet (33 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Paul N. Ylvisaker was a noted city planner, government official, foundation executive, and dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1972-1982. He was known for his efforts in addressing urban issues, for philanthropy, and for committing the Harvard Graduate School of Education to a public service mission. These records document his professional life, including his prolific speech-making and his career as a consultant, executive, government official, and dean.

Acquisition Information:

Accession number 13711; received 1998 January 26.

Custodial Information:

The Papers of Paul N. Ylvisaker were given to Harvard University by the estate of Paul N. Ylvisaker and his children, in May 1993. The Harvard University Graduate School of Education held the collection temporarily and partially processed it. In January 1998, the Education School gave it to the Harvard University Archives to hold permanently.
No accruals are expected.

Processing Information:

Processed by Kara Lewis, June 1998. The Correspondence series was re-housed and re-processed by Samuel Bauer in March 2015.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education partially processed the Papers of Paul N. Ylvisaker, placing materials into archival folders and relocating all photographs to a "Photographs" series. They organized the paper material into the following series: Personal; Correspondence; Foundations, Organizations, Universities, and Consultancies; Recommendations and References; Harvard Graduate School of Education; Speeches 1949-1992; Early Papers; Publications. The order of each of these series was retained by the Harvard University Archives. The material when received from the GSE had a separate series devoted to audio and video tapes.
The School of Education also returned personal materials to the family.
Processing was completed at the Harvard University Archives (HUA). Actions of the HUA were creation of a series and subseries hierarchy, changing the titles of several series, constructing folder lists for each series, and integrating photographic, video, and audio material into the series of paper materials. Physical processing consisted of transferring photos, scrapbooks, weekly planners, audio tapes and videotapes into more appropriate containers. See series descriptions for arrangement of each series.

Conditions on Use and Access:

Open for research with the following exceptions: Harvard University records in this collection are restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. Personnel and student records in this collection are closed for research from 80 years from the date of creation.
These restrictions are noted at the item and series level in this finding aid.

Preferred Citation:

Ylvisaker, Paul N. Papers of Paul N. Ylvisaker, 1939-1992. HUGFP 142, Harvard University Archives.

Allied Material

Related family records held in the Minnesota Historical Society; also consult Harvard's on-line integrated library system for books or other works by and about Paul Ylvisaker, espeically Conscience & Community : the legacy of Paul Ylivisaker, a collection of Ylvisaker's speeches and writings.

Biography of Paul N. Ylvisaker

Paul Norman Ylvisaker (1921-1992) was a noted city planner, government official, foundation executive, and dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He was known for his efforts in addressing urban issues and philanthropy and committing the Harvard Graduate School of Education to a public service mission.
Ylvisaker was born on November 28, 1921 in St. Paul, Minnesota and was educated at Bethany Lutheran Junior College (A.A. 1940), Mankato State College (B.S. 1942), the University of Minnesota , and Harvard. At Harvard he was a Littauer Fellow and received the Master of Public Administration degree in 1945 and the Ph.D. in political economics and government in 1948. Ylvisaker was a Senior Fulbright Research scholar in England during 1951-52.
His professional career began as a member of the staff of the Blue Earth County Council on Intergovernmental Relations from 1943-1946. He was teaching at Swarthmore and was Executive Secretary to the Mayor of Philadelphia in 1955, when he joined the staff of the Ford Foundation , where he served in the Foundation's Public Affairs Program from 1955-1967. His post there took him to India and Japan for urban planning projects. In Japan he was technical assistant in a United Nations position from 1960-1962, and in 1964. He spent three years (1967-1970) as Commissioner of Community Affairs for the state of New Jersey, where he restored the Department of Education and enacted a plan for the conservation and development of 18,000 acres of New Jersey meadowlands. He also helped to resolve the Newark riots in 1967 by encouraging more peaceful methods of control. He was asked to submit his resignation by the incoming Republican governor, Cahill, in December 1969 as part of a cabinet sweep. He spent a year teaching at Yale , joined the Princeton faculty in 1970 as Professor of Public Affairs and Urban Planning, and then became dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ylvisaker's teaching career at Harvard began as a tutor and teaching fellow at Harvard from 1945-1947, and then as an instructor in 1948. He was then a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 1968-1969. In September 1972, Ylvisaker became dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education at a time when the school was facing financial difficulties and a loss of confidence. Serving the school also as the Charles William Eliot professor of education, he led the school through a decade of transformation, encouraging the education school to explore broad education theory and philosophy and child development. Later, he focused on practical skills, with courses on politics, computers, school leadership and community support. He also worked to raise the ratio of women and minority students at the school. After serving as dean for 10 years, he remained on the faculty as the C.W. Eliot professor, teaching ethics and philanthropy until 1992.
The foundations, consulting activities, and committees in which Ylvisaker participated are wide-ranging. For example, during his career he served on the boards of the New Jersey Education Consortium, the Hispanic Policy Development Project, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and the Dayton Hudson Corporation. He served on a United States Public Health Service Health Exchange Mission to Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1964 and in 1966, he served as chair of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Task Force on Cities. From 1972-1973, he was department chair of the task force on land use and urban growth in the Citizen's Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality, and from 1984-1986, was a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Regents and was chair of the Committee on National Urban Policy of the National Research Council. From 1984-1985, he was co-chair of the National Commission on Secondary Schooling for Hispanics. In 1990, he received the Council on Foundations' Distinguished Grantmaker's Award.
His many writings include Intergovernmental Relations at the Grassroots, 1955; Battle of Blue Earth County, 1955; The Role of Private Philanthropy in Public Affairs, 1975; and Foundations and Non-Profit Agencies, 1987.
He was married to his wife, Barbara, for 45 years. He was survived by four children when he died in March 1992 at age 70.

List of Speeches and Writings of PNY

Most, but not all, of the speeches included in this list are in the Speeches subseries. Easier access to material listed may be available by consulting Conscience & Community : the legacy of Paul Ylvisaker, a publication that includes many of Ylvisaker's speeches and writings. This list was not prepared in the Harvard University Archives. It is reproduced here, without editing, as an addendum. This list includes a title for each item, its intended audience, and its date. Because it provides date information, this addendum should allow researchers to locate a speech in the Speeches subseries.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

Scope and Content of the Paul N. Ylvisaker Papers

These papers document the public life of Paul N. Ylvisaker. They include biographical information, records relating to the many foundations with which Ylvisaker worked either as a paid executive or as a consultant, records from his affiliations with Harvard University, the Ford Foundation, the Department of Community Affairs in New Jersey, and other career appointments. The documents are in the form of correspondence, speeches, articles, book chapters, photographs, audio and video tapes.
One of the strengths of the collection lies in the vast amount of correspondence which Ylvisaker wrote and received in his many roles over his life. Researchers will find this in its own series as well as throughout the collection. Another valuable resource is the presence of over 300 photographs.
Although more papers exist from the second half of Ylvisaker's life, the collection holds information relating to the early years of his career which he spent at Harvard, Swarthmore, and to his work under a Fulbright Scholarship in England. The greatest amount of the biographical material covers the 1970's and 1980's. The Harvard University material predominately covers the 1970's. The Foundations and Consultancies series documents PNY's activities from 1960 to 1992, as does the Speeches series.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 October 13..

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