Quentin Young Papers, 1964-1975

Scope and Content Note

The Quentin Young collection divides into three parts: GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, MCHR FILES, and SUBJECT FILES.

The GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, which is arranged chronologically, contains incoming and outgoing letters, memos, and other correspondence of Quentin Young about MCHR activities and Young's promotion of the group and its publication Health Rights News. The correspondence series is an excellent source documenting the liberal activism in the medical profession in the late 1960s. There is also much information concerning the state of health care in Chicago during the same period. Most importantly, however, the letters document both the emergence of access to health care as a basic human right.

The bulk of the correspondence dates from the period from 1967 to 1968. During these years, Young wore numerous hats as the result of his local and national involvement with MCHR; he also played a role in other political and medical groups in the Chicago area. As a result, it is often difficult to distinguish which role Young was playing during a particular exchange. No attempt has been made during processing to separate MCHR correspondence from non-MCHR business. Beyond friendly exchanges with sympathetic activists and doctors, there is no correspondence of a personal nature. Likewise, there is no correspondence concerning his medical practice. Correspondence dealing with specific MCHR activities have been separated to the activities files in the MCHR FILES. Likewise, correspondence concerning local chapters or specific allied organizations has been moved to the appropriate files in the MCHR series and the SUBJECT FILES.

Prominent correspondents include H. Jack Geiger, Martin Luther King (May 1, 1967 and January 16, 1968), Alfred Klinger, Alvin Pouissant, Walter Reuther, Frank Wilkinson, and Andrew Young. In addition, the GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE includes three folders of carboned correspondence of George Wilson of Philadelphia. Wilson was national vice chairman during Young's tenure, later succeeding him as national chairman in 1968. He apparently sent copies of all of his MCHR correspondence to Young in order to keep him informed.

The MCHR FILES contain information about MCHR during Young's tenure as national chairman from mid-1967 through 1968. Apart from this period, there are a few early documents as well as a constitution. Financial records are few and fragmentary, but most complete for the years 1964 and 1965.

MCHR's principal ruling body was the Governing Council which held semi-annual meetings to make policy and choose officers. The limited records in the collection about these meetings include minutes, policy statements, and some related correspondence. Records of Governing Council, of which Young was a de facto member, are almost non-existent. Once a year, the MCHR held national conventions to discuss activities and vote on policy and resolutions. About these conventions, the collection includes draft resolutions, policy material and some correspondence. No convention is documented well, however, and there is nothing on the 1966 meeting.

MCHR's public relations records contain letters of support from prominent physicians collected as a result of the New York Times advertisements, press releases, and publications issued the MCHR. The organization's primary publication, Health Rights News, is available in the SHSW library.

Membership files consist primarily of national inquiries about membership as well as membership lists. The inquiries were weeded to preserve only correspondence of substantial content. These letters are often quite revealing, for people frequently indicated their personal reasons for wishing to join the fledgling group.

Chapter files represent the bulk of the MCHR series. As the principal method of organizing members, the local chapters were essential to the MCHR's growth and development after the Freedom Summer of 1964. Chapters of significant size and activity levels are represented by separate files that are alphabetically arranged. In general, the chapter files contain correspondence, meeting minutes, project literature, publications, and membership lists. The Chicago chapter material is, understandably, the most extensive. At the end of the chapter files are two folders of similar material related to the smaller, less active chapters and to the organization of new chapters.

The MCHR began to provide medical care to civil rights workers during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. This and related summer projects were the first of MCHR's activities. The activities files include correspondence; newspaper clippings; project literature such as hand-outs, mailings and policy implementation guides; reports; and press releases. However, these Southern project files do not appear to be the records of the national organization. Instead, they are files of Mrs. Bette Johnson, of the Chicago chapter, about its Southern efforts. Of particular interest are testimonies from volunteers who served in Mississippi. Other activities documented by this collection include the 1968 Democratic convention, anti-AMA organizing, and draft counseling. It was MCHR's involvement at the Chicago Convention that raised the suspicions of HUAC that the 1968 convention violence was premeditated. Young later was forced to testify to HUAC as the committee investigated the disruptions at the convention. Due to its anti-AMA counter-conventions and protests, MCHR was considered by many as the alternative to the AMA. The AMA activity records include several photographs that were probably taken at an AMA protest in 1970.

The alphabetically-arranged SUBJECT FILES contain information on Young's activities in behalf of racial and class equity outside of MCHR on topics such as mace, the Student Health Organization of Chicago, and preventative medicine. These files contain newspaper clippings, manuscripts, informational hand-outs, correspondence, and promotional literature. At the end of the subject files is one folder of biographical information and miscellaneous writings by Quentin Young about health care reform.