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Ruth Colvin Papers

A description of the collection at Syracuse University

The adult education holdings are collectively known as the
Alexander N. Charters Library of Resources for Educators of Adults.

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 7 Nov 2011

Biographical History

Ruth Johnson Colvin (1917- ) is an American literacy advocate and author, and the founder of the non-profit organization Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA). Colvin founded LVA in Syracuse, New York in 1962 with the goal of training tutors in reading and English as a Second Language (ESL) to combat illiteracy; although the original focus was the local community, the organization expanded its work across the United States and then internationally. In 2002 the company merged with Laubach Literacy International (LLI). LLI was also founded in Syracuse, in 1955 by Frank C. Laubach, and its philosophy of "Each one teach one" shared LVA's focus on teaching new readers to teach others. The new organization, named ProLiteracy Worldwide, funds or supports literacy efforts of various kinds in all 50 states as well as countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. As of 2010 the company had 330 programs in 42 states with over 100,000 volunteers and students

Colvin has received dozens of awards for her work in combating illiteracy. In December of 2006, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ruth Colvin Papers consists of videotapes, clippings, slides, and presentations and publications by Colvin.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is unprocessed and remains in original order.


Access Restrictions:

The collection is currently unprocessed and not available for research. Please contact Special Collections Research Center for more information. In addition, the collection is fully restricted until the death of the donor. Until such time, written permission of the donor is required for access to the collection.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center is also the repository of the Laubach Literacy International Records and the Frank C. Laubach Collection.

Subject Headings


Colvin, Ruth J.

Corporate Bodies

Literacy Volunteers of America.


English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers.
Literacy -- Developing countries.
Literacy -- United States.
New literates, Writing for.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Compact discs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Ruth Colvin Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ruth Colvin, 2011.

Table of Contents

Audiovisual materials