Collection inventory

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Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) Records

An inventory of its records 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: --
Date: ca. 1988

Biographical History

Literacy Volunteers, Inc. was founded in 1962 by Ruth J. Colvin in Syracuse, New York. Mrs. Colvin's interest in literacy grew out of the global mission of her denomination and exposure to the work of Frank Laubach and Welthy Honsinger Fisher. Planning to encourage her church to support literature programs in Africa, Mrs. Colvin learned of the high number of illiterates in the United States. Focusing on the illiterate in her local area she gave over 90 presentations educating the community to the problem at hand. Thus LVA had its beginnings.

In 1972 the name was changed to Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc. or LVA. LVA is a nonprofit educational organization whose main aim is "to provide training and program support for volunteers who tutor adults and teenagers, one to one, to write and speak conversational English." A National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 1979 enabled the production of a bibliography of humanistic materials at low reading levels. In 1991 the organization had grown to over 400 programs in 33 states. Mrs. Colvin has traveled to over 40 countries presenting workshops and serving-as a consultant to literacy programs. Areas of special interest are: English as a Second Language: work within correctional facilities; literacy and public libraries; the production of readers and workbooks (READ ON!); involvement in the National Right to Read Effort and the development of slide/tape and later video tutor training workshops.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Literacy Volunteers of America Records covers the period 1965-1988 with the bulk falling between 1971 and 1985. The collection contains general office files as well as the papers of Ruth J. Colvin, founder of the organization. There is also a considerable amount of audiovisual material.

Four sequences of General Files, each arranged alphabetically, contain office records of the organization. Included here are administrative information (Board of Directors, task forces, committees, staff development), LVA publications and teaching material (workshops, flash cards, flip charts, "Read On!", etc.), conference programs and presentations, correspondence with individuals and organizations (ALA, NAPCAE, NEH, PEACE), and bibliographies and articles on relevant topics such as basic reading, literacy, and ESL.

Two sequences of Ruth Colvin material, each arranged alphabetically, contain Ms. Colvin's own correspondence and subject files relating to her work with the organization. Included here are conferences, travel to Australia and New Zealand, photographs, and tutor training material.

The collection also contains an extensive amount of Media, including audiotapes, audiocassettes, films, slides, and videos. Much of this consists of training material developed and used by LVA, but there are also recordings of awards ceremonies, interviews, speeches, workshops, seminars, and other events.

Arrangement of the Collection

Each of the four General Files series and the two Ruth Colvin series are arranged in their own separate A-Z order. The researcher is advised to explore the entire inventory to ensure locating all relevant material. Much of the material remains in original order and in original folders. Media is subdivided by type, and then arranged alphabetically by title within each type.

PLEASE NOTE: Labels on many of the audio and video cassettes, reels, tapes, and slides were missing or illegible. Information on cases or labels has been transcribed verbatim where possible, and may or may not be useful or accurate.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

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 has the papers of many individuals and organizations involved in adult and continuing education. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing. In particular, see the Laubach Literacy Records.

Subject Headings


Colvin, Ruth J.
Root, Jane H.

Corporate Bodies

Literacy Volunteers of America -- Archives.
National Endowment for the Humanities.
National Right to Read Effort.


Adult education -- United States.
English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers.
English language -- Textbooks for foreign speakers.
Libraries and illiterate persons.
Libraries and new literates.
Literacy -- Australia.
Literacy -- United States.
Readers (Adult)
Readers (Primary)
Right to Read Program.
Tutors and tutoring.

Genres and Forms

16mm (photographic film size)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Motion pictures (visual works)
Slides (photographs)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) Records
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Literacy Volunteers of America.

Table of Contents

General files (I)

Colvin, Ruth J. (I)

General files (II)

Colvin, Ruth J. (II)

General files (III)

General files (IV)

Media, audiovisual