Jim Jacobs papers Edit


MSS 277 large


  • 1965-1984 (Creation)


  • 4.6 Linear Feet (Whole)
    6 boxes



  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The material is stored offsite in Remote Storage. Please contact Special Collections 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession information unknown.

  • Arrangement

    Materials are arranged chronologically.

  • Biographical / Historical

    In 1967, Jim Jacobs began teaching at Macomb County Community College in Warren, Michigan, after earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harpur College in New York, and a master’s degree in political science from Princeton University. In his early years at Macomb, Jacobs led many of the progressive movements on campus, including the first march on the Warren Tank Plant in 1970, and a campus strike over the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State University shootings. He was the faculty sponsor of the leftist campus group, the Macomb Liberation Front, which led its support to Jacobs – as did many in the community -- when the college attempted to terminate his employment in 1970, citing Jacobs’ participation in a secretarial strike as its basis. An arbitration tribunal rejected the college’s arguments, and Jacobs retained his position.

    During the 1970’s, Jacobs was active in Marxist-based groups in Detroit, in particular the Detroit Marxist Leninist Organization (DMLO), the Detroit Organizing Committee (DOC), and the Detroit Local Center (DLC). Jacobs’ writings and papers of this time period reflect the difficult task of working within society while studying and defending a radical view, as the revolutionary groups of the 1960’s attempted to retain their appeal and influence in the 1970’s without losing their core ideology. In 1977, Jacobs was awarded his Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton. In 1978, a new left-leaning, multi-racial group, the Detroit Alliance for a Rational Economy (DARE), was formed, and the collection contains many of Jacob’s papers from his years of participation in DARE, as well as from his participation in other community groups at that time.

    In the mid-70’s, Jacobs joined the landmark legal case, Benkert v. Michigan State Police, as a plaintiff; the Benkert court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state police to maintain an intelligence unit designed to root out “subversives” and to pass on secret surveillance files on lawful citizens to third parties. Jacobs, himself a victim of the “Red Squad” spying program, wrote about the case for The Nation, assisted plaintiffs’ attorney Richard Soble with formulating a method for all victims to view their secret files, and was active in post-Benkert attempts to further rein in political surveillance in Michigan.

    The collection ends with the early 1980’s. Since then, Jacobs has gone on to serve in leadership roles at Macomb Community College, and currently directs the college's Center for Workforce Development and Policy. He specializes in the areas of occupational change and technology, suburban economic development, the retraining of displaced workers, and needs assessment of occupational programs, and has published widely in these areas.

  • Preferred Citation

    Item, Folder number and/or title, Box number, MSS 277 Jim Jacobs papers, Special Collections, MSU Libraries, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

  • Processing Information

    The Jim Jacobs papers were organized, conserved, and inventoried with funds provided the American Radicalism Collection Endowment Fund in honor & memory of Dr. Beth J. Shapiro by Anne-Marie Rachman on October 20, 2006.

  • Scope and Contents

    The collection contains a broad array of documents as it chronicles the years of an intellectually-centered community activist. There are published journals, typewritten letters, handwritten notes, flyers and announcements, and many pages of “meeting materials.” Of particular interest are the back-and-forth arguments within the Marxist groups concerning organization and hierarchy, true purpose and ideology, and their expectation of members. The collection also contains numerous research papers on Marxist thought, prepared by Jacobs and others for study and discussion, as well as various newspaper clippings recording significant events in Jacobs’ personal, political and intellectual life. Jacobs’ role as one of the plaintiffs in Benkert v. State of Michigan, (the “Red Squad” case) – in which state-sanctioned surveillance of lawful citizen activities was ruled unconstitutional – is represented by his personal files of attorney correspondence, legal papers, and articles. The more recent materials in the collection contain many Detroit city government reports, bureaucratic forms, and memoranda, reflecting Jacobs’ increasing involvement with city programs. The time period of the collection is from approximately 1965 to 1984.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.