Olds' May 4 papers still at stalemate Yale officials say they need to talk with widow to add documents to collection

June 26. 2007

By Matt Fredmonsky
Record-Courier staff writer

The prospect of finding a permanent, academic home for in-depth, personal documents from a deceased Kent State University president remains at a stalemate.

Yale University alumnus Paul Keane tried unsuccessfully earlier this year to pursuade Yale to open the now closed Kent State special archives collection and accept the personal papers of former KSU President Glenn Olds. Keane issued numerous letters and e-mails to Yale University President Richard C. Levin without response until last week.

Levin responded to Keane in an e-mail, stating Yale officials would need to speak with Olds' widow, Eva, examine the papers and then determine if they are suited for the university's collection.

"It is customary to keep papers such as those of Dr. Olds in the place where scholars would expect to find them, and where the surrounding context is relevant, in this case, KSU," Levin wrote. "KSU has built up its collection related to the killings in 1970 and has made the materials openly available.

"We do not see a reason to continue to expand Yale's collection of Kent State material," Levin said.

Two relevant actions occurred after the May 4, 1970 shootings of four students by Ohio National Guardsmen on the Kent campus. Olds came to the university with the task of helping to heal a grief-stricken, politically divided academia.

But fear and paranoia remained throughout his tenure, and as a result professionals involved sought a more unbiased, neutral place for evidence and documents cataloguing the tragic events other than KSU -- Yale.

Yale University in New Haven, Conn., has been the home of such documents and evidence since the mid 1970s when two men, Paul Keane and "The Truth About Kent State" author Peter Davies worked with the university to open a special Kent State collection.

The prestigious university acted as a third party between the state of Ohio and KSU by providing a safe home where documents and evidence could remain open to the public for research.

Olds, a Yale alumnus, served as president of KSU after the shootings from 1971 to 1977. Olds died in March 2006 and left behind documents and an autobiography titled "The Making of A Man," detailing events in his personal life not officially recorded and kept at KSU as part of his professional papers.

His personal documents fill six, four-drawer filing cabinets and were used to write his autobiography, which he finished shortly before his death. Eva Olds has expressed her desire for the papers to be kept at Olds' alma mater, Yale.

Keane responded to Levin's e-mail and stated Olds' career was larger than Kent State and the papers therefore should not come to KSU.

"They will not be divided," Keane said of the documents.

Levin told Keane Yale would need to be contacted directly by Mrs. Olds before it could determine if the university is the appropriate home for the collection. He also included a list of questions regarding the papers, which Keane answered in his response.

In response, Keane told Levin Mrs. Olds would be happy to enter into discussions with Yale but only after the university invites her to do so.

"This would not commit Yale to anything other than an invitation to explore the possibility of a donation," Keane wrote.

The debate over Olds' papers has gone back and forth between Keane and Yale administrators during the past months, resulting in a stand still.

Keane insists his role in the effort has been to make certain what could be a key piece in Yale's Kent State collection does not fall through the university's hands.

"I'm afraid this isn't much progress unless Mrs. Olds receives an invitation," Keane said. "And if Yale ultimately rejects the entire Olds' archive, the Olds papers will be homeless, for they will never go to Kent State."