This guide highlights primary and secondary sources available in the Georgetown University Archives for research on the Georgetown Free University (GFU). GFU was created by two juniors, Richard Rosenblatt and Reese Fullerton, in fall 1967. Inspired by similar undertakings at Stanford, Berkeley and Dartmouth, it offered around 50 tuition-free and non-credit courses taught by GU faculty or students. These classes were designed to allow students to explore a subject without pressure of exams or grades. Its philosophy was laid out in the introduction to the spring 1969 Free University catalog: Over the past three semesters at Georgetown University, a new experiment in higher education has been conducted with the idea that an academic atmosphere independent of the regular curriculum would provide the student with many of the elements that make for true education. This experiment is the Free University. The Free University stopped offering classes around 1974 but was re-established in 1977 at which point it was co-sponsored by Student Government and Residence Life. It later operated under the auspices of the Student Activities Commission but struggled in the 1980s to attract staff and financial support. Free University classes were offered for the last time in spring 1985.
The University Archives are part of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections and are found on the 5th floor of Lauinger Library. The Booth Family Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Reference inquiries may be made in person, by telephone (202-687-7631), via our email form or via the chat feature on Booth’s homepage. University Archives staff are very happy to discuss research projects and to direct researchers to resources both within and outside the Archives.
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