Special Collections & University Archives University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Weiner, Tom M.

Tom Weiner Oral History Collection, 2004-2008.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 729

Growing up in Elmont, Long Island and Teaneck, New Jersey, Tom Weiner attended Trinity College before facing the draft in 1971. After failing the physical and mental examination, Weiner studied alternative education in England, Europe, and Israel on a Watson Fellowship. Upon his return in 1972, he began study at NYU law school, but soon left the city for Northampton, Massachusetts. A life-long social justice activist, Weiner has worked as a sixth grade teacher for the past twenty-five years.

With a lottery number of 117, Tom Weiner knew for certain that he would be drafted immediately upon graduation from Trinity College. Decades later, Weiner was inspired to collect the stories of the men and women who came of age during the Vietnam War era. This collection consists of the oral history interviews, recordings and transcripts, Weiner collected, thirty of which appear in his book Called to Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam War Draft.

Background on Tom Weiner

A life-long activist and sixth grade teacher at the Smith College Campus School for more than thirty years, Tom Weiner was a student at Trinity College when the draft lottery was imposed, determing the order of call to military service for a generation of men during the Vietnam War. With a number of 117, Weiner knew for certain that he would be called to serve and the weight of this knowledge had a profound impact on him. Believing the war unjust, Weiner was determined not to fight in it; seeking the support of a draft counselor he filed a conscientious objector application and gathered letters from doctors that documented varioius physical conditions. Ultimately, he failed the physical and mental examiniation when he responded “yes” to two questions: “Have you ever smoked marijuana?” and “Have you ever had suicidal fantasies?”.

Weiner’s response to the draft was not unique, many others were also able to avoid serving in Vietnam. Nor was his response an easy one. Indeed each man affected by the draft knew firsthand that there were no easy respopnses. Fearing that these individual stories would be lost over time, Weiner was motivated to capture them first as oral histories and later as a book. A primary goal in collecting these stories: reflect the full range of responses to the draft from those who served and those who refused to those who loved, supported and counseled men facing the draft. Weiner was able to bring all of these perspectives together in his book Called to Serve: Stories of the Men and Women Affected by the Vietnam War Draft published in 2011.

Contents of Collection

Consisting of 54 oral history interviews on audiocassette or DVD and a complete draft of a Weiner’s book Called to Serve, which includes the transcripts of those interviews, this collection documents the stories of men who served, men who left the country to avoid serving, men who refused to serve, those who “beat the draft”, and those who were conscientious objectors. Also recorded are the stories of women who loved, supported, and counseled men affected by the draft. While the interviews were conducted with men and women currently residing in the Pioner Valley, the stories told reflect the experiences of men and women around the country, since very few the individuals interviewed resided in the area during the war. As such, this collection represents a full range of reactions and responses both to the draft and to the Vietnam War.

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Inventory of Collection
Anderson, Doug undated Box 1
Bohdi, Charlie undated Box 1
Boody, Peter 2006 Apr 11 Box 2
Brill, Ernie undated Box 2
Brown, Bob 2006 July 7 Box 2
Brown, Judson undated Box 1
Carden, Richard undated Box 1
Caruso, David undated Box 2
Carrington, Art 2005 Mar 15 Box 1
Chevannes, Don 2006 Aug 3 Box 2
Crowe, Frances 2004 Aug 2 Box 1
Crowe, Frances 2008 Aug Box 1
Dreezen, Craig undated Box 1
Fratkin, Elliot 2004 July 19 Box 2
Gardner, Dan 2004 July 19 Box 2
Gardner, Tom 2006 Feb 5 Box 1
Girard, Scott 2004 Aug 24 Box 1
Goss, Gary 2004 Aug 24 Box 1
Goss, Gary 2008 July Box 1
Guy, Steve 2004 Aug 2 Box 2
Haxby, Bob 2004 July 13 Box 2
Henle, Jim 2004 July 18 Box 2
Higgins, George 2004 Sept 4 Box 1
Holtzman, Jay 2007 Jan 19-20 Box 1
Holtzman, Libby 2007 Jan Box 1
Hoogstraten, John undated Box 2
Hunter, Scott 2005 Mar 17 Box 1
Jessop, Peter undated Box 2
Kehler, Randy undated Box 2
Lasaponaro, Domenic undated Box 2
Laye, George 2005 Dec 22 Box 1
Lembcke, Jerry undated Box 2
Marotta, Frank 2004 Aug 23 Box 1
McLeester, Dick 2004 Aug 26 Box 1
Miller, Al 2006 June 28 Box 1
O’Connor, Vince undated Box 1
O’Dowd Charlie undated Box 1
Perlman, Michael undated Box 2
Richmond, Paul undated Box 2
Rock, Penny 2008 Aug 20 Box 1
Ross, Randy undated Box 2
Russell, Joel undated Box 1
Sample, Michael 2004 Aug 13 Box 2
Strickland, John undated Box 2
Surprenant, Alan undated Box 2
Sussman, Guy 2006 July 5 Box 2
Thompson, David 2004 Aug 3 Box 1
Towne, Tom 2005 Jan 2 Box 2
Trudel, Steve 2004 Aug 4 Box 2
Trudel, Steve undated Box 1
Wallace, Roger 2006 Aug 1 Box 2
Wiley, Paul 2004 July 12 Box 2
Williams, George 2008 July 7 Box 1
Zucker, Rob 2004 Sept 12 Box 2
Called to Serve typescript ca. 2011 Box 3
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Provenance

Acquired from Tom Weiner, 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by SCUA staff, January 2012.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Tom Weiner Oral History Collection (MS 729). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Subjects
  • Draft--United States--History--20th century
  • Vietnam Way, 1961-1975--Draft resisters
  • Vietnam Way, 1961-1975--Personal narratives
Contributors
  • Weiner, Tom M.
Types of material
  • Oral histories
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