Alinsky, Saul David, 1909-1972

Alternative names
Birth 1909-01-30
Death 1972-06-12

Biographical notes:

The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), founded in Chicago in 1940, trains citizens to organize their own communities. In the 1950s and 1960s, the IAF organized in Chicago, Los Angeles, Buffalo, and Rochester. Later, it developed national training institutes, fostering a network of community organizations.

Saul D. Alinsky (1909-1972) developed the IAF's principles of community organization and citizen participation, expressed in his books Reveille for Radicals (1946) and Rules for Radicals (1971). After his success in organizing Chicago's Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood council, Alinsky founded the IAF with the support of Chicago clergy and philanthropists. Upon being invited into a community, IAF organizers trained local leaders to develop grassroots organizations. Prominent successes were The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) in Chicago, and the Community Service Organizations in California (CSO),where IAF organizer Fred Ross trained Cesar Chavez. Late in his life, Alinsky began the IAF's institute or national organizational school. Edward T. Chambers, who joined the IAF in 1959, succeeded Alinsky as IAF Director and developed the institutes further. Trained at a 1972 IAF institute, Larry B. McNeil organized in Nashville, New York, and Chicago, later joining the IAF national staff as a trainer and West Coast Director.

From the guide to the Industrial Areas Foundation Records, 2001-113; 2006-102; 2007-277., [ca. 1938-1995] (bulk 1951-1987), (Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)


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  • Buffalo (N.Y.)--Social conditions
  • Community organization--Illinois--Chicago--History
  • Citizen's associations--United States
  • Church and social problems--United States
  • Community organization--United States
  • Chicago--Race relations
  • Syracuse (N.Y.)--Social conditions


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