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Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. (OIC) instructional and promotional material collection


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

In 1964, Reverend Leon Sullivan (1922-2001), a Baptist minister, civil rights leader, and social activist, established the Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. (OIC), a self-help training program built on the "foundation that says a person can develop his abilities and his pride at the same time," ("OIC Story"). At time of founding, the OIC provided free "job training to unemployed or underemployed persons, a motivational and attitudinal service to both the individual and the community, a job placement service to industry, and an on-going prototype and motivational service to other OICs."

By 1969, the OIC had federal support, the support of the OIC National Industrial Advisory Council (established by Sullivan and composed of "25 of the most influential business leaders in America,"), and had raised about five million dollars from the private sector. OIC was operating in 70 cities across the country, and had placed more than 20,000 individuals in jobs. In 1969, OIC programs were being developed in Puerto Rico, Kenya, Senegal and Nigeria; and in 1970, the OIC International (OICI) began working to improve the quality of life of low-income, disadvantaged individuals through skills training, business development, and health and food security programs in the developing world.

According to Sullivan, the OIC trained Blacks, Mexican American, Native Americans, and Appalachian whites, calling it "an American program for the American people—initiated by a Black man." (Black Capitalism at Work," p. 63) Although much of the language in publications refers only to men; the promotional material includes photographs that show that both women and men benefited from the programs.

In 1970, courses offered included air conditioning and refrigeration; automatic data processing; brick masonry; building trade orientation; rough carpentry, plumbing, and electricity; chemistry laboratory technology; clerk typing; commercial cooking; computer maintenance; drafting; electronics and electronics assembly; General Education Diploma (G.E.D); English as a foreign language; IBM Keypunch; laundry and dry cleaning; machine tool; merchandising and marketing; office machine practices and repair; power sewing; printing; restaurant practices; secretarial skills; teletype; and welding.

The OIC is still active in 2023 and provides job training, career services, and reentry services.

Works consulted and cited:

"Black Capitalism at Work," box 1, folder 7

"OIC Story," box 1, folder 2

This collection consists of instructional and promotional material created, largely by the OIC, for members of the OIC, the community that they wished to serve, and the larger public. The records date from 1969 to 1979, therefore documenting only the first decade of an organization that continues to operate today. In addition to guidelines for establishing an OIC, this collection contains information and promotional information regarding the feeder program, job training opportunities, and the involvement by larger corporations who participated in job training and eventual hiring of OIC graduates. There are a few newsletters, "The Keynote," which appears to have been renamed "The Key;" reports issued by the OIC; and some articles regarding the impact of the OIC.

Language in the material has religious overtones, and terminology used within the content of the collection should be considered in the context of the time in which the material was created.

Sold by D. Anthem, Bookseller, 2023.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2023 October 20
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Guidelines for establishing an OIC, including "Functions and Responsibilities of The Executive Director and Board," "How to Start an OIC," "Guidelines for Writing a Feasibility Study," and "Pert Chart for Establishing an OIC Program", 1969-1971.
Box 1 Folder 1
OIC reports: 1969 Annual Report, "The OIC Story," and "Highlights of the 7th Annual National Conference Feb. 2-6, 1971, Seattle, Wash.", 1969-1971.
Box 1 Folder 2
Feeder Program, brochure and literature, circa 1970s.
Box 1 Folder 3
Job training brochures, by OIC, circa 1970s.
Box 1 Folder 4
OIC promotional endorsements from B.F. Goodrich and General Electric, circa 1970s.
Box 1 Folder 5
"The Keynote," Vol. 3, No. 4, OIC newsletter, 1971 December.
Box 1 Folder 6
"The Key," Vol. 4, Nos. 1-4, OIC newsletters, 1971 May-December.
Box 1 Folder 6
Articles about the OIC, including "'Black Capitalism' at Work," and "OIC Offers Free Tax Return Service", 1969-1971.
Box 1 Folder 7

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