1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Mark Toney Papers

 Community activist, Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1977-1986

 Size: 2.75 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 966

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, January 1996

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Mark Toney was raised in Vallejo, California, and came to Providence, Rhode Island in 1978 to attend Brown University. He became active in a wide variety of causes on campus, including the peace movement and local civil rights campaigns. He helped found the Rake, a collectively-run campus newspaper. In October of 1980, the Rake published a controversial, exhaustively researched special issue on the Providence Police Department, using complaint forms and hearing records that were wrested from the city government by lawsuit.

            After receiving a bachelor's degree in political science from Brown in 1982, Toney began working as the lead organizer for WAGE (Workers' Association to Guarantee Employment). WAGE engaged in lobbying on issues affecting lower-income Rhode Islanders, including welfare cuts and utility shut-off regulations. It also organized a job bank and clothing drives. WAGE had over 1500 members, and emphasized community involvement in all of their activities.

            After the demise of WAGE in 1985, Toney helped found a similar organization, DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality), and became its first executive director in 1986. He left DARE in 1994, and returned to California in 1995 to run a private consulting firm, Strategic Tools, Inc.


Beeman, William O. "Mark Toney: Door Knocker Extraordinaire", in Mother Jones, January 1989, p. 29.

Welsh-Huggins, Andrew. "Fish Don't Vote: The New Social Activists", in Brown Alumni Monthly 89 (June/July 1989), no. 9, p. 47-48.

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Scope and content:

            Series 1 consists of records of WAGE. They seem to be, for the most part, the personal files of Mark Toney as lead organizer. They consist of meeting minutes, sign-in lists, publicity materials, membership information, correspondence and newsletters, as well as documentation of campaigns on against welfare and utility assistance cuts. There are few financial records, and nothing like a complete file of correspondence or meeting minutes.

            Series 2 consists of scattered records of various Rhode Island activist organizations. Some of these organizations were formally linked to WAGE; others are represented because of Mark Toney's personal involvement. Many of the records in this series consist of printed brochures and newsletters.

            Series 3, the Rake papers, pertain almost exclusively to the 1980 article on police brutality in Providence. They show efforts to gain access to official police records, and to publicize their findings. The bulk of this series consists of copies of the police records obtained by Rake staff. These include both censored official copies of internal investigations, and complaint forms. The complaint forms include detailed testimony on over a hundred cases of alleged cases of violent abuse from 1977 to 1980.

            For papers relating to DARE, see MSS 965 (the DARE records). An inventory is available of this large collection.

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            These papers were donated by Mark Toney in 1995.

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Processing note:

            These papers were donated in a state of great disarray. Their present organization does not closely reflect the original order. Duplicate copies have been discarded. A small portion of the collection was found to have mold damage; these items were copied onto archival paper and discarded.

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Box 1

Series 1: W.A.G.E.

1. Minutes, agendas, reports, sign-ins, etc. 1982

2. 1983

3. 1984

4. 1985

5. Newsletters, 1981-1983

   Ad-books #1, #2, #3, #4

6. Correspondence, 1980-1985 and undated

7. Phone messages

8. Membership - Mailing labels, printed lists, 1981-1985

9. - Cards, undated sign-in sheets, petitions, etc.

10. Publicity - Press releases, 1982-1985

11. - Fact sheets, histories and brochures

12. - Posters

13. - Mailing lists

14. Campaigns - Banks, undated

15. - Housing - Roger Williams Homes, 1981-1982

16. - Police, 1983

17. - Utilities, 1982-1984

18. 1985 and undated

19. - Training packet, 1984

20. - Welfare - Fact sheets

21. - Fannie Carpenter 'fraud' case, 1983-1984

22. - Misc., 1981-1985

23. - Misc., undated and training packet

24. Grant applications, 1983-1984

25. Ad-book sales, 1983-1984

26. R.I. State Council of Churches directory 1978-1980

27. Datebook, 9/1984-6/1985

28. Songs

29. Interns, undated

30. Newspaper clippings (photocopied)

31. (original)

32. Miscellaneous

Series 2: Miscellaneous organizations

33. Civil Rights Center, 1981

34. Community Task Force on Neighborhood Health Centers, 1985-1986

35. East Side Food Co-op, 1981

36. Foundation for Community Organization, 1983-1985

            Also records of its publication, Community Voice.

37. 1400 Broad St. renovation project, 1982

38. Fund for Community Progress, 1984-1985

39. North Star Express Printers, 1985

40. Ocean State Economic and Employment Project, 1981-1984

Box 2

1. Rhode Island Alternative Press - Minutes, notes, etc. 1981-1982

2. - Printing samples

3. Rhode Island Coalition Against Registration & the Draft, 1980-81 4. Rhode Island Community Food Bank, 1983-1985

5. Rhode Island Legal Services, 1984-1985

6. - Guides to: Food Stamp Program, 1984

                                         A.F.D.C., 1983

                                         G.P.A., 1984

7. Rhode Island Library Film Co-operative, 1979-1982

8. Rhode Island Mobilization for Survival, 1981-1983

9. Mark Toney personal papers, mostly undated.

10. Fliers and brochures of misc. Rhode Island organizations

11. Miscellaneous

Box 3

Series 3: The Rake


1. Research notes: Chart of cases, list of intakes, police        personnel statistics, etc., 1978-1980

2. Providence Human Relations Commission - case agendas, 1983

                             - Petitions to city council, 1977-1980

3. Rake vs. Sanford Gorodetsky - Complaint and decision

4. - Legal file, 1981-1983

5. Notes (interviews, etc.) 1980-1981

6. American Civil Liberties Union

   Providence Human Relations Commission 1980-1983

7. Miscellaneous

Box 4

1. Correspondence, Freedom of Information Act, 1980-1983

2. Legal, Rake vs. Gorodetsky, 1981-1982

3. Misc., mostly fund-raising, 1980

4. October 1980 issue of the Rake

5. October 1980 issue of the Rake (archival copy of police article)

6. Publicity, 1981-1983

7. Evidence - Civilian complaint forms, 1977-1978

8. 1979

9. 1980

10. - Civilian complaint hearings, 1979-1980

11. 1980-1982

12. 1982-1983

13. - Police investigations (closed files) 1978-1980

Folders 14-30. Internal police investigations, 1978-1980

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Afro-Americans - Rhode Island - Providence

Brown University

Community organization - Rhode Island - Providence

Foundation for Community Organization

Medical policy - Citizen participation - Rhode Island - Providence

Peace movements - Rhode Island

Police - Complaints against - Rhode Island - Providence

Printing - Rhode Island - Providence

Providence, R.I. _ Community organization

Providence, R.I. - Police - Complaints against


Rhode Island Alternative Press

Rhode Island Community Food Bank

Rhode Island Mobilization for Survival


Workers' Association for Guaranteed Employment

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