UA Acquires Up with People Archives

The UA Libraries has acquired the organizational archives belonging to Up with People and its alumni association.
July 31, 2009

The University of Arizona Libraries have acquired the organizational papers of the global youth performance and cultural exchange group Up with People. 

The UA Libraries also acquired are the organizational papers of the Up with People International Alumni Association and the personal papers of its founder and Chairman Emeritus, J. Blanton Belk, and his wife Elizabeth "Betty" Belk.

The archives consist of correspondence, news clippings, photographs, videos and other publications. The Belk's personal archive consists also of correspondence, photographs and personal memoirs.

Collectively the three collections provide a complete story of Up with People beginning with its Tucson origins and spanning more than 20,000 alumni world-wide, its dynamic global performances and also its messages of hope and goodwill.  

The acquisition of the archives was announced during the organization's reunion, held July 31 in Tucson. UA President Robert N. Shelton provided welcoming remarks and Carla J. Stoffle, the UA Libraries' dean, made the official announcement alongside J. Blanton and Betty Belk, Up with People CEO Alain Thiry, and Up with People International Alumni Association President Vickie Law.

The public is invited to attend "Song for the World – the amazing story of the Colwells Brothers and Herb Allen; Musical Diplomats" on Aug. 1st at 9:30 a.m. Also, the Reunion Era Show will be held at 7:30 p.m. with a performance of musical memories from Up with People. Both events will be held at Westin La Paloma Resort Grand Ballroom, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive and tickets are $10 to $25. Call 520-370-0588 or email mia@culturalexchangecouncil.org to learn more or to purchase tickets. 

Up with People, which has been headquartered in Denver since 1993, began in Tucson in 1965 under the leadership and vision of J. Blanton Belk.

The organization is an independent nonprofit without any religious or political affiliations and provides young adults an international and intercultural experience that teaches service leadership and uses the performing arts to deliver messages of hope and goodwill throughout the world. 

Up with People exists today to spark people to action in meeting the needs of their communities, countries and the world while building bridges of understanding as a foundation for world peace.

From the beginning, the UA served as a home base for the organization's cast members – young men and women between the ages 18 and 29.

"The Libraries are excited to bring the story of Up with People to a permanent home in Special Collections," Stoffle said. 

The UA intends to make the Up with People collection an active archive, available to researchers and others interested in Tucson, the state and the southwestern region's history and culture.

A central core of the physical materials – currently being stored in Denver – will selectively be transferred to Special Collections at the UA. The Belk's personal papers will also be transferred to Special Collections in that time.

The total volume of the complete archives is yet to be determined. It will likely be some time before the archives are processed and fully accessible to researchers, students and the public.