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Vietnam War Era Ephemera Collection

Helix, Vol 1, no. 4 (May 16, 1967)
Helix, Vol 1, no. 4 (May 16, 1967), page 9

In 1960 a small group of young people formed Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and adopted The Port Huron Statement, written by student leader Tom Hayden. The manifesto urged participatory democracy, or the idea that all Americans, not just a small elite, should decide major economic, political, and social issues that shaped the nation. It also criticized American society for its focus on career advancement, material possessions, military strength, and racism. By 1968 some 100,000 young people around the nation had joined SDS.

Student protesters denounced corporate bureaucracy and campus administrators. Universities and colleges, they believed, were dictatorial and exercised too much control over students. Students held rallies and sit-ins to protest restrictions of their rights. In 1964 a coalition of student groups at the University of California, Berkeley, claimed the right to conduct political activities on campus; the coalition became known as the Free Speech Movement. Political activism and protests spread to other campuses in the 1960s.

The youth movement's demonstrations soon merged with the protests of students who opposed the Vietnam War. By the spring of 1968, student protests had reached hundreds of campuses. At the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, antiwar demonstrators clashed with the police, and the images of police beating students shocked television audiences. Violence peaked at an antiwar protest at Ohio's Kent State University in May 1970, when National Guard troops gunned down four student protesters.

The political activities of the youth movement had enduring effects. Colleges became less authoritarian, ending dress codes and curfews and recruiting more minority students. Students also contributed mightily to the movement against the war in Vietnam. Both the counterculture and student activism, finally, fueled a backlash that blossomed in the 1970s and 1980s. The civil rights movement, the women's movement, the youth movement, and the environmental movement changed people's lives. They also created a climate of rebellion, confrontation, and upheaval. ("United States (History)," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004 )

The chaotic events of the 60's, including war and social change, seemed destined to continue in the 70's. Major trends included a growing disillusionment of government, advances in civil rights, increased influence of the women's movement, a heightened concern for the environment, and increased space exploration. Many of the "radical" ideas of the 60's gained wider acceptance in the new decade, and were mainstreamed into American life and culture. Amid war, social realignment and presidential impeachment proceedings, American culture flourished. Indeed, the events of the times were reflected in and became the inspiration for much of the music, literature, entertainment, and even fashion of the decade. (Kingwood College Library. American Cultural History 1970-1979

This database contains leaflets and newspapers that were distributed on the University of Washington campus during the decades of the 1960s and 1970s. They reflect the social environment and political activities of the youth movement in Seattle during that period.

About the Database

Helix cover September 15, 1967
Yakima's bitter harvest (Plight of the migrant farm workers)

Selection, research and descriptive metadata for the Peoples Protest Database were completed by Kristin Kinsey and Abel Diaz in 2003-4. The text are selections from Vietnam War era ephemera collection of printed ephemera including pamphlets, posters, manifestos, newsletters, booklets, and open letters created by the various Seattle-area and University of Washington manifestations of American civil rights and protest movements of the late 1960's and 1970's. The material centers mainly around the Vietnam War, but includes much about feminism, racism, socialism, labor unions and the rights of farm workers, gay rights, environmental and economic boycotts of large corporations and agro-industry, prisoners' rights, and the Iranian revolution of 1979. Documents include the publications of groups such as the Seattle Liberation Front, the UW chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, WashPIRG, Young Socialist Alliance, UW Staff Rights Organizing Committee, Seattle Gay Liberation Front, Students Against Violent Expression, United Workers Union, and the Northwest Nihilist League. The majority of the materials dates from 1970-1973. The database also includes a selection from the Seattle underground newspaper The Helix edited by Paul Dorpat and illustrated in part by Walt Crowley.

The text was scanned in grayscale and color using a Microtek Scanmaker 9600L and saved in .jpg format. Some manipulation of the images was done to present the clearest possible digital image. The scanned images were then linked with descriptive data using CONTENTdm software. The original collections reside in the UW Libraries Special Collections Division as the Vietnam War Era Ephemera Collection.

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