An exhibition is currently on display about Hobo culture, train hopping, and boxcar art over the last 150 years. The exhibit will run from January 9 – February 28, 2020 in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery at the University of Connecticut. Drawing from the extensive railroad collections at the UConn Archives & Special Collections, this exhibit seeks to present the love of trains from an alternative approach through art, folklore, and travelogue.
The exhibition will feature an opening reception and film showing of Bill Daniel’s Who is Bozo Texino:the epic account of the improbable discovery of the true identity of the world’s greatestboxcar artist. (2005) on Thursday, February 6th, 2020 from 7-9pm.
The following essay is an extended closing remark to the exhibition Day-Glo and Napalm: UConn from 1967-1971, by guest curator and contributor, George Jacobi (’71).The exhibition runs until Friday, October 25th, 2019.
Thanks to the GI Bill, the Fifties are a favorable time for most Americans home from the war to build a career and raise a family. Powered by Unions as well, the rise of the largest middle class in history finally includes some Black and Latino citizens. Suburbia is invented. The 1964 World’s Fair in New York promises we’ll all be working far fewer hours and getting there in a flying car, asserting that technology only benefits mankind. Robots will do the tough jobs. The future seems so far away that this is almost believable. Are white kids in New England spoiled? Compared with previous generations, sure we are, and so has each generation since. Growing up then is generally benign, and the result is a chance to examine ourselves and America with less national responsibility than our parents. Our patriotism thus leans toward social betterment, not defense or personal economic progress.
Under the veneer of white middle-class American life rumblings of unrest have begun. Academics are suggesting that modern society is unfulfilling. Rachel Carson has shown America that it is in the process of killing nature with chemicals. Kerouac has been “On the Road” and Jackson Pollock has blown up the art world. Jazz has turned from big band dance music into individual expression. Ginsburg writes “Howl” and thus comes out as a gay man; the book is immediately banned. Yet in Greenwich Village people are “suddenly free of the shackles, the baggage of tradition”: Liam Clancy. Nevertheless, beatniks are portrayed as a joke on TV. The political and cultural events that took place at UConn during the years 1967 to 1971 of course reflect wider American historical forces. For simplicity, label these Politics, Spirituality, Culture, and the Arts. In reality, they are jumbled together; breaking them down in order to clarify each is a rare side benefit of the passage of time.
The following account lists this history, phenomena that took place or began prior to 1967. By that year, society is increasingly seen by an influential youth minority as hypocritical or empty of value. It has become apparent that the norms are mythological and serve only the powerful. Alienation results with what is initially a quiet insurrection against uncritical acceptance of the status quo. While most of the country isn’t paying attention, there is a cultural shift; all of a sudden something changes. Several small groups at first, an anti-establishment minority slowly appears. Most folks in America and at UConn in the mid-1960s go about their own lives whether they are sympathetic to this rebellion or not. A majority of UConn students, including us, will spend most of our hours being students.
The following guest posts by alumni Ken Sachs (’71), Michael Pagliaro (’72), Lori Wallach (’70), and Janet Rogers (’72) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
Guest Post by Anonymous:
In 1969 I had a IIs deferment at UCONN that would run out in January 1970 when I completed my B.A. My roommate had served in Vietnam where he survived the battle that has been called “Hamburger Hill.” When I received my physical notice, he informed me that I needn’t worry about the draft as he would “kill me” before I was drafted rather than let me participate in that ill-advised war. Fortunately, T_____had access to some black beauties (little black capsules containing an amphetamine commonly referred to in those days as “speed”).
On the morning of my physical in the fall of 1969, I popped one of the “beauties” into my mouth and headed off to our local draft board. At age 22, I was the oldest on the bus, surrounded by a lot of naïve 18-year-olds, many just out of high school. Before the bus left, the middle-aged clerk at the draft board got on the bus waving a little U.S. flag and telling us all “how proud” she was of us all. Frankly, I wanted to strangle her for her “patriotism.” Before the bus arrived in New Haven I popped my last black beauty.
The following guest posts by alumni Chris Malis (’72) and Ellie Goldstein/Erickson (’70) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The Gallery is open Mon-Fri 9-4pm, with a Saturday viewing on October 12th, 9-5pm.
Guest Post by Chris Malis (’72):
We Are Stardust
Coming of age in the Sixties (c.1965-c.1972) was a gift; it
made me who I am now. Contrary to the changes of many as they age, I have not
grown more conservative over the years. Am I the same person I was then? Of
course not. Would my 20-year-old self like my 70-year-old self? Perhaps not so
much. Would I do (or not do) certain things differently if I could go back in
time? Sure. But on the whole, I feel grateful to have come of age in that time
and space. It was the most magical, earth-shaking decade of the 20th
Century. I won’t say earth-changing, because … look around. Who would have
thought that, 50 years later, we’d still be fighting racism, poverty, war,
women’s reproductive rights, income inequality, sexual violence, and impending
In the words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address on March
4, 1861: “We
are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have
strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory
will swell … when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels
of our nature.”
The Sixties, for me, was a time of better angels coming to
the fore. I desperately hope they return in force… and soon!
The following guest posts by Asst. Prof. Charlie Brover and Alumnus John Palmquist (’71) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th with an evening reception on September 19th, from 6-8pm in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
Guest Post by Asst. Prof. Charles Brover:
My Lear year reflection: Was it pissing in the wind?
I will be 80 in September. I’m King Lear’s age. (“Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less”). Some 50 years ago in my course on Shakespeare’s tragedies, we talked about how much easier it was to identify with Hamlet, that flashy student on spring break from Wittenberg, than the benighted old man who hath ever but slenderly known himself. Lear began his education at 80, and one hell of an education it was—a fierce warning against the unreflected life. So now in the fifth act of my own education I am grateful to my old comrade Larry Smyle for reaching out to me and to George Jacobi and Graham Stinnett for the opportunity to reflect on those superheated days at UConn 50 years ago. Were they formative in my life? Were they just an episode of frothy anti-authoritarian rebellion?
The next installation of the traveling exhibition, Live at The Anthrax, is currently hosted at Counter Weight Brewing Co. in Hamden, CT and will run from September 5th-December 15th, 2019. This exhibition features 20 black & white photographs from the Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection, taken by Joe in the late 1980s during the final years of The Anthrax club in Norwalk, CT. Bands featured in the selection include local CTHC staples such as Wide Awake and NY Hardcore bands Up Front and Absolution to seminal acts such as Fugazi. This curated exhibition highlights the dedication, energy and lived values of those who formed the hardcore scene and turned it into a community. This exhibit seeks to expose the public to archival collections outside of a traditional archives setting in order to promote access to rich cultural materials like those of the Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection in everyday spaces like record stores, breweries and community spaces. This exhibition is free and open to the public.
This guest post by Prof. Len Krimerman is in conjunction with the current exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971, an exhibition guest curated by alumnus George Jacobi (Class of ’71) on the student times of the late 1960s and early 1970s at UConn and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969. Currently on display until October 25th, 2019.
By Len Krimerman*
BEFORE THE BEGINNING
“Anarchism at UCONN” may seem a baffling title or an attempt at dry humor. We are, after all, not talking about the ‘60s and ‘70s at UC Berkeley or Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan. And today our own state’s flagship university is safely and securely nestled within what its region delights in calling itself – “the quiet corner”.
But I can assure you, there really were years, not days or months, when anarchy, or something very much akin to it, had a place within and was tolerated by UCONN. Though there is now no tangible trace of this anarchic educational venture, and no documentation of it in the official histories of this University, it actually did emerge, and it had a great run.
So let me tell a bit of this radical experiment’s story. The idea of it came to life in an undergraduate course in social and political philosophy I was teaching in the Fall of 1968. We were discussing social critic Paul Goodman’s The Community of Scholars, which certainly sounds tame enough. But his book’s challenging anarchic thesis was that several of Europe’s finest universities were founded, during the Italian Renaissance, by “secession”. Faculty thwarted by rigid state or clerical bureaucracy simply quit, taking with them dozens of their students, and created self-directed places like the University of Florence.
Reception: September 19th, 2019 6-8pm at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery
Archives & Special Collections Gallery
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
An exhibition guest curated by alumnus George Jacobi (Class of ’71) on the student times of the late 1960s and early 1970s at UConn and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969. Jacobi has curated materials from the Archives & Special Collections photography, periodicals and Alternative Press Collections and incorporated personal collections and narratives from those who lived through it to create a robust personal exploration of the times.
The following essay is an extended introduction to the exhibition Day-Glo and Napalm: UConn from 1967-1971 by guest curator and contributor, George Jacobi (’71).
DAY-GLO AND NAPALM: UCONN FROM 1967 to 1971
Recollections and Impressions for my University of Connecticut Archives Exhibit
A small innocuous on-campus house is surrounded by angry UConn students, its front porch protected by armed, helmeted State Police and University Security Officers. The Riot Act has already been read to the 100 or so protesters, whose shoulders are hunched in Navy pea coats against a bitter north wind. It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 1968. Some of those students spent the previous night with faces lit only by black lights, psychedelic music swirling around them. Smoke from illegal hash pipes drifted out dorm windows. A relaxed but resolute fellowship, they temporarily dwelt in an imaginary world.
Today, back in the daylight, they want UConn to divest itself from the military industrial complex, to end its involvement with Olin Matheson, manufacturer of missiles for the Vietnam War. In fact, they insist. They chant, they yell, they watch as the most committed among them climb onto the recruiting location’s porch to put their bodies in the way of the war machine. This world is far from imaginary. Clubs swing, rocks fly, heads are bloodied. Twenty-one are arrested.
Within two years, the Student Union Mall will be filled with 4000 UConn students – now the entire college is on strike. What is it with these young people? For many, trust in the establishment, from government to church to the University, has completely evaporated. Something is badly broken. How have these middle-class kids, in just a year or two, come to a point of complete resistance to America herself?
The 50th Anniversary of 1969 is more than an appropriate time for this exhibit; it’s also the last significant anniversary when many participants in this bit of history will be alive. Most of the counter-cultural political drama at UConn took place between 1968 and 1970 – ‘69 is a fitting centerpiece. Despite continued racial and anti-war protests, such communal events as the Woodstock Music Festival made 1969 almost feel like a short respite between the more violent bookends of the other two years.
The UConn Archives presents Live at the Anthrax, an exhibition of performance photography from the Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection, on display for the first time. Joe photographed the thriving Connecticut Hardcore Punk Rock (CTHC) scene in the late 1980s during the final years of the Anthrax club in Norwalk. Bands featured in the selection include local CTHC staples such as Wide Awake and NY Hardcore bands Up Front and Absolution to seminal acts such as Fugazi. This curated exhibition highlights the dedication, energy and lived values of those who formed the hardcore scene and turned it into a community. On display at Willimantic Records from April 19 – August 9, 2019 with a featured opening event on May 3rd from 5-7pm. This event is free and open to the public.
Prisons and Prisoners, Selections from the Alternative Press Subject File Collection.
On display at the UConn Archives Gallery in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from March 20 – May 31, 2019, an exhibition of research collections on incarceration. Drawn from ephemera, art, and personal and political papers, this story is Illustrated with the writings of the incarcerated from inside Connecticut prisons, the state’s documentation and formation of prisons, artists’ and activists’ responses to Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, and advocacy from inside and out. This exhibition is in conjunction with the Humanities Action Lab States of Incarceration exhibit at the Hartford Public Library, March 11 – April 18, 2019 and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from March 25th – April 18th, 2019.
The Women’s March, the #Metoo movement, even Hulu’s remake of The Handmaid’s Tale, these events all have their roots in a movement that began, and ended, decades ago.
On view from November 26 through December 14, 2018 in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Archives & Special Collections Reading Room, the exhibition Write On, Fight On: Continuing Trends and Strategies of the Second-wave Feminist Movement features banners, buttons, graphics, magazines and periodicals from the second wave feminist movement’s independent presses and media outlets.
Curated by Anna Zarra Aldrich, undergraduate in UConn’s Department of English Writing Internship Program, the exhibition highlights, through historic artifacts preserved in the archives, the strategies feminist activists used to achieve their goals. The exhibition also brings into focus the shortcomings of the movement and how modern feminists are responding.
“The second wave achieved a lot, but by the time the movement started to fall apart, there was still a lot of work for women’s equality to be done and that’s where we get these later events,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich, an English, political science and journalism major at the University of Connecticut, had conducted an internship in Spring 2018 in which she studied and blogged about feminist publications from the collections of Archives and Special Collections.
This exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm.
Presented by: Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library
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Moments of student protest on UConn’s campus demonstrate the continuity and relevance of student activism for the Alternative Press Collection held at Archives and Special Collections. While the topics of protest often change with the political and social context of the moment, sometimes the similarities can be uncanny.
WHUS News Director Daniela Doncel reported on the student protests held during the recent university sponsored event Lockheed Martin Day:
“On Thursday, September 27, students protested the partnership between the Lockheed Martin company and the University of Connecticut due to a Lockheed Martin bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen in August, according to CNN.”
Sign Protesting Lockheed Martin Day 2018
History, so the cliché goes, has repeated itself.
The circumstances of the Lockheed Martin’s presence on campus and the student protests resembled a smaller scale, and decidedly non-violent version, of the student and faculty protests of military recruiting that happened during the Vietnam War. In 1967 & 1968 students and faculty staged multiple sit-ins protesting the ties between the University of Connecticut and weapons manufacturers such as: General Electric, Olin-Mathieson, Dow Chemical, and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (which was sold to Lockheed Martin in November of 2015). In particular the recruitment attempts of Dow Chemical, a producer of napalm during the Vietnam War, and Olin-Mathieson drew large turn outs from students and faculty who thought that weapon manufacturers had no place trying to recruit students for jobs on the university campus. Continue reading →