UConn Protest and the Alternative Press 1968-2018

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

Veteran’s Expressions After War

Currently on display at the Archives & Special Collections is the guest curated exhibit Veteran’s Expressions After War: Every Veteran’s Life Tells a Story and Every Veteran Leaves a Legacy, by Robin Albarano and Jordan Kiper.  This exhibit features visual art, poetry, correspondence, photography and ephemera relating to veteran’s experiences from the Vietnam War to the War in Iraq.  Materials featured draw from The Alternative Press Collection, Cal Robertson Papers and First Casualty Press.

This exhibition will be on display in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery from January 1st 2017 to February 28th 2017, open Monday to Friday 9 – 4 pm.

 

A correlating exhibition will be on display this spring in the hallway of the Dodd Center featuring photographic prints and oral histories of veteran’s from the Balkans conflict.  Materials featured will be products of Robin’s photographic work and Jordan’s PhD research.

1966: Collections from 50 Years Ago on Display

At the Archives & Special Collections, we have been ramping up our interoperability.  What does that mean exactly?  Twinkling screens, chatter of audio recording and tactile interactions with materials on exhibition.  Currently, we are featuring collection materials from 50 years ago in the archives to help highlight the year 1966.  These selections contain personal correspondence and work from famous artists and activists like Ed Sanders, Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima and Abbie Hoffman.  Popular culture and ephemera from comic books to Life magazine relating to the politics of War in Vietnam, LSD, the rise of Black Power and the battle against Communism.

Included in the exhibit are Alternative Press Collection materials documenting the War in Vietnam ranging from the scholarly to the ephemeral. The Poras Collection of Vietnam War Memorabilia contains posters, death cards, publications and satirical army culture objects demonstrating the antagonisms of war at home and abroad.  From a personal collection of Navy Corpsman Cal Robertson, his correspondence from Vietnam in 1966 while deployed over two tours as a medic attached to a marine platoon, detailing the daily grind and uncertainties of waiting in the jungle and relaying safety concerns to loved ones back home.  The Alternative Press also includes a trove of anti-war publications such as the Committee for Nonviolent Action.

CQo9zv4VEAAjShs.jpg largeThe physical exhibit in our reading room is but one element of our program to promote access to collections through outreach.  Media displays within the Archives Reading Room featuring additional photographs and videos demonstrate the interactive qualities of physical objects outside of a static display.  Currently, the newest arrival to the reading room is a large tablet-like touch table which has digital content loaded from our Omeka exhibit on1966 which will be unveiled in the coming month on the web.

For more information, follow us @UConnArchives on twitter and facebook where we1 promote exhibits like this one and events happening around the Archives.

 

Kent State and Student Strike at UConn

The Week of the Strike, May 9 1970

In 1968 students at UConn demonstrated against the ROTC and military recruiting on campus as national uprisings began to foment against the war in Vietnam.  Corporate job recruiting by General Electric and Olin Mathieson on Gilbert Rd. drew confrontations between protestors and state police along with President Homer D. Babbidge’s approach toward a business friendly posture for the university.  The combative times of the UConn Crisis in 1968-1969 was the prologue to an even more eruptive year to come.  Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the war led to major backlash in the mid to late 1960s which President Nixon’s administration promised to diminish by quietly widening military campaigns into neighboring Cambodia.

Student demonstrations in over 1,250 college campuses across the country led to confrontations with local police and the national guard.  On May 4th, 1970 protests at Kent State University in Ohio led to national guardsmen firing into demonstrators killing four individuals and wounding several others.  The events of 1970 galvanized much of the public’s perception on the war in Vietnam however clashes at home along class and race lines similarly disrupted any clear consensus about the war at home and abroad.  The days following the Kent State shootings on the University of Connecticut campus would produce the actions of students, faculty and administration which declared 1970 as the high water mark for social upheavel. The events below were extracted from the extensive archive documented by student organizations, administration and the Daily Campus:      Continue reading

Sources for teaching about the Vietnam War

Cover of the book Postage Due: Forever Stamps, by C. David Thomas.

The New England History Teachers Association (http://www.nehta.net/) were to have their Fall meeting here at the Dodd Research Center this Friday, October 14, but we just got word that it has been canceled.  Even so, I put together a list of resources that about the theme for the conference —  “The Vietnam War: Scholarly Views and Classroom Applications” that may interest any History or Social Studies teacher who is doing a unit on the Vietnam War.  Here are just a few of the many recently published sources about the Vietnam War available at the Dodd Research Center:

Foley, Michael S. Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War.  Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Carroll, Andrew, ed.  War letters : Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars.  New York : Scribner, 2001.

Caputo, Philip.  Ten Thousand Days of Thunder.  New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005.  Written by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for children, this book gives a full account of the war, from the reasons for intervention to the battles and those missing in action, to the war’s music and the protests at home.

Harrison-Hall, Jessica.  Vietnam Behind the Lines : Images from the War, 1965-1975.  London : British Museum Press, 2002.

O’Roark Dowell, Frances.  Shooting the Moon.  New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008.  A book for young readers, the story of this book is “When her brother is sent to fight in Vietnam, twelve-year-old Jamie begins to reconsider the army world that she has grown up in.”

Thomas, C. David.  Postage Due: Forever Stamps.  A series of unofficial postage stamps inspired by people and events from the Vietnam War era, self-published by the author in 2009.

Wachsberger, Ken, ed.  Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press.  East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, 2011.

These publications complement our extensive set of journals and books about the Vietnam War in the Alternative Press Collection. 

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections