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 United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War was a divisive chapter in American history. Lending economic and military support to the South Vietnamese government against the Communist North, Washington’s participation in the conflict lasted from the early 1950s to 1973. While in the beginning there was general public acceptance of the war, by 1965 opposition to American involvement in Vietnam grew due to the increasing deployment of troops and the rising number of casualties. In July of 1965, the U.S. government doubled the number of draftees to 35,000 each month. Graphic news footage of the fighting also contributed to the public’s disapproval. Opposition took the form of anti-war demonstrations and draft resistance, and protests broke out on university campuses across the country. Although the U.S. officially withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, it left an indelible mark on the lives of veterans, local communities, and American society.
During and after the United States’ involvement in the conflict in Vietnam, citizens reacted to the war through varied artistic expression. Art became a powerful form of protest and activism, as it was used to raise awareness of social issues and inspire Americans to join the movement against the war. Additionally, once the U.S. began to withdraw troops, people used art to commemorate the war and the loss of life, as well as to consider U.S. involvement overseas. The creative response demonstrates how people participated in American society and civic life, as well as how they contributed to a growing social movement during the 1960s and 1970s.
The collections available in Archives & Special Collections allow us to examine a variety of artistic responses to U.S. engagement in the Vietnam War:
Poras Collection of Vietnam War Memorabilia: This collection includes a wide variety of materials from the Vietnam War era, including buttons, photographs, fliers, booklets, posters, stamps, flags, audio recordings, and comic books. The collection contains pamphlets and flyers with artistic illustrations in protest of the war, as well as official propaganda in support of the war. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/599.
First Casualty Press Records: This collection is comprised of poetry and fiction submitted to First Casualty Press to be considered for publication. The works were written by Vietnam War veterans concerning their experiences of the war. The collection also contains correspondence between the First Casualty Press and authors, publishers, and readers, as well as materials related to the publication process. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/375.
Adam Nadel Photography Collection: This collection consists of thirteen large photographs of Cambodian and Vietnamese people who were affected in some way by the Vietnam War. Recognized internationally for his work, Adam Nadel completed a project on war and its consequences in 2010. Many of the individuals featured in the photographs of this collection are war veterans, both male and female. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/780.
Bread and Puppet Theater Collection: Founded in 1963, the Bread and Puppet Theater was made up of an experimental theater troupe whose performances combined puppets, masks, and dance. Performances focused on political and social issues, including protesting the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. The collection consists of illustrated story scripts, handbills, and performance programs, including a small newspaper from 1967 with illustrations from the theater’s story script about the violence in Vietnam. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/271.
Storrs Draft Information Committee Records: The Storrs Draft Information Committee was a counseling center on the University of Connecticut’s campus that was established to help men of draft age during the Vietnam War. This collection includes information associated with draft counseling, draft resistance, and protest movement groups at UConn. In particular, the collection contains information on how to renounce U.S. citizenship, documents detailing draft law, and American deserter and draft resistance newspapers from Canada. Some of these documents contain unique illustrations and photographs. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/64.
Alternative Press Collection (APC): Founded by students in the late 1960s, the APC includes newspapers, books, pamphlets, and artifacts covering activism for social and political change. This includes multiple volumes of a bulletin called the “Viet Report” from 1965-1986. While the “Viet Report” primarily consists of articles from a variety of perspectives on the war and the state of Vietnam, artwork in the form of illustrations and photographs are also included. These reports can be found in our digital repository beginning here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A01641656.
We invite you to view these collections in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections if you need resources on the artistic response to the Vietnam War. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.
This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.
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 →
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.
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.
The 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 we promote exhibits like this one and events happening around the Archives.
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 upheaval. The events below were extracted from the extensive archive documented by student organizations, administration and the Daily Campus: Continue reading →