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Collections by Subject: Vietnam-Era Protest Activities on the University of Maryland, College Park, Campus

A Selected List of Holdings in Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries

For more information about how to access materials in this guide, please visit the Maryland Room web page or fill out an information request.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this Subject Guide:

United States universities experienced a period of unrest during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as students protested against U.S. military involvement in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Students at the University of Maryland protested throughout this period against the Vietnam War, but their outrage against the conflict peaked in a series of violent protests between 1970 and 1972. On three occasions during this period, Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel declared a state of emergency on campus and sent in National Guardsmen to restore and maintain order. The main conflict on campus occurred in May 1970, when students reacted violently to the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. Thousands of students and protestors occupied and vandalized the university's Main Administration building and the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) offices, set fires around campus, blocked Route 1, and fought running battles with riot police. Students threw bricks, rocks, and bottles, while police fought back with teargas, riot batons, and dogs. The violent disorder led to a toughening of student disciplinary procedures and regulations, as well as a tightening of professional codes of behavior for faculty. The administration also began to make an effort to be more open to the views of students and faculty and to involve them increasingly in the operation of the university.This resource guide describes holdings in the Archives and Manuscripts Department which document the protests against the Vietnam War at the University of Maryland College Park, campus. It also lists other potential sources outside the Archives and Manuscripts Department.

A more detailed version of the guide with specific location information is available to download at

Table of Contents

University Archival Record Groups

University Publications

For more information, visit the University Archives

The university publications collection includes a variety of printed materials produced by and about various administrative and academic units and student groups on the College Park campus. Within this grouping are a range of official publications and releases, along with student publications, protest fliers, and posters.

Office of Alumni Affairs. (UPUB A.42) This office published the Alumni Bulletin from 1964 until 1972. Two issues in 1971 made references to student unrest: articles highlighting student volunteerism (April 1971) and the Alumni Association's formal recognition of two students who defended the American flag flying at the Main Administration Building during a campus disturbance (July 1971).

Directories. (UPUB D7) Directories of faculty, staff, and students at the university, which may be helpful in determining the names of students and personnel on campus at the time of the demonstrations for oral history purposes.

History of the University of Maryland. (UPUB H11) This category contains Forty years as a college president: Memoirs of Wilson Elkins, edited by George H. Callcott (1981), a transcript of various interviews of President Elkins conducted by Dr. Callcott about Elkins's academic career. In Chapter 8, The Student Revolts, 1968-1972 (pp. 122-134), Dr. Elkins gives his view of the causes behind the student protests, the university's handling of the disorder, and the effects on him personally.

History of the University of Maryland, Campus Unrest. (UPUB H11) Publications, statements, press releases, a transcript of a press conference given by Governor Marvin Mandel, newspaper clippings and fliers relating to various groups involved with protest activity, covering the period 1965 to 1972. Also included are accounts of media coverage of the demonstrations and a Guide for the Rational Student, which provided advice to students on how to avoid trouble for rioting. Groups represented include the Vietnam Moratorium; National Action Party (NAP); the Democratic Radical Union of Maryland (DRUM); the University of Maryland Faculty Assembly; Student Lobby for Peace; University of Maryland Ramblers; University of Maryland Spring Action Coalition; and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

Office of the President. (UPUB P23.003) The annual reports of the President from 1969 to 1972 include substantial sections discussing the on-campus disturbances and what the university is doing in response to, and eventually quell, the illegal activity.

Student Handbooks. (UPUB S30.001) Known under various titles, including the M Book, the student handbook was designed to be a quick reference tool for the student body. The handbook contained information on student organizations and activities, and the rules and regulations governing student life. Originally published by the YMCA, students were responsible for its content by the 1960s. The 1968/1969 M Book listed the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) as a political organization, describing it as a "radical organization working for fundamental change," and it includes a picture of a protest at the Careers Convocation the previous year. SDS was listed again in the 1969/1970 M Book. By the next year, 1970/1971, the SDS was no longer listed, but the theme of the opening essay was "student power," and it harshly criticized the university on a number of issues. A picture of the Skinner protest appears on page four. A black and white graphic on the flyleaf included a hidden profanity that sparked controversy. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs published the guide the following year, 1971-1972; it was titled the "new student handbook."

Student Organizations. (UPUB S34) This grouping within the University Publications Collection brings together materials from an extensive number of student organizations at the university. Among the files are fliers and publications from the Student for a Democratic Society (SDS) (UPUB S34S11), the Democratic Radical Union of Maryland (DRUM) (UPUB S34D2), and the University Community for Rational Action (UCRA), a faculty-student group that supported rational persuasion as a method of social change (UPUB S34U8).

Student Publications. (UPUB S36) This category contains a wide variety of student publications, spanning much of the history of the university. Several publications contain extensive coverage of the Vietnam War protests.

Argus. (UPUB S36.032) Student feature magazine that was published from 1966 to the early 1970s and became increasingly radicalized. Argus published a number of stories and photographs relating to student protests on campus in its 1970 issues, including editorials, "postcards" commemorating the May 1970 protests, and interviews with faculty and staff radicals. The May and October 1970 issues contain significant pieces related to the protests.

Black Explosion. (UPUB S36.015) The only Vietnam War protest-related item that appeared in Black Explosion was a partial photograph from a peace demonstration. This image was included as part of a larger collage on the cover of the September 1971 issue.

Calvert Review. (UPUB S36.003) The student literary magazine includes several poems containing war-related themes in the following issues: Spring 1969, Spring 1970, Fall 1970, and May 1971.

Diamondback. (UPUB S36.005) The student newspaper of the University of Maryland includes extensive coverage of SDS activities and struggles with the administration, culminating in the publication of several front-page stories related to the events of March-May 1970.

Radical Guide to the University of Maryland. (UPUB S36) This one-time publication was issued by the Democratic Radical Union of Maryland (D.R.U.M.) in the fall of 1970 to provide guidance to the radical student and replace the M Book that had been censored by the administration. Included is advice on how best to handle being arrested.

Terrapin. (UPUB S36.002) The student yearbook began publication in 1897 and has had several titles. The 1970 Terrapin includes several articles and photographs covering with student protests.

US. (UPUB S36.002) Student magazine that replaced the Terrapin in 1971 and 1972. The 1971 issues contain articles detailing the views of student protesters on number of topics. The cover of volume one, number one is a dramatic color photograph of a daffodil obscured by a smoking teargas canister. Photographs of police and protestors appear throughout the issue.

University of Maryland University College, The Marylander. (UPUB UMUC I1.002) Newspaper for students of University of Maryland University College (UMUC.) One article (May 1970) notes that anti-war feeling had arrived at the University of Maryland in the form of student riots.

Office of University Relations. (UPUB U17) The Office of University Relations coordinates and releases official university communications to the public, students, faculty, and staff. The alpha files include a folder of "What they're reading about the University of Maryland College Park campus," compilations of newspaper clippings about the university from 1964 to1974. This office also published University Record, the University of Maryland faculty/staff newsletter before 1970, Precis, the post-1970 faculty/staff newsletter, and Portrait, a publication for alumni issued from 1968 to 1972, all of which contain protest-related articles. The files also contain copies of official press releases issued by the office detailing the university's response to the demonstrations.

Vertical File

Location: University Archives

A collection of newspaper clippings (text and photographs) from the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Diamondback and other papers grouped under subject headings. The following categories contain articles documenting the demonstrations:

Campus Unrest. Three folders containing newspaper clippings for the period 1960-1971, with the principal holdings for 1970. Detailed coverage of the large anti-war protests on campus in spring 1970 and 1971, particularly a three-week period in May 1970. Other campus protests are also reported here, such as those against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and military-funded research. Reports also detail the student occupation of the Skinner Building to protest the dismissal of two popular philosophy instructors.

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC.) Newspaper clippings from the 1960s and 1970s dealing with student reaction to the ROTC presence on campus. Particular attention is given to the 1970 attack on the ROTC offices in the Armory and the subsequent re-evaluation of the status of the ROTC on campus.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS.) Newspaper articles (1966-1969) recording SDS protests against military recruiting on campus and President Elkins's belief that student radicals should be thrown off campus.

Veterans. Newspaper report (1969) of an anti-war protest organized by the University of Maryland Moratorium Committee (see below for a description of this anti-war group.)

Vietnam. Articles about the University of Maryland Moratorium Committee (UMMC), an arm of the National Vietnam Moratorium (NVM), which sought to educate people about the Vietnam War in an attempt to shorten the conflict. The NVM called for a national moratorium on October 15, 1969, during which people were encouraged to stop their usual business or study activities and discuss the war. The plan was to continue the moratorium each month, expanding it by a day each time, until the group's aims were met. Clippings in this file describe UMMC clashes with university administration over use of campus facilities and provide commentary on the censorship of military media.


Location: University Archives.

Campus Photographic Services. A number of contact sheets contain photographs of various protest-related subjects, including SDS rallies, Black Student Union demonstrations, the Skinner Building takeover, and general pictures of campus unrest between 1968 and 1972.

History of the University of Maryland, Campus Unrest. Two collections of photographs relating principally to the series of protests between 1969 and 1972. The first collection, Acc. 88-274, is primarily comprised of photographs and negatives documenting the damage done to the interior of Main Administration after occupation by student protestors, c. 1971. A smaller number of photographs depict protest activity around campus. These images were taken by the university's communications office. Acc. 95-52, the second collection, is a grouping of negatives and contact sheets from the May 5, 1971, protest on campus, and also includes a copy of the Diamondback and a number of anti-ROTC posters. The photographs in this collection were taken and donated by Robert Wright, a student employee in the Campus Photographic Services office during the time of the disturbances.

Patrick Olmert Collection. Photographs of the 1970 riots, taken by Mr. Olmert during his undergraduate studies, including shots of police in riot gear, tear gas clouds and canisters, and K-9 units on campus.

Philip Geraci Collection. Philip Geraci, a University of Maryland alumnus and lecturer in the Journalism Department, taught news photography courses. In Box 1 of the Geraci Collection (mostly student photographs), folder "Problems - Student Work #2" is a large collection of images of protests against the Vietnam War on campus and in College Park, as well as in front of the U.S. Capitol and the Department of the Interior. There is also one shot of Testudo on McKeldin Mall being used as part of a protest. The collection must be screened prior to researcher use.

University AlbUM, a digital collection of University of Maryland images, includes approximately 20 photographs of protest activities. You can browse the collection by decade or enter "Vietnam protests" or "Vietnam demonstrations" in the search box to locate them.

University Archives Slide Collection. This collection of slides covers the years 1944-1981, with most shots taken in the 1960s and 1970s. It includes a variety of campus scenes, athletic, theater and musical events, and buildings.

Historical Manuscripts

Other Potential Information Sources Outside the Archives and Manuscripts Department

Newspapers-Other newspapers in the Baltimore-Washington region may have covered the demonstrations. Researchers are encouraged to consult the Washington Post, Washington Star, Baltimore Sun, College Park Gazette, and the Prince George's Journal for relevant articles.

Photographs-Baltimore News American Photo Archives. Photos from the Baltimore News American, a prominent Baltimore newspaper that ceased publication in 1986. A number of folders contain pictures depicting demonstrations, rallies, and protests from 1967 to 1972. This collection is held by the Marylandia and Rare Books Department of the University of Maryland Libraries and is served to researchers in the Maryland Room.

State Documents-Examples of potentially useful Maryland state documents held by the Marylandia and Rare Books Department include the annual report of the State of Maryland Advisory Council for Higher Education (MD Stacks LC175.M3A45).

State Records-Researchers should consult the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis to locate records relating to the operations of the Maryland National Guard on campus during the demonstrations. The papers of Governor Mandel are also at the Maryland State Archives.

Television News

The WMAR-TV News Collection is held by the University of Baltimore Langsdale Library Special Collections. The indices for Series I, Raw News Footage for 1970 and 1971, include entries for anti-war demonstrations at various locations around the state. The majority of footage has not been indexed; it is necessary to contact the archivist with specific dates to identify all holdings.

The Vanderbilt Television News Archives contains footage from major network news broadcasts, beginning with the year 1968. The holdings include ABC, NBC and CBS reports and/or footage from April 1972 on student protests at the University of Maryland. Free registration is required to search the database of news abstracts and broadcast. Fees are charged for borrowing.


University of Maryland Activists Reunite!

This website developed as a result of a reunion of campus activists held in College Park in the summer of 2005. Although the focus is on the protests of the Vietnam War era, it includes information on other aspects of activism at the University of Maryland, College Park. A work-in-progress, it includes over twenty contributed memoir posts, links to primary documents, and approximately 200 photographs.