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Student Activism

Last Updated: Oct 6, 2022 10:41 AM

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“There have been student protests in the United States for nearly as long as there have been students.” So write the curators of the Interference Archive’s exhibit, Walkout: A Brief History of Student Organizing. Reveal Digital’s Student Activism collection aims to provide access to unique, yet essential, primary sources documenting the deep and broad history of student organizing in the United States.

Reveal Digital’s Student Activism collection is intended to serve as a scholarly bridge from the extensive history of student protest in the United States to the study of today’s vibrant, continually unfolding actions. Angus Johnston, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, states, “The activists of the ’60s and ’70s, confronting universities that were hostile to their values and ideals, launched a movement that remade American higher education in their own image — not completely, and perhaps not permanently, but in significant, lasting ways. Today’s activists may yet articulate — and enact — a similarly far-reaching agenda.”


The completed collection will contain approximately 75,000 pages drawn from special collection libraries and archives around the country. Materials intended for inclusion are wide-ranging in nature: Circulars, leaflets, fliers, pamphlets, newsletters, campaign materials, protest literature, clippings, periodicals, bulletins, letters, press releases, ephemera; and meeting, demonstration, conference, and event documentation.

The collection will capture the voices of students across the great range of protest, political actions, and equal-rights advocacy from the 20th and early 21st century United States. The primary sources intended for inclusion will be broad-based across time, geography, and political viewpoint — from the conservative to the anarchist.

In the interest of sensitivity toward the privacy of activists on the streets and in organizing communities today, the collection does not depict contemporary protests.

Topics and events intended for inclusion:

  • Anti-apartheid divestiture
  • Student involvement in the civil rights movement
  • History of Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Young Americans for Freedom
  • Columbia University student strike of 1968
  • East L.A. student blowout
  • Free speech movement
  • Indians of All Tribes’ occupation of Alcatraz
  • Take-Back-the-Night anti-sexual assault activism
  • Vietnam War opposition and demilitarization activism
  • Women’s rights
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • Orangeburg massacre
  • Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel
  • Gulf War and Iraq war opposition
  • Battle in Seattle (WTO action)

Dates Covered

20th-21st centuries

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