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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Students for a Democratic Society records

Repository: Wisconsin Historical Society. Library-Archives

Collection Description (Extant): Records of SDS, a national organization of students founded in 1960 that provided much of the force and direction for the New Left during the 1960's. Three boxes relate to SDS during its initial growth, 1958-1962, and contain national convention papers (including the Port Huron Statement); files on the League for Industrial Democracy and the Student League for Industrial Democracy from which SDS developed, projects, and related organizations; and correspondence of early leaders Al Haber and Tom Hayden. Thirty boxes date from the fall of 1962 to August 1965, the period when SDS still considered reform possible and when it maintained four separate national offices: the administrative national office and the offices of the Economic Research and Action Project, the Peace Research and Education Project, and the Political Education Project. National office records include voluminous correspondence of leaders such as Todd Gitlin, Paul Potter, and Clark Kissinger, reports, minutes, membership lists, pamphlets, registration forms, newsletters, clippings, and check stubs. These records relate to conventions and meetings, projects involving the anti-war movement and South Africa, publications, and intra-organization matters and relations with local chapters and other organizations. ERAP, which was headed by Rennie Davis, sought to organize a radical political movement among the poor. This section includes files on meetings, publications, and projects such as its extensive work among the poor in Chicago. PREP, which served as a clearinghouse and publisher for research on peace, disarmament, and foreign policy, is documented by correspondence, leaflets, manuscripts, newsletters, prospectuses, reports, and files on Boston PREP. One-half box of correspondence, memos, minutes, leaflets, prospectuses, and reports document PEP's efforts to push national electoral politics leftward in 1964. The third series consists of 23 boxes regarding the operations of the national office from late 1964 to 1970 when SDS became increasingly action-oriented, violent, and fractious, ultimately dividing into Progressive Labor, Weathermen, and Revolutionary Youth Movement. Included are correspondence (containing many references to Paul Booth and Bernadine Dohrn); minutes, notes, resolutions, and further correspondence of the national conventions and meetings; office files; project and subject files; reference files; and material concerning local chapters and related groups. Also part of the manuscript collection, but not available with the microfilm edition, are 24 tape recordings of SDS conferences, conventions, meetings, and speeches; the April 17, 1965, March on Washington; and the 1966 National Conference for New Politics Electoral Campaign Institute.

Access Copy Note: Except for the recordings, all of the above is available on 34 reels of microfilm produced by the Microfilm Corporation of America, together with a printed descriptive guide, The Students for a Democratic Society Papers, 1958-1970. In addition the microfilm edition includes 7 reels of SDS serial pamphlets and ephemera gathered from the Tamiment and State Historical Society of Wisconsin Libraries. A positive copy of this film is in the Historical Society Library, as is a copy of the printed guide at call number Pamphlet 77-2106. The Archives holds a security copy of this microfilm at call number Micro 655; no prints are to be made from this copy of the microfilm.

Date(s): 1958-1970

Existing IDs: Mss 177; Tape 517A

Extent: 22.1 c.f. (56 archives boxes), 24 tape recordings, and 41 reels of microfilm (35mm), plus additions of 1.0 c.f.

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Related Archival Items: The Wisconsin Historical Society holds numerous collections of papers related to SDS personnel and activities.

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


Anti-war demonstrations
Civil rights demonstrations
Student movements
Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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