Gaylord Nelson Papers, 1954-2006 (bulk 1963-1980)

 
Contents List
Container Title
Mss 900
Part 1 (Mss 900, Micro 2067, Audio 1335A, PH Mss 900): Original Collection, 1964-1994
Physical Description: 1.6 c.f. (4 archives boxes), 1 reel of microfilm (35 mm), 1 tape recording, 31 photographs, 1 negative, and 36 transparencies 
Scope and Content Note

The papers contain documentation about several areas of Boyer's social activism: his involvement with the Wisconsin Labor and Farm Party, his leadership in the Midwestern Green Movement, and his support for Native American treaty rights, as well as his military service in Vietnam. Of these, the information on the Greens is most complete, and it includes not only information about Boyer's role, but also rare documentation on the evolution of the movement and its relation to third party politics in Wisconsin. The files on the LFP are spotty and even the information on Boyer's 1986 campaign for attorney general, which is the most extensively documented aspect of the party in the collection, does not include many of the records that are typical of political campaigns. Except for scattered memoranda on AFSCME letterhead there is no representation of Boyer's labor work in the collection, nor is this period yet documented in records transferred to SHSW by the union. There are also no materials on his interest in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania folklore; writings by Boyer on Wisconsin folklore are available in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (SHSW) Library.

The papers are arranged as VIETNAM PAPERS, LABOR AND FARM PARTY PAPERS, GREEN MOVEMENT PAPERS, TREATY RIGHTS PAPERS, and SUBJECT FILES.

The VIETNAM PAPERS consist of orders and official communications from the Air Force as well as personal papers about his military service. These papers were collected by the Historical Society as part of its Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans project. Most of the series consists of personal correspondence, both letters he received and copies of ten outgoing letters. Boyer's own letters from Vietnam are copies of letters to Pete, a fellow soldier in Vietnam whose last name is unknown; there are no letters to any other friends or family members. The letters to Pete hint at Boyer's growing disenchantment with the war and its violence and his frustration over the fact that he could not express his true feelings to his family or his girlfriend. Several refer to his early involvement, through Pete, with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. These letters are hard to read, however, as they are poor quality photocopies of handwritten originals. (Several of these letters are partially transcribed in the Historical Society's Voices from Vietnam project: October 10 and December 30, 1970 and April 18, 1971.) The collection also includes a microfilm copy of Boyer's military photo album, 1967-1970, and a few original prints from the albums. The photos primarily document bases where Boyer was stationed in the United States and areas he visited in Vietnam rather than his military duties, although the earliest album includes views of Resurrection City and ceremonies marking the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. After filming, the original albums were returned to the donor.

The incoming military correspondence is from friends from Pennsylvania who also served in the armed forces during the same period: primarily Byron Oswald, who served in the Army in Germany; Norman Hoffman, who served in the Navy; and Carl Brensinger, who also served in the Air Force. There are also letters from friends in college. During the period documented in the collection, none of Boyer's friends served in Vietnam, although Norman Hoffman served a tour of duty in the Pacific. Though not pertaining precisely to combat, these letters do document the training, experiences and concerns of military personnel who did not see action and the concerns and experiences of college students who were anxious to avoid service in the military. Another folder of correspondence provides spotty documentation of Boyer's involvement with the VVAW in Mt. Penn, Pennsylvania after his discharge in 1971. Most of these letters concern fundraising for a veteran defense committee and difficulties in organizing the VVAW in Pennsylvania.

The LABOR AND FARM PARTY PAPERS primarily document Boyer's campaign for Wisconsin attorney general on the LFP ticket in 1986 and the party's exchange relationship with Bluefields, Nicaragua, in 1986 and 1987. The election file consists of newspaper clippings about Boyer's candidacy as well as the campaigns of several other LFP candidates. Although Boyer waged a full-time campaign, there are no speeches, campaign literature, financial information, or other documentation typical of a political campaign in the file.

The Nicaragua material in the LFP series was largely collected and created by organizer Alan Peura in the course of arranging for an exchange between Sunrise, the bi-lingual newspaper in Bluefields, and Commonwealth, the LFP's newsletter. It is not known how Peura's file came into Boyer's custody. This documentation includes brief minutes, handwritten notes, publicity and planning materials, color slides taken in Nicaragua, and a handwritten journal written by Peura about the 1987 visit to Wisconsin and Mississippi by two Nicaraguan journalists. Peura is also the writer of several lengthy letters from Bluefields to Boyer, perhaps the best material on the sister state exchange in the collection. During the initial exchange Peura formed a romantic attachment to journalist Nancy Cassanova, and late in 1987 he moved to Nicaragua to be with her. Over the course of the next several months, Peura's letters to Boyer detail the reality of the situation he observed there, his growing disenchantment with the exchange, and his eventual decision to return to the United States to be reunited with his son. The Peura materials provide a frank, important complement to the Historical Society's strong holdings on the long relationship between Wisconsin and Nicaragua.

The miscellaneous material in the LFP series consists of a memoranda from the party to the Wisconsin Greens inviting their support for the 1990 election campaign; a copy of a clipping from Boyer in 1990 in which he, along with William Osborne Hart and Kathy Christensen and other founding members of the party, announced their resignation from the party; copies of letters from Boyer, then chair of the LFP treaty rights task force, soliciting support for an LFP-sponsored rally at the Capitol in 1985, and a statement criticizing legislative action banning road hunting.

The GREEN MOVEMENT PAPERS, which comprise the most important part of the collection, document Boyer's involvement in the founding and activities of several Wisconsin and regional Green movement groups and the establishment of a national organization, the Committees of Correspondence. Unfortunately, there is little here about his trip to Germany in 1986 which was influential in shaping his ideas or any continuing contact with the German movement, but the Boyer collection does provide rare early documentation of the highly decentralized Green movement in Wisconsin.

Documentation that relates to specific organizations is filed alphabetically by organization name while information that deals with several organizations or for which the organizational association was not clear is filed under the general "Green" heading. The general section of the series includes mailing lists, bibliographies, text for an unidentified discussion journal, and--most importantly-- extensive correspondence with leaders of the Green movement in Wisconsin such as Walter Bresette, William Hurrle, Harvey Jacobs, Jeffrey L. Peterson, and Ray Starrett. Also filed here is a 1989 radio interview with Boyer about the philosophy of the Green movement.

The alphabetically-arranged organization files document a host of environmental groups that Boyer either organized or with which he was involved. About the national Committees of Correspondence formed in 1984 the papers include handwritten correspondence from COC leaders Dee Berry and Howard Hawkins and numerous mailings of photocopied memoranda, minutes, financial statements, conference material, and reports received by Boyer as a member of the COC Interregional Commission. Filed under the heading “Green Party Organizing Committee” is additional correspondence and form letters concerning the national political party organizing that was an outgrowth of the COC.

Most extensive among the Green organizations are the materials on the statewide Wisconsin Greens of which Boyer was a co-founder. Although his files cannot be described as the official files of the Wisconsin Greens, the documents in Boyer's possession include detailed reports and a photograph of the 1988 organizational meeting at Balsam Lake on October 8-9, 1988; minutes, memoranda, notes and agenda material for meetings of the Coordinating Committee and the Working Group; and files on the legislative, recycling, and key values task forces. Boyer's relationship with the LFP and the issue of whether the Greens should organize as a political party emerge as major themes. Also included is draft material for an organizational brochure, position papers by Boyer and his wife Donna Weikert, and many press releases which are thought to have been drafted by Boyer. Copies of the newsletter Green Letter, which Boyer also wrote, are available in the SHSW Library.

The files on the other Green organizations in which Boyer exercised a founding or leadership role are more modest. Although these groups tended to be small, short-lived and not organizationally-inclined, the thin folders in the Boyer collection probably do not represent their official records. Nevertheless, given the scarcity of documentation on the recent environmental movement in archival custody many important items are included. Particularly important are the presentations of environmental philosophy and press materials that Boyer wrote. Although many of these items are not dated, they provide useful documentation of the evolving Green Movement in Wisconsin. About the Upper Great Lake Green Network formed in 1987 as a clearinghouse for Greens in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota there are handwritten agendas, flyers about their regional gatherings, correspondence, lists, and press releases. Also included is a grant proposal put forward by the Green Net, a publication affiliated with the UGLGN, which contains important information about its early philosophy and activities. The Independent Greens, a non-partisan Wisconsin organization of local government officials and community activists which Boyer formed with Frank Koehn, is represented by press releases written by Boyer. (Copies of the Independent Greens' Grassroots newsletter, which were probably not written by Boyer, are available in the SHSW Library.) The file on the Yahara Greens (later resurrected as the Green Circle) documents Boyer's early environmental organizing in Madison. This group is represented by meeting minutes (1987-1988), handwritten agendas and notes, and flyers on their efforts to combat mercury poisoning of the Madison lakes. About the Iowa County Greens, which Boyer also organized, there is correspondence and memoranda, resolutions, bulletins, and lists. Much of this file concerns the ICG's involvement with the Muscoda incinerator, additional clippings about which may be found in the SUBJECT FILES.

Also in the Green series is information on several other local Wisconsin organizations that Boyer did not establish but with which he had contact: primarily the Lake Superior Greens, one of the first Green groups in Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Greens. The Lake Superior material includes correspondence from Bayfield County Supervisor Frank Koehn, the head of LSG, and the Milwaukee Greens file includes flyers and correspondence from local activist Rick Whaley.

The alphabetical TREATY RIGHTS series cuts across Boyer's involvement with the Labor and Farm Party and the Greens, as it was an issue of concern to both. Although the total quantity of material is small, it adds useful information about the organizational connections among Wisconsin treaty rights supporters to the Historical Society's holdings. As chairman of the LFP's treaty rights task force in 1985, Boyer helped to organize and was a leader of the Wisconsin Treaty Rights Support Network. The collection includes correspondence, notes, press releases, flyers, and other publicity about the network's efforts to build interracial coalitions and educate urban residents about treaty rights issues. The Black Hawk War reconciliation project, a two-year effort that Boyer later coordinated as a Green activist, culminated in an official apology to Native Americans for the massacre at Bad Axe. About this project the collection contains correspondence with legislators, press materials, and draft resolutions. Also included are materials on several Wisconsin groups that supported treaty rights: Citizens for Treaty Rights; the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission; and HONOR, the Milwaukee organization established by Sharon Metz.

The SUBJECT FILES contain clippings and reference material on a number of topics that interested Boyer. Most notable here is an undated statement on environmental spirituality; correspondence (1988) with the State Elections Board, Frank Zeidler, and others concerning the ballot status of third parties; and information on activities concerning mercury contamination and hazardous wastes.

Series: Vietnam Papers
Box   1
Folder   1
General military papers
Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   2
Outgoing correspondence, 1970-1971
Incoming correspondence
Box   1
Folder   3-7
General, 1964-1986
Box   1
Folder   8
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, 1973-1975
Photographs
Micro 2067
Microfilmed album/journal
PH Mss 900
Selected original prints from album
Series: Labor and Farm Party Papers
Mss 900
Bluefields, Nicaragua, Sister state exchange, 1986-1988, undated
Box   1
Folder   9
Papers
PH Mss 900
Slides
Mss 900
Box   1
Folder   10
Election clippings, 1986
Box   1
Folder   11
Miscellany, 1985-1990
Series: Green Movement Papers
General
Box   1
Folder   12
Clippings
Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   13
Barker, Cheryl and Allen (Flambeau Valley Greens), 1994
Box   2
Folder   1
Bresette, Walt, 1988-1990
Box   2
Folder   2
Churchill, Roscoe and Evelyn (Rusk County Citizens Action Group), 1988
Box   2
Folder   3
Day, Sam, 1988-1991
Box   2
Folder   4
Fincke, Waring, 1988-1991
Box   2
Folder   5
Gille, Paul, 1987-1991
Box   2
Folder   6-8
General, 1987-1993, undated
Box   2
Folder   9
Hurrle, William, 1987-1990
Box   2
Folder   10
Jacobs, Harvey, 1986-1989
Box   2
Folder   11
Kinsman, John and Marilyn, 1987-1988
Box   2
Folder   12
Loschnigg-Fox, Helen, 1986-1990
Box   2
Folder   13
Peterson, Jeffrey, 1987-1994
Box   2
Folder   14
Schaefers, Gerhard and Heidemarie, 1989
Box   2
Folder   15
Starrett, Ray, 1988-1992
Box   2
Folder   16
Discussion journal, undated
Audio 1335A
Interview on WTSO, 1989 February 2
Mss 900
Box   2
Folder   17
Mailing lists, undated
Box   2
Folder   18
Miscellaneous writings
Box   2
Folder   19
Miscellaneous bibliographies
Committees of Correspondence
Box   2
Folder   20
Correspondence, 1986-1988, undated
General mailings
Box   2
Folder   21
1984-1986
Box   4
Folder   1-3
1987-1992, undated
Box   4
Folder   4
National conference, 1987 July 2-7
Box   4
Folder   5
Driftless Bioregional Network, 1987-1988
Box   4
Folder   6
Green Circle, undated
Box   4
Folder   7
Green Net Collective, 1987-1989
Box   4
Folder   8
Green Party Organizing Committee, 1989-1992
Box   4
Folder   9
Independent Greens, 1989-1990
Box   4
Folder   10
Iowa County Greens, 1991-1992
Box   4
Folder   11
Lake Superior Greens (Frank Koehn), 1986-1990
Box   4
Folder   12
Milwaukee Greens (Rick Whaley), 1987-1988
Box   4
Folder   13
St. Croix Greens, 1990-1991
Box   4
Folder   14
Southwest Greens, 1990-1991
Box   4
Folder   15
Upper Great Lakes Green Network, 1987-1989
Box   4
Folder   16
UW Greens, 1988-1991
Wisconsin Greens
Box   4
Folder   17
Brochure, 1989
Box   4
Folder   18
Coordinating Committee, 1988-1991
Box   4
Folder   19
Electoral reform, 1988-1989
Box   4
Folder   20
Green papers, undated
Box   4
Folder   21
Key Values Task Force, 1987, undated
Box   4
Folder   22
Legislation, 1988
Box   4
Folder   23
Organizational convention, 1988
Box   3
Folder   1
Organizing Committee, 1990
PH Series 900
Photographs
Mss 900
Box   3
Folder   2
Press conference, 1988
Box   3
Folder   3
Press releases, 1988-1990, undated
Box   3
Folder   4
Recycling, 1988-1989
Box   3
Folder   5
Working Group, 1990
Box   3
Folder   6
Yahara Greens, 1987-1988
Series: Treaty Rights Papers
Black Hawk War reconciliation, 1988-1990
Box   3
Folder   7
Papers
PH Mss 900
Photographs
Mss 900
Box   3
Folder   8
Citizens for Treaty Rights, 1987-1988
Box   3
Folder   9
General, 1985-1989
Box   3
Folder   10
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, 1985-1988
Box   3
Folder   11
Metz, Sharon (HONOR and Lutheran Human Relations Association), 1988-1989
Box   3
Folder   12
Wisconsin Treaty Rights Support Network, 1985-1988
Series: Subject Files
Box   3
Folder   13
Biotechnology, 1987-1988, undated
Box   3
Folder   14
Bovine Growth Hormone, 1987, undated
Box   3
Folder   15
Chernobyl, undated
Box   3
Folder   16
Daniels, Ron, 1990
Box   3
Folder   17
Eminent domain, 1988
Box   3
Folder   18
Food, 1987, undated
Box   3
Folder   19
Forests, undated
Box   3
Folder   20
Hazardous waste, 1987, undated
Box   3
Folder   21
Herbicides, 1988
Box   3
Folder   22
Mercury contamination, 1987, undated
Box   3
Folder   23
Muscoda incinerator, 1991
Box   3
Folder   24
Protect the Earth Festival, 1988
Box   3
Folder   25
Recycling, 1987
Box   3
Folder   26
Spirituality, undated
Box   3
Folder   27
Third party candidates, 1984-1988
Box   3
Folder   28
Unidentified miscellany