Students for a Democratic Society Records, 1958-1970

Summary Information

Title: Students for a Democratic Society Records
Inclusive Dates: 1958-1970

  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Call Number: Mss 177; Audio 517A; Micro 655; M78-179; M96-081; M2000-040; M2001-026; M2008-108; M2010-118

Quantity: 22.2 cubic feet (57 archives boxes), 24 tape recordings, and 41 reels of microfilm (35 mm); plus additions of 1.2 cubic feet

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Records of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a national organization of students founded in 1960 that provided much of the force and direction for the New Left during the 1960s. 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.


See Alternate Format available as well as Related Material.

Language: English

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