Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
Home >> Smith College Archives >> Student Strike of 1970 Files, 1968-1971
Smith College seal
Student Strike of 1970 Files, 1968-1971
3 boxes (1 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 80

Abstract:
Student anti-war demonstration. Contains correspondence, diaries, notes, speeches, notices, posters, memoranda, photographs, petitions, newsletters, packets, press releases and newspaper clippings

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

This collection documenting the Strike of 1970 is open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

All rights are owned by Smith College insofar as the donors had the right to transfer to the college. Permission is required for publication in excess of "fair use." Copyright is held by Sarah Gordon and Lucy Bodine or their heirs for their diaries. Permission is required from Sarah Gordon or her heirs to publish quotations from her diary.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

The idea of a nationally coordinated student strike developed over a period of at least two years of growing tension between the federal administration and minority and student groups who expressed dissatisfaction with the undeclared war in Vietnam, the military draft, and economic consequences of the war. Coordinated by the National Moratorium Committee (organized in June 1969), Moratorium Days held on October 15, 1969 and November 15, 1969 included the suspension of classes, neighborhood canvassing, protest marches and petitions. The third week in March 1970 was proclaimed National Anti-Draft Week. Planned demonstrations were held at local draft board offices, and "we won't go" petitions were circulated. In 1970, the Fast for Peace was held on April 13, 14, and 15, as an expression of moral concern about the war. In early May, student opposition intensified with the knowledge of the expansion of the conflict into Cambodia, President Nixon's April 3 announcement of his decision to resume bombing in North Vietnam, and the treatment of dissenters in the United States. On May 4, the day of the killings on the Kent State University campus, "leaders of the National Student Association and the former Vietnam Moratorium Committee officially called for a nationwide strike of indefinite duration" (Facts on File 1970, p.299).

At Smith, the Moratorium Days were occasions for student involvement in the local community. Smith students staffed the Green Street Moratorium office, canvassed residents, and coordinated marches down Main Street with the cooperation of local businesses. The first Moratorium Day was October 15, 1969 and was called Work for Peace Day at Smith. Smith's Chaplain the Rev. Richard P. Unsworth participated in a memorial service for Hampshire County veterans held at the Unitarian Church. On the second Moratorium Day, November 15, 1969, a contingent of 250 Smith students and 10 Smith professors attended the march in Washington, D. C to protest the Vietnam War. In Northampton, the weekend of November 15 included a teach-in at Wright Hall, a silent march from Helen Hills Hills Chapel to the center of Northampton and back, and well-attended coffee klatches held in a number of Northampton homes.

A timeline of activities at Smith during the May, 1970 Strike is provided below. During and after the strike, alumnae and friends of the college became involved. On May 30, President Mendenhall announced that his office was receiving 10 letters a day expressing opinions about the strike (tape recording of last Chapel,../../70). Many seminars were repeated during Commencement Weekend for the benefit of alumnae and parents, and a video tape of many of the strike activities was shown. The following organizations formed at Smith due to the strike: the Strike Committee, the Education Committee, the Community Action Committee, Union for National Draft Opposition, Committee on Justice and Repression at Home, Unofficial Committee of Concerned Citizens, Committee on Governance, and the People's Lobby. The activities of the People's Lobby continued beyond the academic year, with students working in Northampton, in Washington D. C., and in their hometown to spread information and coordinate lobbying efforts. Several existing Smith organizations took part in Strike activities; these include: the Student Government Association, the Committee on Educational Policy, the Faculty - Student Committee, and the Young Republican Club.

May 4, 5 p.m. At regularly scheduled all-college meetings, a few students and a professor speak about strike issues, and there is a discussion of race/foreign policy distinction.
May 4, 8 p.m. About 30 people opposed to the strike gather in front of Neilson Library. Meanwhile at Paradise pond, Professor Donald Robinson offers a plan for lobbying Congress.
May 5
About 300 students rally at Davis to hear speeches against U. S. action in Cambodia and in support of Bobby Seale.
Smith students vote to strike, 1547 to 437 (12 abstentions).
Smith faculty vote to suspend all normal college activities from May 6 to May 10.
May 5,ca. 11 p.m. In response to a controversy over whether President Mendenhall had announced the results of the student strike vote at the faculty meeting, students and professors stand outside the President's house in the rain until it is announced that there was a failure of communication and that a faculty meeting will be held the next day.
May 6 At an all-college meeting, the Sid Waller '70 speech and the BSA speech, both contained in this collection, are delivered.
May 7, 4 p.m. The Government Department sponsors a lecture at the J. M. Greene Hall on President Nixon's policy in Cambodia.
May 7,5 p.m. A student statement of purpose is read to 15 area clergy and 40 Smith students at a meeting in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel lounge led by the Rev. Richard P. Unsworth and Rabbi Yechiael Lander.
May 8, 9 a.m. A memorial service is held in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel for the Kent State dead.
May 9 Smith students attend a protest march in Washington, D.C.
May 10
Students from Smith and other area colleges canvass local residents.
Black Panther Doug Miranda lectures in the Quad to a group of about 300 people.
May 31 Commencement exercises bring the Student Strike at Smith College to a close; however, many organizations and students remained active throughout the summer.
Scope and Contents of the Collection

The approximately one linear foot of files relating to the Student Strike of 1970 consist of a variety of materials including correspondence, diaries, notes, speeches, notices, posters, memoranda, photographs, petitions, newsletters, packets, press releases and newspaper clippings.

Although the collection spans March 11, 1968 - March 19, 1971, most of the material dates from mid April to early June, 1970. This collection provides material from a wide variety of sources representing different view points concerning the Student Strike of 1970. The material specific to Smith College includes first person accounts, such as notes, diaries, and correspondence in addition to newsletters, packets, and statements.

Of particular interest are the correspondence of Sien-Nyat Chin '73; the diaries of Lucy Bodine '72, and Sarah Gordon '72 and student speeches. Also of interest are the material from faculty and staff, such as the correspondence and notes of Michele Aldrich, an exam of Charles Melvin, memoranda from President Mendenhall, and a petition drafted by Cecilia Marie Kenyon. Organizations mentioned in the SMITH - General series include the Unofficial Committee of Concerned Citizens, the Committee on Governance, the Student Government Association, the Committee on Educational Policy, the Faculty - Student Committee, and the Young Republican Club.

The collection also shows how the Student Strike of 1970 at Smith was organized and structured to include educational programs, lobbying, economic boycotts, and community action programs. The effort was to make an impact on both local and national levels.

This collection is organized into three series:


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

This collection documenting the Strike of 1970 is open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

All rights are owned by Smith College insofar as the donors had the right to transfer to the college. Permission is required for publication in excess of "fair use." Copyright is held by Sarah Gordon and Lucy Bodine or their heirs for their diaries. Permission is required from Sarah Gordon or her heirs to publish quotations from her diary.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Student Strike of 1970 Files, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

In the Spring 1985, the College Archives received a collection of files relating to the strike of 1970. The material had been collected by Sarah Gordon '72 and David Allmendinger, Assistant Professor of History. The papers themselves describe the process of collecting examples of notices circulating during the strike (see Sarah Gordon's diary), and include evidence that Prof. Allmendinger solicited further contributions after the strike was over. This collection was merged with a few College Archives files from the strike of 1970. Many of the newsclippings may have been collected by the Smith News Office.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives

Language
English.