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William Buffington Collection of Student Protest papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSF 495

Scope and Contents

The William Buffington Collection of Student Protest papers (1967-1984; .25 cubic feet) documents student protests against U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia that took place on and off Purdue University Campus. This collection also documents student activism against tuition hikes, as well as the university and police action taken against protestors. Beyond official university correspondence and print journalism, the papers include several editions of campus underground and alternative newspapers, as well as documents from leftist student organizations. Though the collection spans from 1967-1984, most material focuses on the years 1969-1970. Types of materials include: newspapers, clippings, memos, handbills, leaflets, correspondence, lecture notes, and other printed material.


  • 1967 - 1984
  • Majority of material found within 1969 - 1970

Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

This collection is open for research.

Historical Information

During the 1960s and 1970s, a period characterized by both the expansion of and disillusionment with Cold War policies and culture, political and social tensions surrounding U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia became a major subject of citizen activism. Due to the cultural position of universities as spaces where difficult dialogues can be debated and discussed—and in part due to their large numbers of young adults—college campuses became primary sites for anti-war protests and demonstrations. As early as 1964, Purdue students organized to protest the university’s compulsory R.O.T.C. enrollment program for incoming freshmen, as well as the university’s affiliation with military contractors such as DOW Chemical. In March 1966, a controversial rally led by the campus chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at Memorial Center ended in the visiting speaker, Joffre Stewart, tearing up, spitting on, and stomping on an American flag. In May 1968, a group of about one hundred black students demonstrated outside the administration building, demanding diversity within university faculty, integrated courses and housing, institutional recognition in the form of what is now the Black Cultural Center, and courses that reflected the reality of their experience. One year later, the President’s Office announced an increase in student tuition and fees, which ignited nearly two years of student and faculty protests, some of which (primarily the sit-ins and “live-ins” when protestors inhabited and “took over” official university spaces) resulted in the suspension and arrest of those involved. When news of the U.S. military’s invasion of Cambodia reached the campus in late April 1970, anti-war protests upsurged yet again on campus, as students demonstrated during R.O.T.C. activities, again leading to many arrests and suspensions. Source: Topping, Robert W. A Century and Beyond: The History of Purdue University. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1988. pp. 327-333.

Note written by Stephen Horrocks


0.182 Cubic Feet (One letter-size half-width manuscript box)


This collection contains newspaper clippings, memos, reports, handbills, leaflets, and posters documenting student and faculty protests against U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia and Purdue University tuition and fees increases. Also included is the university administration’s response to these protests.


The collection is arranged into 2 series: 1.  Anti-war protests, 1968-1970 (3 folders) Series 1 documents major instances of anti-war campus activism, primarily from 1969-1970. Protests at the Army R.O.T.C. and the Purdue Memorial Union are particularly highlighted, as is written support for protestors’ academic freedom from faculty organizations such as the University Senate and the American Association of University Professors. Official responses to these protests by university president Frederick L. Hovde are also included. Materials in the series are arranged by material type, then chronologically. 2.  Tuition protests, 1968-1970 (4 folders) Series 2 documents student tuition and fees increases in early 1969 and the campus demonstrations, marches, and sit-ins that followed. Student arrests and suspensions are documented in clippings and university statements. Also included in this series is a small collection of underground and alternative newspapers that circulated on Purdue University campus from 1967-1970.

Acquisition Information

William D. Buffington, Date acquired: 11/04/2014

Related Materials

Barbara Cook papers (Series 8) [url=][/url] Dean of Women records (Series 1, Box 3, Folder 1) [url=][/url] The Frederick L. Hovde Papers (Series 2, Box L, Folder 8) [url=][/url] Helen B. Schleman Papers (Series 7, Box 7, Folder 20) [url=][/url]

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. In some cases, original organization was reordered for chronological and/or topical accessibility. Most newspaper clippings have been photocopied for research purposes. In most cases original newspaper clippings have been discarded, while some editions and printings have been retained in their entirety.
William Buffington Collection of Student Protest papers
In Progress
Amanda Rumba and Stephen Horrocks
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description completed 2016-02-12 by Stephen Horrocks.

Revision Statements

  • 2020-04-22: Collection description updated by Amanda Rumba to align with data entry standards.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States