Penn State activism in 1968 is focus of student-curated exhibit

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The late 1960s were a turbulent time both socially and politically. Across the country and around the world, many young people felt disillusioned with the status quo. Though student protest at Penn State never achieved as much public recognition when compared to universities like Berkeley or Columbia, or to the student protests in Paris and Mexico City, Penn State students also engaged in political protest.

A University Libraries exhibit, “1968: Student Activism at Penn State and Beyond,” open through July 31 in Pattee Library’s Franklin Atrium, takes a closer look at student activism in the late 1960s.

The exhibit showcases various items from The Eberly Family Special Collections Library, including photographs, books and student publications. Highlights include a copy of the underground student newspaper “The Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel,” named after the tunnel that was used to conduct research for developing underwater torpedoes in the 1960s; several photographs of student protests from the late 1960s — such as one of students hanging an anti-Vietnam War banner on the Water Tunnel building, and another of the Douglass Association, the forerunner to the Penn State Student Black Caucus, protesting at Old Main; and copies of seminal books of the period such as Betty Friedan's “The Feminine Mystique” and Abbie Hoffman's “Steal This Book.”

Lauren Nogay, a senior majoring in history and international politics and Stelts-Filippelli Intern in the Special Collections Library and Conservation, Preservation, and Digitization Department, curated the exhibit with support from Clara Drummond, exhibition coordinator.

The exhibit ties into a larger project, “Remembering ’68: Moments of Change”, which is spearheaded by the College of the Liberal Arts, specifically through the college’s Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship. The college’s project includes new courses, film screenings, an oral history project with alumni, and numerous other events. For details and resources, visit 1968.psu.edu. The exhibit also is directly related to a new history course titled “The World of 1968: Moments of Change.”

Both the creator of this course, Kathryn Salzer, associate professor in the Department of History, and her colleague Kevin Conaway, director of the Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship, are thrilled by Lauren Nogay’s initiative in creating this exhibit.

“Lauren’s exhibit offers a tangible complement to the written and visual primary sources that we are examining in the course,” Salzer said. 

For more information about “1968: Student Activism at Penn State and Beyond,” or for persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access, contact Drummond at cjd86@psu.edu or 814-865-1793 in advance of your visit.

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Last Updated March 28, 2018