Collection overview

The study of historical activism by students on campus is important to help us understand the history of protest movements and to inform our understanding of today’s student activism. Angus Johnston, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education states, “The activists of the ’60s and ’70s, confronting universities that were hostile to their values and ideals, launched a movement that remade American higher education in their own image — not completely, and perhaps not permanently, but in significant, lasting ways. Today’s activists may yet articulate — and enact — a similarly far-reaching agenda.” This collection will bring together artifacts in many different forms created through student-led movements starting in the early 20th century through the early 21st century. The Student Activism collection is being developed under the Diversity & Dissent Fund.

Topics and events targeted for inclusion

Anti-apartheid divestiture, student involvement in the Civil Rights movement, the Columbia student strike of 1968, the East L.A. student blowout, free speech movement, Indians of All Tribes’ occupation of Alcatraz, Take-Back-the-Night protests, protests against the Vietnam War, women’s movement, LGBTQ rights, and the Orangeburg massacre.

The completed collection will include 150,000 pages drawn from dozens of special collection libraries and archives around the country. Materials include circulars, leaflets, fliers, pamphlets, newsletters, campaign materials, protest literature, clippings, publications, bulletins, letters, press releases, and ephemera, as well as meeting, demonstration, conference, and event documentation.

Content contributors

The following libraries have agreed to provide source material. We expect to add many more libraries and archives to this list over the course of the project.

  • Civil Rights Movement Archive
    The Student Voice
  • Colorado State University
  • Densho Digital Repository
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Graduate Theological Union
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Maine
  • University of Washington
  • Yeshiva University


Academic and public libraries provide the funding needed to cover all costs associated with publishing Student Activism through participation in the Diversity & Dissent Digitization Fund. Diversity & Dissent funding libraries gain early access to the content as the collection is being built, and receive usage reports, MARC records, and regular progress reports. Learn more about the Diversity & Dissent program.

Interested in contributing content?

We are actively approaching a number of libraries for participation, but funding libraries can also contribute some content; ten percent of the collection is being reserved for content provided by those libraries not specifically targeted for inclusion.

Funding libraries are invited to nominate source material from their own collections, from a single document to multiple boxes.

Contact us to learn more