Voices of 1968 oral history collection

Biographical and Historical Notes

1968 is remembered as a pivotal year in American history, particularly notable for Delawareans as the year when the Delaware National Guard occupied Wilmington to quell riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in April. At the University of Delaware, students were involved in rallies and protests on campus that mirrored national activism in war resistance, civil rights, Black power, and equal rights for women. In Wilmington, residents grappled with urban issues, especially after the construction of I-95 at the start of the decade had gutted neighborhoods and white migration to the suburbs created large pockets of low-income, high unemployment, predominantly African American communities, especially in the areas of Southbridge, West Center City ("The Valley") and Northeast Wilmington.

The University of Delaware Library commemorated this historic time with a 50th anniversary exhibition, "1968: Heterodoxical Times in Delaware" and initiated an oral history project, "Voices of 1968," to collect additional information from Delawareans. At the same time, the Delaware Art Museum, Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Humanities, UD Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, and many other community partners collaborated to plan events, exhibitions, and projects described at http://www.wilmington1968.org/ to reflect on the social justice activism that was sparked and has continued since 1968.

The Wilmington Archives Project joined with the University of Delaware Library and other volunteer partners to collect and contribute oral histories preserved in this Voices of 1968 oral histories collection.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains raw audio recordings and audio-visual footage of interviews, most of which were recorded in the University of Delaware Library's Student Multimedia Design Center. Interviews were conducted by Library staff, Wilmington Archives Project partners, and other project volunteers.

The topics covered in the interviews include campus politics and student activism in Delaware (particularly through the Students for Democratic Society chapter at the University of Delaware campus), reactions to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, the National Guard occupation of Wilmington, and political and social actions related to civil rights, the 1968 presidential campaign, resistance to America's involvement in Vietnam, and other aspects of life in Delaware.

Most interviews are accompanied by time logs, which provide a general summary of the topics discussed in the interview, along with a time stamp denoting where in the interview (minute and seconds) the topics are discussed. Full text transcripts are available for some of the interviews.

Brief biographical profiles of interviewees are included in the finding aid.

This is a growing collection and new interviews will continue to be added.