Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Underground/Alternative Newspapers History and Geography

The social movements of 1960s and 1970s would not have been possible without the underground press, an explosive new media system that spread through hundreds of communities. While the label "underground newspaper" had long been used to describe the publications of resistance groups in totalitarian societies, it was repurposed in the mid 1960s by activists in the US and other countries who published radical and countercultural tabloid-format weeklies and monthlies. Breaking open the information monopoly dominated by three TV networks, two wire services, and a string of plain-vanilla daily newspapers, the undergrounds challenged the conventions of journalism and politics with wildly new designs and uncompromising articles. In so doing they established the parameters of radical politics and the meanings of "counterculture" for this pivotal decade.

Here we explore the history and geography of alternative media system with (1) interactive maps, charts, and lists that show more than 2,600 underground/ alternative periodicals from the decade between 1965 and 1975; (2) a filterable database of these publications. Research and data development by Katie Anastas. Special thanks to James Lewes and the GI Press Collection for additional data and other help. Many of these periodicals can be found in the Reveal Digital Independent Voices collection.

Click to see map and charts
Maps of underground and alternative newspapers 1965-1975

Here are five maps and charts showing the year-by year geography of the underground media system, locating the comings and goings of more than 2,600 weeklies and monthies. Filter by state and by categories, including African American, Chicana/o, GI antimilitarist, countercultural, radical left, and other descriptives.

Click to see database
Database of 2,621 periodicals 1965-1975

This sortable database shows publications by state, city, type, and circulation level.

Click to see maps and charts
Underground GI newspapers (antimilitarist) 1965-1975

Based on data assembled by James Lewes, these maps and charts locate 768 periodicals associated with the GI antimilitarist movement in the era of Vietnam war. By 1970, antiwar periodicals for GIs were available near most military bases in the US and at bases in Europe and Asia, especially in West Germany and Japan.

Underground newspapers: The social media networks of the 1960s and 70s

By Katie Anastas

This essay explains the history and significance of the underground press while introducing the many types of periodicals that contributed to this important medium. Fueling the social movements of the era, the underground press ranged from big city weeklies with large circulations to specialized periodicals representing feminists, African American and Chicano activists, anti-war GIs, peace groups, LGBT groups, and also, curiously, various conservative perspectivies.

Additional radical and labor press maps and charts

Socialist Party Newspapers 1900-1925

This interactive map identifies 380 newspapers linked to the Socialist Party, providing detail about editors, circulation, and about the towns and cities where they were published.

IWW newspapers and periodical 1905-1946

The IWW published newspapers in 19 languages. Many were short-lived with small circulations, while one, The Industrial Worker, continues today. Here are interactive maps and a database of information.


Anarchist newspapers and periodicals

Anarchists published periodicals in 18 different languages, reflecting the immigrant majority and transnational nature of the American movement.These maps and tables locate 274 periodicals affiliated with anarchist groups or ideas from 1872 to 1940. 


Labor Newspapers 1925

In 1925, researchers at the Rand School of Social Science compiled and published The American Labor Press Directory, listing more than 600 newspapers affiliated with unions, labor councils, and radical organizations. Here are interactive maps.

Chicano Newspapers and Periodicals 1966-1979

Here are more than 300 newspapers and newsletters associated with the surge in Chicano activism in the 1960s and 1970s. Some were published by movement organizations, others served local communities.