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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

SDS Chapters 1962-1969

by Amanda Miller

The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were the most influential radical organizations of the 1960s and remain closely associated with the term "New Left." Founded in 1960, SDS began to attract attention with the publication of the 1962 Port Huron Statement, a manifesto that articulated an argument for a fundamental societal transformation in the name of "participatory democracy." The organization took on a new mission after the Johnson administration escalated the war in Vietnam. In 1965, SDS organized a sequence of antiwar protests and membership surged. The organization claimed 29 chapters early in 1964 and 118 chapters at the end of 1965. In the years that followed, SDS became steadily more radical and membership followed, with estimates ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 by the start of 1969. But 1969 proved to be the year of destruction for SDS, which split into three factions, one of which, the "Weathermen," embarked on a campaign of revolutionary destruction that has ever since occluded the historical reputation of this pivotal organization.

Here we map the growth of SDS from a handful of chapters in 1962 to more than 300 in 1969. The key source is Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (Random House, 1973) the classic history of the organization. We have supplemented this with documents from the microfilm copy of the Students for Democratic Society Records, archived at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and a 1969 list of chapters identified in a congressional investigation. The color codes indicate the date a chapter first appears in any of these records, but we can't assume that it functioned continuously after that date. Some chapters lasted only a year or two and later may have been reestablished. The maps are hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page. Here are other New Left and Antiwar Movement maps 

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In Progress: We continue to seek additional data and are eager to correct errors. Please Help. If you know something about the actions of particular SDS chapters, please share it here.

Sources: Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (New York: Random House, 1973); Students for Democratic Society Records, Wisconsin Historical Society (Microfilm Corporation of America): Riots, civil and criminal disorders : hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate Part 18, pp. 3396-3401

Research and data compilation: Amanda Miller.

Maps: James Gregory

Additional Vietnam-era antiwar movement maps and charts

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May 1970 Campus Antiwar Strikes

The May 1970 antiwar strikes comprised one of the largest coordinated sequences of disruptive protests in American history, with walkouts spreading across more than 700 campuses involving hundreds of thousands of students. This followed the news of a secret invasion of Cambodia and days later the massacre of unarmed students at Kent State.

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Draft Resistance 1965-1973

Millions of young men found ways to avoid conscription during the Vietnam war. Others, women as well as men, committed themselves to openly resisting the draft. They burned or surrendered draft cards, refused induction, and staged disruptive protests at draft boards and induction centers, employing in some cases tactics of peaceful civil disobedience, in other cases damaging property and battling with police. Here we map draft resistance actions that received publicity in major newspapers in the years between 1965 and 1972.

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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.

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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.