Campus protests and the counterculture

Sky River Rock Festival. Washington State Archives. Washington State Patrol Photograph Collection. 1969.

In the 1960s and 1970s, college students and student organizations protested against the Vietnam War, racial and sexual discrimination, and traditional concepts of American culture and morality.


Start with secondary sources 

Use secondary sources to gain basic knowledge of your topic, its significance, and historical context.

Ask a Librarian online at Washington State Library to get expert help in locating useful secondary sources. 


Then use primary sources

Use primary sources to deepen your understanding of the topic, and assemble evidence to support your own analysis and interpretation.

Ask an Archivist online at Washington State Archives to get expert help in locating useful primary sources.


Some key historical research questions:

  • What methods did protesters use to convey their views to the larger society?
  • How did their protests and demonstrations affect American society and culture?
  • Who were the Students for a Democratic Society, and what was their role?
  • What long-term impact have the groups that opposed the protests and counterculture had on American society?
  • What role did Young Americans for Freedom play?
  • How did activism on college campuses in the 1960s and 1970s influence today’s political disagreements?
  • Who was George Arthur, and how can his experiences be used to interpret this topic?
  • Consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.


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