Friday, March 4, 2011

* Background and Participants, etc.


After  this article appeared in the
 New York Times, Yale mysteriously
decided to close
the Kent State Collection to new donors.
Did the weapons ever arrive?
Did alumni apply pressure to the Library?

Link to: 

The “Kent State Collection” at Yale

Description of the Collection

The major part of the the papers came to Yale on the seventh anniversary of the May 4, 1970, killings, and the Yale Political Union commemorated that gift by sponsoring a five-day colloquium featuring such civil libertarians as Henry Steele Commager and Aryeh Neier as well as Davies, Keane, and others who had long been studying and protesting what happened at Kent State.  
Since then the library has endeavored to build on this foundation by collecting other relevant manuscripts, but Davies' papers remain the core of the Collection.

(click on this link) 

Thirty Years  Later:


 (click on this link)


Based on research done at

Yale's Kent State Collection

The Participants in The Kent State Colloquium Sponsored by The Yale Political Union, 1977

Peter Davies

 author of 
The Truth About Kent State

Glenn A. Olds

 President, Kent State University*

Three decades later the papers of President Olds became a source of controversy about Yale's Kent State Collection itself.
Henry Steele Commager

 Historian :  Professor Commager's  famous speech about Kent State, The University and the Community of Learning, can be read at  

Thomas I. Emerson,

Lines Professor of Law Emeritus, Yale University

(Counsel for the Planned Parenthood case, Griswold v. State of Connecticut)

Sanford Jay Rosen

 Attorney for the Families of the Kent Slain and Wounded
Rev. John P. Adams

 Director of Law, Justice and Community Affairs of the United Methodist Church's Board of Church and Society, Washington, D.C.

Adams, John P. At the Heart of the Whirlwind. New York: Harper and Row.
This memoir describes the major role Adams played in helping get the federal grand jury investigation [of the Kent State shootings], as well as his role in other civil rights causes. See also Adams, John P. “Kent State: Why the Church?,” American Report, November 12, 1971, p. 22-S and Adams, John P. “Kent State and Morality.” Cleveland State Law Review 22 (Winter 1973), p. 167.

Areh Neier

 Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union

J. Gregory Payne

  Playwright, Historian

Lawrence Dowler

 Head, Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, created its Kent State Collection. He later became archivist at Harvard University, a position he held until retirement.

Thirty years after the Kent State Collection was created at Yale's Sterling Library, this forgotten audiotape was uncovered in that very Collection by one of the Kent State shooting victims, Alan Canfora. Recently developed enhancing techniques may have revealed in that audiotape a command by Ohio National Guardsmen to fire on Kent State students:

from The New York Times

Yale Preserves History Of Kent State Tragedy


Published: May 06, 1990

IN Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library, 76 boxes of legal transcripts, letters, and rally posters recall the deaths of four students 20 years ago at Kent State University in Ohio.
The Kent State Collection's accumulated details tell a powerful story. Yale librarians warn potential viewers that one box contains disturbing photographs - morgue shots of the slain students, Allison Krause, Jeffrey Glenn Miller, William K. Schroeder and Sandra Lee Scheuer.
Another box holds a videotape documenting 13 seconds on May 4, 1970, when 27 Ohio National Guardsmen dressed in riot gear fired their combat rifles at students who were protesting President Richard M. Nixon's announcement of an offensive by American troops in Cambodia.
The massive repository of documents and memorabilia is at Yale because it ''was the only place that agreed to give anyone access who wanted to see the collection, and that's what the families wanted,'' said Steven Keller, a Columbus, Ohio, lawyer. In the 1970's, Mr. Keller helped the victims' families seek redress, and he donated much of the Kent State material to Yale on the seventh anniversary of the killings.
The Kent State Collection documents the decade that the victims' families sought justice in the court system. A 1974 criminal complaint, in which they contended that the students' civil rights had been infringed, was dismissed. A civil suit ended in defeat in 1975. The families appealed, and in 1979, the case finally ended in a settlement of $675,000, to be shared by the plaintiffs.
The families said they agreed to the out-of-court settlement only because it was accompanied by an apology from the defendants - Gov. James A. Rhodes of Ohio and 27 National Guardsmen. The apology said, in part, ''Better ways must be found to deal with these confrontations.''
Deciding on the wording of the apology took several days of negotiation, Mrs. Holstein said. And even then, she said, the families found it unsatisfactory. ''We had to wrench every word out of them,'' she said. ''And even then, it could be interpreted several ways.''
Letter to Nixon
There are many vignettes within the larger story of the collection, like that of Dean Kahler, one of nine students wounded by the guardsmen. Mr. Kahler was shot in the back and paralyzed from the waist down; today the 38-year-old is the County Commissioner of Athens County, Ohio.
Mr. Kahler said he will donate his own materials to the Yale collection, ''including the clothes I wore that day.''
Another vignette concerns Peter Davies, a British-born former insurance agent, who knew none of the victims but was so outraged that he began to work tirelessly as an investigator of the incident. Eventually, he wrote a book, ''The Truth About Kent State,'' and donated all material from his research to Yale.
The collection begins with a letter to President Nixon from Mr. Davies, dated May 8, 1970, protesting the killings.
Less known than the stories of the students are those of the National Guardsmen involved, who were about the same age as their victims.
Box 25, still closed by court order, is thought to contain sensitive material about the guardsmen, including medical records and family histories.
Yale's Kent State materials are available to anyone who wants to see them, weekdays from 8:30 A.M. to 4:45 P.M. Despite its size, the collection is still not complete. Sanford Rosen, a Yale Law School graduate and the chief counsel in the civil suit brought by the families, said he has a roomful of materials that he will soon donate.
''Some files have yet to be disgorged by the Department of Justice,'' Mr. Rosen said. ''They simply have not complied with the Freedom of Information order. I'll have to pursue that. The litigation may not be over.''
Each year, the anniversary of the Kent State killings attracts a flurry of activity. But when commemorative events and coverage subside, there is still the collection, which makes the students' deaths an enduring part of history. ''I do get some solace in that,'' Mrs. Holstein said.



Based on research done at

Yale's Kent State Collection

The four students murdered by Ohio National Guardsmen at Kent State University, May 4, 1970

NOTE: "John Mitchell" was the Nixon Attorney General who refused to convene a federal grand jury investigation of the Kent State murders.
(CORRECTION in paper written at Yale Divinity School in 1980 entitled "Kent State: A Ten-Year Ministry": Sentence fragment above should read "took a pot-shot at" not "took at [sic] pot-shot at")

Attorney General John Mitchell, who refused to convene a federal grand jury investigation of the Kent State murders,  and President Richard Nixon

This petition asked that Attorney General Mitchell's refusal to convene a federal grand jury investigation be overruled by  President Nixon.

For twenty-five years I showed these videos in my  English classes as examples of how, like the Puritans at Salem's witch trials of 1692 in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Americans have a knee-jerk tendency to go on witch-hunts, against communists, against hippies, against gays.

At Kent State in 1972 it was long-haired hippies who were the accused. At New Haven and Yale in 1984 it was people with AIDS. I was able to make a small contribution to quelling those witch hunts for 20 million television viewers.

First video:
Kent State
(4 min. 10 seconds)

After the killing of four students at Kent State in 1970 it was not uncommon for older Americans to mutter, "They should have killed more of the students". College students were portrayed as long haired, hippie, protesters. That witch-hunt was deflated for 20 million viewers on Christmas Eve, 1972 with this video.

Second video:
Yale / New Haven
(approximately 12 minutes)
At Yale in 1982 / 83, and in America generally, AIDS was targeted as a "gay disease" and therefore nothing for heterosexuals to worry about. That target-practice ended in February, 1984 with this second video.