Resources on The Port Huron Statement, SDS, and Student Activism in the 1960s

Contemporary Reflections on the PHS and SDS

“The Port Huron Statement at 50,” by Sam Robert in New York Times (March 30, 2012).


“Participatory Democracy: From the Port Huron Statement to Occupy Wall Street,” by Tom Hayden, The Nation (April 16, 2012).


“Todd Gitlin on the Port Huron Statement’s 50th Anniversary,” Daily Kos, April 14, 2012.


“Remembering sds: A Theater for the Poor: Cleveland and ERAP in the Mid-1960’s,” by Alan Wald, Against the Current (Nov-Dec, 2011).



Primary Documents & Texts:

The Port Huron Statement: The Vision Call of the 1960s Revolution, by Tom Hayden

Published this year by Thunder’s Mouth Press this version of the PHS also includes an introductory essay by Hayden, one of the original drafters of the Statement in 1962. You can also catch Hayden at “A New Insurgency” conference in celebration of the PHS’s 50th anniversary. He’ll be delivering a keynote address on Thursday, November 1st at 7:30pm.

Berkeley: The New Student Revolt, by Hal Draper, with an Introduction by Mario Savio

First published in 1965, this work tells the story of the Free Speech Movement, led by Mario Savio, on the campus of the University of Berkeley.

“Takin’ It to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader, edited by Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines (Oxford U press, 1995)

This is one of everyone’s favorite compilations of primary documents from the 1960s. It’s been through numerous editions and appears on tons of syllabi for college courses.


Historical Overviews of the PHS and SDS:

Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History (Hill & Wang, 2008)

Like graphic novels? If so, you might also enjoy this graphic history, authored by graphic novelist Harvey Pekar and historian Paul Buhle with illustrations by Gary Dumm. Told in a “I was there” style, the book covers the early days of SDS, from the Port Huron Statement to the end of the 1960s.

James Miller, "Democracy Is in the Streets": From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago (Harvard U Press, 1994)

This well respected work provides a good intellectual history of the idea of "participatory democracy," and covers the period from the PHS to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Miller writes: "Most of the large questions raised by that moment of chaotic openness—political questions about the limits of freedom, and cultural questions, too, about the authority of the past and the anarchy of the new—are with us still."

The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (1993), by Todd Gitlin

Part critical history, part personal memoir, part celebration, and part meditation, this critically acclaimed work resurrects the experiences of student activists in the 1960s. Gitlin was an early president of SDS and will be attending the UM conference this Fall.


The Black Freedom Movement, SDS and Social Movements of the 1960s

The following two books, by Carson and Ransby (who is also attending the PHS Conference in the Fall), are highly recommended for understanding the interconnections and influences of the Black Freedom Movement on the rise and development of SDS.


Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (Harvard U Press, 1995)


Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (UNC Press, 2005)


Sara Evans, Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement & the New Left (1980)

First published in 1980 this is still one of the best sources on the interconnections between SDS, the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Second Wave Feminism. Evans connects the phrase “the personal is the political” directly to the PHS.

Alice Echols, "'Nothing Distant About It': Women's Liberation and Sixties Radicalism," in David Farber, ed., The Sixties: From Memory to History (1994)

Like the Evans book, another terrific source on the relationship between SDS and Women’s Liberation.

Van Gosse, The Movements of the New Left 1950-1975: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin)

Using an inclusive definition of the New Left, Gosse tracks the development and commonalities of the civil rights and black power movements and other struggles of people of color, of the peace, antiwar, and student movements, and of feminism and gay liberation. The introduction presents a solid overview of the history of these movements, combining chronological and thematic approaches against the backdrop of Cold War liberalism. Forty-five documents follow, each with an informative headnote providing context and explanatory footnotes that help students make sense of manifestoes, testimonies, speeches, newspaper advertisements, letters, and book excerpts from the tumultuous era referred to as "the Sixties."


On the “Other” (Conservative) Side of 1960’s Activism

The in-coming class of students at the Residential College will be reading not only the Port Huron Statement but also the “Sharon Statement” (1960), which is among the founding documents of the Young Americans for Freedom – a student activist group associated with the conservative movement and the rise of the New Right.

A Generation Divided: The New Left, the New Right, and the 1960s (U of California Press, 1999), by Rebecca Klatch


The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics (Rutgers U Press, 1997), by John Andrew.


The Young Americans for Freedom, the major activist group for students associated with the New Right in the 1960s, is currently a “project” of the Young America’s Foundation. You can access their website at: http://www.yaf.org/defaultpb.aspx.



Some Audio/Visual Resources

Berkeley in the Sixties, Kitchell Films in association with P.O.V. Theatrical Films

It’s available on campus from the Askwith Media Library!

Rebels with a Cause (2002)

Former SDS member Helen Garvy's compelling documentary mixes archival news footage and interviews with Tom Hayden, Juan Gonzalez and other SDS leaders to chronicle the rise and fall of the group whose name became synonymous with youth culture and campus rebellion.

Howl (2010)

A major feature film, starring James Franco as the young Allen Ginsberg, Howl presents the story behind Ginsberg’s famous poem and the obscenity trail that followed in the wake of its publication. Okay, not really about SDS but it speaks to the culture that gave rise to the PHS and student movements in the 1960s.

The Weatherground (The Free History Project, 2002)

The relationship between DSD in the 1960s and the Weather Underground in the 1970s is notoriously complex and fraught. This film, starring Bill Ayers and Kathleen Cleaver attempts to tell the story of the rise and fall of this controversial group.

Eyes on the Prize (Blackside, Inc., PBS Video, 2006)

Produced by henry Hampton, its still one of the best documentaries ever made on the post-World War II civil rights movement. It’s also available at Askwith.


A Few Websites Worth Checking Out

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Archives and Resources: http://www.sds-1960s.org/.


Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) PBS site: http://www.pbs.org/opb/thesixties/topics/politics/newsmakers_1.html.


Kind of a cool course on the “Sixties” at Millsaps College: http://home.millsaps.edu/mcelvrs/60s_syl_2010_1.html.


For UM students, researchers and others the Labadie Collection (7th Floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library) is a tremendous resource for primary documents of all types associated with student activism and radical organizations. It’s the oldest publicly accessible collection of radical history in the world, documents a wide variety of social protest movements and organizations of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Their main web portal is at: http://www.lib.umich.edu/labadie-collection


Of equal interest, especially for the involvement of University of Michigan students and organizations in protest movements in the 1960s is the Michigan Historical Collection at the Bentley Historical Library on the UM campus. For more see: http://bentley.umich.edu/. (The collection of primary archival materials associated with the Black Action Movement on campus is especially rich and intriguing.)