The GI Press, 1964-1977
When completed in 2016, this collection will contain page images and searchable text of about 900 periodicals created by or for U.S. military personnel during the Vietnam War era. Most were produced underground by U.S. soldiers or veterans who opposed the war, using mimeograph machines or other inexpensive technology. When completed in 2016, the collection will share roughly 60,000 pages documenting the Vietnam War through the words of young people caught up in it. It will complement official records published by the U.S. government and the civilian underground press of the time, both of which are readily available elsewhere.
Origin of the Collection
In 1994, Dr. James Lewes began collecting primary sources for his University of Iowa PhD dissertation on opposition to the war by Vietnam-era soldiers, published in 2003 by Praeger as Protest and Survive. After completing the book, Dr. Lewes continued to search in American and European archives for more anti-war writings by soldiers. "I believe the producers of the GI Press and the movements they supported and that supported them," he recently wrote, "have been effaced from the historical record. This has resulted in a deliberate misrepresentation of the Vietnam era." Over the last decade, he travelled two continents with a portable scanner, digitizing tens of thousands of pages held by more than a dozen repositories as well as files owned by individual veterans and former editors.
In 2014, the Wisconsin Historical Society agreed to host the scans online. Several peer institutions who had contributed their holdings to Dr. Lewes agreed to permit them to be integrated into the Wisconsin project. More than 90% of the pages to be shown here came from the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam, the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Tamiment Library at New York University, or private collections maintained by former editors of the publications. They form an unparalleled source for studying the Vietnam War from a new angle. "The digitization and online publication of these documents," writes Dr. Lewes, "will create a virtual archive allowing, first and most importantly, former GI activists to recover the materials they published during the war; and second, allow scholars to access these source materials and reconstruct and reevaluate the legacy of these former GIs and their civilian supporters."
These publications are a product of their time and place. Many contain racist images and remarks about Asian people, or other content that most readers would consider offensive today. Most of the publications were created by young men in a predominantly male environment; some contain erotic images of women or demeaning or abusive language about them. Teachers, in particular, are advised that students could discover content that would be problematic in the classroom. If you come across images that you believe violate U.S. laws about pornography, please contact us at email@example.com
Rights and Permissions
Copyright belongs to the individuals who created these works or the organizations that employed them. Since most were serving in the U.S. military at the time and could have been severely punished for publicly opposing their superior officers, they generally did not formally copyright their work and it has lapsed into the public domain. If you believe that you possess copyright to material included here, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We share these publications strictly for non-profit educational purposes under the fair use provisions of the U.S. copyright law. Teachers and students should feel free to reproduce any document for nonprofit classroom use. Most other uses of copyright-protected material violate federal law. You, the end-user, are responsible for obeying that law.
Dr. Lewes writes that, “We should all first thank those young soldiers who risked decades-long jail sentences by publishing these papers during the 1960s and 1970s. Many were advised and chose to remain anonymous, so their names are forever lost to history. It is these young men (mostly) and women who have inspired my work over the years and to whom the collection is dedicated.”
Many of them later supported the project in pragmatic ways: “Lacking institutional support, the work has been kept alive by former military and civilian participants in the GI movement who contributed not only papers but also funds. Thanks are owed to a great many people. First and above all, to Carolyn Mugar, Robert Zevin, Howard Levy, and Paul Lauter, whose unfailing support over the past five years has made the project possible. Their generosity, patience, and belief in the importance of this project have spurred me on to complete this work. John Arnold and Albert Daggit, who have both passed, provided financial support at the beginning of the project, which allowed it to get up and running. David Zeiger is responsible for challenging me to step up and begin this work. The debt owed to Veterans for Peace Chapter 13 in Philadelphia is enormous because they took the project under their wing and offered a way to get non-profit status. Michael Edmonds in Wisconsin gave the project a long-desired shot in the arm by offering to partner with the GI Press Project. Huub Sanders in Amsterdam allowed the project to grow in ways unimagined by giving unlimited access to the Institute’s collections. Steve Morse, Terry Klug, George Bacon, Matthew Rinaldi and a great many other GI activists provided missing materials that were not available in any library or collection. Lastly the project has received support and encouragement from a great many historians, including Maria Hoehn, Martin Klimke, and Julie Sneeringer."