Women Strike for Peace

Women Strike for Peace (WSP) was founded in 1961 to protest U.S. and Soviet atmospheric nuclear tests. WSP’s motto was “End the Arms Race – Not the Human Race.” Over the years, WSP organized and participated in a variety of peace protests including demonstrating at the nuclear test site in Nevada, a seven-city billboard campaign, and a lobby-by-proxy program.

In the Washington office, WSP’s national legislative coordinator monitored legislation and alerted women when pertinent issues were under discussion and lobbied Congress in support of the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and in opposition to the Strategic Defense Initiative and other Anti-Ballistic Missile systems.

WSP spearheaded a variety of initiatives including the following: Proposition #1 – A People’s Referendum for Survival (1979); “I refuse to be one of Twenty Million Acceptable Dead” (1982); and “Basic Primer on Star Wars for the Legitimately Confused” (1986). WSP also protested U.S. “intervention” in Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. WSP was the first group to demonstrate against U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

In response to the proposed Reagan Gorbachev summit in 1985, WSP helped to found Women for a Meaningful Summit that became a network of international women’s organizations working for peace and justice.

American University Library Special Collections holds the historical files of the Washington, D.C. office of Women Strike for Peace that includes a subject file pertaining to issues such as disarmament and nuclear testing, correspondence to and from members of Congress and WSP, and WSP brochures, petitions and publications. Among these materials are brochures and leaflets relating to the activities of other peace organizations in the United States and around the world.


We Are Angry Women 1980

Meet Norman Early

In honor of African American History Month, we would like to introduce you to one of AU’s African American student leaders.

Norman Early was the first elected African American President of AU’s student government. He served from 1966 to 1967. Early, a graduate of the District of Columbia’s Coolidge High School, was a government major and athlete. He was a member of AU’s track team for all four years. He participated in a variety of events including the triple jump and relays. Early also served as President of the Sophomore Class (1964-1965) and as Vice President of the Student Association (1965-1966).  Early won the Oral Interpretation Contests at AU’s Speech Festival in 1964. He was a member of Zeta Beta Tau.

The 1966 election was the first to draw a majority of the student body. Early won 52% of the vote. In his campaign, he called for end to “status quo” type government and a reorganization of representation in student government based upon school of enrollment and area of residence.


Norman Early’s yearbook photo

Spring Exhibit – Stability and Growth: The Hallmarks of the Kerwin Years

A university president serves many roles such as champion, fundraiser, leader, strategist, and visionary. AU’s 14th President Neil Kerwin brought a forthright manner, honesty and passion to his work. Please join AU Library in celebrating the many accomplishments of his presidency through an exhibit of photographs that will be on display on the first floor of the Library through the end of the semester.


President Kerwin with Clawed and the Nationals Mascot, Screech, at AU Night at the Nationals on August 31, 2012

Renovation Update

Renovation of our AU Archives new space began in earnest in late December/early January.  Progress is slow but steady. They are currently reinforcing the floors in the stacks to allow for the installation of mobile shelving. The new floors in the stacks will be much higher than the floors elsewhere so they had to create a ramp. Here are a couple of photographs of the ramp and the steel beams that will support the floor in the stacks.



Ramp to stacks



Steel beams for reinforcing floor in stacks



Our offices, reading room and work area are farther along and work continues on those spaces as well. The timing of our move remains uncertain. Our goal of reopening in time for AU’s Founders Day (2/24) proved to be unrealistic. It is clear our space will not be ready for occupancy until late March at the earliest. We hope to have a more concrete timeline by the end of this month.  We will post another update as we get closer to our move date.


We appreciate everyone’s support and patience.  We believe our new space will be well worth the wait.





















Bill Gentile Photojournalism Digital Collection

AU Archives and Special Collections is pleased to announce the launch of another digital collection. The Bill Gentile Photojournalism Collection is a representative sample of Bill Gentile’s photographic work. It features images from Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua as well as from the Persian Gulf War.


Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon wearing headphones works with the Yanomami in Venezuela


Please consult our previous post for additional information on the Bill Gentile Photojournalism Collection.

Patrick Frazier Political and Social Movements Digital Collection

AU Archives and Special Collections is pleased to announce its newest digital collection. The Patrick Frazier Political and Social Movements Collection contains flyers, photographs and posters relating to protests against President Nixon and the Vietnam War. The protests featured in this collection are mostly from the Washington, DC area and include student protests at American University. This digital collection is a work in progress. New content will be added on an ongoing basis.


Sun In: Chant for peace, Rock for joy, Sing for love



Please consult our previous post for additional information on the Patrick Frazier Political and Social Movements Collection.

Archives Move Uncovers Funky Finds

Archives staff has made substantial progress over the last few weeks. We boxed up all of the reel to reel recordings from the John R. Hickman Collection and integrated our photo collections into one series. After organizing and putting into folders the contents of all of our map cases, we began reviewing our large oversize to determine what could be stored flat. We are over halfway done with this project. We will begin packing the rare book collection about six to eight weeks before our move date depending on what else needs to be done. As we wrap up the fall semester, I thought I would share some funky items that we found as part of our move preparations.


Gordon Smith was a professor of music. As part of his collection, he donated a number of pieces of old audiovisual equipment. Most of this equipment has been given away but we found a Minox slide projector and slides hidden away in a corner.


Gordon Smith Minox Slide Projector


We also discovered this plaster cast of a hand sculpture. Unfortunately, it remains a mystery as the box it came in was unmarked.



We will post another update in early January.

Archives and Special Collections is Moving to the Spring Valley Building

AU Archives and Special Collections will be closing on Friday December 9 to prepare for our move to the Spring Valley Building (4801 Massachusetts Avenue) in late January 2017. This includes public use of the Archives Reading Room. Over the course of the upcoming weeks, we will be packing books, making sure everything is properly labeled, and replacing damaged boxes to ensure that our collections survive the move intact. If you find yourselves on the third floor of the Library, you will be able to follow our progress as we will be working in the Archives Reading Room. We will continue to monitor email traffic though response times may be slow and some tasks such as digitization orders may have to wait until after we reopen.


Prepping audiovisual materials for the move


We will post regular updates as the move schedule is finalized as well photographs of cool finds and our new space. We hope that you will come and visit us in our new space.

Golden Turkey Awards


For twenty years in the issue just before Thanksgiving, The Eagle editorial staff announced the “Golden Turkey Awards,” a satirical look at campus events.  Running from 1993 through 2003, The Eagle staff made fun of themselves as well as others ranging from the University President and local political figures to staff and students. Some of the awards had specific titles which changed over the years. Many of the titles are period pieces themselves such as the Baltimore Colts and Tipper Gore Awards and may not mean much to current students. The awards typically poked fun at blunders and bad decisions. In 1991, the editors stated that the awards were “given every year to those odd or ridiculous people or events that highlighted AU during the year.” The editors let their creative juices flow as they came up with events and people to parody.

You can see all the awards if you enter “golden turkey” on the search page of our digital edition.

Halloween Traditions

What is your favorite part of Halloween?  The costumes or the candy? Since the 1920s, AU students have decorated their dorm rooms and hosted dances on and off campus. In the 1930s, the DC Board of Trade held a parade on Constitution Avenue. AU students had a float in the 1933 parade. AU’s location in Washington, DC has led to some unique traditions such as trick or treating on Embassy Row. In one evening, students can visit a variety of embassies and sample international treats. Partying in Georgetown was all the rage in the 1980s. Two memorable student pranks included painting 1942 on the roof of McKinley in 1941 and painting the flame atop Kay red in 1967.