To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the tumultuous summer of 1968, Special Collections and Archives acquired two underground newspapers published in Chicago.  Our student assistant, Graeme Evenson (a junior history major), became so absorbed during a project involving the newspapers that we invited him to write the following piece.

The editors of Second City declared the purpose of the paper in the first issue published on November 23, 1968: “Second City is not intended to be just another ‘underground’ newspaper.  Second City is intended to be a voice of the Movement in Chicago… It will be owned and managed democratically by its staff which will represent the entire spectrum of all those engaged in the struggle against war, racism, poverty, oppression, and the denial of civil and human rights.”  The paper’s second issue (December 12, 1968) covered reactions to the investigation of the Democratic National Convention riot in August 1968.  The article about the Walker Report complements the report’s “admirable objectivity” and its conclusion “that the violence which occurred during the August demonstrations was almost entirely the fault of the city administration and of the police.”  In addition to reporting and analyzing Chicago news and events, Second City provided commentary about people’s struggles around the world by featuring political figures who embraced socialist ideologies.  For example, in the November 1972 issue the editors published a letter from Mrs. Nguyen Thi Binh, the Foreign Minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam addressed to anti-war organizations.  “Dear American friends… the Vietnamese people have done no harm whatsoever to the US.  They aspire only to a free life and peace and the establishment of friendly relations with other peoples of the world.  The US government must discontinue its practice of resorting to any pretext to carry on the war and trample underfoot the Vietnamese nation.  We hope our American Friends will express in a vigorous manner their love for peace, freedom, and justice…”

The Seed champions the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  Contributors to the newspaper wrote articles that explored the emerging drug-culture, celebrated the sexual revolution, opposed social injustices, and exposed Vietnam War atrocities and police brutality.  Each issue of The Seed is lavishly illustrated with colorful psychedelic covers, political comics, and graphic art.  Music reviews, interviews with poets and artists, and ads for items such as sitars, cobra skins, and bell-bottoms were regular features.  One edition even dedicated a whole page to a step-by-step recipe for making psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms” (volume 1, number 13).  In volume 2, number 7, a contributor under the alias of “G” describes a confrontation with Chicago police during a Peace March on April 27, 1968:  “Picasso’s mechanized bird saw it all rip out below, heard the shrieks bounce off the pavement, felt the blood pour from the earth on this black, black Saturday.  Daley’s machine welded the club that made boys become men in this impromptu puberty right.  A little of Chicago was Saigon, only the olive drab of the Marines was changed to the navy blue of Chicago’s finest… and, the flower children became Viet Cong recruits.”

The 50 year anniversary of events in 1968 and 1969 prompted additional acquisitions to complement our existing collections documenting activism, social justice, and community engagement.  To learn more about DePaul Special Collections and Archives, visit our webpage or contact us at archives@depaul.edu. For information on our instruction program, please contact Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts, or submit a request for instruction.

Graeme Evenson

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