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Kent State: Remembering May 4, 1970
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Kent State University in Kent, Ohio was placed in an international spotlight after a tragic end to a student demonstration against the Vietnam War and the National Guard on May 4, 1970. Shortly after noon on that Monday, 13 seconds of rifle fire by a contingent of 28 Ohio National Guardsmen left four students dead, one permanently paralyzed, and eight others wounded. Not every student was a demonstration participant or an observer; some students were walking to and from class. As a result of the shootings, the university was closed for nearly six weeks.

A special thanks to Eamon Donovan, Ohio Memory Intern, for creating this exhibit.


Kent State University Student Demonstration Photographs
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A selection of photos depicting student demonstrators prior to the May 4th tragedy. The students are protesting the Army R.O.T.C. (Army Reserve Officer Training Corps) presence on campus.

Students for a Democratic Society Notice of Suspension
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This is a scan of a letter from Robert E. Matson, vice-president of student affairs at the time. The letter was addressed to the Students for a Democratic Society organization, banning the group from the Kent State campus after violent confrontations with law enforcement officials.

Students for a Democratic Society Rally Poster
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The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) distributed this poster to Kent State and other college campuses, attempting to persuade liberal students to their cause.

BG News Articles After Kent State Shootings
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Students of Bowling Green State University seem to have been especially distraught by the happenings at Kent State, if the number of items from them is any indication. This is a set of articles from the student newspaper, dealing with various aspects of the tragic situation.

Kent State University Letters to the Editor Regarding May 4, 1970 Shootings
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These three letters were written to the editor of the Daily Kent Stater. All three express horror at the shootings of students on May 4, 1970.

Kent State University Shooting Interviews
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This is the comprehensive set of witness interviews and police reports regarding the Kent State shooting. Through these, the Ohio Highway Patrol was able to get a better idea of what transpired and what caused the National Guardsmen to fire upon the protestors.

Kent State University Army ROTC Building Photograph
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In a fury, anti-war and anti-R.O.T.C. activists heckled R.O.T.C. members, threw stones at them, and ultimately burned down their headquarters on the Kent State campus. It was this act that led Governor James Rhodes to declare a state of emergency, and place Kent State under the control of the Ohio National Guard.

Kent State University News Service May 4, 1970 Photographs
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This series of photos provides an account of the details of that day. As tempers escalated, violence erupted, and everyone was thrown into panic. The turmoil saw the end of four lives, and the harm of nine others.

Kent State University Before May 4, 1970 Shootings Photographs
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These photos, taken on May 3, 1970, show the dire situation quite clearly. Tensions ran high, and it could only be a matter of time before the students and the Guard came to blows.

Robert Matson Letter Regarding Kent State University Demonstrations and National Guard Troops
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As consequence for the burning of the R.O.T.C. building, the National Guard was given control of the town of Kent and the college itself. Robert Matson sent this letter out to the student body, informing them of the restrictions that the Guard had implemented in order to restore order to the area.

Kent State University May 4, 1970 Photographs
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A set of pictures taken some time after the incident. The vitriol has been replaced by sorrow, beneath blank grey skies.

James Rhodes Press Release Recommending Closing of Universities During Unrest
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Fearing mass protests as a result of the Kent State incident, Governor James Rhodes suggested that all state universities be shut down temporarily, in order to prevent further safety and property hazards. Bowling Green State University was the only one that elected to remain open.

William T. Jerome Statement Concerning Candlelight March After Kent State Shootings
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After the shootings, Bowling Green President William T. Jerome organized a candlelight vigil, which most students and staff attended. The papers detail Mr. Jerome's intentions for the vigil, and a note of thanks to all who participated.

Bowling Green State University New University Curriculum Articles
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Following the Kent State events, Bowling Green introduced the "New University" curriculum. The classes were a series of workshops intended to help students cope with the shootings and broaden their worldview.

Robert White Speech Regarding Kent State University Shootings
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Two weeks after the shootings, the President of Kent State University, Robert White, hosted a press conference about the incident. He expressed his sympathies, and promised that a commission would investigate the tragedy fully.

Richard Nixon Letters Regarding Kent State University Shootings
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These two letters illustrate President Richard Nixon's opinion of the Kent State shootings: He, too, was concerned that the Guardsmen had acted inappropriately, but held that students should be deterred from getting involved with radical groups like the SDS.