Skip to main content

Vietnam Summer Records

Identifier: SCPC-DG-067

Scope and Contents

The records of Vietnam Summer were deposited in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection in January 1971 by Gregory H. Finger. Finger, Assistant to the Co-Directors of Vietnam Summer, had acted as and #8220;custodianand #8221; of the records from the close of the project in September 1967 until they were shipped to Swarthmore. Included in the collection are minutes of the Steering Committee (May 8 - June 11, 1967), correspondence (April - September 1967), financial records, reports, leaflets, and other publications of the national office (including the Vietnam Summer Organizers' Manual, Vietnam in the Classroom, and and a newspaper,Vietnam Summer News,and which was published from June 5 - August 25, 1967). Also in the collection are funding proposals from groups throughout the country, state and city project files, and applications from individuals who wanted to serve as staff members or volunteers for Vietnam Summer. The collection also includes press releases and newspaper clippings, contact lists, photographs, and buttons. Important correspondents are Gar Alperovitz, Richard R. Fernandez, Gregory H. Finger, Joseph Hanlon, Chester Hartman, Robert Holtzapple, Stewart Meacham, Norman Potter, Marilyn L. Salzman, Don Siano, Trevor Thomas, Sue Thrasher, and Lee D. Webb. Additional correspondence relating to Vietnam Summer can be found in the correspondence files of Richard R. Fernandez in the records of Clergy and Laity Concerned. Fernandez, Executive Secretary of CALC, was also the Co-Director of Vietnam Summer (see and DG 120, Series II, Box 3).


  • Creation: 1967


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access Note

All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff at at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.

Conditions Governing Use


Historical Note

The idea for Vietnam Summer originated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, among a group of clergymen, university professors, students and individuals from Boston area peace and civil rights groups. Their initial pamphlet called for student volunteers for a “Vietnam Teach Out.” A press conference on April 23, 1967, in Cambridge launched Vietnam Summer nationally when Martin Luther King, Jr., Benjamin Spock, and others called for a national Vietnam Summer Project which would reach out to concerned citizens in their communities and neighborhoods across the nation and weld them into an organized and active constituency against the war in Vietnam.

National headquarters were first established at 129 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge. Early in June, the national office was moved to larger quarters in the Cambridge Friends School, 5 Cadbury Road, Cambridge, where it remained until September when a few staff members moved to Christ Church, Garden Street, Cambridge, for the close-out period. Vietnam Summer officially ended on September 20, 1967. Richard R. Fernandez and Lee D. Webb were Co-Directors of Vietnam Summer; Gergory H. Finger served as Assistant to the Co-Directors.

By the end of August, Vietnam Summer had over 26,000 volunteers working in about 700 local projects throughout the U.S. There were 500 full-time staff members: 125 hired by the National Office (35 in the Cambridge headquarters), 60 by the six regional offices, 65 by projects with seed grant money (about $50,000 was given to over 100 local projects, primarily for staff salaries), and 250 by local projects with locally-raised funds. Vietnam Summer was intended to be a short-term project rather than a new organization. It was committed to growth and results within a limited time period and was less concerned with organizational structure, resolutions, or political rhetoric. Volunteers worked with existing peace and civil rights groups and with community organizations on projects which were locally designed and locally controlled. Vietnam Summer sought to strengthen the peace movement by reaching groups not previously involved and by expanding into new geographic areas. The national and regional offices strengthened the local peace activity by providing organizational and technical skills and a variety of support services. Two Vietnam Summer Training Institutes were held in late June in Cleveland and San Francisco for about 500 volunteers from a broad spectrum of socio-economic groups.

Throughout the U.S., volunteers (many of them students) participated in Vietnam Summer by canvassing door-to-door, counseling on draft resistance, holding teach-ins, conducting local demonstrations, and disseminating anti-war literature. The national office, through use of WATS lines, regular mailings, and a variety of publications provided ideas and information and served as a communications center. Vietnam Summer News, and a biweekly newspaper, provided coverage of Vietnam Summer projects and peace activities in general. By the sixth issue in late August, circulation had risen to 65,000 copies. Other significant publications include the Vietnam Summer Organizers' Manual, Project Profiles, and and Vietnam in the Classroom, and a curriculum guide prepared by the Teachers' Project. Lists of contacts throughout the U.S. were also compiled and updated throughout the summer.

The national office of Vietnam Summer closed officially on September 20, 1967. Many of the local projects fostered by Vietnam Summer continued beyond that date, working independently or with other national peace organizations.


11 linear ft. (11 linear ft.)


Vietnam Summer was a nationwide project designed to reach concerned citizens throughout the United States and to weld them into an organized and active constituency against the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King, Jr., Benjamin Spock and others launched the project nationally on April 23, 1967. From headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. co-directors Richard R. Fernandez and Lee D. Webb coordinated the efforts of 500 paid staff members and over 26,000 volunteers in about 700 local projects. Vietnam Summer officially ended on September 20, 1967.


An outline of what was to be found in the collection was sent to the Peace Collection with the four cartons of material. This outline has been used as a guide to the arrangement arrived at during final processing of these records during January-February 1983. A preliminary arrangement developed by former SCPC staff members has been abandoned in favor of re-establishing the order as outlined:

Series I Administrative Files; Series II Program Files; Series III State Project Files; Series IV Vietnam Summer News; Series V Press and Public Relations; Series VI Applications; Series VII Finances; Series VIII Contact Lists The first six series come from the six major divisions of the above-mentioned outline Series VII and VIII were added to accommodate material which was not included in this outline.

One change made in the arrangement as outlined is that a section of and rganizational and material (concerning the formation and early organization of Vietnam Summer) has been moved from Series II, Program Files, to the beginning of Series I, Administrative Files. A separate subseries for minutes of the Steering Committee and the Executive Committee was created as a part of Series I, Administrative Files. These minutes had been filed with either the organizational materials mentioned above or the subseries on Office Administration in Series I. In Series III, State Project Files, there are two folders at the beginning for regional projects (New England, the South) with the bulk of the material filed by state and city. It should be noted that material relating to a project in a particular city may be filed under that city or in the folder for the entire state. Researchers interested in a particular project should be sure to check both places.

See also and Keniston, Kenneth JX1965.7.K3 Young Radicals; Notes on Committed Youth, New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968. This book focuses on the psychological development of the young men and women who worked for Vietnam Summer from June to September, 1967. Keniston demonstrates how psychological, social, and historical factors contribute to their commitment to the new radicalism.

Custodial History

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers/records.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gregory H. Finger, Assistant to the Co-Directors of Vietnam Summer, 1971 [Acc. 71-15].

Related Materials

For related materials, search the library's online catalog

Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p.71.

Legal Status

Copyright may have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection or may have been retained by the creators/authors (or their descendents), in this collection, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Please contact the SCPC Curator for further information.

Processing Information

This collection is unprocessed. This finding aid was created by Wendy E. Chmielewski in August, 2012.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018: The file list was standardized in Summer 2017 by Min Cheng in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace. Elisabeth Miller added the notes in Fall 2017.

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore 19081-1399 USA US
610-328-8544 (Fax)