Browse Exhibits (2 total)

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Institutional Reactions to Student Activism

This exhibit investigates several historical instances of politically motivated student activism and how institutions such as the federal government, police agencies, and college administrations reacted to them.

The first section discusses the Iranian Hostage Situation. It details some of the decisions the United States' federal government made during the hostage situation as a strategy to pressure Iran and ensure the release of embassy workers.

The next page of the exhibit, 1960s UT Activism and Enforcement, details the rise of student activism on UT-Austin’s campus with special emphasis on the use of underground newspapers and the Students for a Democratic Society organization. This part of the exhibit also explains how local police agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation aided in the documentation and suppression of student activism on campus.

The final page of the exhibit, Motivations for Surveillance, draws from the same collection but focuses on administrative memoranda from the University of Texas. This section of the exhibit provides an institutional view of the conflicts that took place on campus in the 1960s, including the changing power dynamic between the students and the university adminsitration, the influence of national politics on university affairs, and the pressure from external groups to push back against student activism.

The common thread that connects the three sections is a view of activism as a reciprocal process that involves the activists, their audience, and the institutions that are forced to respond to challenges to their authority. As you view this exhibit, please consider the connections between these materials and reflect on the complexities of activism and the responses it often generates.

Disclaimer: This page uses archival material from the collections of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The nature of these documents limited the scope of our research, and many of the narratives explored in this exhibit invite further inquiry. Many more social and political factors contributed to institutional reactions to student activism. The curators hope that this exhibit will serve as a useful source to researchers but encourage the user to reference other sources as well.

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John L. Spivak and the Role of Investigative Journalism in Exposing Mass Incarceration as New Slavery

Formed from a selection of the John L. Spivak papers and photographs, this exhibit displays the importance of investigative journalism in exposing systematic mistreatment of black prisoners in southern prisons and in promoting policy changes during the Progressive Era. This specific campus archive can reveal the “hidden history” of a form of slavery after its abolition through photographic and journalistic evidence, and how this form of investigation began to be used to counteract the issue of social injustice, as well as raise awareness of worker's rights.

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