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Kent State University was placed into the international spotlight on May 4, 1970, after 13 students were shot by members of the Ohio National Guard at a student demonstration. Four students were killed and nine others were wounded, including one who was permanently paralyzed from his injury. The May 4 Collection, established by the Kent State University Libraries in 1970, includes over 300 cubic feet of primary sources related to the Kent State shootings and their aftermath. The collection is open to the public and is used by researchers from around the world.

ďż˝ COLLECTION STATEMENT The May 4 collection is comprised of over 300 cubic feet of archival materials documenting the shootings of May 4, 1970 and their aftermath. It includes papers, photographs, oral histories, films, and audio recordings. > GIFTS POLICY Due to the significance of the Kent State shootings to institutional, local, and national history, materials related to this topic are collected comprehensively regardless of format. The collection includes primary and secondary source materials. New acquisitions, which document the build up to the shootings, the shootings themselves, and their aftermath are actively sought and added on a continual basis. But Special Collections and Archives does not seek to collect artifacts or paintings and other artwork more appropriate for museum collections. However, these materials will be considered if part of a larger archival collection.

Questions? Visit our May 4 Collection FAQs page: http://www.library.kent.edu/May4FAQ

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS � Kent State Shootings: May 4 Digital Archive The May 4 Digital Archive contains selected materials from the May 4 Collection that have been put into digital form. The digital archive is currently comprised of photographs from the May 4 Collection. Patrons can search the archive by title, subject area, geographical location, and also by various sub-collections. The May 4 Digital Archive is an on-going project, and materials are added on a continuous basis.

� Kent State Shootings: Oral Histories The Kent State Shootings Oral History project collects and provides access to personal accounts of the May 4, 1970, shootings and their aftermath. Founded in 1990 by Sandra Perlman Halem, the Project continues to record oral histories from Kent State faculty, alumni, staff, and administrators, residents of the city of Kent, National Guardsmen and other persons whose lives were affected by these historic events. The project includes oral histories taped during the 1990, 1995, and 2000 May 4 Annual Commemorations, as well as several interviews collected since 2000.

� May 4 newspaper clippings, magazines, and journal articles

This collection includes 70 boxes of newspaper clippings, magazines, and journal articles related to the Kent State shootings and their aftermath, organized chronologically. Materials are added to the collection on a continual basis.

� Commission on KSU Violence The Commission on KSU Violence (CKSUV) was assembled on May 8, 1970 by President Robert I. White to collect information about the events leading up to the Kent State shootings. Materials in this collection include statements about the events, survey responses, reference materials, administrative records, and audio-visual materials.

KENT STATE SHOOTINGS : CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS MAY 1 On Friday, May 1, students organized a demonstration to protest the invasion of Cambodia. A copy of the Constitution was buried to symbolize its “murder.� A second meeting was called for noon, Monday, May 4. On Friday evening, warm weather, drinking and indignation over the invasion of Cambodia resulted in a crowd which moved toward the center of town breaking some windows. Police met and dispersed the crowd at the intersection of Main and Water streets. The Kent city mayor viewed the scene, heard rumors of a radical plot, declared a state of emergency and telephoned the governor in Columbus for assistance. A National Guard officer was immediately dispatched. Bars were closed by local authorities and hundreds of people were forced into the streets and herded toward the campus with tear gas from riot-geared police. The town was quiet by 2:30 a.m.

MAY 2 On Saturday, students assisted with the downtown cleanup. Rumors concerning radical activities were widespread and threats to merchants confirmed the fears of some townspeople. University officials obtained an injunction prohibiting damage to buildings on campus. Notice of this injunction appeared in leaflets distributed by the Office of Student Affairs. Shortly after 8:00 p.m., over one thousand persons surrounded the barracks housing the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps on campus and a few managed to set the building afire. Firemen left the scene after hoses were punctured and cut open, unable to extinguish the blaze. By midnight, the National Guard cleared the campus, forcing students and non-students into dormitories, where many spent the night.

MAY 3 On Sunday there was a deceptively calm city and campus, occupied by National Guardsmen. Meetings produced a number of conflicting perceptions, resulting in misunderstandings among state, local and University officials. A deluge of sightseers added to the problems. Near dusk, a crowd gathered on the Commons at the Victory Bell (a bell ordinarily rung after athletic victories). The crowd failed to disperse. At 9:00 p.m., the Ohio Riot Act was read and tear gas was fired. The demonstrators reassembled at the intersection of East Main and Lincoln streets, blocking traffic. They believed that officials would speak to them, but no one arrived. The crowd became hostile and at 11:00 p.m. the Riot Act was read again, tear gas was used and a number of people -- guardsmen and demonstrators -- were injured in the confusion. The confrontation of Sunday night caused antagonism and resentment among all parties. Classes resumed on Monday. Demonstrators were determined to hold the rally at noon, even if prohibited. The National Guard resolved to disperse any assembly.

MAY 4 By noon May 4, two thousand people had gathered in the vicinity of the Commons. Many knew that the rally had been banned. Others, especially commuters, did not know of this prohibition. Chants, curses and rocks answered an order to disperse. Shortly after noon, tear gas canisters were fired. The gas, blowing in the wind, had little effect. The guard moved forward with fixed bayonets, forcing demonstrators to retreat. Reaching the crest of the hill by Taylor Hall, the guard moved the demonstrators even farther to a nearby athletic practice field. Once on the practice field, the guard recognized that the crowd had not dispersed and, farther, that the field was fenced on three sides. Tear gas was traded for more rocks and verbal abuse. The guardsmen then retraced their line of march. Some demonstrators followed as close as 20 yards, but most were between 60 and 75 yards behind the guard. Near the crest of Blanket Hill, the guard turned and 28 guardsmen fired between 61 and 67 shots in 13 seconds toward the parking lot. Four persons lay dying and nine wounded. The closest casualty was 20 yards and the farthest was almost 250 yards away. All 13 were students at Kent State University. The four students who were killed were Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer. The nine wounded students were Joseph Lewis, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Alan Canfora, Dean Kahler, Douglas Wrentmore, James Russell, Robert Stamps, and Donald MacKenzie. Dean Kahler was permanently paralyzed from his injury.

KENT STATE SHOOTINGS : ORAL HISTORIES THE ORAL HISTORY PROJECT is conducted by Kent State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives and follows the standards of the Oral History Association. The oral histories are searchable by subject, narrators’ roles, and by narrators’ names. The project includes a wide variety of perspectives with many eyewitness accounts. The oral histories include the voices of Kent State faculty, alumni, staff, and administrators, residents of the city of Kent, National Guardsmen, police, hospital personnel, and other persons whose lives were affected by these historic events.

CURTIS PITTMAN AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENT An undergraduate student at Kent State University in 1970, Curtis Pittman relates his memories of the days surrounding the shootings on campus. He was a member of BUS (Black United Students) and discusses that organization as well as the African-American community in Kent. He discusses BUS advising their members to stay away from the May 4, 1970, rally on the Commons.

ELLIS BERNS EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT An undergraduate student at Kent State University from 1967-1971, Ellis Berns discusses his experiences during the events surrounding the May 4, 1970, shootings on campus. He describes what he witnessed during the days prior to the shootings, including the unrest in the downtown area of the City of Kent on May 1 and the burning of the ROTC Building on May 2. He relates his eyewitness account of the shootings and describes how he happened to be walking away from the Commons with Sandra Scheuer and was next to her when she was shot and killed, making him the last person to see her alive. Berns concludes his interview by discussing his experiences during the aftermath of the shootings, including being interviewed by the FBI, presenting his testimony that Scheuer was not involved in the protests and was simply walking to class when she was shot, and the reactions of his and his girlfriend’s parents.

ELLEN MANN HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR A high school senior at the Kent State University School in 1970, Ellen Mann gives her eyewitness account of the shootings on campus. She was on the Commons during the May 4 rally and describes her observations and experiences in detail, including administering first aid to wounded student Joseph Lewis until the ambulances arrived. She also discusses the aftermath of the shootings including the reactions of family members and her mother’s concern about photographs of her that were taken at the rally, being interviewed by the FBI, and her meeting with Joseph Lewis many years later.

To access the complete listing of Kent State Shootings Oral Histories, please visit http://www.library.kent.edu/OralHistory to search the oral histories by subject, narrators’ roles and by narrators’ names.

KENT STATE SHOOTINGS : MAY 4 DIGITAL ARCHIVE THE MAY 4 DIGITAL ARCHIVE contains selected materials from the May 4 Collection that have been put into digital form. The digital archive is currently comprised of photographs from the May 4 Collection. Materials will be added on a continuing basis. If you do not find an item you are seeking or have any questions or comments about the digital archive, please contact Special Collections and Archives. 


Item ID:



Front of ROTC remains, 5/3, 11:00 AM


Ayers, Chuck


May 3, 1970


May 4 Collection


Chuck Ayers photographs


This digital object is owned by Kent State University. Please include proper citation and credit for use of this item. Use in publications or productions is prohibited without written permission from Kent State University. Please contact the Department of Special Collections and Archives for more information.

To access the May 4 Digital Archive, please visit the portal at http://www.library.kent.edu/May4Digital Or, please see our Guide to Photographs in the May 4 Collection provided at http://libguides.library.kent.edu/May4Photographs

MAY 4 VISITORS CENTER THE KENT STATE UNIVERSITY MAY 4 VISITORS CENTER is 1900-square-foot permanent museum exhibit that relates the history of the shooting of 13 Kent State students by members of the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. The exhibit educates the public and students by setting its account of the shootings in the context of the social and political climate of the 1960s. The display shows the breadth of the impact of the May 4th shootings, and offers visitors reflection on the meaning of May 4th for today. The May 4 Visitors Center is comprised of three galleries. GALLERY 1 is the context gallery. It conveys to visitors that the 1960s were a time of dramatic social, cultural, and political change. The theme of change is illustrated through 3 threads: the struggle for social justice during the civil rights movement, society’s generation gap, and the Vietnam War. GALLERY 2 tells the story of what happened at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Visitors enter a smaller, enclosed room, which is lined with photographs from the Kent campus on May 4, 1970. An original 11-minute film is projected onto a wall-sized screen at the front of the gallery, and plays when visitors enter the room. GALLERY 3 shows the impact and relevance of May 4, 1970. Here, visitors are presented with the Reaction Wall, which is fitted with various forms of media explaining the reaction of the students, parents, leaders, and citizens at the local, state, and national levels.

After visitors have experienced a variety of responses to the events of May 4, they are invited to leave their own response — to add their voices to the history of the Kent State shooting — at one of two response stations. As visitors exit the Center onto the historical site and memorial for reflection, they are issued a call to action the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

>> VISIT THE MAY 4 VISITORS CENTER 101 Taylor Hall | 300 Midway Drive | Kent, OH 44242


ANATOMY OF A FINDING AID GUIDE TO MAY 4 COLLECTION FINDING AIDS The May 4 Collection is made up of many individual sub-collections. Special Collections and Archives has prepared finding aids for these collections that will tell you the detailed contents of each. To see a list of the sub-collections including links to their inventories, go to: http://www.library.kent.edu/May4Contents


Bernard R. Jerman, Papers, 1969-71

o Title of the sub-collection and time period it includes

May 4 Collection -- Box 114 o Box number within the May 4 Collection. When requesting materials from the collection you will need to know the box number.

Finding Aid Prepared by Paul W. Gregor, August 18, 1995 1 document case, .33 cubic foot, 12th floor o Size of the sub-collection. 1 cubic foot = a box measuring approx. 12” X 16” X 10” Biographical Note o Biographical note about the person who created or collected the materials Professor Bernard R. Jerman, former faculty member of the Kent State University English Department, obtained his degrees from the Ohio State University in the field of English Literature. He taught at the University of Kentucky, Penn State, and the University of Maryland prior to his teaching at Kent. Dr. Jerman was a specialist in the 19th Century and published numerous articles on the subject. A significant amount of his scholarship examined the literary life of Benjamen Disraeli. Bernard Jerman also taught in Llubljana, Yugoslavia in 1971 as a Fullbright scholar. Dr. Jerman passed away in June of 1978. Scope and Content o Brief note about the contents of the collection and the time period covered The materials contained in this collection were donated by Sandra Halem. The collection contains materials on student unrest at Kent State University from 1969 thru 1971, including material from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Kent Chapter. Folder -- Contents ê Listing of the contents of each folder in this sub-collection 1. AAUP Meeting Agenda, May 26, 1970. 2. AAUP Resolutions and Newsletters, 1969-1970 3. AAUP Special Committee of Inquiry Report, September, 1969 4. College of Business Administration -- Correspondence to Faculty, n.d. 5. Committee of Kent State Massacre Witnesses -- Solicitation Letter, May 13, 1970 6. Concerned Citizens of the KSU Community -- Solicitation Letter, May 16, 1969 7. Faculty Resolutions -- “23 Concerned Faculty,” May 3, 1970 8. Faculty Senate Commission on the Quality of Life in the University Community Student Questionnaire, n.d. 9. Faculty Senate -- Faculty Opinion Poll, “On the Establishment of a University Senate,” n.d. 10. Faculty Senate Resolutions, May 5, 1970 11. Faculty Senate Resolutions, May 25, 1970 12. Internal Communications Committee -- Newsletter and Fact Sheet, May 12, 1970 13. Jerman, Bernard R. -- Correspondence from Lee Winfrey, Detroit Free Press, June 1, 1970 14. Jerman, Bernard R. -- Correspondence to Students Finishing Course, May 18, 1970 15. Jerman, Bernard R. -- Notes on Faculty Meeting with President White, May 8, 1970




Profile for KSU Special Collections and Archives

Kent State University May 4 Collection Information Packet  

The May 4 Collection, established by the Kent State University Libraries in 1970, includes over 300 cubic feet of primary sources related to...

Kent State University May 4 Collection Information Packet  

The May 4 Collection, established by the Kent State University Libraries in 1970, includes over 300 cubic feet of primary sources related to...


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