Library Guide on the 1960s


Image from the 1965 University of Iowa Hawkeye yearbook, University Archives.


What was it like to be a student, a professor, university staff, or a resident of a US college town in the 1960s? Special Collections & University Archives is launching a Library Guide – a collection of resources for learning, teaching, and researching the history of the 1960s at the University of Iowa, the state of Iowa, the United States of America, and internationally. The events of the 1960s and ‘70s at the University of Iowa and in the Iowa City area may serve as representative of the larger trends in the US and the world. In other words, you can use Iowa City, and the state of Iowa as case studies to compare with the larger processes and other case studies of the 1960s. This era, which scholars also call “the long 1960s,” actually started in the 1950s and stretched into the 1970s. The Sixties is an exciting period because, as of this writing, many of its participants are still with us, eager to tell us about how their youth continues to shape our present. Through their memories and the surviving documents, artifacts and cultural forms, we can better understand who we are and choose what kind of future we want to make for ourselves.

Our LibGuide is divided thematically and based on the forms and media of the information you may be looking for. As you will see , it is also “illustrated” with some photographs taken from the pages of the University of Iowa Hawkeye yearbooks of the 1960s and early 1970s.

“A Background to the 1960s” gives you a cursory overview of social and political activism in the US and the world, the ideological influences of the Cold War, and interpreting popular cultural forms as documents and expression of the larger historical context. 

“Search Terms” explains you the importance of generating phrases that serve as key words for your searches in a variety of databases, and will yield results that pertain to your project.

Our section on “Teaching Resources” enables those looking to educate students about the 1960s to get a sense of the kinds of courses taught about this theme at the University of Iowa, to browse the multitude of syllabi posted on the Internet by professors from other schools, and to survey teaching resources in other media forms such as books, conferences, and Internet portals.

“Books & Articles” gives you a list of scholarly publications about the 1960s. The library call numbers at the end of each entry enable you to locate the books at the University of Iowa Libraries. Starting here, our sections are also organized into a triad: the center column is a list of “Local (Eastern Iowa and Iowa state)” resources; the left column lists “Regional and US National” resources, while the right column is a window to the “international” sites on the 1960s.

Our “Newspapers” section lists a variety of serial publications that may serve as primary sources for the study, teaching and research of the 1960s.

The “Research Collections” section gives you a list of physical collections on the history of the 1960s, mostly in archives and libraries.

“Web Resources” gives you links to a number of virtual exhibitions and digital collections on the 1960s and related topics.

Finally, our “Museum Collections” section takes you to websites of museums that have either permanent or temporary exhibitions on themes around the 1960s. Please keep in mind that even if a temporary exhibition has already closed, sometimes you may still be able to do research on its materials in the particular museum’s holdings. For this you will need to contact the museum directly before you make plans to visit it.