National Grant Funds Digital Access to Archives on Kent State May 4 Shootings

More than 72,000 items in Kent State University Libraries’ May 4 Collection will be digitally captured with the funding assistance of a $119,443 matching grant, provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The digitization of these documents will allow users to explore these events and the context surrounding them through free, online access that will be located at As the project progresses throughout the two-year grant period, announcements regarding new additions to the digital archive will be posted to the website.

Kent State Shootings: Actions and Reactions, co-directed by Cara Gilgenbach, head of Special Collections and Archives, and Virginia Dressler, digital projects librarian, aims to digitally scan original materials from a variety of collections that are part of University Libraries’ May 4 archive to present a range of reactions to the events surrounding May 4, 1970, which left four students dead and nine students wounded by Ohio Army National Guard troops. Included in the project are faculty collections containing correspondence received from students whose coursework was cut short by the shootings; Kent State administrative records and community reactions, such as those represented in the papers of LeRoy Satrom, mayor of the city of Kent in May 1970; reactions from college students across the country and around the world; and artistic responses to this pivotal moment in United States’ history.

James Bracken, Ph.D., dean of Kent State University Libraries, noted that the “NHPRC-funded digitization enables University Libraries to make a significant portion of its distinctive May 4 collection accessible to the world via the internet. Now both advanced scholars working on books and articles, as well as secondary school students working on Ohio History Day projects, will have greater opportunities to work with important primary resources in University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives.”

The University Libraries’ project has received written support from Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D., noted scholar of the Black Campus Movement and author of the acclaimed book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

“The May 4 collection remains a vital source for Americans interested in learning about, teaching or studying the 1970s, higher education, student unrest and antiwar activism,” Kendi says. “I’m sure that members of the media, professional researchers and casual learners would utilize and benefit from a digitized May 4 collection, especially in the coming years as the 50th anniversary of the shootings brings more media attention and research interest.”

The University Libraries’ May 4 Collection, which comprises more than 300 cubic feet of primary sources, is used by researchers at nearly all educational levels, from junior high students working on National History Day projects, to high school and college students learning about American history, to advanced scholars writing books or creating major documentary films on this subject. As the 50th anniversary of the shootings approaches and interest in these materials continues to grow, this project will provide web access for the next generation of scholars, artists and citizens to learn from one of our country’s most tragic moments, regardless of their location or ability to visit the archives in person.

For more information about Kent State’s Department of Special Collections and Archives, visit

POSTED: Thursday, October 27, 2016 03:50 PM

The Kent State University Board of Trustees today established a comprehensive, national search to recruit and select the university’s 13th president.


The events of May 4, 1970, placed Kent State University in an international spotlight after a student protest against the Vietnam War and the presence of the Ohio National Guard ended in tragedy with four students losing their lives and nine others being wounded. From a perspective of nearly 50 years, Kent State remembers the tragedy and leads a contemporary discussion and understanding of how the community, nation and world can benefit from understanding the profound impact of the event.

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