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FBI File on the Students for a Democratic Society and the Weatherman Underground Association

Location: Microfilm LB 3610 .F35


Covering the years 1962-1977, this file provides descriptions of anti-war rallies and materials produced by the Students for a Democratic Society. It also has detailed information on the protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, a “defining moment” of the SDS.
“The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a progressive, radical reformist student group, grew from the ranks of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), whose own student group, the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID) had become all but defunct by the end of the 1950s. . .Under new Field Secretary Robert Alan Haber, University of Michigan graduate student, SDS established a national office in New York and began to organize itself as a fringe political group within American academe by the end of the 1961-62 school year.”
“SDS had been monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as early as 1962, but SDS involvement in the April 1965 Student March on Washington against the Vietnam War caught the Johnson administration off guard and the order to monitor SDS activities followed swiftly. The Bureau investigation centered in Chicago, where SDS had established its national office at 1103 E. 63rd Street, in the heart of the ghetto.”
“The FBI could find no hard evidence of outside influence or control of SDS, even though many of its leaders were espousing the radical thinking of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro and Che Guevara. Because SDS had none of the traditional hall marks of foreign control or influence, they were classified as part of what became known as the ‘New Left.'”
From the Introduction of the Guide to the collection

This collection also includes information on the Weatherman Underground Organization, a faction that came out of the SDS and was of interest to the FBI. The guide to the collection also provides some information on this group.

How to search the collection

This collection is contained on 8 rolls of microfilm and is accompanied by a print guide that includes “Roll Notes.” The documents come from the Washington files of the FBI and have been released under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents were filmed in the order they were received from the FBI and are in approximate chronological order. (The FBI did not index documents). The collection is divided into seventy-five sections arranged in approximate chronological order. Documents include FBI memorandums, teletypes, airtels and newspaper clippings. SDS materials including copies of New Left Notes (the SDS’s newsletter) and the Weather Underground magazine known as Osawatomie, are also included.
The Roll Notes, while not a complete inventory of the collection, provide some information to the researcher using this file. The materials in the Roll Notes follow the following format:
* Type of document (e.g. memo, press release, copy of New Left
Notes, teletype, etc.)
* Date of document
* Sender and Recipient (where applicable)
* Subject of the document

excerpt from Roll Notes:

Section 38 Roll 3, 1544-END Roll 3
October 1968
Report 10/17/68 from Chicago to Director summarizing recent SDS
activities in the Chicago area
Memo 10/23/68 from Director to SAC, Chicago regarding growing
factional dispute within SDS
Teletype 10/24/68 from SAC, Chicago to Director regarding SDS-
planned demonstrations for the elections, 10/5/68


Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the FBI File on the Students for a Democratic Society and the Weatherman Underground Organization. Wilmington, Del. : Scholarly Resources, 1991. (Microfilm LB 3610 .F35 1991 Guide)

For more information about this subject in our Library Catalog, check out these
Subject Categories:

Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)

Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.) -- History

Weatherman (Organization) 

Student movements -- United States

Student movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources

Time Period: 20th Century  

Subject keywords: FBI Documents, U. S. Politics