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History 100 - Researching in the Archives

This guide is designed to help HIST100 researchers locate University Archives collections and materials.

The Vietnam War at Cal Poly

The Vietnam War impacted Cal Poly students, staff, faculty, and the San Luis Obispo community. 

Resources listed here can get you started on researching the impact of the Vietnam War at Cal Poly.

Cal Poly students protesting in front of the Administration Building.

Students gather in front of the Administration Building during a Vietnam War protest in February 1968. Students were protesting a recruitment event involving DOW Chemical Company. University Archives Photograph Collection, ua-pho_00000365.


President Robert E. Kennedy speaking to students

President Robert E. Kennedy addresses students gathered on Dexter Lawn on May 4, 1970, the day of the Kent State shootings. Governor Ronald Reagan closed most California public universities and colleges in the aftermath of the invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State killings, but Cal Poly remained open. University Archives Photograph Collection, ua-pho_00000243.

Topics and Events to explore

Some of the student clubs and organizations responding to the Vietnam War:

  • Students for New Action Politics (SNAP) was a student club active in leading protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s
  • Operation Handclasp
  • Vietnam Vets: Chi Gamma Iota (Cal Poly Veterans Club): a club to "bring together ex-G.I.s who, after serving their country, are now seeking an education." 

Some specific events:

1965 October 21 - Vietnam Debate 

1967 March - Students protest ROTC

1968 February - DOW Chemical Company protest

1968 November - Planned demonstration Rally on National Draft Resistance Day

1969 October - Vietnam Moratorium, a national day-long protest against the Vietnam War.


Records in the University Archives relating to the Vietnam War

Student Newspaper:Yearbook page of El Rodeo 1968 featuring students gathered in a protest on campus

Cal Poly Report (staff and faculty weekly newsletter): 

Course Catalogs:


Audiovisual materials

Search the Online Archives 

President Robert E. Kennedy's autobiography: includes his memories of the Vietnam War impact at Cal Poly

Image: Pg 71 of the 1968 El Rodeo Yearbook, covering a 1968 protest led by Students for New Action Politics (SNAP).

The San Luis Obispo Tribune Online Archives

San Luis Obispo newspaper coverage can be searched through a library database:

Secondary Sources on the Vietnam War at Cal Poly

Cal Poly Student Research Papers on the impact of the Vietnam War at Cal Poly via DigitalCommons@CalPoly

President Kennedy's memoirs: includes his memories of the Vietnam War impact at Cal Poly

Chapters from Cal Poly: The First Hundred Years, written by the University Archives staff in 2001: 

Enrollment Data

Over 50 Vietnamese students were enrolled at Cal Poly between 1950 and 1971. Request International Student enrollment data from University Archives at

Senior Projects

Students wrote senior projects on the topic of Vietnam between 1960 and 1980. See them listed in the library catalog here. (Senior projects up to 2009 are available only physically in the library. Learn more here.)