"Frog in the Well," graphic by H.K.Yuen

"Frog in the Well," graphic by H.K.Yuen

Sample audiofiles from the collection (mp3)

Visit the Freedom Archives for related material

Jim Nabors
Speech to students by a rank-and-file member of the Huey P. Newton Defense Committee, November 1967

"The first thing I want to say is to the white people here, the white people who took it upon themselves to assume the responsibility of saying 'Hell no, I won't go.' ...you understand one thing, the system is anti-you, baby. It's anti-you because you acting like a nigger. You can't act like a nigger in white America and get away with it."

Bettina Aptheker
Sproul Plaza rally recorded live June 1967

"It's very interesting going to jail being six months pregnant. I think it's going to be the first kid that ever served his sentence before he sat in."

Peter Camejo
Sproul Plaza rally recorded live November 1967

[Regarding the fairness of the Free Speech struggle] "The CIA was established because certain policies that this government wanted to implement it could not do so legally... it could not do by winning the ideas and the will of people throughout this world."

Cesar Chavez
Sproul Plaza rally recorded live May 1968

"Why are the workers and why are the poor in the rural areas so committed to Kennedy? [When] we were taking a beating... we called on people in Washington...asking them to come to Delano. Senator Kennedy was one of those that came. And he held a meeting of the Subcommittee on Migratory Labor... a very effective thing."

Origin of the Black Panther logo








H.K. Yuen
Social Movement Archive
Unique, empirical, primary source artifacts of
San Francisco Bay Area based social movements
from the 1960s and 1970s

A collaborative project of
U.C. Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library,
The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley,
and Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISSC), UC Berkeley

This collection is being processed and currently unavailable to researchers.

Collection news July 2017:

A selection of Yuen collection audiofiles has been recently digitized by the California Preservation Program Digital Preservation Service and is housed on the Internet Archive - Ethnic Studies Library site. These include recordings of  Black power material, Berkeley City Council meetings, People's Park, Asian American struggles, and much more.

Material on this site assembled and presented by previous project director, Lincoln Cushing, Docs Populi
Also see "Up Against the Wall : Berkeley Posters from the 1960s"

Collection Overview

The H.K. Yuen collection is a unique archive of primary materials on social movements of the 1960s and 1970s.  The collection includes materials on a wide range of movements internationally, with a focus on Berkeley, Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  The collection features multimedia primary documents from the Free Speech Movement, the Third World College mobilizations, the United Farm Workers, the student strike at San Francisco State University, the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, the International Hotel Mobilizations, Stop the Draft Week, the Women’s Movement, and many more.  The collection contains a wide range of media including organization flyers, underground newspapers, photos, posters, and film.  But the most extensive and unique aspect of the collection is more than 30,000 hours of audio content.  Utilizing some of the earliest reel-to-reel recording technology publicly available, H.K. Yuen documented countless rallies, protests, debates, and meetings.  In addition to personal recordings, he also recorded relevant shows off of the Pacifica network and community radio, including documentaries, interviews, and live broadcasts from events for 20 years without missing a single day.  Most of this content is unique and not preserved elsewhere.

Following H.K. Yuen’s death, the Yuen family partnered with the Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISSC) at UC Berkeley to make the rich resources of the collection publicly available. Developing the collection is a project of the Mobilizations and Movements research initiative, based out of the ISSC.  The Mobilizations and Movements project has served as the collection's lead curator for the last 4 years.  In that time, we have completed a first wave of preservation activities and built a foundation of institutional support for the collection.  Approximately 70% of the flyers have been fully catalogued and digitized.  We have produced a preliminary catalogue of one-quarter of the audio reels as well as an edited audio CD illustrating the breadth and significance of the collection's recordings.  A complete quantitative assessment has also been made of all media in the collection. 

The enduring social value of the H.K. Yuen collection lies in its depth and breadth.  Its unedited record of a pivotal time in a charged place is vast and varied, and the research possibilities unearthed by this resource unfold in many directions.  Still, the materials come together most forcefully around particular themes and agendas, including:

The anti-Vietnam War movement
Civil rights and Black power
Community movements
Counter culture and intentional communities
Electoral politics
International support organizations
The left
Domestic "Third World" politics
University Organizations
The right
Student movements
The women's movement

Each of the preceding topics represents an array of organizations whose events and meetings are uniquely documented in the collection.  The archive also contains primary coverage of individuals' interviews, speeches and participation in events.  Much of this coverage is unique, even for high profile speakers, since Yuen often made and/or saved the sole recording of important local events.  Below are some of the most striking contributions that the collection as a whole can make to understanding past and present U.S. society and politics.

Political history
The collection captures a period of social and political history that has largely been locked away for 30 years.  Whereas the study of the civil rights movement has generated extensive and complex analyses of the period from 1954 to 1968, few studies have grappled with developments of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  These materials uniquely provide details of conflicts that shaped and continue to shape American politics, including details of battles over sexual freedom, race relations, conditions of labor, Democratic party composition and politics of war and anti-war.  Because the conflicts and contradictions of this period persist, analyses of the era's significance in American history are controversial and only now beginning to emerge.  As research on the politics of these years takes off, the Yuen collection can be used to investigate, for example, how key battles were won or lost and how past struggles shape current political dynamics. 

Urban transformation           
The collection also illuminates changing patterns of social stratification as they take particular shape in the region of the San Francisco Bay.  As such, the collection constitutes an important resource for the ISSC's New Metropolis Initiative, a research program aimed at understanding how processes of immigration, globalization and economic restructuring are reshaping California's social landscape and conditions of urban inequality. For more than 20 years, Yuen documented daily "current events" in the Bay Area.  This incredibly thorough record of regional life therefore reveals not only great dramas of race, class and gender conflict, but also quotidian changes in cultural identity, in local labor markets and in patterns of access, exclusion and participation.  The collection thus helps scholars study how the Bay Area's physical and social landscapes became what they are. 

Social movement theory 
By capturing a full array of contemporary movements rooted in the Bay Area, the collection opens up new theoretical avenues for research on social movements.  Scholarship on social movement formation is dominated by overly mechanistic approaches on the one hand and by discursive reductionism on the other.  What this collection makes possible is research that analyzes movement strategy, culture and organization in relation to changing resources and circumstances.  For example, these materials can speak to how the Free Speech Movement flourished in opposition to the University of California administration in the 1960s and was later appropriated by the University as an affirmation of its progressive history.  The materials also point beyond slogans and policies toward internal movement structures, such as relationships between leadership and the rank and file.  Comparative examinations of movements will reveal not only how different groups negotiated political forces differently, but also how they intersected and inflected each other. 

Race politics           
The debates, key events and images of the collection reveal structures of racial domination as well as the use of race in building resistance movements.  Yuen's coverage was faithful to the multiplicity of new racial formations of the period, including documentation of Asian American, American Indian, Chicano, Black American and Arab groups.  In particular, his extensive coverage of the late 1960s and early 1970s is a critical resource for historians of race politics who have begun to shift attention from the civil rights movement to the later liberation movements.  While most historical accounts of race politics emphasize the social or legal origins and outcomes of struggles, this collection captures details about daily political activity that make it possible to closely analyze how movements were made.  In the voices of the time, the collection tells the stories of activists as they fought for cultural survival, negotiated interracial alliances and produced new racial and ethnic identities.  It also illustrates groups' strategic maneuvers, such as how civil rights and black power organizations positioned themselves in the labor movement, on women's issues and in broad coalitions. These sorts of nuances are key to combating distorted, jingoistic renditions of a revolutionary period, because they allow researchers to re-present race-based militancy in the context of state violence and international uprising. 

Progressive culture           
While the San Francisco Bay Area is typically viewed as a bastion of political progressivism, scant research has brought empirical weight and analytic insight to this general impression.  That so many radical, national movements were based in the Bay Area raises the question of how the people of the region produced and sustained a common—if varied—ethical sensibility.  Yuen's documentation provides a rare view into the habits, aesthetics, stories and norms that diverse activists shared.  In images and words, the collection captures not only critiques uttered by leaders at a microphone but also spontaneous expressions, by casual participants, of how people ought to dress, speak, eat, educate and feel.  Because the collection preserves the details of these ethical expressions across time and space, it becomes possible to study relations between cultural life and coordinated political action.  How, for example, did Bay Area practices of communal living inform and affect socialist ideologies? 

There are numerous other aspects of social and political history that the collection uniquely covers.  For example, Yuen's documentation can be interpreted through the prism of the UC Berkeley campus as a zone of activism.  His own methodology, to offer another example, is a story in the history of public access media, a story tied to the evolution of community radio. Given his national and professional background, Yuen also generated unparalleled records of local Chinese American politics and the engagement of radical physicists in Cold War politics.  Studied separately or in their conjunction, these histories can speak to theoretical questions in the fields of history, sociology, political geography and cultural studies.

It was Yuen's commitment to a scientific view of empiricism that engendered this far-reaching resource.  While it is as comprehensive as any social historian could hope, the material remains inaccessible until it can be digitally preserved and reproduced.  Just as Yuen had anticipated, public and scholarly interest in the late 1960s and early 1970s is now on the rise.  If we could open the doors to these archives tomorrow, there would be a research public ready to turn this straw into gold. 

Page design by Lincoln Cushing, Docs Populi/Documents for the Public Produced with AFT labor
last modified 4/23/2021