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Kent State collection

Call Number: MS 804

Scope and Contents

The Kent State Collection in Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, originated with the efforts of Peter Davies, author of The Truth about Kent State, and his friend Paul Keane to find a safe repository for the material that Mr. Davies had created and collected in the course of his research. The major part of the the papers came to Yale on the seventh anniversary of the May 4, 1970, killings, and the Yale Political Union commemorated that gift by sponsoring a five-day colloquium featuring such civil libertarians as Henry Steele Commager and Aryeh Neier as well as Davies, Keane, and others who had long been studying and protesting what happened at Kent State. Since then the library has endeavored to build on this foundation by collecting other relevant manuscripts, but Davies' papers remain the core of the Collection.

The largest quantity of unique material in the Kent State Collection is Peter Davies' correspondence, beginning with his protest to President Nixon on May 8 and spanning seven strenuous years of inquiry, agitation, and organization. This is, above all, a record of the impact of Kent State on Davies and his correspondents: the parents of the victims, the public officials from whom he demanded an accounting, and the citizens who shared his outrage and collaborated in his protests and probings. The letters document in extraordinary detail the development of Davies' understanding of what happened at Kent State and the progress of his collaborative efforts to obtain redress through public opinion and the legal system. In addition, there are notes, drafts, and unpublished writings that add considerably to the public record of his analysis.

The Kent State Collection also contains a large quantity of research material that would be very useful in a fresh inquiry into Kent State and its aftermath. These are the major kinds of material: two feet of newspaper clippings, spanning from 1970 to 1978; several thousand pages of photostatic copies of F. B. I. Documents, purchased by Yale under the Freedom of Information Act; many publication from Kent State, including newspapers, yearbooks, leaflets, and commemorative booklets; and briefs, transcripts, and other documents related to various legal proceedings. These materials thoroughly document the public perception of Kent State, and give easy access to much information that is otherwise available only in widely scattered sources.

Adapted from The Left Review, "Kent State: Ten Years After," 1980, page 75.


  • 1967-2017
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1985


Conditions Governing Access

Series I, Box 25 is closed due to court order. Researchers must request cotton gloves from the Reading Room Service Desk before handling photographic material in Accession 1989-M-048. Researchers must have written permission from Bill Gordon to use his correspondence in Series III, Box 4. Access to materials in Series II, as well as materials in Accessions 1982-M-016, 1990-M-047, and 2006-M-115 requires the permission of Paul Keane until May 4, 2020. Access to the model of the Kent State site in Series V requires permission in advance from the Director of Manuscripts and Archives. The model is stored at the off-site Library Shelving Facility in five boxes and measures 50 cubic feet when assembled. Original audiovisual materials, as well as preservation and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers must consult use copies, or if none exist must pay for a use copy, which is retained by the repository. Researchers wishing to obtain an additional copy for their personal use should consult Copying Services information on the Manuscripts and Archives web site. Copies of commercially produced audiovisual materials contained in this collection cannot be made for researcher use outside of the repository.

Existence and Location of Copies

Notebooks of Peter Davies are available on microfilm (2,000 frames on 2 reels, 16mm.) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM119.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by Paul D. Keane for materials in this collection he has authored or otherwise produced. After the lifetime of Paul D. Keane, his copyright becomes the property of his heirs, successors or assigns. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts of Peter Davies, Michael Astrue, Lesley Wischmann, Paul Keane, Bill Gordon, James Munves, and others, 1976-1994, 1997. Gift of Paul Keane, 2009, 2010 and 2015.


Organized in five series and fifteen additions: I. Peter Davies. II. Paul Keane. III. Bill Gordon. IV. James Munves. V. Additional Donors.

Related Materials

ACLU of Ohio Kent State Project Records (MS 1800). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.


74.38 Linear Feet (Model: 50 cubic feet)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts drafts, legal papers, clippings, issues of the Daily Kent Stater, interview transcripts, photographs and other material collected by Peter Davies, Paul Keane, Bill Gordon, James Munves and others concerning the disturbance at Kent State University and the shooting of Kent State students by members of the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. The collection also includes a model of the Kent State campus.


This Kent State Collection is closed for additions of new materials except from those whose papers are already included in the collection. The one exception to this is a promised donation of Sanford J. Rosen's files documenting the civil suit brought by the victims' families against Ohio government officials in United States District Court.

Guide to the Kent State Collection
Under Revision
compiled by Susan Grigg and staff of Manuscripts and Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
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(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
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New Haven, CT 06511

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