Today marks four decades since the end of the Vietnam War, a conflict in which left approximately 3.1 million Vietnamese and over 58,000 American soldiers dead. The war made an impact on our entire nation and the Tufts community was no exception to this. This article will provide an overview of the war and focus on how the Tufts community responded to the conflict.
Students marching in protest of Vietnam War, October 1969 http://hdl.handle.net/10427/4348
The roots of the Vietnam War lie in French colonial rule in Southeast Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During World War II, as France fell to the Nazis, French colonies in Southeast Asia were occupied by Japanese troops. Local Vietnamese forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, developed a resistance movement to the Japanese occupation. At the end of the war in August 1945, Vietnam declared its independence, but France intended to retain the country as its own colony. As it became apparent the French were not leaving, the Vietnamese independence movement grew into a guerrilla struggle against French power. The Viet Minh, Ho Chi Minh’s guerrilla army, handed the French a series of stunning defeats, culminating in the route of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. This led to the effective withdrawal of the French and the division of the country into North Vietnam, with a Communist government in Hanoi, and South Vietnam, under the dictatorial rule of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon.
American involvement in Vietnam dates back to the early 1950s, when U.S. military advisors aided the French colonial authorities. The American troop presence in Vietnam escalated greatly during the John F. Kennedy administration, ballooning from several hundred advisers under Eisenhower to 16,000 troops by the time of Kennedy’s assassination. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson further escalated troop deployments in Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin attacks on American forces, which declassified documents later revealed may never have actually occurred. At this point, the Vietnam conflict escalated into full-scale war, as American forces conducted systematic bombings in North Vietnam; by 1968 there were over 500,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Vietnam.
In April 1965, Henry Cabot Lodge, then U.S. Senator and former Ambassador to Vietnam, delivered a hawkish speech at Tufts, declaring that a Communist victory in Vietnam would have grave consequences. Like JFK, he opposed withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam and called for continued military support of the government in South Vietnam.
Opposition to the war by the Tufts community also began as early as 1965. An article in the Tufts Weekly of February 19, 1965 describes students’ participation in an antiwar rally on the Boston Common that drew 250 people. At this point opposition to the war was still relatively small, both at Tufts and throughout the country. In 1965, there was still a general sense among the American people that military action in Vietnam was necessary, but public opposition to the war would grow into a mass movement as the 1960s progressed.
Anti-war poster on Wessell Library wall
A chapter of the radical student organization, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was formed in the fall of 1964. It would become one of the largest organized opponents of the war on the Tufts campus, in addition to other groups such as Young Socialist Alliance and the Committee to End the War in Vietnam. In March 1967, SDS brought Henry Aptheker to campus to speak as part of a national “Spring Mobilization to End the War.” In the fall of the same year, students protested against the CIA and Dow Chemical Company, both of which had come to campus to recruit students. In the following year, the Student Council voted to ban military recruiting on campus, but Tufts President Burton Hallowell would not concede to this demand.
The spring of 1970 was perhaps the pinnacle of antiwar activity on the Tufts campus. Antiwar events, such as a Dave Dellinger speaking engagement in March and an activist planning meeting in April, consistently drew hundreds of students. After Nixon’s April 30 announcement that the United States would be undertaking military action in Cambodia, protests erupted on campuses around the country. National Guard troops were even deployed on a number of campuses in an attempt to curb the protests. In Ohio, National Guard troops killed four people at Kent State University on May 4th, triggering a nationwide student strike that included approximately four million students, including many at Tufts. (On May 15, police killed two protesters at Jackson State, a historically Black college in Mississippi). Tufts students set up a strike center on the main campus and held rallies to protest the war and violence against protesters. The protests led to the effective cancellation of final exams, even though the University did not officially close.
Marjorie Keller speaks at first strike meeting after death of students at Kent State University, 1970
In addition to protests against military recruiting and the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State, the Fletcher School also became a target for antiwar activists’ ire. The most extreme example of this was firebombing of Dean Edward Gullion’s office in March 1971. Gullion felt as though he had been personally targeted by radicals because of his political views about Vietnam; though antiwar activists were suspected, the motivation behind the attack is unclear to this day because the perpetrators were never caught. Tufts SDS condemned the action as “absolutely indefensible” in a statement they released following the bombing.
By and large, Tufts student protests against the war were peaceful. The main tactics were rallies, demonstrations, and teach-ins. In addition to events at Tufts, students participated in antiwar events off-campus as well. The Observer publicized a Boston Winter Soldier event, where returning veterans talked about their experiences in the war, in October 1971. The following month, Tufts students participated in an antiwar rally organized by the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC) in Somerville. Antiwar activities on-campus continued and intensified in the spring of 1972, culminating in student strikes in April and May of 1972.
Public pressure on the Nixon administration and resistance within the U.S. military to the war pushed the country towards a peace deal. The United States brokered the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, which stipulated peace terms and a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in Vietnam. Fighting still raged after the signing of the accords and it wasn’t until the end of 1973 that most American forces finally left Vietnam. The U.S. continued to supply military aid to the regime in South Vietnam, but this too was eventually scaled back. In March 1975, the North Vietnamese Army launched a final push that would lead to the surrender of the South Vietnamese government. Surprisingly, the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, which ended the war between North and South Vietnam, passed without mention in pages of the Observer.
By the end of the war, over 58,000 American soldiers had died in Vietnam, including six Tufts alumni. On November 13, 1984 a plaque was dedicated to these soldiers at the top of the Memorial Steps, inscribed with the quote: “In Remembrance of Those Members of the Tufts Community Who Served During the War in Southeast Asia.”
To learn more about the Vietnam War at Tufts, you can visit us to view our historical collections at Digital Collections and Archives (DCA). We are located on Level G of the Tisch Library and our Reading Room hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-3:30PM, except university holidays. You are welcome to make an appointment or ask any questions by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Philip Shenon, “20 Years After Victory, Vietnamese Communists Ponder How to Celebrate,” New York Times, April 23, 1995, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/23/world/20-years-after-victory-vietnamese-communists-ponder-how-to-celebrate.html and Samantha Power, “War and Never Having to Say You’re Sorry,” New York Times, December 14, 2003, accessed April 24, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/14/movies/war-and-never-having-to-say-you-re-sorry.html
 The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Ngo Dinh Diem,” in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed April 17, 2015 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/413521/Ngo-Dinh-Diem
 “Vietnam,” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/Vietnam.aspx
 Elisabeth Bumiller, “Records Show Doubts on ’64 Vietnam Crisis,” New York Times, July 14, 2010, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/world/asia/15vietnam.html?_r=0
 “Vietnam,” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/Vietnam.aspx
 “Lodge: ‘Defend Viet Nam’” in Tufts Weekly, April 9, 1965, 1 and 8.
 Tufts Weekly, February 19, 1965, page 1.
 William L. Lunch and Peter W. Sperlich, “American Public Opinion and the War in Vietnam,” in The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Mar., 1979), 21-44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/447561?seq=5#page_scan_tab_contents
 Russell Miller, Light on the Hill, Volume II: A History of Tufts University Since 1952 (MassMarket Books: Cambridge, MA), 270-272.
 Anne Sauer, et al., “Vietnam War, 1966-1973,” in Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History (Digital Collections and Archives: Medford, MA), accessed April 17, 2014,
 Ibid, see also: “The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest,” President’s Commission on Campus Unrest, Washington, DC, accessed April 24, 2015, http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED083899
 Observer, March 22, 1971, pages 1 and 5.
 Observer, October 1, 1971, page 6.
 Observer, November 5, 1971, page 1.
 Observer, April 21, 1972, page 1 and Observer, May 4, 1972, page 1.
 Sir! No Sir! directed by David Zeiger (2005; Los Angeles, CA: Displaced Films), DVD.
 “US withdrawal” and “Fall of Saigon” in “Vietnam War: History,” BBC News, accessed April 24, 2015, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/asia_pac/05/vietnam_war/html/us_withdrawal.stm
 UA029. Student body collection. DCA.
 “Memorial Dedicated to Tufts Vietnam Veterans,” Tufts Journal, Vol. 6, No. 7, page 1.
Women playing ukeleles, 1965.
The 2015 Reunion Classes Exhibit is now on display in Tisch Library, near the entrance to the Tower Café. The exhibit highlights the classes of 2005, 2000, 1990, 1970, 1965, and 1945 as we welcome the classes back to campus for reunion weekend. It commemorates Tufts alumni through photographs, news clippings, and ephemera selected from the collections of the DCA.
The standing display case focuses on the 10th reunion class of 2005, the 25th of the class of 1990, and the 50th reunion class of 1965. Each year reflects campus life and world events that affected the Tufts community. Highlights from 2005 include photographs of guest speaker Senator Ted Kennedy as well as Tufts Daily articles on students protesting the genocide in Darfur and an alumni experience of Hurricane Katrina. Highlights from 1990 include pictures of Tufts students playing basketball on the South Hall Basketball courts as well Tufts Daily articles on the reunification of Germany and South African Youth Congress members’ call for an end to apartheid. Highlights from the class of 1965 include Tufts Weekly articles on Father Baer’s reflections on the Selma to Montgomery march and an article calling on administration to allow women to wear slacks on campus.
The flat display case focuses on the 10th reunion class of 2000, 45th reunion class of 1970 and the 70th reunion class of 1945. Class of 2000 highlights include orientation memorabilia and includes photographs of the Gore Rally. The class of 1970 display features photographs of Tufts’ memorial to the Kent State shootings and creation of the first co-ed dorms. The class of 1945 memorabilia from the Tufts vs. Harvard game includes the football program, tickets to the game, and articles that had been tipped into the program. Also featured are photographs of the ROTC band playing with trumpet player Bill Gammi and the ROTC marching to the game.
This exhibit was designed and installed by Rose Oliveira, Archives and Research Assistant. It will be on display until fall 2015. For more information on Tufts history and alumni, stop by the DCA on the Ground Floor of Tisch Library.
By Dan Bullman
Digital Collections and Archives is pleased to announce the recent donation of the Isabelle Hallin papers by Hallin advocate Peter Manoogian. The collection contains Hallin’s personal correspondence, photographs, theater programs, news clippings, and a scrapbook from her time at Jackson College in the 1930s.
Isabelle Hallin was a graduate of Jackson College, Tufts’ college for women, in 1933. She was hired to teach English at Saugus High School (SHS) in 1934. She rapidly became popular with her students and devoted time after school to organize a dramatic society at SHS. In May 1937, Hallin invited several students to her parents’ home to rehearse lines for the production of “Seventeen,” because the school facilities were too cold. Rumors quickly began to circulate that Hallin had thrown a wild cocktail party, serving alcohol to underage students.
As the rumors spread, several Saugus residents, including Minnie McDuffie of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and Maria Smith of the Saugus School Board, began lobbying for Hallin’s removal from the school’s faculty. Events came to a head in July 1937, when the Saugus School Board voted 3-2 to decline to renew Hallin’s contract. She hired an attorney named Daniel Canning from Lynn, Massachusetts to fight this decision. News of Hallin’s situation made national headlines, with articles appearing in Time magazine, the Boston Globe, the New York Evening News, and the Oakland Tribune, among others. Students and administrators spoke out in defense of Hallin and called for a public hearing for her defense. Unfortunately, despite the support her campaign generated, she was denied a public hearing and did not get her job back.
In the fall of 1937, Hallin moved to New York City to get away from Saugus and to try to make a career as an actress. During this time, she earned an income by working several different jobs in advertising and publishing. Her acting career failed to take off. After spending a couple years in New York, Hallin began to show signs of depression. She withdrew from family and friends, rarely taking visitors or returning to Saugus. She told reporter William Brawders that she stayed away from Saugus because of the rumors that dogged her there. She was particularly distraught about the effect these rumors had on her parents, Annie and Carl Fred Hallin. On Christmas Eve 1941, Hallin turned on the gas stove in her New York apartment, went to sleep, and died in an apparent suicide. She was only twenty nine years old. Eleven days later the Saugus School Committee voted unanimously to withdraw all charges against her name and character.
DCA thanks Peter Manoogian and Isabelles nephew Laurence Hallin for generously donating this collection to Tufts. A complete finding aid for the collection can be viewed online in the Tufts Digital Library.
If you read Jill Lepore’s recent article on Wonder Woman in The New Yorker, “The Last Amazon,” it is very possible that a passage about Tufts caught your eye. On page 67 of the article, Lepore, a Tufts alum and recent honorary doctorate recipient, makes a brief mention of a curious and long since abandoned Jackson College tradition:
At Tufts, Marston and Olive Byrne conducted research together. Byrne took him to her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, where freshmen pledges were required to dress up like babies and attend a ‘Baby Party.’ Marston later described it: “The freshmen girls were led into a dark corridor where their eyes were blindfolded, and their arms were bound behind them.” Then the freshmen were taken into a room where juniors and seniors compelled them to do various tasks, while sophomores hit them with long sticks. (67)
The DCA’s collections, including the Melville Munro papers, contain a number of photographs of these Baby Parties, largely dating from the 1920s. But the collections don’t just give us photographic evidence of these events–they provide some historical context as well. Take this passage from a manuscript in our holdings written by former Tufts History professor Russell Miller:
There has always been freshman hazing to enliven proceedings, and one of the earliest traditions was the annual “baby party,” inaugurated in the fall of 1910. Such festivities were produced by the sophomores “as a suitable reward for improved conduct on the part of the freshmen.” This of course followed a period of hazing of the first-year students for which the survival rate was astounding. Rule Number 1 in 1910 was not to be seen with a Tufts man. In the 1920’s a grass-green button the size of a giant lollypop resided over the heart of every Jackson freshman until the Thanksgiving holidays, and woe betide the wearer who had a forgetful moment. In the fall of 1931, the green buttons gave way to green hair ribbons because of the disastrous effect on clothing. (17-18)
For more on Baby Parties and other interesting bits of Tufts history, stop by the DCA at any time during our open hours or check out our online collection material at the Tufts Digital Library.
 Lepore, Jill. “The Last Amazon.” The New Yorker. September 22, 2014: 64-73.
 Miller, Russell E. “Women’s Role in the History of Tufts University, A Sketch by Russell E. Miller” in Jackson College Histories binder. February 1960. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.
DCA’s fall exhibit, From the Deck to Downtown: Commemorating 120 Years of the Boston Floating Hospital is now on display in Tisch Library (located near the entrance to Tower Café). The exhibit features photographs, publications and the original charter of incorporation from two recent DCA acquisitions: the Historic New England Medical Center archives (MS099) and NEMC Archives—The Boston Floating Hospital (MS213). The exhibit celebrates the 120th anniversary of what is now the Floating Hospital for Children, the pediatric unit of the Tufts Medical Center.
The New England Medical Center was established in 1930 by uniting the Tufts College School of Medicine, the Boston Dispensary, and the Boston Floating Hospital for Infants and Children (BFH). In fact, from the BFH’s founding, students of the School of Medicine served on board the medical ship. In 2008, NMEC was renamed the Tufts Medical Center, reflecting not only its close relationship to Tufts, but also its mission of being a community based, teaching and research hospital.
The Boston Floating Hospital was founded in 1894 by Congregational minister Rufus Tobey. Tobey discovered from Boston Board of Health reports that children under the age of five were most vulnerable to illness and death during the summer. Moreover, he observed mothers and their children taking respite from the heat on his walks home from work each evening. Learning of a successful hospital boat in New York, Tobey set up a similar enterprise in Boston. It sailed around Boston Harbor every summer from 1894 until 1927, when, sadly, the boat burned. A partnership with medical organizations in Boston, including the Tufts College School of Medicine, revitalized the hospital as a land-based facility, located in the Jackson Memorial Building at 20 Ash Street. It was renamed the Floating Hospital for Children in 1965 and became NEMC’s official pediatric wing.
Innovations on board the BFH were plentiful, including the establishment of a milk lab. Research by Alfred Bosworth contributed to the development of the first synthetic milk product, commonly known today as Similac.
This exhibit was designed and installed by Elizabeth Mc Gorty, Project Archivist for the Historical New England Medical Center archives. It will be on display through January 2015. To learn more about the New England Medical Center and its history, be sure to visit DCA on the Ground Floor of Tisch Library, or check out the T-NEMC portal on the Tufts Digital Library, which includes a timeline, historical resource guide, and some digitized photographs from these collections.