The student-led strike of 1968 didn’t just inspire the creation of SF State’s College of Ethnic Studies. It also inspired some amazing works of art — art that, fortunately, has been collected by the very institution it once criticized. The SF State Strike Collection, located in the Special Collections & Archives unit of the J. Paul Leonard Library, includes works by faculty members and graduate students who would go on to acclaim in the art world. During the strike, these artist-activists coalesced into a collective thanks to help from then-Professor of Art Dennis Beall, who initially secured the materials, equipment, workspace and on-campus instruction they needed. During the strike, a forward-looking young archivist — future Special Collections Archivist Emeritus Helene Whitson — quickly realized the need to preserve primary source materials before they were lost forever. Today, the Library’s poster collection is undergoing digitalization as part of a Special Collections-wide 50th anniversary digital collection project led by Tanya Hollis, special collections coordinator of archival processing and digital initiatives. Anyone interested in reliving 1968 and 1969 in person can come to a special exhibition of the Library's strike collection displayed in the Special Collections Gallery on the 4th floor and open to the public 1-5 p.m. weekdays. The exhibit runs through May.
Thanks to Bianca Finley Alper (B.A., ’05; M.A., ’08), visual resource specialist for the Special Collections & Archives Unit at the J. Paul Leonard Library, for providing original research about the Library's Strike Poster Collection for this story.