Ken Lawrence collection, 1940-2010

6312

Collection Overview

Title:
Ken Lawrence collection
Dates (Inclusive):
1940-2010
Creator:
Lawrence, Ken
Creator:
Lawrence, Ken
Abstract:
This collection consists of New Left pin-back lapel buttons, posters, stenciled t-shirts, and bumper stickers bearing protest messages.
Collection Number:
6312
Size:
6 Cubic feet
Location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the  library catalog.
Repository:
Special Collections Library. Pennsylvania State University.
Languages:
English

Biographical or Historical Note

Ken Lawrence is best known for his progressive writings and publications, community organizing, supporting civil and human rights causes, and collecting letters, stamps, and political protest memorabilia.

Born in Chicago, Lawrence became involved in his home city’s 1950's civil rights movements and causes. After two years of college in 1961, Lawrence left school and devoted much of his time to activism in the Deep South; he spent nearly two decades in Mississippi as a writer, activist, and organizer of civil rights and anti-Klan movements. From 1971 to 1975, he was the Deep South representative of the Southern Conference Educational Fund, writing articles about the civil rights movement for The Southern Patriot that were reprinted internationally. In 1976, he worked as director of the Bolton Bicentennial Project (Mississippi), to celebrate African American history, and he later founded and directed the Deep South People's History Project. From 1977 to 1979, Ken Lawrence directed the American Friends Service Committee's anti-surveillance project in Mississippi, eventually organizing a class-action lawsuit against the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. Evidence from this suit was later released leading to the arrest and conviction of several Civil Rights era murders.

By the 1980’s, Lawrence was touring universities in the United States and Canada to advocate for the anti-Klan movements. In 1983 and 1984, his human rights work led him to Central America – El Salvador and Nicaragua – and he used his experiences and memorabilia from there to enhance his human rights advocacy. Lawrence settled in Spring Mills (Pa.), and among offering many other scholarly and journalistic services, he runs a small consulting business for advanced stamp collectors. In 2007, Lawrence donated his large collection of worldwide political protest memorabilia — posters, buttons, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other ephemera, 1940-2000 — to the Labor Archive at Pennsylvania State University.

Ken Lawrence’s activism and collecting interests led him to work with numerous influential organizations: the Young People’s Socialist League, the Industrial Workers of the World, the Southern Conference Educational Fund, the American Friends Service Committee, (founder of) the Anti-Repression Resource Team, the South African Military Refugee Aid Fund, Oxfam America, and the American Philatelic Research Library. Additionally, his advocacy often manifested itself in writing and publication; Ken has written for The Southern Patriot, co-authored two AFSC publications -- J. Edgar Hoover's Detention Plan: The Politics of Repression in the United States 1939-1976 and The Police Threat to Political Liberty, and prepared several community projects and presentations featuring materials from his collections.

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Collection Arrangement

The collection is arranged into the following series: Posters; T-shirts; Buttons and pins.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Restrictions

Copyright, where it persists, is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation

[Item Title], Ken Lawrence collection, HCLA 6312, Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University.

Acquisition Information

Acquired from Ken Lawrence, 2010-2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Special Collections staff, January 2010.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions from this collection are available online at Ken Lawrence Collection of New Left Posters, Buttons, and Other Materials, 1940-2010.

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Related Materials

Related Material

An oral history interview with Ken Lawrence for the Penn State Special Collections Library (May 2012) is available in the control folder.

A DVD and transcript of an oral history interview of Ken Lawrence by Matthew Quest for the Southern Labor Archives, Georgia State University Library is also available in the control folder.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Lawrence, Ken
  • Lawrence, Ken

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General note

This collection displays the diverse progressive tones of Ken Lawrence’s collection of international protest memorabilia. Not only do the pieces reflect pivotal historical movements and causes, but also illustrate the progressive attitudes of specific regions, organizations, and protests both on a focused and global scale. The diversity of expressive mediums – buttons, objects, posters, and T-shirts – provides a rich panorama of prevalent symbols, artistic styles, and textual phrases from splinter groups and movement to broader, international ones.

This collection also consists of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee 50th Anniversary Conference papers and memorabilia; 6 radical pamphlets, booklets, and articles published by Ken Lawrence.

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Collection Inventory

Click associated checkboxes to select items to request. When you have finished, click the Submit Request button.

General note

The posters series depicts numerous different international movements with mostly New Left, internationalist ideologies and motivations. This series is divided into nine subseries by region.

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General note

This series includes t-shirts advocating various national and international social justice movements.

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General note

This series features buttons against state repression, racism and its violence, and fighting to free individuals viewed as political prisoners. Numerous buttons also express internationalist leftist struggles, liberal and progressive sentiments, as well as disillusionment with major political parties. Various workers movements and American unions are prominently featured, as are expressions for personal liberation through sexual indulgence, marijuana and illegal drugs. Buttons expressing sentiments of environmentalism, anti-nuclear protests, and international solidarity feature numerous peace symbols.

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