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Exploring Primary Sources: Four Days in May: The Vietnam War Experience at UK

This online module is designed for use in early career undergraduate classes (WRD, CIS, HIS) as an introduction to primary sources.

The Vietnam War at UK

Photograph of UK Students protesting the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War and associated cultural and social movements in the late 1960's and early 1970's marked a true turning point in American history. Young people, especially college students, played a major role in the events surrounding the War in Vietnam. A wave of protests and civil unrest on college campuses swept across the country. Some of the most dramatic events happened right here at the University of Kentucky.

Activity Information

This module focuses on the events surrounding the Vietnam War as experienced by students and other members of the University of Kentucky community. This is one of the most important eras in the history of the University of Kentucky, and this module is designed to provide you with the means to better understand these significant historical events and what they mean to the history of the university.

During this time, many college students began to speak out and protest what they saw as an unjust war. Other students and UK community members felt that these students were usurping authority and were unpatriotic by not supporting the war. This conflict led to many protests, marches, demonstrations, rallies, and, at times, violence on campus. Following the shooting of four college students protesting the War at Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio on May 4, 1970, these conflicts came to a head on UK's campus. This module focuses on these events.

Your instructor has detailed instructions on the last tab of the guide, but the main focus of this online exercise is for you to investigate and answer questions about primary source materials related to this moment in time. You will see a variety of perspectives expressed through these primary sources. Your job is to approach these sources with a critical eye, and to answer the questions that might give you more clues as to their origins and purposes.


You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.

If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.