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Exploring Primary Sources: Four Days in May: The Vietnam War Experience at UK: Lexington Herald-Leader Op-Ed's

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


Not everyone supported these protests and the actions of UK students in May of 1970. Below are letters to the editor and columns written by Lexington citizens who decry the actions of the students. There were many different views and perspectives on issues related to the Vietnam War, as well as the actions of protesting students across the country. Read these columns with a critical eye, and try to see what reasons they point to as to why they were ashamed of the UK students who led the protest.


Brainstorm. List 10-20 words or phrases about the documents/items. (Start with the details of the document, like topic, names, publication, etc. What do you find interesting? Strange? Do you find anything appealing or disturbing? Things you don’t understand or are unfamiliar with?)

Articulating Problems. Formulate 2-4 possible problems that could be developed from the above list of words and description of materials. (Problems can be found by looking for tensions between ideas, conflicts between your own experience and what the text/image presents, assumptions underlying the arguments of the text/item, or if you notice any gaps or missing information overlooked by the source).

Focus Questions:

Context: Think about the when and why of this primary source. What gives their voice authority? What should we be wary of? What makes this a valuable resource to the topic?

Reflections: What can we learn from these materials? How is our understanding of the topic enhanced through these first-hand recollections?

Language: How are these topics and perspectives sensationalized through the language used? Identify some key words or phrases that are meant to elicit strong reactions. What makes the rhetoric persuasive? Or, what undercuts its credibility? 

Lexington Herald-Leader Columns