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Coverage of the hippie movement in the ’60s

Coverage of the hippie movement in the ’60s


The New York Times, Aug. 16, 1969

The New York Times, Aug. 17, 1969

The New York Times, Aug. 18, 1969

By Elizabeth Sanders

The Woodstock Music and Art Festival went down in history as one of the most pivotal events in the hippie movement that occurred in the 1960s. Thirty-two artists performed on a 600 acre dairy farm near Bethel, New York across three days- Aug. 15 to 18 1969. The crowd totalled an estimated 400,000 people in attendance, much larger than anyone could have expected. It marked an era of change with an assemblance of young people bent on progression and change.

Photo credit: AP Images "Woodstock 1969" (for educational use)

Photo credit: AP Images “Woodstock 1969,” for educational use

Details of the festival

One of the most notable events of the hippie movement was the Woodstock musical festival in Bethel, New York from Aug. 15 to 18, 1969. The New York Times began covering the event with a small Page 1 article on Aug. 16, 1969, that jumped to an inside page. The article mainly portrayed the high traffic level in Woodstock and the unexpectedly large turnout. The reporter speculated attendance rose to double the original estimate. Security forces — limited to about 200 police officers — had very little trouble from the crowd, as most attendees remained polite to law enforcement.

The next day, on Aug. 17, a New York Times article, “200,000 Bound for Rock Festival Jam Roads Upstate” documented the size of the crowd: “John Roberts, the 24-year-old president of Woodstock Ventures, the fair’s sponsor, estimated the crowd tonight at 200,000 to 250,000 within the presentation area and upward of 150,000 in the hills, woods and farmlands surrounding the site.” The crowd was so overwhelmingly large that the sponsors had trouble collecting fees from all the attendees, according to Roberts. Logged arrests totalled about 50, mostly for drug possession. However, none were arrested for marijuana. A sergeant in the state police was quoted saying, “’ As far as I know the narcotics guys are not arresting anybody for grass. If we did there isn’t enough space in Sullivan or the next three counties to put them in.’”

Coverage over the next few days was more prominent, with news about Woodstock on the front page, and with larger headlines and pictures. It detailed how the festival turned muddy on the 600-acre farm, and how the crowd remained well-behaved despite being cramped in the space.

Artists included Joan Baez, Ravi Shankar, Jimi Hendrix and the Jefferson Airplane. The article did note that a batch of “bad acid” distributed amongst some attendees did cause some people to seek medical treatment. The article also noted that food was scarce due to the unexpected high attendance.

The last article from Aug. 18, 1969, “Tired Rock Fans Begin Exodus,” related the aftermath as people began to leave the festival: “Waves of weary youngsters streamed away from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair last night and early today as security officials reported at least two deaths, and 4,000 people treated for injuries, illness and adverse drug reactions over the festival’s three-day period.

Articles published from the New York Times about Woodstock and other related links can be found here.

Reactions to drug use

On Aug. 17, 1969, the New York Times also ran a Page 1 article, “Varied drug laws raising U.S. fears,” and placed it next to the Woodstock article, “300,000 at Folk-Rock Fair Camp Out in a Sea of Mud.” The article explained how many states were passing contradictory drug laws in response to the spike in drug use in the U.S. (unless you mean rural areas) The article stated, “Because of this concern, the Justice Department is trying to sell the various states on the idea of a model state drug control act, which would standardize narcotic and drug laws throughout and bring them into closer conformity with Federal laws.”

Elizabeth Sanders is a journalism senior at Texas State University. More information on her can be found at her website: She can be contacted by email at

The women’s movement: liberating our voices

The faces of second-wave feminism

Heidi Kucera

Information on this piece was gathered fromThe Feminine Mystique”, by Betty Friedan.  Feb 19 1963.  pg. 10, “How do you spell Ms.”, by Abigail Pogrebin.  Oct 30 2011.  NY magazine online, “John Mack Carter, 86, Is Dead; Led ‘Big 3’ Women’s Magazines”, by Leslie Kaufman.  Sep 26 2014.  NY Times online, The Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Library of Congress.


Important Women:

The 1960s was an important era for feminism and women’s rights. Women such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are associated with this era, and are even credited for sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism; the first wave having been the long journey of women’s suffrage in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique”, studied American women in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and focused on her findings in this controversial book.  Friedan theorized that housewives and women in general were unhappy during this time, and she questioned the idea of whether marriage and children are what constitute happiness, or if perhaps there was something more to life than the domestic duties of homemaking and childcare.

Chapter One of “The Feminine Mystique” includes her observations:  “The problem lay buried, unspoken for many years in the eyes of American women.  It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States.  Each suburban wife struggled with it alone.  As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—“Is this all?” Friedan showed a curiosity in which she felt that there was more to life than being a wife or mother, and she continued to question what people expected of women in this era.


Library of Congress

Betty Friedan advocates the National Organization for Women’s intention to “put sex into section I of the New York constitution”


Another feminist, Gloria Steinem, is known for her involvement in the women’s liberation movement, also known as second-wave feminism. Steinem began working at New York magazine when it debuted in 1968.  “Radicalized by an abortion speak-out, which she covered for New York in 1969, Steinem started spending more time thinking, writing, and giving talks about feminism.”  After this, Steinem went on to fight for equal rights and then helped launch Ms. magazine.


Library of Congress. Photo by Warren K. Leffler

Gloria Steinem at news conference, Women’s Action Alliance.


Important Men:

John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which geared toward abolishing wage inequality based on sex. The law states that “No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex.”  President Lyndon B. Johnson then went on to sign the Title VII prohibition of discrimination based on sex in 1964, which “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

John Mack Carter was also a huge contributor to the transformation of the feminist era. He was the editor for three of the largest women’s magazines, including:  McCall’s, Ladies’ Home Journal and Good Housekeeping.  When Carter became editor in chief of McCall’s in 1961, he decided it was time to make some changes and start publishing articles that discussed issues that affected women.

“Women’s magazines were badly behind the times,” he told The New York Times in an interview in 1963. “They were using baby talk to communicate with their readers. They were failing to keep up with the rising educational levels in this country.”


john mack carter

AP Images

A group of feminists invaded John Mack Carter’s office to insist that he resign his title of editor in chief in order for a woman to replace him.  Carter understood their point, but made it clear that he wasn’t going to resign.

Women of the 1960s and their impact on today’s women

The 1960s was a pivotal moment for women. Not only did they begin to learn the importance of individualism and independency; they also finally gained many freedoms and rights that they weren’t “entitled to” in the past. The women of this era who rebelled against the norm and fought for equality are the reason that the women of today have the rights that they do.  Women such as Friedan and Steinem helped pave the way for the American women of today.

Heidi Kucera is a mother of one, and a journalism minor at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. She will graduate in May and pursue a career in teaching high-school English.  She resides in Kyle, Texas with her two-year-old son Slade.



Presidents, Politics and War: The Nixon/Humphrey Race of 1968

Presidents, Politics and War


Sources: The front pages of the November 5, 6, and 7, 1968 of the New York Times, as well as the November 2 and 5, 1968 front pages from the San Antonio Express in 1968.

By Ross Griffith

The ‘60s were a turbulent time in our nation’s history. The Vietnam War defined the decade, as can be seen by scouring the headlines of newspapers of the day. Thus, following the U.S presidential election of 1968 becomes a tricky process of wading through war-talk to find information on the very close race between Richard M. Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. Once discovered, the information proves to be pretty interesting, if not a little revealing as James Mcrory of the San Antonio Express related in a Page 1 story on November 1, 1968:

“The Nixon entourage will arrive on three planes – the Tricia, the Julie, and the David – at International Airport at 5 p.m. No formal airport ceremonies are planned, other than greetings by local party officials and a motorcade to the Menger Hotel, where Nixon will rest before the speech and spend the night before leaving about 10 a.m. Saturday for an airport rally at Austin.” Despite the still-recent Kennedy assassination, it seems there was very little left to the imagination as to where a hopeful future-president might reside.


Coverage of Nixon’s eventual rise to the presidency is subject to the editorial gatekeeping process, depending on the newspaper covering the election. The New York Times, for instance, dedicates equal time to both Humphrey and Nixon, while focusing primarily on the prospect of peace talks in Paris regarding the Vietnam War, which the candidates reference constantly. Robert B. Simple relayed Nixon’s stance in a news article on Nov. 5, 1968: “In his final appeal to the nation, Richard Nixon declared today that the election of ‘new men’ with ‘fresh ideas’ was necessary if the nation was to avert what he called a ‘diplomatic disaster’ at the Paris talks on Vietnam.”

In the days leading up to the election, The NY Times avoids overt political bias by referring to the two candidates evenly. The focus of news coverage was primarily on the closeness of the race, as Tom Wicker pointed out on the front page of the Nov. 6, 1968 edition: “It remained possible for Mr. Humphrey to score an upset, and there was also a strong possibility that neither would win the 270 electoral votes required for election.”


Despite the paper’s relatively fair coverage, however, the Times’ R.W. Apple Jr. does paint a bleak picture of Humphrey after his inevitable loss. Page 1 of the Nov. 7 edition of the paper carries a story, “A Loser Concedes and Tries to Smile.” Apple had this to say: “The Vice President – a hearty, sentimental man, given to laughter and to tears – tried to smile as he stood on the stage in the Leamington Hotel’s ballroom this morning and listened to his faithful followers shout, ‘We Want Humphrey!’ But what he brought forth was more a grimace than a grin. ‘Thank you very much,’ he said in a quavering voice. ‘It’s nice to know.’”


Listed as “Official photograph” by the Library of Congress; photographer unknown


The 1968 election looks like a completely different affair, however, when examining the coverage provided by the San Antonio Express. Bias for the Republican candidate pervades, as Nixon’s name appears in most headlines regarding the race. What few references to Humphrey there are often give him a sort of sinister vibe, as James Mcrory’s colorful Nov. 5, 1968 front page article exemplifies: “Hubert H. Humphrey, a former pharmacist, prescribed a massive dose of Democratic votes in Bexar County Tuesday, and the prescription proved bad medicine for Richard M. Nixon.”

The SA Express gives many accounts of political bravado from the Nixon camp, as evidenced in Page 1 coverage of a speech in the Nov. 2, 1968 edition: “Applause shook the rafters, loaded with balloons bunched like grapes, when Nixon declared that he is for ‘a strong defense posture while my opponent is against it.’” It’s certainly interesting to note how little politics change, as that vague quote used against an opponent would almost certainly bring the same level of “rafter-shaking” applause if deployed today by a similar candidate.


Despite the bias and all the congratulatory headlines that appeared after the votes were counted and Nixon had secured his place in the White House, it’s back to business as usual immediately for both papers.

Following the election, The Times and the Express quickly shift to the Paris Peace Accord, though they have a new angle now as some reporters and opinion columnists contemplate how Nixon will handle the affairs. Tragically, Nixon’s refusal to remove South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu from power would result in the talks stalling for years after the election, and wound up having little practical effect on the conflict after an agreement was reached five years later, in 1973.

On the Nov. 7, 1968, edition of the NY Times, Hendrick Smith points out the reality of the new situation: “Allied diplomats close to the talks suggested that the Republican victory would probably bring eventual changes in the American negotiating team, encourage delays by the South Vietnamese Government, and induce a wait-and-see attitude by all sides until Mr. Nixon’s own approach to the talks became clearer. The uncertainty about the future relationship between the outgoing Johnson Administration and Mr. Nixon is considered the primary complicating factor.”


Photo courtesy of Oliver F. Atkins, National Archives and Records Administration, 1968


Sadly, the nation continued to lose countless lives in a foreign jungle as the new president — years before his eventual rise to infamy — slowly transitioned from a model campaigner to the leader of the free world.

Ross Griffith is a senior Mass Communications major with Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.


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