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Archive for the ‘Alternative Newspapers’ Category

With the arrival of May Day, it seemed to me a natural thing to go exploring in our so-called “Bloom Ephemera” collection. To do so is to experience almost pure randomness and happenstance.

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Full-page back cover art work in Real Free Press Illustratie, no. 1, Antwerp, Belgium (undated).

The collection, consisting of 88 record cartons, is an unsorted amalgamation of printed matter from the 1960s and 1970s, almost all of which from a left-wing/counterculture perspective. It is the unprocessed counterpart to our Marshall Bloom Alternative Press Collection, which came to us through the late Marshall Bloom ’66, who co-founded Liberation News Service in 1967 to supply news stories to the thousands of “underground” alternative newspapers springing up all over the country.

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What I discovered in my exploration of the Bloom Ephemera is that it really does not really consist of “ephemera” at all — at least not as traditionally defined as “paper items (as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles” (Merriam-Webster). It consists, in fact, chiefly of periodicals — and while periodicals (magazines, newspapers, newsletters, etc.) have a limited active life and might in that sense be considered somewhat ephemeral, they are regular publications that libraries, for example, systematically retain (as opposed to handbills and ticket stubs, which they do not).

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Cover of the Fall 1968 issue of Caw! published by Students for a Democratic Society. This special issue addressed the May 1968 Events in France.

Some of the magazines here, I’m sure, are duplicates of those found in the Bloom Alternative Press Collection. Some are fairly mainstream popular magazines (e.g., Commonweal, Ramparts) that don’t closely fit the definition of “alternative.” But much else is wonderfully obscure and one-of-a-kind: newsletters put out by tiny leftist organizations, press releases, zines, local free newsweeklies, and so on. (more…)

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In honor of LGBT Pride month, I want to call attention to the substantial runs of historic gay newspapers that are part of the Marshall Bloom Alternative Press Collection. These are just a few samples of the many publications in the Bloom Collection that document the struggle for gay rights throughout the 1970s and beyond. You can find many more examples in Bloom by searching the finding aid for publications with “gay” in the title, but there are less obvious titles as well (Mom…Guess What! for instance).

While Bloom is frequently used by students in the departments of Black Studies and Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, the collection is a rich source for researching the history of the LGBT community during the last quarter of the twentieth century.

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Marshall Bloom (1944-1969)

Marshall Bloom (1944-1969)

While most people associate Amherst College with poets like Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur, and Robert Frost, few realize that we are also home to one of the leading collections of underground newspapers from the 1960s and 70s. Marshall Bloom came to Amherst College in the fall of 1962 and graduated with the class of 1966. He participated fully in the civil rights movement that was sweeping across college campuses during that time, and he soon became a major force in the development of the alternative press in the United States. More details of his life are available in the Biographical Note section of the finding aid to The Marshall Bloom Papers held by the Archives & Special Collections.

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