About the Site

The students of American Studies H110 (2017) with sociologist Joshua Gamson, clockwise from left: Kashmir Kravitz, Matthew Willett, Madeline Appel, Linda Barghi, Kristen Wilson, Joshua Gamson, Anthony Gilmore, Tessa Rissacher, Max Lopez, Madeleine Calvi

This website is a collective project, one which emerged originally from an honors undergraduate seminar in American Studies at UC-Berkeley — “The Bay Area in the Seventies,” taught by Scott Saul in the spring of 2017. The eleven students in that seminar shaped their own research projects, burrowing into archives official and unofficial so as to recover the stories missing from, or hidden within, standard accounts of Berkeley’s history. The seminar was then repeated in the spring of 2018, with nine more students. This curated archive—with 500 documents organized across their main projects—is the result.

Beyond the 1960s: A History of Berkeley in the 1970s

This phrase “Berkeley in the Sixties” conjures a host of associations, many of them revolving around student activists in the Free Speech and antiwar movements. The phrase “Berkeley in the SEVENTIES” is less resonant, but the city in that decade was at the center of many large-scale transformations that were just as consequential in American culture and politics. 1970s Berkeley served as ground zero for the Black Arts and Black Power movements, Women’s Liberation, the movement for ethnic studies, the ecology movement, the gay liberation movement, the Disability Rights Movement, and the free school movement. At the same time, the city was also the scene of countless smaller, more personal attempts to remake society from the ground up. 

The students of American Studies H110 (2018) with Prof. Scott Saul: (kneeling from left) Sarah Kersting, Scott Saul, Sarah Sexton, Alexandra Von Klan, Brandon Redmon, Roxane Beygi, Seamus Kirkpatrick; (standing) Dylan Burgoon, Abigail Sotelo

On this website we tell this story: of the rare city in the United States where the transformations of the 1960s continued to gain momentum in the 1970s. It’s not a simple tale. An openness to cultural and political experimentation; a hunger for personal authenticity, for a life lived fully, with oppressive social masks stripped off; and a commitment to redress longstanding inequities in American life: these three impulses pulled Berkeley in a number of directions in this period, producing dramatic results and often equally dramatic conflicts. The ideals of the 1960s were tested on the streets of Berkeley in the 1970s.

Both Sides Now: Towards a More Capacious Archive of Voices

A quick story to illustrate, in miniature, what this digital archive aspires to do. In the summer of 1970 a policeman raided a South Berkeley house where runaway youth had squatted. He found a letter that a young female runaway had written but never mailed to her mother in West Virginia. “I’m healthy and happy here,” the young woman enthused in her letter, “there is so much to do here….Everything is free—health clinic, food, clothes—so it’s quite easy to survive.”

For the decidedly non-radical Berkeley Gazette, the letter was Exhibit A for why Berkeley police needed to clamp down on runaways: these young people were a drain on public funds and were abusing the city’s hospitality.

Jodi Mitchell, a few years after she arrived in Berkeley as a self-described “teenage runaway”

But what of the young woman, Jodi Mitchell, who wrote the letter? If we look at her diary from a few months after the raid, we note that this same woman contemplated suicide and struggled to find a place she could call home; the self she projected in her letter home was not her only self. And if we read Mitchell’s reflections from forty years later, we see other layers to the story: how sleeping at a supposedly free “crash pad,” for instance,” often came with expectations about one’s sexual availability.

This rich dialogue between sources—a dialogue which dramatizes a range of perspectives, often from outside mainstream channels—is  what “The Berkeley Revolution” aims to offer. The site allows you to delve into the primary materials we’ve curated and, we hope, to get a vivid sense of the lives out of which they emerge. There are a great number of “Berkeley revolutions” within “The Berkeley Revolution”; many, if not most, were incomplete or abbreviated, but their effects were far-reaching nonetheless.


The building of this website would not have been possible without the advice, cooperation, and generosity of many individuals and institutions. We would like to thank the following: Jim Baumohl, the Berkeley Public Library, William Bottini, Cathy Cade, Alex Cherian, the City of Berkeley, Fred Collingnon, Matt Delmont, Harvey Dong, Shanna Farrell, the GLBT Historical Society, Stefano Gonzalez, Jeremy Jachym, Sine Hwang Jensen at UC Berkeley’s Comparative Ethnic Studies Library, Michael J. Kramer, Scott Paul McGinnis, Martin Meeker, Doris Jo Moskowitz, Liam O’Donoghue, Daniel Perlstein, Peter Richardson, the San Francisco Public Library, Sue Schweik, KPIX’s Tom Spitz, Susan Stryker, UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Library, Tahira Warner with the Berkeley Mental Health Program, Akaya Windwood, and Eddie Yuen.

We extend special thanks to Susan Brooks, Charles Brown, Nacio Jan Brown, Liane Chu, Ms. Bob Davis, Tom Dalzell, Kathy Evans and the Ecology Center, Leslie Ewing and Ann Mitchell of Pacific Center, Lenn Keller and her Bay Area Lesbian Archives project, Ray Lifchez, Rachel Marinos, Jodi Mitchell, Ed Perlstein, Odette Pollar, Electra Price, and Jeanne Rose, whose contributions were crucial to the larger project. Lastly, we would like to thank the Digital Humanities at Berkeley, which provided funding for the site’s development.

Site Credits

Editor-publisher: Scott Saul

Writer-curator, “A Place for Every Body”: Alexandra Von Klan

Writer-curators, “The Secret History of Recycling”: Brandon Redmon and Abigail Sotelo

Writer-curators, “Pacific Center”: Dylan Burgoon and Sarah Sexton

Writer-curator, “Threads of Rebellion”: Sarah Kersting

Writer-curator, “Citizens vs. Developers”: Seamus Kirkpatrick

Writer-curators, “Rainbow Sign,” “Mary Ann Pollar”: Max Lopez and Tessa Rissacher

Writer-curators, “The Women and Girls of Telegraph Avenue”: Madeline Appel and Sally Littlefield

Writer-curators, “Berkeley’s Public Schools”: Linda Barghi, Scott Saul, and Kristen Wilson

Writer-curators, “The Third World Liberation Front”: Anthony Gilmore and Kai Nham

Writer-curator, “The Keystone”: Matthew Willett

Writer-curators, “Transgender Berkeley”: Madeleine Calvi and Kashmir Kravitz

Website developer and designer: Kristin Jones

Graphic design contributor: Kai Nham

Icons made by Google from www.flaticon.com licensed by CC 3.0 BY.

Banner image from Romare Bearden, Berkeley: The City and Its People (1973), collage of various papers with paint, ink, and graphite on seven fiberboard panels, City of Berkeley, California, Public Art Collection.

Scott Saul is Professor of English at UC-Berkeley and author of Becoming Richard Pryor (HarperCollins, 2014), for which he also created a digital companion, “Richard Pryor’s Peoria,” similar in spirit to “The Berkeley Revolution”.

Questions or comments? Please write to Scott Saul at ssaul@berkeley.edu. He welcomes your feedback.

We’ve made every effort on this non-commercial, educational website to abide by protocols of ‘fair use’. Please write to ssaul@berkeley.edu if you have concerns about the materials made available on the site.