About Our Process
In order to better understand our website, it might be helpful to know about the experience of our research process. Our group chose the Vietnam war as our topic because the three of us were interested in literary reactions to war, and we felt that the Vietnam war would have had the largest student reaction whether in the form of protest or literary works. During our research process, we began by researching and reading all issues of the campus newspaper, The Davidsonian, from 1968-1975. We thought that reading the Davidsonian would serve as a great introduction to campus culture during the time of the Vietnam war and potentially point us in the direction of crucial moments either of campus unrest or student activism in general.
For the next step in our process, we decided to venture into the Davidson College Archives where we spent hours looking through boxes of student work, The Miscellany, and various folders related to the ROTC’s presence on campus. Despite not finding numerous sources, we did find poems and short stories critiquing the impact of war on human identity and the burden of death.
After not finding as much as we had hoped for in the Archives, our team regrouped in the Davidsonia room which housed the Quips and Cranks, the college’s official yearbook, and the Inklings, which are collections of creative, student work. These two literary publications ended up supplying us with the majority of our sources for this project, but the overall lack of creative works concerning the Vietnam war was still surprising. Perhaps, it is possible that creative work lagged behind the war itself. However, what we truly learned from our research process was that the lack of student activism and literary publications concerning the Vietnam war illustrates that Davidson retained an inward focus during the late 1960s and the 1970s. Despite protests occurring on other campuses across the nation and activist efforts popping up throughout the world, they were not happening at Davidson. There was a brief outburst on Davidson’s campus after the Kent State Shooting, but even that did not last for very long.
The conclusions we drew from the lack of activism on Davidson’s campus help contextualize what it was like to be a Davidson student or around Davidson’s campus during the Vietnam war. There might have been extreme reactions to Vietnam elsewhere, but Davidson life remained mostly the same.