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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois in the Cold War Era 1945-1975: Conservatives on Campus

Conservatives on Campus

The Rubicon Review was one publication by
 conservative students in the 1960s

In 1960 about ninety young people gathered at the Sharon, Connecticut estate of William F. Buckley, Jr. to lay the groundwork for a new national conservative youth organization.  At the meeting the Young Americans for Freedom was founded.  Conservative groups like the Young Americans for Freedom sprang up across college campuses in the 1960s and 70s with the purpose of stemming what they perceived as the growing liberalism and radicalism on American campuses. 

Conservative college students sought to offset left-wing groups like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and New MOBE in support of a U.S. victory in Vietnam.  Although many of these groups opposed the draft, they tried to “do their part” to resist communism in Southeast Asia and in American classrooms. At the University of Illinois conservative students sent a newsletter denouncing Students For Free Speech activities to 18,000 parents of University of Illinois students and urged them to support the Clabaugh Act. 

Conservatives also ran candidates for the student government, staged anti-war counterdemonstrations, and formed groups such as the Liberty Council and the Speakers for South Vietnam.  The conservative movement was rarely united in the 1960s and 70s, however, as activists often disagreed on what “conservatism” meant.

University of Illinois Sources:

Graduate Student Association Subject Files, 1967-71 (RS 41/62/15): Includes clippings on counterdemonstrations on campus

Student Organizations Publications, 1871-  (RS 41/6/840): Includes publications from the “Speakers for South Vietnam,” the “Liberty Council,” the “Conservative Coordinating Council,” the “Conservative Club,” the “John Birch Society,” and the “Young Americans for Freedom.”

Student and Faculty Org. Constitutions & Registration Cards, (RS 41/2/41): Includes information on the “Liberty Council,” the “Conservative Coordinating Council,” and the “Young Americans for Freedom.”

Francis G. Wilson Papers, 1912, 1923-70 (RS: 15/18/24): Includes information on conservative campus organizations.

Revilo P. Oliver Papers, (RS: 15/6/5): Oliver, a Professor of Classics, was a member of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society.

Robert Goldstein Papers, 1966-67 (RS 41/20/25):  DI reporter’s papers include his files on the Free Speech Movement and its critics.

Jefferson B. Fordham Papers, 1958, 1961-1962, 1964 (RS: 14/84/301): Includes information on the John Birch Society

Freedom Study Committee Records, 1961-78 (RS: 48/5/15): Includes information on conservative campus organizations.

University Professors for Academic Order File, 1970-72 (RS: 48/1/14): UPAO faculty members at the University of Illinois advocated academic integrity, “social order” and that the university should not be “an instrument of social change.”

Donald L. Kemmerer Papers, 1944-92 (RS: 9/5/32): Kemmerer, a professor of Economics, was an officer of the University Professors for Academic Order.

The New Voice: A Publication of the Conservative Club at the University of Illinois 1962-64 (Microform in Newspaper Library)

ARC Reference File:  “Conservatives”

Daily Illini, 1874- (Microform in Newspaper Library)


 John A. Andrew III, The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics (New Brunswick, N.J.: 1997).

Wm. F. Buckley, Jr., God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom (Chicago: 1952).

Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (Chicago: 1953).

Rebecca E. Klatch, A Generation Divided: The New Left, The New Right, and the 1960's (Berkeley: 1999).

Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton, N.J.: 2001).

L.F. Schiff, “Dynamic Young Fogies - Rebels on the Right” in Campus Power Struggle Howard S. Becker, ed., (New Brunswick, N.J.: 1973).

Gregory L. Schneider, Cadres for Conservatism: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of the Contemporary Right (New York: 1999).