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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois in the Cold War Era 1945-1975: 1967 Protest-Sit-In against DOW Chemical

1967 Protest-Sit-In against DOW Chemical

Student protesters objected to the presence of Dow Chemical recruiters because the company manufactured Napalm. They also publicized and attended rallies against the weapon like this one in Chicago.

In 1965 Dow Chemical collaborated with the U.S. Air Force to develop napalm.  A petroleum jelly which burns at excess of 2200 degrees Fahrenheit, napalm sticks to human flesh, continuing to burn into the body, feeding on fat and other tissue.  Beginning in 1966, university students began to protest the presence of Dow Chemical recruiters on college campuses, arguing that the use of napalm was immoral.  Students from Maine to California organized protests and sit-ins, and in the fall of 1967 campus groups held a demonstration against Dow on the University of Illinois campus.  Forty-seven University of Illinois students were eventually disciplined after taking part in the sit-in, and seven were expelled.  Students also initiated protests against General Motors and other corporations they felt were supporting and profiting from the war.

U of I Sources:

Student and Faculty Organization Constitutions and Registration Cards, 1909-  (RS 41/2/41)

Student Organizations Publications, 1871-  (RS 41/6/840)

Dean of Student’s Subject File, 1966-98 (RS 41/1/6): Includes information on SDS in Box 1

Student Discipline Files, 1953-84 (RS 41/2/44)

President David D. Henry General Correspondence, 1955-71 (RS: 2/12/1)


Michael S. Foley, Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance During the Vietnam War (Chapel Hill: 2003).

William A. Gordon, The Fourth of May: Killings and Coverups at Kent State (Buffalo: 1990).

Kenneth J. Heineman, Campus Wars: the Peace Movement at American State Universities in the Vietnam Era (New York: 1993).

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, Peace Now!: American Society and the Ending of the Vietnam War (New Haven, 1999).

Patrick D. Kennedy, “Reactions Against the Vietnam War and Military-Related Targets on Campus: The University of Illinois as a Case Study, 1965-72,” Illinois Historical Journal 84:2 (1991): 101-118.

James Miller, “Democracy is in the Streets”: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago (New York: 1987).

Michael Parenti, “Repression in Academia: A Report From the Field,” Politics and Society 1:4 (1971), 527-538.

Joel P. Rhodes, The Voice of Violence: Performative Violence as Protest in the Vietnam Era (Westport, CT: 2001).

Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan, Who Spoke Up?: American Protest Against the War in Vietnam, 1963-1975 (Garden City, N.Y.: 1984).