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HSS 572 - A History of 1968: Home/Introduction


Welcome to the History of 1968 OWHL Guide. Click on a tab above to see all of the relevant sources that are available for this assignment. If you have any questions, please see a librarian at the Help Desk!

Generally, information develops from specific to broad. An event happens, people report on it, people analyze it, and it becomes a part of the historical narrative. Your research sources should move in the opposite direction, from broad to narrow. Start your research in Reference Sources and then find some Secondary Sources which will lead you to Primary Sources!

Reference Sources in Reference Universe

Reference sources give you an overview of your topic. All of the reference sources in the OWHL are located in the Garver Room. To see which Garver books are right for you start your search in Reference Universe. Reference Universe only searches reference sources so make sure you use broad terms like "Civil Rights Movement" instead of "political infighting at the SCLC."

Inspiration..What happened in 1968?

  • JANUARY 3: 

    The North Vietnamese government announces that peace talks could begin as soon as the United States halts all bombing raids north of the 17th parallel.

  • JANUARY 5: 

    In Massachusetts, a federal grand jury indicts Dr. Benjamin Spock, a best-selling author and noted pediatrician, on charges that he and his staff had counseled young men on how to avoid the draft.

  • JANUARY 8: 

    In one of the longest cold spells in U.S. history, 35 states recorded temperatures below zero.

  • JANUARY 9: 

    In the last of the unmanned space flights of the 1960s, Surveyor 7 lands on the moon.

  • JANUARY 10: 

    The Secret Service arrests three men who had built the largest counterfeiting ring in U.S. history. More than $4 million in counterfeit bills are seized at New York's Kennedy airport alone.

  • JANUARY 17: 

    In his State of the Union address, President Johnson proposes a record budget of $186 billion and expanded programs to stress urban housing and employment. It would be the last balanced federal budget for nearly 30 years.

  • JANUARY 19: 

    Clark Clifford replaces Robert McNamara as secretary of defense.

  • JANUARY 21: 

    The siege of Khe Sanh marks the beginning of the bloody Tet Offensive in Vietnam.

  • JANUARY 22: 

    Scheduled as the mid-season replacement for the once popular Man From U.N.C.L.E.Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In comedy/satire show premieres on NBC television.

  • JANUARY 23: 

    An American intelligence-gathering ship, Pueblo, is seized by North Korean patrol boats. Its crew of 83 is taken prisoner, and the Johnson administration claims that the ship was sailing in international waters.

  • JANUARY 29: 

    A 36-hour truce held in honor of the Tet lunar new year holidays is canceled by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces. A major North Vietnamese offensive near the 17th parallel was believed to be imminent.

  • JANUARY 30: 

    As part of a nationwide attack on all significant U.S. and South Vietnamese military and political targets, Vietcong troops invade the U.S. embassy compound in Saigon. The battle lasts six hours, and the invaders are killed.

  • FEBRUARY 7: 

    The Johnson administration reports the lowest unemployment rate (3.5 percent) in 15 years. A record 73.3 million Americans were on the job, and much of the boom is credited to new defense industry contracts and Great Society programs.

  • FEBRUARY 9: 

    After four days of racial violence, a curfew restores law and order in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The focus of the dispute involved the desegregation of a bowling alley. Three African Americans were killed and 37 were wounded.

  • FEBRUARY 19: 

    The North Vietnamese government releases three American prisoners of war (POWs) as a "goodwill gesture" during the Tet holidays.

  • FEBRUARY 22: 

    More than 540 American troops are reported killed during only one week of the ongoing Tet Offensive. The Pentagon admits that this is the highest U.S. casualty figure in a one-week period ever recorded in the Vietnam War.

  • FEBRUARY 23: 

    The Johnson administration calls for a draft of 48,000 new troops for April 1968. This is the highest single draft call of the Vietnam War.

  • FEBRUARY 28: 

    Suffering from negative press reports after he claimed that he was "brainwashed" by U.S. military officials in Saigon during a swing tour of Vietnam, Michigan governor George Romney announces that he will no longer seek the nomination of the Republican Party for president. The "brainwashed" statement was also perceived as an anti-U.S. military comment by moderates and conservatives in his party.

  • MARCH 2: 

    The Johnson administration's Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders reports that the African-American communities throughout the nation's big cities are in open rebellion against the U.S. government. In addition to revisedGreat Society programs, the commission calls for several new and expensive economic aid packages for the inner cities.

  • MARCH 6: 

    Disgusted with the bad news from Vietnam and the Tet Offensive, America's most-watched television newsman, Walter Cronkite, shocks the nation by stating his opposition to the Vietnam War.

  • MARCH 8: 

    The nation's longest public teachers' strike in its history (three weeks in Florida) ends with legislation to aid struggling schools in Miami.

  • MARCH 10: 

    In Operation Resolve to Win, 50,000 American and South Vietnamese troops counterattack Vietcong forces in the largest single military operation of the Vietnam War. The Vietcong Tet Offensive fails.

  • MARCH 12: 

    President Lyndon Johnson narrowly defeats Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota in the New Hampshire primary. Former Vice President Richard Nixon wins a landslide in the Republican primary there.

  • MARCH 16: 

    Calling for an end to the Vietnam War, a dramatic expansion of Great Societyprograms, and a renewed commitment to New Frontier goals, Senator Robert Kennedy declares his candidacy for president.

  • MARCH 21: 

    New York governor Nelson Rockefeller announces that he will not run in the Republican presidential primaries but that he would accept a draft at the Republican convention.

  • MARCH 22: 

    General William Westmoreland is recalled from Vietnam and named army chief of staff.

  • MARCH 31: 

    In a surprise major address to the nation, President Johnson announces that he will not seek or accept the Democratic nomination for president. He also calls for Vietnam peace talks and suggests that the bombing of North Vietnam might soon end.

  • APRIL 2: 

    Senator Eugene McCarthy sweeps the Democratic primary in Wisconsin, andRichard Nixon wins similar landslide returns in the Republican primary there.

  • APRIL 3: 

    Stanley Kubrick's artistic science-fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, begins its run in American theaters.

  • APRIL 4: 

    The Nobel Peace Prize–winning civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • APRIL 6: 

    Often compared to America's John and Robert Kennedy, Canada's Liberal Party reformer Pierre Elliott Trudeau wins the office of prime minister.

  • APRIL 10: 

    General Creighton Abrams is named the overall commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam.

  • APRIL 11: 

    Stressing the end of discrimination in U.S. housing policies and practices, the 1968 Civil Rights Act is passed by Congress.

  • APRIL 19: 

    U.S. pilots fly 160 missions over North Vietnam, a record-breaking achievement for a 24-hour period in the Vietnam War.

  • APRIL 26: 

    Vice president Hubert Humphrey declares his candidacy for the presidency.

  • APRIL 28: 

    Thousands of Japanese demonstrators march through the streets of downtown Tokyo, demanding an end to "the racist war in Vietnam" and an end to the U.S. occupation government on the island of Okinawa.

  • APRIL 29: 

    The controversial rock musical Hair moves from off-Broadway to Broadway in New York.

  • APRIL 30: 

    More than 720 students are arrested at Columbia University in New York following a violent demonstration against the Vietnam War.

  • APRIL 30: 

    After additional "soul-searching," Governor Nelson Rockefeller reenters the Republican primary race as a candidate in favor of "moderate reform."

  • MAY 5: 

    In an effort to duplicate Tet Offensive horrors, the Vietcong launch a series of unsuccessful attacks in South Vietnam.

  • MAY 7: 

    In his first confrontation with Senator Eugene McCarthyRobert Kennedywins the Indiana primary with 42 percent of the vote.

  • MAY 13: 

    The Paris Peace Talks begin.

  • MAY 14: 

    Robert Kennedy wins the Nebraska primary with 53 percent of the vote.

  • MAY 16: 

    Unrest in Paris mounts as 20,000 workers go on strike in solidarity with thousands of protesting university students. The de Gaulle government orders hundreds of military policemen to assist local police in breaking up violent antigovernment and anti–Vietnam War demonstrations.

  • MAY 28: 

    Eugene McCarthy scores an upset victory over Robert Kennedy in the Oregon primary.

  • MAY 30: 

    In a pro-France, pro–"law and order" demonstration, thousands of de Gaulle supporters march through the streets of Paris. President de Gaulle welcomes the support and announces that he will never resign, and the student unrest begins to subside sooner than previously believed.

  • JUNE 2: 

    A rocket from a U.S. helicopter accidentally explodes at a South Vietnamese command post, killing the mayor of Saigon, the police chief of Saigon, and five other senior South Vietnamese officials.

  • JUNE 5:

    A 24-year-old Jordanian, Sirhan Sirhan, shoots Robert Kennedy moments after the announcement of Kennedy's victory in the California primary.

  • JUNE 10: 

    The Cambodian government releases two captured U.S. servicemen as a "gesture" to the United States in honor of Robert Kennedy and America's grief over his assassination.

  • JUNE 19: 

    The South Vietnamese government orders a general mobilization, noting that this will preclude the need for more U.S. forces.

  • JUNE 26: 

    The Pentagon announces that the once vital base of Khe Sanh will soon be abandoned. Khe Sanh saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War.

  • JUNE 26: 

    Senator Edward Kennedy announces that he will not consider a candidacy for vice president and has no intention to run for president either.

OWHL Answers

Inspiration..What happened in 1968? Pt 2

  • JULY 10: 

    Famed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock is sentenced to two years in prison for urging others to avoid the draft.

  • JULY 29: 

    Pope Paul VI announces his "Humanae Vitae" encyclical, prohibiting Catholics from using artificial birth control methods or drugs.

  • AUGUST 6: 

    Less than 12 hours after addressing the Republican national convention, former president Dwight Eisenhower survives a massive heart attack. It was his third heart attack since April 1968.

  • AUGUST 7: 

    Former vice president Richard Nixon becomes the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

  • AUGUST 25: 

    Although outnumbered six to one, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces beat back a Vietcong assault on the U.S. Special Forces base of Duc Lap.

  • AUGUST 26–29: 

    The Democratic convention platform committee endorses the continuation of the Vietnam War, including the bombing of North Vietnam.

  • AUGUST 28: 

    John Gordon Mein, the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, is machine-gunned to death by unknown assassins in the streets of Guatemala City.

  • AUGUST 28: 

    On the first ballot, Vice President Hubert Humphrey wins the presidential nomination at the Democratic convention.

  • AUGUST 29: 

    During the last major antiwar demonstration outside of the Democratic convention in Chicago, a combined force of National Guardsmen and Chicago policemen beat and arrest hundreds of protesters.


    After four nights of violent protests, Berkeley, California, is put under a strict curfew. Thirty-seven demonstrators are arrested and one policeman seriously wounded in this effort to protest police brutality in Chicago during the Democratic convention.


    The Pentagon announces the lowest draft call in several years (10,000 men).


    The radical feminist Women's Liberation Party rallies in Atlantic City to protest the annual Miss America Pageant.


    Black Panther leader Huey Newton is found guilty of "involuntary manslaughter" in the slaying of one white policeman but is declared innocent in the death of another.

  • SEPTEMBER 12: 

    In the first Supreme Court case of its kind, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas agrees with 113 army reservists who claim that they were sent to Vietnam illegally.

  • SEPTEMBER 24: 

    Television's first hour-long news magazine show, 60 Minutes, premieres on the CBS network.

  • SEPTEMBER 29: 

    The 900th U.S. military plane is shot down by Vietcong troops in South Vietnam. This record-high number of lost aircraft prompts a major Pentagon review of air operations in Southeast Asia.

  • OCTOBER 5: 

    The Cox Commission investigation into university campus unrest in New York reports that student rebels have deliberately sought to disrupt university life and that university administrators prefer "authoritarian rule" to opening a dialogue with their own students.

  • OCTOBER 7: 

    For the first time in the history of the film industry, the Motion Picture Association of America announces a rating system for all significant, mass-marketed movies.

  • OCTOBER 11–22: 

    In the effort to test needed equipment and technology, Apollo 7 becomesNASA's first Apollo-piloted mission. Astronauts Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham are on board.

  • OCTOBER 23: 

    Believed to be planning a major campaign of terror, nine anti-Castro Cubans are arrested in New York. The group had already bombed more than a dozen U.S. businesses that, they contended, had shadowy ties to Castro.

  • OCTOBER 24: 

    Some 80 people are arrested at the University of California-Berkeley campus during yet another student demonstration. The students were demanding course credit for all those who attended a lecture by Black Panther activist Eldridge Cleaver.

  • OCTOBER 24: 

    Eleven South Vietnamese prisoners of war are released by the Vietcong, and, in turn, the Saigon regime releases 140 Vietcong prisoners. The U.S. embassy in South Vietnam hails this development as a "first great step" in Vietnamese cooperation.

  • NOVEMBER 5: 

    In a narrow popular vote victory, Richard Nixon defeats both Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace to becomes the 37th president of the United States.

  • NOVEMBER 5: 

    New York political activist and Democrat Shirley Chisholm becomes the first African-American woman elected to the House of Representatives.

  • NOVEMBER 9: 

    For the first time since 1812, an earthquake shakes the U.S. Midwest. Minor damage is reported in cities stretching from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Nashville, Tennessee.

  • NOVEMBER 12: 

    The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down an Arkansas law that prohibits teaching evolution in statewide high school and grade school science classes.

  • NOVEMBER 15: 

    The National Conference of Catholic Bishops defies the Vatican by noting that American Catholics will not be asked to leave the church if they use contraceptives. Nevertheless, the conference declares that the Vatican is correct in insisting that married couples should not use artificial birth controls.

  • NOVEMBER 20: 

    After a week of numerous antiwar rallies and general unrest, a previously tranquil San Francisco State College reopens for classes.

  • NOVEMBER 21:

    In one of the more bizarre federal court cases of 1968, the Johnson administration charges its own housing authority employees in Little Rock, Arkansas, for maintaining pro-segregationist housing policies.

  • NOVEMBER 21: 

    Following university president Roger Guiles's refusal to adhere to a list of demands by pro–Black Panther student activists, angry students begin a "campaign of destruction" at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. More than 100 students are arrested.

  • NOVEMBER 27: 

    In a special announcement that shocks Wall Street, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cost of living jumped .6 percent in October. This high figure was unexpected in certain business circles and represents, according to the Wall Street Journal, "serious economic difficulties" ahead.

  • NOVEMBER 28: 

    A coalition of pro-feminist activists and reformers hold their first formal convention in Chicago, Illinois.


    The Motion Picture Association of America announces that the top three box office winners of 1968 are The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and a restored/technologically updated version of 1939's Gone With the Wind. The top box office draws are Sidney PoitierPaul Newman, and Julie Andrews.

  • DECEMBER 4: 

    Although having announced his retirement five months earlier, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren agrees to a request by outgoing president Lyndon Johnson to stay on the job until his court agenda is completed in June 1969.

  • DECEMBER 6: 

    Close to 60 percent of all of New York City's parking meter collectors are arrested for having stolen more than $5 million during a three-year period.

  • DECEMBER 19: 

    Six months after their boat strayed into Cambodian waters, 11 U.S. military personnel are released in the interest of "justice and humanity." The Cambodian government also reaffirms its neutrality in the Vietnam War.

  • DECEMBER 21–27: 

    With astronauts James Lovell, Frank Borman, and William Anders on board,Apollo 8 successfully accomplishes the first manned orbit of the moon.

  • DECEMBER 22: 

    The crew of U.S.S. Pueblo are released following a delicately negotiated U.S.–North Korean agreement.

  • DECEMBER 22: 

    Gary Steven Krist is arrested for kidnaping 20-year-old Barbara Jane Mackle in Atlanta, burying her alive in a box for more than three days, and collecting $500,000 in ransom from her millionaire father. Mackle is rescued unharmed.

  • DECEMBER 25: 

    The U.S. embassy in Saigon reports 133 Vietcong violations of a Christmas holidays truce agreement.

  • DECEMBER 31: 

    For the first time since 1930, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that no one incarcerated in the nation's prison system was executed in 1968.