Between 1967 and 1971, American GIs stationed on military bases across the world, wrote, produced, published and distributed over 130 newspapers. These newspapers, edited and written anonymously and often distributed clandestinely, offer a unique window on the activities and thoughts of many servicemen who opposed the US intervention in Southeast Asia and found the situation in Vietnam intolerable.
Often using generic military commands as titles (Your Military Left, About Face!, All Ready on the Left, Fall in at Ease, As You Were), the papers not only deliberately subverted traditional military ethos, but also alerted potential readers to the contents and sentiments expressed within the pages. The reader’s interests dictated the papers’ contents and, not surprisingly, GI publications often solicited written and financial contributions from their readers and subscribers.
Inside, the newspapers offered a space for disaffected soldiers to voice their grievances against those who controlled and commanded their lives (“the brass”), question and criticize the logic and progress of the war, and join other anti-war and civil rights activists in struggle for peace, justice and human dignity.
UTSA Special Collections has recently acquired two issues of a GI –produced underground newspaper from San Antonio. Your Military Left was a monthly newspaper, published at Fort Sam Houston. Between July 1, 1969 and May 1, 1973, the enlisted men stationed at Fort Sam Houston, published 20 issues of the paper. It was distributed in local San Antonio stores such as “Joint Effort” on Broadway near Brackenridge, the “7th House” on Hildebrand just west of San Pedro, and “US” on Main Ave near San Antonio College where San Antonio counterculture crowds shopped and hung out throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Like other GI underground papers, Your Military Left addressed soldiers’ “frustrations of being caught at the bottom of the largest negative cause in the world,” provided commentary on issues of equality within the military, reported on daily abuses inflicted on soldiers by their commanding officers and informed the readers of activities of allies, activists and supports on and off base.
While the paper did not shy away from calling out by name sadistic or abusive CO’s, the editorial staff as well as the writers remained well hidden under the cloak of anonymity. Because the paper contained political opinions contrary to the military regulations and was critical of the government and military efforts in Vietnam, the staff of GI papers was often subject to censure and arrest for distributing the paper on base. Many soldiers involved in publication and distribution of the GI press or participating in anti-war activities were court martialed and sentenced to 2-15 years of hard labor, jailed, or dishonorably discharged.
While the harsh military tactics of dealing with dissent were well known to the GIs and well publicized and critiqued in GI publications across the US, the mainstream press was often slow in picking up on the situation. It was the GIs in collaboration with the anti-war movement activists that brought the harsh punishments to public light, which, in turn, put pressure on the Pentagon to reduce the sentences, and transfer rather than discharge or jail the dissenters.
The 1969 transfer of Your Military Left’s editor, Thomas Connell and his associate, Damon Ruttenburg demonstrates the shift in official policy. The story made the AP news and was picked up and reprinted in Baytown Sun, a local Texas newspaper covering news in Southeast Harris County:
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The transfer of an underground newspaper editor from Ft. Sam Houston to another post was routine and not a punitive measure against the soldier, an army spokesman says. The new editor of “Your Military Left,” an anti-war newspaper circulating here since June, claimed that his predecessor and another man were transferred to other posts as punishment for their dealings with the newspaper. The former editor, Spec. 4 Thomas Connell, 22, was arrested last month with a civilian and another Ft. Sam Houston soldier, Pfc. Damon Ruttenburg, for allegedly distributing the unauthorized news sheet on post. After the charges against them were dropped on grounds of insufficient evidence, the two men were transferred. Connell, of New York, was sent to Ft. Sill, Okla., and then to Ft. Chaffee, Ark. Ruttenburg, of Pennsylvania, went to Ft. Bliss. The new editor, Pfc. Paul Reid, 21, of Valley Forge, Pa., said the transfers were the “latest unquestionably illegal move by the army to suppress publication of ‘your military left.’ ” Both Connell and Ruttenburg are conscientious objectors, Reid said. 
Your Military Left sheds an important light on the role of GI alternative and underground press on the government’s Vietnam policy and adds to the history and tradition of soldier dissidence as well as the history of San Antonio’s countercultural movements in the 1960s and 1970s. It is our hope that in time, UTSA Special Collections will acquire the remaining issues of Your Military Left and make the entire run available to researchers.
 James Lewes, Protest and Survive: Underground GI Newspapers during the Vietnam War, Westport: Praeger, 2003, 5.
 Ibid., 5
 Your Military Left, San Antonio, TX, September 16, 1969, 2.
 Ibid., 93-95.
October 10th is designated Electronic Records Day by the Council of State Archivists. In recognition, we thought it would be a good time to share some basic tips for managing your own personal digital records.
Your cell phone has a software meltdown one night and needs to be restored to factory settings. Your computer will no longer recognize your external hard drive. You accidentally deleted your entire email inbox.
Do any of these situations sound familiar? By now, you’ve probably experienced the reality of losing some of your personal digital archives. As more and more of our daily activities integrate digital technology, more and more of our stuff rests in a precarious position. While not all failures can be prevented, there are steps you can take to help ensure that the next time your phone gets dropped in the pool, your electronic data can be recovered.
Get a handle on what electronic records you have. These records may reside on your personal computer, on your phone, on removable media (like a flash drive), in the cloud (like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud), or in your social media profiles.
Focus on your most important files, the ones that would be catastrophic to lose, like drafts of your major research paper, photographs and videos from Spring Break, text messages from your best friend, or design files from your studio art class.
Use good file names and organized file directory structures. Will your future self have any idea what “finaldraft.doc” refers to? Something like “AirAmerDream_20151202.doc“ might work better, as it includes a brief description of the contents of the document (a research paper about how Airstream trailers exemplify the idea of the American Dream) and the date of the paper. These videos from the State Library of North Carolina offer additional details about good file naming practices.
In a similar way, give some thought to how you can structure a hierarchy of directories on your computer into which you can sort your files as you create them. Maybe in your documents folder, it makes sense to have a sub-folder for each semester, then below that, a sub-sub-folder for each course. Implement a structure that makes sense and is easy for you to actually use. Anything that helps label materials in your digital archive in a way that doesn’t rely only on your memory is a good step forward.
Make backups of your files. Best practices suggest having multiple copies on multiple devices. In the information science world, we implement the LOCKSS strategy: Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe. This could simply mean having your laptop backed up to a portable, external hard drive, and keeping another copy in the cloud. The ideal setup would involve keeping the physical copies in separate geographic locations and would also include regular, automated backups. Take the extra few minutes to set up and use your computer’s automatic backup software, instead of just ignoring the prompts when it reminds you. Since you already have your well-named files in tidy directories, it should be simple to find what you are looking for when you need to retrieve something from the backed-up files. It is also a good idea to keep backups of your cell phone, so that if your phone does a disappearing act, you still have access to your contacts, photos, and other information.
Different types of records require different types of backup, transfer, and management. Photos, text/SMS messages, email, social media feeds, and research data all necessitate specific methods for preservation.
Research data can have its own peculiar preservation needs. In addition to the tips linked above, UTSA Libraries has compiled some resources to help guide you.
Remember that management of your electronic records is an ongoing task. Physical storage media, such as disks and hard drives, have a limited life span and will need to be replaced periodically. Updates in software may necessitate migrating your files into different file formats. A proactive, organized approach to personal digital archiving will help you keep your electronic records on solid ground.
*Any ideas why 1010 was chosen as the date to celebrate electronic records?
Not long after photographic equipment became more portable, commercial photographers began taking pictures of their client’s businesses. Along with the usual studio portraits, these photographs were saved as part of the family records. Multiple copies would sometimes be made for regular patrons of the business, both for gift or purchase. In the 20th century, business owners saw that such photographs would be useful for other purposes, such as illustrations for company catalogs, reports and advertisements.
These photographs are representative of our images of Texas businesses, from various times and regions.
Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA) records now available online through UTSA Libraries Special Collections
The Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA) was formed in 2012 as a nonpartisan coalition of groups and individuals whose aim is to promote nondiscrimination laws and policies within the City of San Antonio and Bexar County. It does so by engaging in strategic advocacy, community organizing, and relationship building. CAUSA strategically advocated with City Council and staff to pass a fully inclusive citywide Human Rights Ordinance, an effort that culminated in the passage of San Antonio’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance on September 5, 2013.
In the fall of 2014, members of CAUSA decided that UTSA Libraries Special Collections was the perfect repository to house the records of the Alliance. The records, which exist primarily in electronic form, were transferred via file sharing platforms to UTSA Special Collections in January 2015. While some physical materials exist in the collection, most are print copies of digital content.
Making this hybrid collection accessible to patrons provided Special Collections staff with a new challenge. Months were spent working out strategies to deliver the electronic content online-with the two year anniversary of the passage of San Antonio’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance fast approaching, staff worked to make the collection accessible by September 2015.
Electronic content can now be viewed through links in the Guide to the Community Alliance for a United San Antonio Records.
The collection documents the efforts of the Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA) to advocate for an inclusive Human Rights Ordinance for the city of San Antonio. Documentation includes meeting notes, agendas, and handouts, petitions, planning materials, photographs, surveys, and timelines. The collection is organized into the following series: Electronic Records, Print Materials, Audio Visual Materials, and Artifacts.
Each week five dedicated volunteers scan negatives and prints that will be added to our online catalog. These are examples, by volunteer Phil Holts, that illustrate the wide range of subjects represented in our holdings.
Hello Top Shelfers! I am very happy to introduce myself as the new UTSA Libraries Special Collections Rare Books Librarian. Building on the work of my predecessor, Juli McLoone, I am responsible for acquiring, maintaining and preserving Rare Books Collection, and partnering with UTSA’s subject librarians to provide instruction on archival resources and research tailored to fit faculty learning objectives and enrich students’ learning experiences.
I come to San Antonio from Atlanta, Georgia where, from 2010-2015, I worked in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) at Emory. As the Collection Management Coordinator, I was responsible for all aspects of managing the physical storage, arrangement, and retrieval of MARBL’s rare books, maps and over 15,000 linear feet of archival and manuscript collections. I selected printed materials for stabilization and conservation treatments, managed rare book mass digitization projects and workflows, and worked with curators and rare book dealers on acquisition and accessioning of new materials. During my tenure, I oversaw two moves of the rare book collection and played a major role in planning for the University’s new, state of the art off-site storage facility, which will house circulating and archival collections.
In 2011, I received my PhD in Latin American History from Emory University. My dissertation, A Prison by any Other Name: Incarceration in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth- Century Audiencia de Quito challenged the commonly accepted dichotomy between pre-modern and modern penology, and related assumptions about the beginnings of prisons and their development in Latin America.
It was during my dissertation research in Ecuador’s National Archives that my interest in the work of archivists and librarians was born. Upon returning to the United States, I sought graduate work positions that would bring me closer to that world. I have worked in Emory’s Conservation and Preservation Office, as a rare book assistant and, in 2009 as a fellow working with Emory’s Latin American Bibliographer on retrospective collection development. In 2014, I received my MLIS degree from University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
As the Rare Book Librarian, I am thrilled at the opportunities ahead of me and look forward to growing our Mexican Cookbook Collection, expanding our print collections related to communities and groups traditionally underrepresented in the historical record, as well as adding new items to our digitized collections. I am also very excited about partnering with UTSA’s librarians and faculty to create a robust archival instruction program that can provide UTSA students with immersive learning experiences that will empower them to become knowledge creators rather than consumers.
- UA 99.0027 UTSA. Papers of Faculty and Staff: Wendy Barker, 27 linear feet of teaching files, manuscript drafts, and correspondence documenting the writings and career of Poet in Residence and Professor of Creative Writing, Wendy Barker.
- MS 426 John Shown Collection, two journals.
- Song from the forest : my life among the pygmies / Louis Sarno ; foreword by Alex Shoumatoff ; afterword by Michael Obert.
“For twenty-five years Louis Sarno has been recording the polyphonic and hypnotic music of the Bayaka people in Central Africa. Here is his account of his efforts to protect the Bayakas’ fragile existence in an increasingly destructive world, and of their culture’s extraordinary beauty and spiritual sophistication”–