The Special Collections Department is the general designation for rare books, general manuscripts, and special collections which belong to the University of Pittsburgh. Established in 1966, the collections consists of over 52,000 physical volumes, 560 linear feet of manuscripts and archives, 13,000 photographs, 500,000 theatre programs, and various slides, microfilms, posters, recordings, ephemera, and memorabilia.
In general, the Underground Press refers to periodicals and publications that are produced against the wishes of a dominant political or religious institution. Special Collections is fortunate to possess a large collection of such periodicals from the American counterculture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
After a high profile court case made prosecution for obscenity much more difficult, the New Left and the hippie/psychedelic/rock 'n' roll cultures began to produce a wide variety of underground newspapers. They reported on everything from women's liberation to vegan recipes, from student organizing to radical approaches to psychotherapy, from antiwar activism to armed resistance to the state. To make sense of this diversity, this guide divides this vast array of publications into six categories: the radical press, the student press, the socialist press, the alternative professional press, the gay press, and the feminist press.
Instructors from a variety of fields and disciplines have found these underground publications to be useful primary sources for their courses. We are happy to refer students to material or to even invite your class to come in together to explore our collections. Please review our information on how to schedule a visit for your class.
This guide was created by student employee Zachary Grewe in the fall of 2016.