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Democratic National Convention Records

Identifier: spe-dnc

Scope and Contents

The majority of this collection details the events and messages of the Convention itself through the officially produced material that was distributed to delegates and press. Records include schedules, press releases, seating charts, committee information, speeches, statements, campaign literature, posters and reports. The protests surrounding the convention and the ensuing police crackdown are covered in Series 5: the Alternative Press Response, comprised of newspapers.


  • Creation: 1965 - 1968
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1968


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

The Democratic National Convention was witness to controversy and suspense both within the convention hall and without. Held in Chicago’s International Amphitheatre August 26-29, 1968, the Convention determined who would be the Democratic candidate for president. In March of that year, amid criticism over his handling of the Vietnam War, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek a second term in office, leaving a field of multiple candidates vying for the position.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York was a strong candidate with a great deal of support. On June 5, 1968, however, shortly after winning the California Democratic primary, Kennedy was shot. He died on June 6. Entering the Democratic National Convention in August, it was still unclear which remaining candidates Kennedy’s supporters would endorse.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy and South Dakota Senator George McGovern were the leading candidates at the Convention in Chicago. McCarthy ran as the anti-war candidate. Ultimately, Hubert Humphrey was nominated, with Maine Senator Edmund Muskie as his running mate. Humphrey went on to lose the presidential election in November to Republican Richard Nixon.

While the race for the nomination played out inside the convention hall, another story was unfolding outside. As the war in Vietnam escalated, so did anti-war sentiment among American citizens. Additionally, the recent assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, was freshly fueling the Civil Rights movement. Two main groups of Vietnam War protesters—the Youth International Party, or Yippies, and the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, or MOBE—planned a series of protests throughout Chicago to coincide with the Convention.

Chicago’s mayor, Richard J. Daley, was aware of the protest plans and conscious of the racial climate in America’s urban centers. Race riots had occurred in Los Angeles in 1965, in Detroit in 1967 and around the country after King’s death, including in Chicago. Daley boldly advertised that his host city would maintain “law and order.” Yippies and other anti-war groups were repeatedly denied permits to assemble and to march, especially in African American neighborhoods, for fear that their purportedly peaceful movement would lead to riots and violence. Though a few events were granted permits, late August approached with antagonism and tension already sewn between city officials and protesters.

In the days leading up to the Convention, police increased their presence and instituted a curfew. On August 23, planned protests began. Most of the protest activity took place in Lincoln Park or Grant Park, both several miles north of the Convention site. Throughout the week, various bouts of violence broke out between the police and the protesters. Hundreds of people on both sides were injured, and hundreds more protesters were arrested. Eight leaders of the protest groups went on to face a years-long trial and appeal process with charges of crossing state lines to incite a riot, among others. Ultimately, the Chicago Seven, as this group of leaders came to be called, were acquitted of most charges and served nominal sentences, if any, for their convictions.


3 Linear Feet (in 4 boxes, 2 photographs)

Language of Materials



The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago determined that Hubert Humphrey would be the Democratic candidate for president. Throughout the Convention, anti-war protestors demonstrated around Chicago and experienced police violence and arrests. The majority of this collection details the events and messages of the Convention itself through the officially produced material that was distributed to delegates and press. The protests surrounding the convention and the ensuing police crackdown are covered through a series of national alternative newspapers.


The collection is arranged in 5 series. Folders within series are arranged alphabetically.

  • Series 1: Democratic National Convention Records, 1968
  • Series 2: Candidates, 1968
  • Series 3: Speeches and Statements, 1968
  • Series 4: Related and Participating Organizations, 1965, 1968
  • Series 5: Alternative Press Response, 1968

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials found in collection; no documentation concerning the provenance of these materials exists.

Related Materials

Republican National Convention Records

Guide to the Democratic National Convention Records
Johanna Russ. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Johanna Russ, 2021.
November 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875