Paris, May 1968
In May 1968 students in Paris occupied university buildings to launch an avalanche of protests and strikes against the authorities. This was only the beginning of a wide-ranging social and cultural revolution that involved not only students and workers, but public servants, journalists, artists, and youth as well.
At the very beginning of this movement, on 3 May 1968, a staff member of the IISH unknowingly emerged from the metro station Invalides, on his way to an appointment. This particular staff member was an thoroughgoing anarchist, historian, and collector.
Rudolf de Jong now remembers:
"Everybody was extremely busy there. A passer-by told me: "since all historians in Paris are working on the revolution, you would do better to concentrate on collecting stencils!" I ended up in the massive demonstration at the Sorbonne, and I was one of the first foreigners to enter the atelier where posters were printed on newspapers. You had to go through the entire city, from one university building to another, be present at meetings, tear down posters, pick up handouts… Many students were eager to help with collecting during these days and nights, even when they had other things on their minds and were dead tired.
At one time, I joined the Cleaning Committee of students who cleaned the buildings during occupation. This yielded quite a lot of flyers. Only one person refused to give me a flyer when I asked for it, and this was an official from a trade union. 'No, we won't even consider giving you one', he said. On the whole, trade unions and leftist political parties had a restraining influence on the movement. The most important truly new aspect of this era, in my opinion, was the creation of action committees. Committees of student/workers, parents, teachers, school pupils, and local residents… This atmosphere of liberation, even though it lasted only a couple of weeks, remains a lasting experience."
Thousands of flyers, posters, bulletins and pamphlets constitute the 'Paris Mai-Juin '68' collection at the IISH. A selection is presented below on the occasion of the fortieth birthday of Paris, May 1968