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K-State Today

February 8, 2022

'Best of Times, Worst of Times: K-State in 1968' now open

Submitted by Cailin Riley

Students, faculty and friends are invited to visit Hale Library's fifth floor to view the exhibit "Best of Times, Worst of Times: K-State in 1968."

Drawing primarily on items from university archives in the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, the exhibit illustrates the various events on campus during that momentous year. The installation also features loans from K-State's Historic Costume and Textile Museum and from Ralph and Mary Ellen Titus.

The exhibit originally opened in April 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of a year that included athletic successes, social movements on campus and visits from numerous national figures. Cut short due to the May 2018 Hale Library fire, it is back to provide more time for people to connect with the displayed items.

The title comes from a Kansas State Collegian column that Dave Slead wrote on Jan. 6, 1969: "The year many called 'the best of times and the worst of times' is gone. Many tragedies, many hopes of bettering world and national conditions took place in 1968."

During the 1960s, activism and antiestablishment sentiment swept college campuses, and K-State was no exception. Major issues included the Vietnam War, civil rights, Black Power, second-wave feminism, changing sexual mores and student empowerment. From campus visits by Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy to the mysterious fire that destroyed Nichols Gym, the exhibit explores how national issues played out here in Manhattan, alongside traditional university activities.

The exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The co-curators of the exhibit are Cliff Hight, head of Special Collections, and Dan Ireton and Ellen Urton, academic services librarians. "Best of Times, Worst of Times: K-State in 1968" will run through September.