Project Survival

Project Survival: a ''teach-out'' on the environment
Adlai Stevenson III and Paul Simon Poster Poster Cartoon Poster Photo Spread Overflow Viewing Room

As preparations began for the first Earth Day in April of 1970, Northwestern led the way in pushing environmentalism into the public discourse, hosting the first related "teach-out" on January 23, 1970 and creating a template for the Earth Day events that would follow. This event, Project Survival, was organized by Northwestern Students for a Better Environment (NBSE) and featured an all-night string of speeches, workshops, concerts, and films highlighting pressing environmental issues. As many as 10,000 people were estimated to have attended and notable guests included Illinois Lt. Gov. Paul Simon, Illinois State Treasurer Adlai Stevenson III, and folk singer Tom Paxton. Take a look through the Archives' collection of materials relating to Project Survival to learn more about this notable event in the history of American environmentalism, which many have nick-named "The First Earth Day."

The Northwestern University Archives currently owns film reels of the first five hours of the event. Included are the introductions, all nine featured speakers, and Paxton's musical interlude. The films cover what is both an important event at Northwestern and the beginnings of a significant cultural trend in America. However, the quality of the film is rapidly detiorating. Not only is the technology required to play them obsolete, but age has caused the material to decay; if they are to be digitized, action needs to be taken quickly.

Time magazine and Chicago Tribune articles are external links. All other documents and clippings are in .pdf format. | Exhibits Home | Last updated 8/18/2009