Weather Underground Organization Collection

1918-1978 (Bulk: 1973-1978)
5 boxes (2.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 1145
rotating decorative images from SCUA collections

These records, collected by a member of the Weather Underground Organization, document the struggles, critiques, and accomplishments of the radical group, primarily during the period of the group's reorganization, internal struggle, and demise from 1973 to 1978.


The 1960s and 1970s were decades rich with activist organizations intent on radically transforming U.S. politics and society as well as striving to end racial and gender inequality. One such group was Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Launched in 1962, with the infamous Port Huron Statement, SDS helped the nascent anti-Vietnam war movement gain traction in 1965 by organizing the first national demonstration in Washington, D.C. Over the course of the next four years, the organization grew at a rapid pace, claiming over 300 chapters under its moniker. Arguments over tactics and strategy culminated during an eventful national convention in June of 1969 in which three factions, all claiming to represent “the true SDS”, split the organization apart.

The most notorious of these factions was the Weathermen, (later renamed the less patriarchal Weather Underground Organization [WUO]). The WUO aimed to spark revolution in the United States, initially, through the use of targeted political bombings, political communiques, and support of Black liberation movements. Following the March 1970 accidental self-bombing of three of its New York collective members, Ted Gold, Diana Oughton, and Terry Robbins in a New York townhouse owned by Cathy Wilkerson's father, the organization opted to conduct more targeted bombings where no one would be hurt.

After two-to three-years of high-profile bombings, including the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, corporate buildings, and law enforcement institutions, with minimal impact, the organization began to consider how to regain influence with the greater Left. This began WUO’s “inversion” phase which included the publication of a book/manifesto titled Prairie Fire, the establishment of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, and a periodical- Osawatomie. The WUO’s Central Committee believed that this inversion strategy would allow them to influence and lead the greater anti-war/anti-imperialist movement.

The inversion strategy did not spark the all-encompassing revolution imagined by the WUO and members slowly began to surface, breaking apart the organization in the mid-late 1970s. While the WUO did not accomplish what they set out to do, their extreme tactics and notoriety with the FBI left lasting impressions on American society and the history of activism in the 1970s.

Scope of collection

This small collection of materials donated by a member of the WUO includes books, pamphlets, manuscripts, notes, military manuals, maps of correctional facilities, and correspondence between members from 1973 to 1978, many of them coded through the use of letters replacing names. It also holds papers critical of  the WUO written by its own members between 1976 and 1978. This represents the period when Clayton Van Lydegaf gathered members in his “Cadre School”, to rigorously analyze and document how the organization fell apart, including a transcript from a recorded interview session in which Bernadine Dohrn repudiated all methods and practices of the WUO. These papers reflect the power struggle seen later within the WUO, as well as the contempt that many of its members grew to nurture for the organization as it strayed from its original purpose.

The collection also contains many political papers on subjects such as women and their place within the WUO, the anti-fascist movement, Black liberation movements, imperialism, and the origins of fascism. It also holds accounts of the WUO’s history, along with critiques, notes, and adaptations for their manifesto, Prairie Fire.


Ali (writer) and Carmen (consult), on military strategy [paper]
Box 1: 1
Analysis of WUO history [notes/critiques of it included]
1978 Nov.
Box 1: 2
Bernadine Dohrn, denouncing WUO politics [tape transcript]
1976 Nov.
Box 1: 3
Blasting Forum, the Back Pocket Guide to Drilling and Blasting
1969 Sept.
Box 1: 4
Book on devices by Reds
Box 1: 5
Booklet on silencers
Box 1: 6
"Breakthrough" criticisms [more on women]
Box 1: 7
"C" papers
Box 1: 8
Capitalism and Crisis [political study paper]
Box 1: 9
Children's Vietnam song
Box 1: 10
The Combat Bookshelf, Explosives and Demolitions
1959 May 14
Box 1: 11
Correspondence to "S" from "L"
Box 1: 12
Criticisms/correspondence between women of the WUO
Box 1: 13
Critiques/notes on "their paper"
Box 1: 14
Criticism of self-criticism of "CC", "RZ", and another proposal
Box 1: 15
Department of the Army Field Manual, Special Forces Operational Techniques
1965 Dec.
Box 2: 16
A description of issues in WUO [along with reactions to "W"'s paper and "A"'s visit
Box 1: 17
Discussion proposal for national meeting
Box 1: 18
Drafts/notes of papers
Box 1: 19
Du Pont, Blaster's Handbook, fifteenth edition
Box 2: 1
Explosives and Bomb Disposal Guide
Box 2: 2
[Field engineering a demolitions field manual]
Box 2: 3
FOCO theory and the present rectification
Box 2: 4
Guide to Vietcong Boobytraps and Explosive Devices
Box 2: 5
Hi-Low-Boom: An Explosives Treatise of Synchronous Historical Duration
Box 2: 6
Institute of Makers of Explosives, Explosives in Agriculture
Box 2: 7
Intl. liberation school, Firearms and Self-Defense Handbook
1969 Dec.
Box 2: 8
L.C., Surviving the hospital
Box 2: 9
Lenz, Robert C. Explosives and Bomb Disposal Guide
Box 2: 10
Letters/criticisms/responses to political papers within WUO
Box 2: 11
Letter from ex-WUO members [to Native Americans]
Box 2: 12
Letters/notes from A ["notes from the radishes"]
1977 Nov.-1978 Jan.
Box 2: 13
Letters to Sonia and Jane
Box 2: 14
Manual of Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Warfare Agents
Box 3: 1
Maps [Rikers Island and other correctional facilities]
Box 3: 2
[Maurer, William C., Detonation of Ammonium Nitrate in Small Drill Holes,Quarterly of the Colorado School of Mine vol. 58, no. 2, annotated]
1963 Apr.
Box 3: 3
Notes/critiques for "paper"
Box 3: 4
Notes on ideological issues
Box 3: 5
Notes for "long paper" [notebook]
Box 3: 6
Notes/papers on "Manzanita"
Box 3: 7
Notes/papers on Prairie Fire
Box 3: 8
Notes/papers on "red zinger"
1973 Jun., Dec.
Box 3: 9
Notes/thoughts on leadership
1975 Jun.
Box 3: 10
[...Of the Forest: Stating the Problems: WUO history by TTC]
1973 Aug. 1
Box 3: 11
Organization's notes/letters/papers/on women
Box 3: 12
Origins of fascism [handwritten manuscript]
Box 3: 13
Outline history of the WUO [pamphlet]
Box 3: 14
Papers concerning the proposal for rectification
1976 Apr.-Jul.
Box 3: 15
Papers/notes on women [and women's cadre]
1976 Apr.-Nov.
Box 4: 1
Personal papers from "G"
Box 4: 2
Personal self-criticism of a WUO member
Box 4: 3
Personal thoughts/letters
1975 Jul.
Box 4: 4
Personal thoughts/poems/notes from a WUO member
Box 4: 5
Personal thoughts from a WUO member
Box 4: 6
Personal thoughts/written notes
1978 Jan.-Sep.
Box 4: 7
[Political school for cadre report]
Box 4: 8
Post banquet papers/notes
Box 4: 9
Reflections/self-criticisms/notes [correspondence, manuscripts]
Box 4: 10
Response to NA criticism
Box 4: 11
Roots of the Economic Crisis [2 copies]
Box 4: 12
ROTC manual, Individual Weapons and Marksmanship
1966 Sept. 1
Box 4: 13
Six Sisters: [Summer Study of Women in Struggle for Health, Education, and Welfare]
Box 4: 14
Box 4: 15
Self-criticisms of the WUO
Box 4: 16
Sing a battle song [poems written by women in WUO]
1975 Jan.
Box 4: 17
T.N.T. Trinitrotoluene and Mono and Dinitrotoluenes: Their Manufacture and Properties by Carlton G. Smith
Box 5: 1
Thoughts/notes [organizing white people, women, white supremacy, etc.]
Box 5: 2
TTC in late 60's imp. pamphlet [unidentified pamphlet on imperialism/capitalism]
Box 5: 3
U.S. Army, The M16A1 Rifle: Operation and Preventative Maintenance pamphlet
Box 5: 4
[Unidentified author: journal of trip to Cuba]
1960 Dec.
Box 5: 5
WUO communiques/statements [handouts, pamphlets, and posters]
Box 5: 6
You Can't Get to Heaven in a Rocking Chair [manuscript]
Box 5: 7

Administrative information


The collection is open for research.


Gift of Jeff Perry

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Tonks, and Jeremy Smith, February 2022.



Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Weather Underground Organization Collection (MS 1145). Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms


  • Activists--United States
  • Dohrn, Bernardine
  • Feminism
  • Imperialism
  • Political activists--United States
  • Racism against Black people
  • Revolutionaries
  • Women revolutionaries


    Genres and formats

    • Blueprints (reprographic copies)
    • Correspondence
    • Manuals (instructional materials)