Center for Applied Conflict Management
Kent Area Chamber of Commerce
Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence
May 4 Task Force
Special Collections and Archives
Selected Bibliography on the Events of May 4, 1970 at Kent State University


Bills, Scott L. (ed.). Kent State/May 4 Echoes Through a Decade. Kent:
Kent State University Press, 1988. This book provides town and gown reactions to
May 4. It has the best bibliography in the literature.

Casale, Ottavio M., and Paskoff, Louis, eds. The Kent Affair: Documents and Interpretations. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. Useful volume which reproduces local and national newspaper articles and radio and television broadcasts.

Davies, Peter. The Truth About Kent State: A Challenge to the American Conscience.
New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1973. Detailed narrative and analysis of May 1970 events and their aftermath; includes 74 photographs.

Eszterhas, Joe, and Roberts, Michael D. Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State.
New York: Dodd, Mead, 1970. Two Cleveland journalists use extensive interviews of students, faculty, and guardsmen to provide a background to and narrative of May 1970 events.

Hensley, Thomas R. The Kent State Incident: Impact of Judicial Process on Public Attitudes. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981. Examination of three cases of Kent State litigation: (1) the 1974 federal grand jury investigation; (2) the 1975 civil trial; and (3) the 1978 retrial of the civil damages suit, which let to the out-of-court settlement.

Hensley, Thomas R., and Lewis, Jerry M., eds. Kent State and May 4th: A Social Science Perspective. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1978. The collection reprints a number of earlier articles, but articles covering Kent State litigation and the 1977 gym controversy were written specifically for this volume.

Knight Newspapers, Inc. Reporting the Kent State Incident. American Newspaper Publishers Association, 1971. Booklet containing an account of the investigation undertaken by Knight Newspapers which resulted in the 30,000-word report appearing in the May 24, 1970, editions of the Knight newspaper chain.

Michener, James. Kent State: What Happened and Why. New York: Random House and Reader’s Digest Books, 1971. The author’s detailed examination of the Kent State shootings was widely read in the early 1970s. Michener concludes that there was no sniper, that there was no order to fire, that “it seems likely that some kind of rough verbal agreement had been reached among the troops when they clustered on the practice field,” and that the guardsmen were “in no mortal danger at the time of firing.” Recounting his own stay in Kent and his work with the Reader’s Digest research team, Michener contends: “This is as true picture of one small aspect of a great state university as we could construct.”

Taylor, Stuart; Shuntlich, Richard; McGovern, Patrick; and Genther, Robert. Violence at Kent State, May 1 to 4, 1970: The Students’ Perspective. New York: College Notes & Texts, 1971. The authors undertook “to evaluate the perceptions, feelings, attitudes and reactions of as many students as possible” concerning May 1970 events. A questionnaire was sent out on May 28, 1970, to all students then enrolled at Kent State; by June 24, 7,000 had been returned.

Tompkins, Phillip K., and Anderson, Elaine Vanden Bout. Communication Crisis at Kent State: A Case Study. New York: Gordon and Breach, 1971. This book is based on interviews conducted by a task force and examines the breakdown in communication at the university in the days previous to the May 4 shootings.


U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Historic Sites Survey Division. Kent State May 4, 1970 Site. Report prepared by James Sheire, January 1978. Typescript. Sheire was historian for the Historic Sites Survey Division and prepared this report as part of the National Park Service’s response to a request by Sen. Howard Metzenbaum and Congressman John Seiberling that the Kent State campus be considered by designation as an official historical landmark, a designation that was not conferred.

President’s Commission on Campus Unrest. Report, 1970. Reprint edition by Arno Press. The commission was established on June 13, 1970, chaired by William Scranton. “The commission’s report included general commentary on student upheaval of the 1960s as well as specific commentaries and analysis of the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State Universities in May 1970. Concerning events in Kent, those who burned the ROTC building, those who attacked and stoned National Guardsmen, and all those who urged them on and applauded their deeds share responsibility for the deaths and injuries of May 4.” Yet, the decision by Guard commanders to disperse the noon rally was a “serious error.” Further: “The timing and manner of the dispersal were disastrous…the indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable.”

This selected bibliography was prepared by Dr. Jerry M. Lewis, emeritus professor of sociology at Kent State University. It is based on the bibliography and annotations in Scott L. Bills (ed.), Kent State/May 4 Echoes Through a Decade. The reader is encouraged to consult the full bibliography which contains articles and other materials related to May 4 and its aftermath. The brochure prepared by Kent State University titled, “The May Fourth Site and Memorial,” may be obtained from University Relations and Marketing (330) 672-2727. It contains a map and narrative that are helpful to both visitors and researchers. The text of the brochure is also available on-line at


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