Vietnam and the Hilltop

Stephen Richard Kerbs Exhibit Area

Madame Nhu at Georgetown

Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu (1924-) from 1955 to 1963 was considered the First Lady of South Vietnam. Her brother-in-law, President Ngo Dinh Diem, was a bachelor and so she acted as his First Lady and lived with her husband, Ngo Dinh Nhu, Diem's chief adviser, in the Independence Palace in Saigon.

Madame Nhu visited Georgetown on October 19, 1963. This would be one of the university's first connections with South Vietnam. Less than a month later, on November 1st, Madame Nhu's husband and her brother-in-law, President Diem, were assassinated in a coup, led by General Duong Van Minh. Alumnus Robert Shrum (C'65) acted as master of ceremonies on the occasion of the Nhu visit to Georgetown. Shrum recently published his memoirs: No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007).


The Armies of the Night

Mailer, Norman. The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History. New York: The New American Library, 1968. First edition. From Special Collections.

Taking its title from Matthew Arnold's famous poem, "Dover Beach," the volume's dust jacket states: "This work chronicles the author's adventures over the four days of the October 1967 anti-Vietnam demonstrations in Washington, and then returns to the same ground for an objective history of the battle of the Pentagon, establishing in the process a fascinating entrance into that mysterious unexplored land between the material of a novel and the material of a history." Shown together with the volume's first appearance in print in Harper's Magazine (March 1968), where 90,000 words of the book were used in what was thought to be the longest piece of writing ever published in one issue in the 118 years of the magazine's history.


For May Day of 1969 the lawn in front of Copley Hall was used for a "camp-in" by students, photo taken May 7, 1969. From the Georgetown University Archives.


As opposition to the Vietnam War began to increase in the United States, frequent marches on Washington took place. Georgetown University saw at firsthand much of the anti-war feeling. Pictured here is a Vigil before the Vietnam Moratorium demonstrations, 14 October 1969. From the Georgetown University Archives.

Henle Letter

Henle, Robert J., S.J. Typed letter (carbon), 13 November 1969, to Mrs. William B. Shealy, in reply to her objections over Georgetown students marching against the Vietnam War and the coming Moratorium. Father Henle, then President of Georgetown University, defended the students, and explained that there is a "broad spectrum of student opinion" and that the "whole business of the Moratorium in Washington is a highly complex one." From the Georgetown University Archives.

Vietnam Veterans Against the War

A flyer, 18 April [1971], for "Active Duty G.I.'s join force with Vietnam Vets Against the War" and to "gather forces at Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets, N.W. ... Check in at front gate."

Photo Essay

The Georgetown Voice. April 27, 1971. In this issue the more liberal of Georgetown University's two student newspapers uses the photographic skills of undergraduate John Michael Baldoni (C'74) for this "photo essay" about anti-Vietnam War demonstrators in Washington.

May Day Demonstrations

During the 1971 May Day demonstrations, demonstrators were gassed near Georgetown University and remnants of the gas drifted onto campus. Here is a scene of students running from the gas, near Lauinger Library. From the Georgetown University Archives.

Healy Circle on May Day

Another scene from the 1971 May Day demonstration on campus, in Healy Circle, with then Ryan Administration Building (present day Royden B. Davis, S.J. Center) in the background. From the Georgetown University Archives.

The Emergency Committee

4 May  1971. A committee appointed by Rev. Robert Henle, S.J., Georgetown's president, to deal with protests on campus, issues their report, describing the tense May Day situation and their actions.

Inauguration Day Demonstrations

The Georgetown Voice. January 23, 1973. In this issue the newspaper covers the anti-Vietnam War demonstration which erupted in the midst of Richard Nixon's inauguration. The photograph by John Michael Baldoni of the Mall and the Washington Monument give a feeling of the event.


Curated by Nicholas B. Scheetz, Manuscripts Librarian.