Guide to the Haight Street Diggers Records, 1966-1969 MS 3159

Finding aid prepared by Processed by California Historical Society staff; supplementary encoding and revision supplied by Xiuzhi Zhou. Revised by David Krah in 2009.
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
415-357-1848
reference@calhist.org
2001, revised 2009


Title: Haight Street Diggers Records
Date (inclusive): 1966-1969
Collection Number: MS 3159
Creator: Haight Street Diggers (San Francisco, Calif.).
Physical Description: 1 box (0.25 linear ft.)
Contributing Institution: California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
415-357-1848
reference@calhist.org
URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/
Language of Material: Collection materials are in English.
Physical Location: Collection is located onsite.
Abstract: Mainly photocopies of fliers, broadsides, poetry, manifestos, and other printed material distributed in the community, the bulk of which was printed by the Communications Company, a group created by several writers and Diggers; together with several issues of Free City News and Free News, community newsletters. Includes material on the Summer of Love, 1969, Glide Church Be-In, Free City Collective, Happening House, and other events and topics.

Information for Researchers

Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the California Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Research Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Haight Street Diggers Records, MS 3159. California Historical Society, Manuscript Collection.

National Union Catalog of Manuscripts Collection Number

NUCMC 82-387

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Broadsides
Communications Company
Ephemera
Free City News
Glide Memorial United Methodist Church (San Francisco, Calif)
Haight-Ashbury (Calif.)
Hippies--California--San Francisco.
Neighborhood--California--San Francisco.
Newsletters
San Francisco (Calif.) --Social life and customs.
San Francisco Mime Troup--History
Summer of Love
Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Donated by Eric Noble, date unknown

Accruals

No additions are expected

Processing Information

Processed by California Historical Society Staff

History

Characterized by the San Francisco press as a "hippie philanthropic organization," the Diggers were started by two members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Emmet Grogan and Peter Berg in 1966. The group took its name from a reform group in Cromwell's England. In 1649 Gerrard Winstanley, William Everard and their one hundred supporters began to cultivate common park land to feed themselves. Their action was a protest against the rising costs of food. They offered the surplus food to the poor, arguing that land should be free to all those who needed to make use of it. Opposed to physical force, they were easily suppressed by army leaders. Throughout their struggles, they supported the notion that political revolutions must be based on social revolution.
These ideological roots were replanted with the Haight Street Diggers of the 1960s. The Diggers were an open organization, for "to announce oneself a Digger, was to be a Digger." Their first action was to print leaflets known as "Digger Papers." Their purpose was to "educate the people in the Haight; to make them open to the Diggers' philosophy; and, to make them think for themselves." Leaflets often pertained to specific events that were happening in the neighborhood, such as disagreements with the Haight Independent Proprietors, the local merchants association. They also covered such controversial topics as the War In Vietnam.
The Digger organization fed hundreds of people free food in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park for about one year. The group was given surplus vegetables from the stalls at Farmer's Market. When free meat was unavailable, they stole from the local markets. They were responsible for the establishment of many free services, such as free stores, the Free Frame of Reference, the Trip Without a Ticket and free medical care.
Glide Memorial Methodist Church in the Tenderloin became involved with the Hippie Movement and permitted the Diggers to hold a "happening" at Glide known as the Invisible Circus. It was to have been a three day event on February 24, 25 and 26 1967. However, the police closed it down after the first day. As a result of their use of the streets for theater, parades and gatherings, the Diggers were often involved in confrontations with the police department. They were constantly subject to harrassment and arrest at their free stores.
During 1967 the Diggers grew in number and became a large informal organization involved in many different groups and causes. They included Hells Angels, the Mime Troupe Guerilla Theater, the anti-war movement and the Communications Company. The Communications Company was created by several writers and Diggers, including Richard Brautigan, Michael McClure, Lenore Kandel, Emmet Grogan, Peter Berg and others. They issued communications altering the community to events and free services, as well as providing them with information about avoiding the police, drug use, the Vietnam War, anti-draft efforts and the fight against racism in the Haight. These papers were distributed free on Haight Street from January to June 1967.
The Diggers were as important part of the daily life of the Haight during the years 1966 and 1967. On October 6, 1967 they and hundreds of others celebrated "The Death of the Hippie," the last hippie event with a parade and ceremony that ended with the burial of the Psychedelic Shop store sign. Many of the Diggers left San Francisco to set up collectives in other states, but vestiges of the Diggers remained. Some of the Diggers formed the Free City News and organized a Free City Planning event in March 1968. As late as 1969 papers issued by the Diggers were still printed.

Scope and Content

The Haight Street Diggers Records consists mainly of photocopies of letters, flyers, poetry, manifestoes, posters and other printed materials that were distributed in the Haight-Ashbury. The bulk of the material was printed by the Communications Company. There are several issues of "Free City News" and "Free News," community news letters. Subjects of the materials include: Summer of Love, the Human Be-In (January 1967), Glide Church Be-In, (Invisible Circus, February 1967), Free City Collective, Happening House, KIVA, Hopi Religious ideology, Job Coop, Black Man's Free Store, the Free Frame of Reference and the Trip Without a Ticket, free city, a free city planning event (March 1968) mobilization against the war in Vietnam and a variety of events and rock concerts.

Box 1, Folder 1

1967 March-1969 March, undated

Box 1, Folder 2

Invisible Circus 1967 February 24-26

Box 1, Folder 3

Communication Company 1967 January 24, July 28, undated

Box 1, Folder 4

Free City News 1968 June 7

Box 1, Folder 5-6

Miscellaneous 1966-1968, undated