In the Archives: The Papers of an Antiwar Activist

Perrin, Richard. G.I. Resister: The Story of How One American Soldier and His Family Fought the War in Vietnam. Trafford Publishing, 2001.

Perrin, Richard. G.I. Resister: The Story of How One American Soldier and His Family Fought the War in Vietnam. Trafford Publishing, 2001.

Massachusetts native Richard Perrin enlisted in the United States Army in 1967. Soon after his enlistment, he became an antiwar activist, and was particularly opposed to the Vietnam War. Perrin and several others in the Army began distributing antiwar leaflets and the publication The Bond. Perrin’s antiwar activities eventually resulted in a court-martial for a minor pass infraction. In September 1967, Perrin deserted the Army, traveling by train from Heidelberg to Paris. While in Paris, Perrin connected with other deserters and formed Resistance Inside the Army (RITA). This Wikipedia entry offers a brief summary of RITA’s history and activities. RITA published a newsletter, ACT, which is considered the first underground GI paper. ACT had a mailing list of about ten thousand and had a worldwide circulation. In Perrin’s own words, “it turned on a lot of guys and opened up a lot of avenues.”

"Cloak and dagger: U.S. deserters at Paris press conference." Newsweek. February 26, 1968.

“Cloak and dagger: U.S. deserters at Paris press conference.” Newsweek. February 26, 1968.

In 1969, Perrin left France for Regina, Saskatchewan, where he taught a university seminar on the US Army and founded the Regina Committee of American Deserters, which provided housing and other assistance to military deserters. In 1975, Perrin was granted amnesty in the United States. In 2001, he published his autobiography, G.I Resister: The Story of How One American Soldier and His Family Fought the War in Vietnam.

Regina Committee of American Deserters (RCAD) stamps

Regina Committee of American Deserters (RCAD) stamps

Richard Perrin donated his papers to University Archives and Special Collections via the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston in July 2001. A large portion of his papers comprises correspondence between Perrin and his family members, documenting his life after he graduated from high school, his experiences in the Army after enlistment, and his desertion to Paris in the fall of 1967. The collection also contains a newspaper-clipping scrapbook of Perrin’s activities which was assembled over the years by his mother, Betty Perrin; information on amnesty rights and specific amnesty organizations; information on the Regina Committee of American Deserters; and a copy of Perrin’s book.

Campaign flyer for U.S. House of Representatives election. [1998]

Campaign flyer for U.S. House of Representatives election. [1998]

One folder that may be of particular interest in light of the current US presidential race is a subject file on Bernie Sanders, who was mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980s and a member of the US House of Representatives from 1991-2007. The file spans 1975-1998 and includes correspondence between Perrin and Sanders, press coverage, and campaign items.

View the finding aid for the Richard Perrin papers here.

For questions about this collection or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.

aam_c_0To celebrate Archives Month, I will be posting highlights from our collections throughout October. I hope that this will turn into a regular series. To learn more about Archives Month, visit the Society of American Archivists website.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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