THE MAY ’68 PARIS UPRISING COLLECTION OF POSTERS AND EPHEMERA AT YALE UNIVERSITY

View Paris - May 1968 at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

The events of May 1968 reverberated globally. While French students were leading the nation into a veritable revolution, waves of revolt spread across Europe, Mexico, and Czechoslovakia (culminating in the Prague Spring uprising). The Student Revolt in Paris remains iconic though. Its proliferation outward to other sectors of French society culminated in a vast general strike that paralyzed the government, and very nearly toppled the De Gaulle administration.

Contributing to the momentum of May ’68 dissent was the Atelier Populaire, a workshop of students and teachers from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, which clandestinely produced and distributed hundreds of posters to bolster the protesters’ resolve. These posters were the main informational vehicles of students and workers, a corrective to government propaganda in the mainstream media.

Johan Kugelberg’s “May ’68 Paris Uprising Collection of Posters and Ephemera” consists entirely of documents that were created by – and for – a revolution. In the collection are 85 street posters (75 were produced by the Atelier Populaire), and an assemblage of ephemera retrieved during the uprising, and safeguarded after, by Atelier Populaire founder Phillipe Vermès. These flyers, handbills, newspapers, and newsletters offer a first-hand account of the events as they transpired, representing France’s cry for reform.

The collection is now at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.