Ereviews: Rock and Roll, Counterculture, Peace and Protest | April 1, 2012

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CONTENT Rock and Roll, Counterculture, Peace and Protest (RRCPP) collects international archival materials. The database offers original manuscripts and typescripts; photo graphs; letters; pamphlets; advertisements; clippings; censorship documentation; leaflets; government files; images of posters, pins, and other period memorabilia; video clips from ITN Source and Huntley Film Archives; and a chronology from 1950 to 1975 containing embedded articles and images.

Period magazines are a major feature; the database includes complete runs of Gandalf’s Garden magazine, the Sydney and London Oz magazine, and a variety of zines from Bowling Green State University’s collection. Users will also find scripts and production notes from the films of Peter Whitehead; interviews with notables from counterculture movements on both sides of the Atlantic; University of California, Berkeley’s Social Protest collection; and introductory essays on a variety of topics, including The Permissive Society and Popular Culture and Recollections of Liverpool in the 1960s.

Material in the file comes from several academic sources: the Ray and Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Sussex, and Britain’s National Archives at Kew. More unusual sources include Rock Source Archive, Beaulieu National Motor Museum, fashion label BIBA, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Communist Party of Great Britain, the Labour Party research department, Mirrorpix, NASA, the People’s History Museum, and the Robert Opie Collection.

Usability RRCPP’s opening screen features seven inviting vintage images that link to information on the file‚ About, Nature & Scope, User Guide, Editor’s Choice, Editorial Team, Participating Libraries, and Copyright Information. The user guide provides an overview of the individual archives contributing to the file, while at Editor’s Choice, members of the RRCPP team highlight their favorite parts of the collection. These images are topped by a simple search box and a toolbar with links to an introduction, the documents, a chronology, videos and other visual resources, further reading, a help page, and advanced and popular searches.

My first search, for Julian Bond, the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a member of the Georgia House and Senate, and chairman of the NAACP, found 215 hits from pamphlets, underground press articles, government files, and fanzines. Working through the results (by clicking a title, then scanning through links to image snippets) revealed some false hits for just the word bond (as in bond issue, a term in the first hit), along with valid material on Julian Bond. Using advanced search allowed a Keywords Anywhere query for Julian Bond, which resulted in 92 hits, all of which were right on target. A similar search for Captain Beefheart uncovered 23 accurate hits, including the delightful DPP 2/4670: The International Times: Conspiracy to Corrupt Public Morals & Conspiracy to Outrage Public Decency, from the collection UK Government Files: Records of the Director of Public Prosecutions, material that includes ads for the Captain’s gigs in the UK.

Searching the database’s videos for convention returned only one hit, The US election year of 1968, but browsing the list of videos showed that the offerings include Anti-Vietnam War protests in Chicago during the Democrat Party Convention, August 1968, material that should have come up in the search. Frankly, the drop-down windows for filtering a search by document type or display options are close to impossible to use. I clicked on the drop-down, but the system wouldn’t let me choose an option and apply it before the menu closed.

The chronology area of the resource allows users to browse or to Explore Visualization, a 1960s-sounding option that offers a whimsical image with linked bubbles floating up from the bottom of the screen, with the instructions, Click a bubble to see items in that category. I clicked a music bubble and went into the chronology at the Jan. 1, 1950, entry, Fats Domino Achieves U.S. Chart Success With ‚ÄòThe Fat Man.’‚Äâ I was able to browse by date, theme, or artist from that point; by clicking the theme drop-down, I cleared my music choice and got the entire chronology from the first item for 1950 (1 Jan 1950: In the UK Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s Post-war Labour Government Are Still in Power) to the last 1975 listed item (25 Dec 1975: Iron Maiden is Formed by Bassist Steve Harris).

Notable, too, are the Clear Filters search feature, which makes it easy to change a search by document type, collection, and theme; specific image links in results that make it much easier to zero in on relevant material than it would be in paper; and video that allows users to view higher-resolution entries in a larger on-screen player. In a welcome nod to digital social mores, the publisher notes in the chronology, if you would like to see a particular event featured, please email us at chronology@ and we will put your suggestion to our editorial board.

Of all the content here, the video section brings back the period most powerfully, reminding us just why there were so many protests. With material covering everything from reactions to the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy to images of women’s and children’s bodies lying in a My Lai ditch after the March 1968 U.S. Army massacre, RRCPP is a vivid testament to the upheaval and ferocious cultural conflicts of the era.

Pricing Adam Matthew Education uses a banded pricing structure to determine fair discounts and payment plans for institutions of all sizes. The one-time price for RRCPP ranges from $17,400 to $58,000. Email for a quote.

Verdict While search quality can vary, the content here is outstanding, and overall discoverability and accessibility are good. I recommend the database enthusiastically to public, academic, and special libraries serving serious American and British cultural and historical researchers.

Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980's, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early 90's (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.