The Scab Sheet: An Underground Newspaper Exposing OSU’s Dark Past

The Scab Sheet Collection

The Scab Sheet
MC Box 181 (oversize)

After the racial incidents leading to the 1969 Black Student Union Walk-Out [BSU Walkout Digital Collection] a group of students decided to do something about what they considered to be an unacceptable level of inactivity by the administration at Oregon State. Further incensed by what they labeled as “biased coverage of events” from the mainstream student newspaper The Barometer, the underground newspaper The Scab Sheet was born. Sponsored by the Student Action Committee, authorship of the paper remained anonymous to prevent retaliation citing a “fear of harassment and repressive action.”

The Scab Sheet has been in our collection for a while, but only now did we take on the project of making it available online. Each issue was examined and summarized, with a brief description of each article available for examination.

The Scab Sheet Collection in ScholarsArchive

Reading through each issue of The Scab Sheet was an interesting venture, especially in exploring the change in issues. When the publication first started, the 1969 Walk-Out was in-progress. In fact, The Scab Sheet appears to have played a vital role, in a similar fashion to the role played by social media today, in the organization of grass root movements of protest. Although, it is worth considering that this conclusion comes from within the words of The Scab Sheet itself, so no differing view was used in this assumption.

There are two volumes: Volume I, 1969 and Volume II, 1970

Volume I primarily revolves around a theme exploring racial problems at Oregon State, especially resulting from the Fred Milton incident which inspired the 1969 Walk-Out. Various school officials are harshly examined, especially President Jensen and Coach Dee Andros, and especially in the earlier issues, the rapid development of the issue is chronicled as the Cervantes and Administrative Proposals are examined in the controversial problem surrounding the Human Rights Movement.

Unlike Volume I, the authors of Volume II seem less worried about internal issues of race, instead focusing on the military involvement in Vietnam. Cambodia is also discussed at great length. This volume is much shorter than Volume I, although it is unknown if this is by design, or simply due to a limited supply reaching our collection.

In addition to a full digital copy of each issue in its entirety, each volume in our collection contains a page-by-page description of The Scab Sheet articles, displaying each headline with a brief description of each article’s content.

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And now, a little archives behind-the-scenes information…

While organizing the various issues of The Scab Sheet, the underground nature of the paper became very apparent while trying to place each issue in the correct order.

We had 3 issues with 3 different dates [April 9, April 19, and April 22 which should have been issues 6, 7, 8] and all seemed fine and well until we got to issue number six… the second time. It turns out there are two issues by that number, but the date on one of them follows the printed date on issue seven, while issue eight appeared to be missing entirely. Naturally, we concluded that the number printed on the cover was an error, and that it was actually number eight.

April 9, 1969
Clearly Vol 1. No 6.

 

 

 April 19, 1969
Based on the date, this should be Vol. 1 No. 7

 April 22, 1969
Based on the date, this should be Vol 1. No. 8, but it’s labled as Vol. 1 No. 6
[To make matters more confusing, due to the block-like font, it looks like Vol 2 No. 7] 

 

Then we discovered the other half of our Scab Sheet collection! Apparently we had two separate collections of the paper, a fact only discovered after half of the issues had already been uploaded online. That would not have mattered to our numbering problem, except that the other half contained a previously-unknown issue eight, shattering our theory.

 May 3, 1969

 

Our little genius conclusion all of a sudden didn’t seem quite so genius, however never quite ceding defeat, the investigation went on. We reevaluated the mystery by outlining the facts of the April 22 issue:

1. This issue was an extra number six.
2. Its font makes it look awfully like a seven.
3. Its date of publication places it between the issues marked as numbers seven (April 19 and eight (May 3).

Using nothing but speculation, educated guesses, and an insane desire to solve this mystery, an idea was formed. Picture this scenario: The artist working on the April 22 issue of The Scab Sheet makes an “inko” [like a "typo" but with pen and ink] and accidentally wrote down “No. VI” in blocky letters. Two weeks later, the issue numbers a bit rusty in his memory, the cover artist looked back at those blocky letters and misread his “VI” as a “VII”—that is, he misread his mistake and thought it said “VII,” causing him to assign “VIII” to the following issue on May 3. As a result, four issues are listed as numbers 6, 6, 7, and 8, but in reality they really were 6, 7, 8, and mistakenly, another 8. Our theory is supported by the listed publication date of each issue, though there is no way to know for sure what really happened. Confused? So were we! In the end, the second number six/the April 22 issue was relabeled as 8-a, while number eight/the May 3 issue was relabeled as 8-b.

Here is the shorter and more-boring explanation we used for the collection: According to its publication date, the April 22 issue is the eighth issue to be published, but “Vol.I No.VI” is written on the cover (the font makes it look like Vol.II No. VII); however, the next issue, the May 3rd issue, claims to be number eight. To keep publication dates in order, we have labeled the April 22nd issue as VIII-A (8-A) and the May 3rd issue VIII-B (8-B).

If that seems like a big deal about nothing, don’t worry; we agree. But we found it interesting enough to tell you anyways!

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