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A Guide to the Lois Hensel Collection on the Gainesville Eight

Finding aid created by Rhianna Martin

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
March 2016

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hensel, Lois (Collector)
Title: Lois Hensel Collection on the Gainesville Eight
Dates: 1973-2015, undated
Bulk dates: 1973-1978
Abstract: The "Gainesville Eight," a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters associated with Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), planned a demonstration during the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami, Florida. They were arrested and charged on accusations of plotting a violent protest, but were later acquitted due to lack of evidence and signs of government interference. This collection houses newspaper clippings covering the trail, juror notes, VVAW papers, some correspondence, and analysis articles; and gives insight into protest movements and government corruption in the 1970s.
Extent: 0.58 Linear feet.
Identification: MSS 0354
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

The Gainesville Eight were involved with the activist association Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). The VVAW is a non-profit veterans' organization founded in 1967 to oppose the Vietnam War. The Gainesville Eight was based out of Gainesville, Florida, with Scott Camil as its southeast regional head. The organization published a weekly newsletter, The Winter Soldier, in the 1970s, which advocated their anti-war beliefs and showed the expanse of their reach in putting an end to the draft. This collection regards the trial of the eight members arrested for advocating violent disruption to the 1972 Republican National Convention held in Miami, Florida: John Briggs, Scott Camil, Alton Foss, John Kniffin, Peter Mahoney, Stanley Michelson, William Patterson, and Donald Perdue. Prosecution evidence was produced from paid VVAW infiltrators that the Eight had planned to protest the Convention to raise awareness for cessation and faults of the war in Vietnam. Sources suggest that even though the Eight were charged for organizing a violent demonstration, they had actually worked with Miami police and other activist groups in order to maintain amity at the Convention. The trial, held in Tallahassee, began on August 2, 1973 and ended on August 31, 1973 with all eight protestors acquitted of all charges.

The Gainesville Eight were arrested on charges of violent protest and plotting, however, numerous events suggest the Eight were targeted for their strong will to uncover the truth of the government's actions. The trial itself produced little verifiable evidence to suggest the Eight's protest would be a violent demonstration. Much of the prosecution's evidence during the trial came from paid informants working within the VVAW. The Eight's defense based their argument on the grounds that the group had a right to freedom of speech, that there was little evidence against them, and that the government's charges were covers to divert attention away from the recently erupted Watergate scandal. The prosecution claimed ties between the Democratic Party and the VVAW to stir up conflict at the Republican National Convention. This trial opened up speculation into the government's involvement with such groups, leading to their actions and behaviors being examined. Likewise, more focus was placed on the difference between government reports to the public and actual war events.

Scope and Content

The Lois Hensel Collection on the Gainesville Eight houses news clippings of the trial and papers for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) protest group. This collection dates from 1973 to 2014, with bulk dates of 1973 to 1978, and includes a series of newspaper clippings, juror notes, VVAW papers, some correspondence, and analysis articles. These records provide evidence into the trial of the eight protestors who allegedly conspired to cause a violent anti-war demonstration during the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami, Florida. This collection gives insight into one of the many protest movements that arose in opposition to the Vietnam War and the draft.

The set of news clippings ranges from July 31, 1973 to June 22, 1978, and encompasses the day to day updates on the trial, as well as post-trial analysis. The month of August 1973 is heavily detailed, however, there is a gap from 1974 to 1978 where no clippings were gathered. The Federal District Court material, from June 21 to August 9, 1973 follows the notes and procedures of the trial, especially juror Lois M. Hensel. Though there are only a few notes taken by Hensel during the trial, her post-trial narrative is included in the collection. The final theme concerns the papers and information on the VVAW, spanning the year of 1973. Much of the information included is protest papers and rally articles; there is no specific correspondence between the leaders.


This collection is arranged in chronological order.

Access or Use Restrictions


This collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Lois Hensel Collection on the Gainesville Eight, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

These materials were collected by juror Lois Hensel and her husband during the trail in 1973. They were later given to Scott Camil, one of the Gainesville Eight, who donated them to the University of Florida Special Collections in 2014.

Contents List

Box Folder
11 Psychology Today Magazine. circa 1973 May
12 Federal District Court material on Lois M. Hensel, juror. 1973 June 21-1973 August 31, undated
13 News clippings. 1973 July 31
14 News clippings. 1973 August 1
15 News clippings. 1973 August 2
16 Original notes and juror list. 1973 August 2-1973 August 9, undated
17 News clippings. 1973 August 3
18 News clippings. 1973 August 4
19 News clippings. 1973 August 5
110 News clippings. 1973 August 6
111 News clippings. 1973 August 7
112 News clippings. 1973 August 8
113 News clippings. 1973 August 9
114 News clippings. 1973 August 10
115 News clippings. 1973 August 11
116 News clippings and correspondence between James W. Hensel and Judge Winston E. Arnow. 1973 August 12
117 News clippings. 1973 August 13
118 News clippings and prescription note for Lois M. Hensel, juror. 1973 August 14
119 News clippings. 1973 August 15
120 News clippings. 1973 August 16
121 News clippings. 1973 August 17
122 News clippings. 1973 August 18
123 News clippings. 1973 August 19
124 News clippings and Time Magazine article. 1973 August 20
125 News clippings. 1973 August 21
126 Edited paper for sequestered jurors. 1973 August 21, 1973 August 24
127 News clippings and comparison chart of column sizes between Gainesville Sun and St. Petersburg Times and correspondence from James Hensel to Judge Arnow. 1973 August 22
128 News clippings. 1973 August 23
129 News clippings. 1973 August 24
130 News clippings. 1973 August 25
131 News clippings. 1973 August 26
132 News clippings. 1973 August 27
133 News clippings. 1973 August 28
134 News clippings. 1973 August 29
135 News clippings. 1973 August 30
136 News clippings. 1973 August 31
137 News clippings. 1973 September 1
138 News clippings. 1973 September 2
139 Post trial additional news clippings and Time Magazine article. circa 1973 September, 1974 January
140 Sociological study. 1973 October-circa 1974 July
141 Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) materials. circa 1973
142 News clippings. 1974
143 News clippings. 1978 June 22
144 Digital files, clippings, inventory and other assorted files of Lois Hensel. 2013
145 "Scott Camil: Resistance and Liberation" presentation flyer. 2014
146 Gainesville 8-Scott Camil commission report (photocopy, 1967 November 9). undated
147 News clipping (photocopy of 1973 October 28 The Floridian). undated

Sources consulted

"Four of the Gainesville Eight Reunite After 30 Years" (Gainesville Sun)
"Gainesville 8" (Wikipedia)
"The Gainesville Eight and a Nixonized World" (
"The Gainesville Eight, 40 Years Later" (The Gainesville Iguana)
"Vietnam Veterans Against the War" (Wikipedia)

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Anti-war demonstrations
Camil, Scott
Peace movements
Protest movements
Social justice
Trials, litigation, etc.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Vietnam War (1961-1975)

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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