1968: A Year in the Collections

1968 was a tumultuous, pivotal year marked by political and cultural change. In January, the largest offensive in the Vietnam War was launched by the North Vietnamese, catching the U.S.-led forces unaware. It was a turning point that saw more Americans withdraw their support for the war—and brought more intense anti-war protests.

On April 4, civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots erupted in Washington, Chicago, Baltimore, and many other cities. On April 11, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act. In May, the Beatles announced the creation of Apple Records; later in the year they released the White Album.

In an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the U.S., the Poor People’s Campaign was launched, including a march and an extended occupation, called Resurrection City, that began in May near the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. In June, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

On December 24, Apollo 8 entered the moon’s orbit. It was the first time humans saw the far side of the moon and the entirety of Earth, ending a chaotic year on a hopeful note.

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