The Grateful Dead. Jimi Hendrix. The Who. Santana. Fifty years ago, on Aug. 15–18, 1969, Woodstock Music and Art Fair happened.
As the book Festival notes (pictured, showing Grace Slick and Jerry Garcia), “Perhaps it wasn’t as big as the accomplishments of Apollo 11. And perhaps it was something larger.”
Historians estimate 400,000 people attended this iconic three-day event, filled with peace, love, happiness, and a dollop of mud. (A bit short of the Crosby, Stills, and Nash estimate of a million!)
While we don’t know for sure whether any Villanovans attended Woodstock, and the festival itself did not merit a mention in The Villanovan, Villanova’s student newspaper, we know an awful lot about life on campus during this time of upheaval, social change, and unrest.
Students at Villanova certainly did not heed the counter culture mandate to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Were they “feelin’ groovy?” Possibly. But these students, like many of the young people during this time period, had to cope with traumatic and divisive events. Like Villanovans in the decades after, they questioned, they reasoned, and they graduated with dreams of shaping the world.
Learn more about how far out Villanova was in the ’60s in the library’s digital exhibit: https://exhibits.library.villanova.edu/nova-stories.
Shawn Proctor, MFA, is Communications and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library. He has been attending the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the closest modern iteration of Woodstock, since 1999.