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Lois Hensel Collection on the Gainesville Eight

Identifier: MSS 0354

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.


  • Creation: 1973-2015, undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1973-1978



This collection is open for research.

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 at the U.S. Courthouse in Gainesville, 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.


0.58 Linear feet

Language of Materials



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.


This collection is arranged in chronological order.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

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.

Sources consulted

A Guide to the Lois Hensel Collection on the Gainesville Eight
Finding aid created by Rhianna Martin
March 2016
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America