A Guide to the Cal Robertson Papers, 1965-2014

Cal Robertson Papers2015.0052

Summary Information

Cal Robertson Papers
Creator - cre
Cal Robertson (Calvin Joseph Robertson)
Inclusive Dates
3 Linear Feet
Collection contains personal correspondance, scrap books, t-shirts, political fliers and newsletters relating to anti-war and peace activism.
Call Number
Finding Aid Prepared By
Patrick Butler and Graham Stinnett
University of Connecticut Libraries 405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205 Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1205 archives@uconn.edu URL:

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Central America (general region)


  • Vietnam War (1961-1975)
  • Persian Gulf War (1991)
  • Political activists
  • Peace
  • Peace movements
  • Political prisoners
  • Veterans

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Biographical / Historical

Cal Robertson was born in Norwich, Connecticut in December 6, 1945. He grew up with his mother in Poquetannuck and Mystic, Connecticut until moving to Groton Long Point with his mother whom he eventually lived with for the majority of his life. Cal attended the University of Connecticut briefly in 1963 before enlisting in the Navy for medical service duty as a corpsman in January of 1964. Cal remained on active duty for two years and did two tours of Vietnam, being stationed in Denang. Cal returned from service and was enlisted until 1970. The affects of the war were difficult for Cal and he began traveling as a migrant laborer and was heavily medicating. After his recovery, Cal dedicated his energy to actively demonstrating or "bearing witness" against war and the weapons manufacturing industries throughout the country. He has been arrested countless times for civil disobediance and activism at the Groton sub base and other facilities throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Cal's peace inspiration came from another Vietnam war vet, George Mizo who suffered from agent orange exposure. Cal remained a close ally to others imprisoned for political beliefs as is demonstrated in the prison correspondance in his collection. Cal has remained an active member of the interfaith peace community in Connecticut and regularly held vigils on what is known as Cal's Corner on West Main Street in Mystic. He was struck by a car in New London in 1990, leading many members of this community to hold the vigil for him until he recovered. Cal continues to advocate and organize for peace in his community in New London.

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Activist Movements Related to Cal Roberston Papers

Researchers with an interest in the materials related to anti-war protesting will find the majority of documents and correspondences related to nuclear disarmament. Predominately, those nuclear disarmament correspondences are connected to the “Plowshares” and “Plowshares/Kairos” groups. The collection contains personal correspondences with the following individuals involved directly in the nuclear disarmament protests related to or by the “Plowshares” group: Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, George Boertje Kathy Boylan, Susan Crane, Carol Gilbert, Carl Kabat, Paul Kabat, Todd Kaplan, Anne Montgomery, Michele Naar-Obed, George Ostensen, Frank Panopaulos, Ardeth Platte, George Veasey, Helen Woodson.

The following list of the “Plowshares” and the “Plowshares/Kairos” protests are of particular interest to the collection, but are by no means an exhaustive list:

The Plowshares Eight -1980: Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, Carl Kabat, Anne Montgomery

Trident ‘Nein’ -1982: Anne Montgomery, George Veasey

Plowshares Number Seven -1983: Carl Kabat

Pershing Plowshares -1984: Todd Kaplan, Anne Montgomery

Trident II Plowshares -1984: Frank Panopaulos

Silo Pruning Hooks -1984: Carl Kabat, Paul Kabat, Helen Woodson

Harmonic Disarmament for Life -1987: George Ostensen, Helen Woodson

Nuclear Navy Plowshares -1988: Philip Berrigan, George Boertje

Resistance in Captivity -1988: Helen Woodson

Thames River Plowshares -1989: Anne Montgomery

AEGIS Plowshares -1991: Philip Berrigan, Kathy Boylan

Good Friday Missile Silo Witness -1992: Carl Kabat

Pax-Christi –Spirit of Life Plowshares -1993: Philip Berrigan

Good Friday –April Fools Plowshares -1994: Carl Kabat

Jubilee Plowshares East -1995: Michele Naar-Obed

Jubilee Plowshares West -1996: Susan Crane

The collection contains extensive correspondences between Cal Robertson and the Dominican Sisters Carol Gilbert and Ardeth Platte. Gilbert, Platte, and a third Dominican sister Jackie Hudson are known specifically for their ‘pouring of blood’ protests in Peterson Airforce Base (2000) and breaking into a Minute Man III missile silo in Colorado (2002). They were affiliated with the “Plowshares” group, but the notoriety of their arrests in 2000 and 2002 warrants specific mention in relation to this collection.

In addition to the “Plowshares” and “Plowshares/Kairos” movements for nuclear disarmament the collection also includes flyers, newsletters and correspondences related to the following groups/topics:

Filed in Newsletters and Pamphlets, Organized By Folder Date Range:

Veterans Fast for Life -1978-1992

School of America Action -1978-1992

Vietnam Friendship Village Project -1978-1992

Anti-Trident Network -1978-1992

CASA: Central American Solidarity Association -1993 (1)

United Farm Workers for American AIL-CIO -1993 (1)

Southeastern Connecticut Coalition for Peace and Justice -1993 (2)

School of Americas -1993 (2)

Catholic Worker -1993 (2)

Southern California War Tax Resistance -1993 (2)

Plowshares Disarmament -1993 (2)

School of Americas -1994-1997

Kairos/Plowshares -1994-1997

Connecticut Quaker Witness -1994-1997

Nukewatch -1994-1997

The Justice and Peace Commission -1994-1997

Southeastern Connecticut Coalition for Peace and Justice -1994-1997

Vietnam Veterans against the War -1994-1997

Hartford Catholic Worker -1998-2004

Education for Peace in Iraq Center -1998-2004

Quaker House -1998-2004

The Nuclear Resister -1998-2004

Veterans Vietnam Restoration Project -1998-2004

Sacred Earth and Space -1998-2004

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Collection Inventory



The Correspondences series has been separated out into three distinct sub-series: Personal Correspondences, Prison Correspondences, and Vietnam Correspodences. This separation is meant to best represent the three distinct areas of the Robertson Papers that may be of the most interest to researchers.

The Prison Correspondences and Vietnam Correspondences are the most focused sub-series, dealing with their respective content area of correspondences with inmates and correspondences from Cal Roberston while serving in Vietnam almost exclusively. The Personal Correspodences are more expansive, offering some connections between the Prison Correspondences and Vietnam Correspondences.

Personal Correspondences 

Scope and Contents

The Personal Correspondences are letters written to Robertson from those who are not actively imprisoned. There is substantial overlap with the Prison Correspondences as families of inmates as well as other supporters in activist networks are included in this collection. The Personal Correspondences have been arranged alphabetically by surname where possible. The collection also includes a large number of postcards and letters with abbreviated and currently unidentified senders, grouped together separated from the organized body of the personal correspondences.






Artwork (1) 

Artwork (2) 

Postcards and Loose Envelopes 

Greeting Cards and Letters from Unidentified Senders 

Business Cards and Address Notes 

Prison Correspondences 

Prison Correspondences

The letters written by those who are incarcerated are grouped together, separate from other personal correspondences. Content of note in these correspondences include prisoner testimony of institutional treatment, ongoing peaceful protests while incarcerated, and networks of Christian affiliated spiritual support. The letters are arranged alphabetically in the collection by surname of the sender. Individuals with extensive correspondence with Cal Robertson have been separated out into their own folders for ease of access. The following is a list of individuals whose writings to Cal Robertson are included in the Prison Correspondence sub-series:

Appleby, Sunshine

Barrett, Brian

Beid, John

Berrigan, Philip

Boertje, Greg

Booker-Hirsch (Rev.), Charles

Boylan, Kathleen

Crowley, Kenneth F.

Davis, Felton

Dean, Mary

Desautils, Kathleen

Dhatir, Rafil

Dorm III, Karl Smith

Friedrich, Bruce

Geigle-Teller, Chani

Gilbert, Carol

Graham, Issac

Hammer, Dean

Helen Woodson, Helen

Holladay, Martin

Johnson, Eric

Kabat (Fr.), Paul

Kabat, Anna

Kabat, Carl

Kaplan, Todd

Levasseur, Raymond Luc

Lewis, Gerald

Lietzke, Tim

Litkey, John Patrick

Magno, Paul

McKinstry, Charles

Miller, Richard

Montgomery, Anne

Morrisette, William P.

Naar-Obed, Michele

Panopaulos, Frank

Paska, Sheila

Pasquale, Michael

Pendelton, J.

Perkins, Jim

Platte, Ardeth

Radgowski, George Ostensen

Reid, John

Rumpf, Kathleen

Schmidt, Suzanne

Veasey, George

Washington, Marion

Zawada (Fr.), Jerry



Gilbert, Carol 

Graham, Issac 

Holladay, Martin  


Lewis, Gerald 


McKinstry, Charles 


Platte, Ardeth 

Washington, Marion 

Woodson, Helen 

Zawada, Jerry 

Vietnam Correspondences 

Vietnam Correspondences

The Vietnam Correspondences are the letters written by Cal Robertson himself and sent to his family during his time serving as a Navy Corpsmen attached to the Marines. The letters are arranged chronologically, in order to aid in any efforts to track Robertson’s position and location in relation to the events of the war itself.

Vietnam Correspondence 1965 1965 

Vietnam Correspondence 1966 (1) 1966 

Vietnam Correspondence 1966 (2) 1966 

Vietnam Correspondence/Family Correspondence 1967 1967 

Vietnam Correspondence Undated 

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Newsletters and Pamphlets 


Newsletters and Pamphlets 1978-1992 

Newsletters and Pamphlets 1993 (1) 

Newsletters and Pamphlets 1993 (2) 

Newsletters and Pamphlets 1994-1997 

Newsletters and Pamphlets 1998-2004 

Newsletters and Pamphlets 2005-2014 

Newspaper Clippings 

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Books and Manuals

The books and manuals contained in the Roberston Papers are roughly divided between materials from Cal Robertson's time as a Navy Corpsman during the Vietnam War and materials related to Robertson's time as an anti-war activist.

The military materials include training manuals as well as spiritual material circulated to enlisted personel. Researchers may find The Bluejacket's Manual for serving men in the Navy and Enlisted Correspondence Course Manual of particular interest for those seeking to find insight into the metrics of evalaution and standards expected of men serving in the armed forces during the Vietnam War. Given Cal Robertson's religiously grounded anti-war protesting later in life, researchers may also find his Book of Common Prayer and associated religious texts of import.

Separated Materials

The books and manuals contained in this collection are a mix of military issued training manuals and spiritual reading as well as published works on non-violent protesting and pacifist activism. The following books that were included in the Robertson Papers have been separated from the collected materials and shevled in the stacks:

The War Prayer -Mark Twain: A12973

Johnny Got His Gun -Dalton Trumbo: A12974

It Could be Verse... Or Could It? -Mary Jane Helrich: A12975

Nonviolent Direct Action -A. Paul Hare and Herbert H. Blumberg: A12976

Veterans For Peace -Jerry Genesio: A12977

The Organizer's Manual -The O.M. Collective: A12978

Dear President Bush -Cindy Sheehan (Autographed): A12979

Children fo the Soil -Clark Pratt: A12980

Distrubing the Peace -James Hodge and Linda Cooper: C12491

For ease of access the separated materials have been listed with their shelve numbers, should the researcher wish to consult the texts specfic to the Robertson Papers.


Cal Roberston's Service Documentation and Biographical Documentation 


Plowshares Disarmament Actions Pamphlet 1980-1996 


Cal Robertson's Notebook from Training Command 


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Books and Pamphlets 


It Could Be Verse... Or Could It? A Collection of Poems -Mary Jane Helrich 

The Organizer's Manual -O.M. Manual 

Veterans for Peace: The First Decade -Jerry Genesio 

Non-Violent Direct Action: American Cases -eds. A. Paul Hare and Herbert H. Blumberg 

Disturbing the Peace -James Hodge and Linda Cooper 

Children of the Soil: Zimbabwe and the Future of Agriculture in Southern Africa -Clark Pratt 

The War Prayer -Mark Twain 

Johnny Got His Gun -Dalton Trumbo 

Dear President Bush -Cindy Sheehan (autographed) 

Children of War, Children of Hope Peace Calendar 1993 

War Resisters League Peace Calendar 2002 

War Resisters League Peace Calendar 2004 

War Resisters League Peace Calendar 2005 

"Together We Can Do Anything" -International Cooperation and Development Weekly Planner 1997 

Book of Common Prayer Armed Forces Edition 1963 

Words of Comfort for Catholics Douay Version 

The Gospel of John the Apostle 1950 

Standard First Aid Training Course -Navy Training Course 1955 

The Bluejackets' Manual 17th edition, U.S. Naval Institute 1963 

Basic Military Requirements, Enlisted Correspondence Course  

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Protest Photographs and Family Photographs 1989-2001 

Vietnam Service Photographs 

U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command Company 57 Graduating Class Photographs (2 copies) 1964 

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Veterans Fast for Life: No Contra Aid -cloth flag 

Aramaica Research and Development Library Inc. -cloth tote-bag 

Shut Down Guantánamo -orange t-shirt 

Stop the Contras: Veterans Fast for Life -white sweatshirt 

Cal Robertson's Khaki Garrison Cover 

U.S. Navy Pennant 

Yale University Pennant 

20th Anniversary FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) -black t-shirt 

10th Anniversary of Sandinista Popular Revolution -white t-shirt 

POW USA: Permanent Vacation in Guantánamo Bay -white t-shirt 

Pilgrimage for Peace 2007 -white t-shirt 

Stop the Iraq War, Acquit the St. Patrick's 4 -green t-shirt 

When All Else Fails... ...Read the instructions -red t-shirt 

Stop These Wars, Expose the Lies, Free Bradley Manning: Veterans for Peace -black t-shirt 

We Will Not Be Silent (Arabic script) -black t-shirt 

Collection of Pins and Buttons from Anti-War/Humanitarian Organizations 

Collection of Bumper Stickers, Stencils, and Flyers 

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Oversize Materials

The materials in the Oversize series consist of posters, photographs, books and other materials that merited separate filing due to size and/or shape.


Collected Photographs and Posters 

U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command Company 57 Graduating Class Yearbook 1964 

I Leave Peaceprints -dove-shaped cardboard sign 

Ban Nuclear Weapons - cardboard sign 

Mock Terror Attack = Scare Tactics -cardboard sign 

What Will You Do For Peace? -cardboard sign 

War is Not the Answer! -cardboard sign 

Non Violence Begins with Me! -cardboard sign 

No More Hiroshima or Nagasaki! -cardboard sign 

Camp Lejeune Resisters -oversize poster 

1981 Akwesasne Notes Calendar 1981 

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