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Moratorium, 1969 and St. Louis Doctors for Peace

Graphic, March for Peace around the Medical Center, Dec. 12, 1969.
Graphic, March for Peace around the Medical Center, Dec. 12, 1969, Outlook, Winter 1970, page 19.

Button, Nov 15 [1969], March on Washington to bring all the troops home now!With “The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick” airing this week on PBS, it is a good time to examine the oral history of David Kennell, MD, and his archives on St. Louis Doctors for Peace. Kennell’s oral history and papers contain documentation of the 1969 Moratorium, an event to promote peace in Vietnam, which was held at Washington University School of Medicine and on campuses all over the United States beginning Oct. 15, 1969. A month later the Moratorium Day rally was followed by a large Moratorium March on Washington, Nov. 14-15. The Saturday march and rally across from the White House was preceded by the March of Death which began Thursday evening. In the March of Death, over 40,000 people walked silently in single file down Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House to the Capitol building. Each carried a sign with the name of a dead American soldier or destroyed Vietnamese village.

Early flyer for the Moratorium Day Rally, Oct. 15, 1969.According to David Kennell’s oral history, the St. Louis Doctors for Peace “scheduled a rally to be held outdoors on … Oct. 15, which would include various speakers from the St. Louis Medical Community and in particular people here at the Washington University Medical School – Barnes complex … There were about 7,500 flyers printed to advertise the moratorium rally and about 1,200 of these were mailed through the medical school mailroom from the news bureau.” The faculty of many medical school departments voted to suspend business as usual to allow students to attend the moratorium events. Flyers for the Oct. 15 rally read “support the moratorium, wear a black arm band,” which “was worn by persons throughout the country as a symbol of protest against the war.” About 1,000 people gathered in front of the Cancer Research Building to hear seven faculty members and one student tell why they wanted peace in Vietnam.

Dr. Estelle Brodman, Librarian of Becker Medical Library wanted documentation of the moratorium movement at the medical center and wrote a memo to Kennell, [professor of] microbiology immediately on October 15, 1969.

Since the Doctors for Peace and the moratorium Day Rally in the Cancer Building Courtyard is part of the history of the Washington University School of Medicine, would you be willing to collect and deposit in the Library Archives all the material still extant and not necessary for your use? I refer to such things as handouts, placards, agenda, memos on plans, a review of sums of money collected and disbursed – or anything else you think someone in the future wishing to write the history of the movement would like to see.

Peace armband worn at Moratorium events, WUSM-Barnes-Jewish complex, 1969.

Flyer, Moratorium teach-in, Peace in Vietnam, The Medical Community & WarKennell’s papers (now in the archives) contain all of the above except placards. They also include buttons, ribbons, armbands, flyers, clippings, new releases and Kennell’s correspondence documenting the activities of St. Louis Doctors for Peace from 1969 to 1973. Of special interest in his correspondence are the remarks of Bernice A. Torin, MD, the only woman who spoke at the Oct. 15 rally, and William H. Danforth’s statement to be read at that rally "either in full or not at all." Danforth’s later reflections on protests in this era are included in his 2007 oral history

For photographs and an article about the three moratoria events held at Washington University Medical Center in 1969, the university’s Outlook Magazine from the winter of 1970 is invaluable. It covers two other moratorium observances in the medical center on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, 1969. About 250 people gathered in North Auditorium on Nov. 14 for a teach-in, “Peace in Vietnam, the Medical Community and the War,” led by Washington University professors Theodore Von Laue (history) and Dan Bolef (physics), and Moisy Shopper, MD, of St. Louis University. Approximately 250  people also marched for peace around the Medical Center and assembled in North Auditorium on Dec. 12 at a memorial service for the dead.



1000 rally at First of three moratoria. (Winter 1970). Outlook Magazine, 7(1), 19-20. Retrieved September 14, 2017, from

David E. Kennell Oral History, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine. (2017, September 13). Retrieved from Washington University School of Medicine, Oral History Project:

David E. Kennell Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives [FC011]. (2017, September 13). Retrieved from Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives Database:

The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. (2017, September 14). Retrieved from PBS 9 Nine Network:

William H. Danforth Oral History, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives. (2017, September 15). Retrieved from Washington University School of Medicine, Oral History Project:

* Please note: Becker Briefs pages may contain links, email addresses or information about resources which are no longer current.