Remembering Our Early Days: Vintage Tees, Buttons, and Newsletters

by Guest Blogger

September 4, 2009

A few months back, I was lucky enough to enter our archives.  The temperature controlled room, deep in the heart of the office, is a highly organized system housing every imaginable artifact of Greenpeace US history.  From crew members’ photos aboard the Phyllis Cormack to the latest newsletter, the archives tell the story of how a few brave activists setting sail for Amchitka in 1971 grew to be the leading independent environmental organization today. 

I could spend days upon days browsing the immense collection of records, and scratching my head: fanny packs? visors?

but not having endless time to hang out in the archives and ponder some Greenpeace attire, I sat down with our archivist Nikolas.

Describe your role as archivist:

  • My job as GP archivist is to preserve and document GP’s history and historical documents and artifacts, and maintain the organization’s institutional memory.  As an organization with a 40 year history, it’s important to preserve our history because our foundation is a critical part of who we are and shows that we have long-standing expertise and credibility on environmental issues.  When people talk about saving whales, we can show that we essentially started the movement.  When people debate global warming, we can prove that we’ve been on the right side since the 1970s.  We’ve exposed scams, lies and crimes for decades and the archives is the record of those successes.

Do you have a favorite record?

.  When French agents bombed the ship in 1985 in New Zealand, messages were sent from Auckland to other offices, giving a minute-by-minute account of the aftermath of the attack and the realization and shock of losing one of our crewmembers.  Oh, and I like buttons.

Many thanks to Nikolas for keeping the archives in top shape!  If you ever come across an old Greenpeace article and have a question about it, you can bet Nikolas will be able to tell you more about it!  For example, when I forwarded an e-mail that read: At a cafe in Porstmouth, NH I saw a poster in the men’s room entitled, Stepping Lightly on the Earth: a Minimum Impact Guide to the Home, Nik appeared leaflet in hand within the hour.

In addition,  we have a bare bulletin board over here that could really benefit from some supporter pictures!  Whether wearing a vintage tee, personal photos from a volunteer action, or even an old article found way back in the kitchen drawer, we’d love to see it!  You can e-mail us attachments at [email protected] or mail them to the below address.  I mean, how cute is Zoe in her Mom’s childhood "Save the Seals" tee?!


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