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Collection on May 6, 1970 ROTC Building fire, May 1970

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Processed by Janice Childers in October 2008 under the supervision of Deirdre A. Scaggs, University Archivist.; machine-readable finding aid created by Janice Childers


Collection on May 6, 1970 ROTC Building fire


May 1970


University of Kentucky Libraries, Special Collections


This collection is arranged at the item level according to slide number.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Preferred Citation Note

1988ua005: [identification of item], Collection on May 6, 1970 ROTC Building fire, University of Kentucky Archives.


0.18 cubic feet (1 box)


The Collection on May 6, 1970 ROTC Building fire consists of 15 color transparencies taken after the fire.


UK Public Relations is responsible for gathering and disseminating information about the University of Kentucky and the faculty, staff and students. As part of its responsibilities, the PR staff identifies and develops news and feature stories about these activities. They also distribute news releases and other formal communications.

In short, UK Public Relations supports the teaching, research and public service functions and administrative needs of the institution by preparing and distributing news releases and assisting media representatives in their news-gathering efforts.

Source: UK Public Relations Department website

The fire that destroyed the ROTC annex building on May 6, 1970 took place after two days of tension and protest following the killings of four Kent State University students by National Guardsmen on May 4 of that same year, and President Nixon's announcement of the decision to invade Cambodia. Earlier in the day on May 6, students had formed a procession to protest the Kent State killings and congregated around Buell Armory, where ROTC was headquartered. Police were already stationed at the armory, and the riot squad was called in around 10 PM as 40-45 state troopers also joined the scene.

After some confrontation, the scene moved to the old Air Force ROTC building which stood on the corner of Euclid and what is now South Martin Luther King Boulevard. Nearly 100 state troopers, the city riot squad, city police, and campus police were guarding the building when a group numbering an estimated 500 or more students gathered in front. The fire began suddenly and unexpectedly in the back of the building and was believed to have been started by a Molotov cocktail. The fire destroyed the ROTC building and damaged at least three rooms on the third floor of Blazer Hall.

Although several arrests were made, and student Sue Ann Salmon was charged with arson, no one was ever convicted of starting the fire and the charges on Salmon were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Scope and Content

The Collection on May 6, 1970 ROTC Building fireconsists of 15 color transparencies created by the University of Kentucky Public Relations Department in the days following the fire.

The images show the damage to the ROTC building from several different perspectives, as well as the resulting damage to the Blazer Hall dormitory across the street.


  • Lexington (Ky.)
  • Demonstrations -- Kentucky -- Lexington.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements.
  • United States. Army. Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
  • University of Kentucky.
  • University of Kentucky -- Buildings -- Fire.

User Restrictions

The intellectual rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections.

Related Material

Student Protests file, Ready Reference, University of Kentucky Archives.

Kentucky Kernel on microfilm, University of Kentucky Archives.

2001ua025, General Photographic Prints, University of Kentucky Archives.

Collection Inventory

ROTC building fire, 1970-01-06
[box: 1, folder: 1, item: 1-15] browse

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