Compulsory Military Service and Conscientious Objection in the Vietnam War

2022 Guides - Theme: Debate & Diplomacy in History
Vietnam Veterans Against the War protest in front of the Denver federal courthouse July 16, 1972

Getting Started

Begin your research by brainstorming keywords - the words and phrases you’ll use to search for books, articles, websites, government documents, and other resources. These may include names of people and places or historical concepts like eras and movements. A librarian can suggest “subject headings” to find the most relevant resources.

Example Keywords & Catalog Subject Headings

Compulsory military service
Conscientious objection
Conscientious objector
Selective Service System
Vietnam War
Draft resister
Draft evasion
Draft evader
Draft protest

Genealogy, African American and Western History Resources

The Western History & Genealogy department focuses on Colorado and the West and features many primary source materials.  

The Blair Caldwell African American Research Library collections focus on African American history and culture in Colorado and the West, and also feature many primary source collections. 

Items from these two departments do not check out and are available to see at the Central Library when we are open. Western History and Blair-Caldwell staff are available to assist by phone and email and can provide scans of collection items for your project. To contact these two departments, email or and include "National History Day" in your subject line. You may also call 720-865-1821.

Database/Online Resources

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U.S. History (Gale)

Provides a complete overview of our nation’s past that covers the most-studied events, decades, conflicts, wars, political and cultural movements, and people from reference sources, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted web sites.

Available with library card

Gale eBooks

Access full-text encyclopedias covering the arts, biography, country studies, history, law, literature, religion, science, social science and more! Great for research and homework. Video tutorial

Available with library card

Major Daily Newspapers

Search or browse the full text of these major newspapers

  • New York Times, June 1980-current
  • Wall Street Journal, January 1984-current
  • Chicago Tribune, January 1985-current
  • Los Angeles Times, January 1985-current
  • Washington Post, January 1987-current

Available with library card

Internet Sources

Before using information you find on the internet for assignments and research, it is important to establish that the information comes from a reliable and appropriate source. The following websites, from government, academic and nonprofit organizations, have been evaluated for authority, accuracy, content and currency.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has a wealth of records and information documenting the U.S. experience in the Vietnam conflict. These include photographs, textual and electronic records, audiovisual recordings, exhibits, educational resources, articles, blog posts, lectures, and events.
Historical timeline of the the Selective Service System from its beginnings to the present. Note the section "1950-1975: The Vietnam War." Published by the Selective Service System, an independent agency within the Executive Branch of the U.S. Federal Government.
Provides a timeline of conscription (mandatory military enlistment) in the United States.
"On August 6, 1966, Chicano activist Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales addressed a group (believed to be the Denver Stop The War Committee) with a speech declaring, "peace is dignity."
The speech transcript containing Gonzales' powerful part the Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Papers housed in the Denver Public Library's Western History and Genealogy (WHG) department."

Contact the Reference Services department for help with your research project