Special Collections and Archives

J. Gregory Payne papers

Special Collections and Archives

J. Gregory Payne papers

Important Notice: Due to a grant-sponsored project to digitize materials from the May 4 Collection, in-person use of the May 4 Collection is available by appointment only. Please help us serve you better by contacting us in advance to schedule an appointment for access to this collection.

J. Gregory Payne papers

May 4 Collection -- Box 67

Finding Aid

Prepared by Denise D. Cibulas, 4 April 1984; Updated by Penny White, June 2013; Re-processed by Anita Clary, June 2018.


Inclusive Dates: 1975-2007
Extent: 1 cubic foot (1 record storage box and 1 oversize folder)
Physical Location: 12th floor


Biographical Note:  J. Gregory Payne, Associate Professor at Emerson College (Boston, MA) has taken a great interest in the May 4 events over the years. A few weeks following the May 4 shootings, Payne drove from Illinois to the Kent State campus where he was unable to stay on the campus for any length of time, due to restrictions issued by the University. That summer he started to explore the events by contacting those immediately involved. He completed his dissertation (Ph.D) at the University of Illinois on the Kent State incident: A Rhetorical Analysis of Selected Interpretations of the Kent State Incident.

As a result of his research, Payne has helped to produce several noteworthy projects concerning the May 4 events. In 1973, he put together a slide show at Illinois for connection with a communications class that he was teaching which explored the 1970 shootings. In 1975, prior to leaving Illinois, Payne served as chairman of the Kent State-Jackson State Memorial Forum and he has been involved in other memorial services since that time.

In 1977, Payne worked on a reader's theater presentation of the May 4 events with Mary Woods and Marissa O'Leary. The piece, which focuses on the events as seen through the eyes of Mrs. Florence Schroeder, eventually became known as Kent State: A Requiem. The piece summarized the political, legal and personal events that have followed as a result of the May 4 shootings.

In 1980, Payne served as Historical Consultant for the Interplanetary Productions/Osmond Communications film Kent State (35mm/color). The screenplay was written by Gerald Green and Richard Kramer. The film, directed by James Goldstone, was filmed in Gadsen, Alabama, August-September 1980. The film was presented as a docu-drama on NBC in February 1981. Another creative effort put forth by Payne in connection with the May 4 events is the book Mayday: Kent State, published by Kendall/Hunt (Dubuque, Iowa) in 1981.

More information on Payne's work about the Kent State shootings can be found at his May4Archive site.


Scope and Content:  The papers of J. Gregory Payne reflect his research of the Kent State shootings. The papers will be of value to the researcher of student unrest, especially that which occurred on the Kent State campus in May 1970. Clippings serve to help document the reactions of those involved in 1970, as well as those reactions stirred-up ten years later in 1980 as a result of the filming of the NBC movie. Notes made by Payne provide a careful study of the sequence of events leading to the final confrontation between the National Guard and the students on May 4. Although most of the collection concerns Payne's involvement in the making of the NBC movie, information that was gathered to provide a basis for the film will prove to be significant to the researcher who is interested in the May 4 events and the aftermath.


Arrangement: The items within this collection are arranged in the following series:

  • Series 1: Subject files
  • Series 2: Commemorations (in chronological order)
  • Series 3: Film Kent State
  • Series 4: Payne papers and speeches (in chronological order)
  • Series 5: Audio Visual

Acquisitions Note: The bulk of papers of J. Gregory Payne were transferred to the Kent State University Archives on November 3 and 5, 1980. Additional papers, including a copy of a speech given at the 1985 commemoration, were donated on May 20, 1985, and new materials are added on an irregular basis.

Restrictions on Access: Some information included in this collection is restricted due to the presence of information protected by privacy laws. This information has been redacted where present on documents in the collection. Un-redacted originals, in all cases, have been retained by Special Collections and Archives.

Restrictions on Use: J. Gregory Payne has transferred property and literary rights that he owns in this collection to Kent State University Special Collections and Archives. 

Related Materials: Payne also has placed a collection of works at Yale University in the Kent State collection (MS 804) (Series V, additional donors).


May 4 Collection - Box 67
Folder -- Contents

SERIES 1: SUBJECT FILES

Scope and Content: These files are comprised of materials that have been organized by subject, category, or type of item.

  1. Artifacts: "Sign-Up May Fourth Vigil" handmade sign, undated
  2. Clippings: 25 Year Commemoration of Kent State Shootings, 1995
  3. Clippings: Looking back at May 4 events, 1972-1980
  4. Correspondence, undated
  5. May 4 classroom resources, undated
  6. May 4 Task Force, 1980
  7. Notes: May 3, 1970 sequence of events, undated
  8. Notes: May 4, 1970 sequence of events, undated
  9. Notes: After the killings at Kent State, undated
  10. Photographs: Artwork from Ruth Gikow's "Elegy," undated
  11. Photographs: J. Gregory Payne, undated
  12. Photographs: May 4 Commemoration at Kent State, 1979
  13. Press Release: Mayday: Kent State, book by J. Gregory Payne, 1981
  14. Vita of J. Gregory Payne, 1980

SERIES 2: Commemorations

Scope and Content:  This series includes files for conferences and commemorations relating to the shooting of students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 and at Jackson State on May 15, 1970. Payne was involved with the planning of these programs which were held at several locations, including University of Illinois, Occidental College, and Emerson College. Included in the collection are planning documents, programs, flyers, press releases, photographs, and conference proceedings. The files are arranged in chronological order.

  1. "Kent State/Jackson State Memorial Forum," University of Illinois, 1975.
    Historic Note: Payne was the chair of this forum which featured Senator Edward M. Kennedy and students wounded in the May 4 shootings.
  2. "Kent State: A Wake," 1977-1979
    Historic Note: Payne was co-author of this reader's theatre production that was performed at various locations nationwide.
  3. "Kent State: A Requiem," 1979-1980
    Historic Note: Payne was author and director of this play based on events surrounding the May 4 shootings. The play was performed at over twenty universities and colleges during 1979 and 1980 national tours.
  4. "Kent State/Jackson State: 20 Year Retrospective," Emerson College, Boston, March 30-31, 1990
  5. "Kent State/Jackson State: 20 Year Retrospective," Correspondence, 1989-1990
  6. "25th Year Retrospective of Kent State and Jackson State," Emerson College, Boston, April 23-24, 1995
  7. "25th Year Retrospective of Kent State and Jackson State," conference proceedings, April 23-24, 1995
  8. "Celebrity & Spectacle: The Making of a Media Event," Emerson College, October 27, 2000
  9. "Changing Perspectives: Reevaluating the Kent State Shootings," Emerson College, April 23, 2001
  10. "The Legacy of Kent State," April 7, 2005
    Historic Note: Presented by the Michael J. Collegian History Project, Miami University, Ohio.
  11. "Campus Violence: Lessons Learned from Kent State," Emerson College, April 19, 2007
    Historic Note: Hosted by Payne's Argument and Advocacy class and dedicated to those lost at Virginia Tech on April 17, 2007.
  12. "Kent State Colloquium," Yale Political Union, undated

SERIES 3: Film Kent State

  1. Artifacts: "KS Transportation" sticker, undated
    Scope and Content: Thought to have been used in the film Kent State.
  2. Artifacts: Shell casings, undated
    Scope and Content: Unidentified by Payne, but thought to have been used in the film Kent State.
  3. Call Sheets, August-September, 1980
    Scope and Content: The daily call sheet is a schedule issued to the cast and crew of a film production to inform them of where and when they should report for a particular day of filming. Call sheets include other useful information such as contact information, transportation arrangements, props, wardrobe, and special instructions. They may also provide logistical information regarding the location, such as weather, local hospitals and restaurants, etc.  Included in this collection are call sheets for the sixteenth day of rehearsal (Friday, August 15, 1980); the first day of filming (Monday, August 18, 1980); and the twentieth day of filming (Tuesday, September 9, 1980).
  4. Cast list for the film Kent State, undated
  5. Clippings: filming of Kent State, 1980
  6. Clippings: reviews of Kent State, 1980
  7. Clippings: from clipping service regarding Kent State, 1980
  8. Correspondence, 1980
  9. Director's Notes and One Line Schedule, July 24, 1980
  10. Director's Shot List and Continuity Notes for Campus Gates Sequences, August 16, 1980
  11. Director's Shot List and Continuity Notes for Burning of ROTC, August 17, 1980
  12. Invitation to reception celebrating commencement of photography, August 17, 1980
  13. Photographs from filming of Kent State: originals, undated
  14. Photographs from filming of Kent State: photocopies, undated
    Scope and Content: This folder contains photocopies of photographs with typed and/or handwritten notes. Images include cast and crew, film scenes, and images depicting signs of the times.
  15. Press book for Phase III of NBC's 1980-81 season, January, 1981
    Scope and Content: Includes information on screening of Kent State.
  16. Press release, September 7, 1980
    Scope and Content: Announcing J. Gregory Payne as historical consultant for film.
  17. Publicity poster for Kent State, undated
    Physical Location: Filed in map case.
  18. Scene sketches for film Kent State, undated
    Scope and Content: Drawing of mall area at Gadsen State University with notes about possible scene site and elevation drawing of pagoda sculpture.
  19. Schedule for filming, August 11, 1980
  20. Staff and crew housing list, August 15, 1980
  21. Synopsis of film, undated

SERIES 4: Payne papers and speeches

  1. "Six Years Ago," 1976
    Scope and Content: Speech delivered at the May 4 memorial program at Kent State University, May 3-4, 1976.
  2. "A Rhetorical Analysis of Selected Interpretations of the May 1970 Kent State Incident," 1977
    Scope and Content: Payne's dissertation abstract.
  3. "Historical Accuracy Versus Dramatic License in Television DocuDrama: The Making of Kent State," November, 1981
    Scope and Content: Paper presented at the Speech Communication Association 67th Annual Conference, Anaheim, CA, November 12-15, 1981.
  4. "Mediated Reality in Docudrama: The Struggle for Accuracy in NBC's Kent State," April, 1985
    Scope and Content: Paper presented at the University of Iowa Ethics and Television Conference.
  5. "Kent State: Why the Shroud of Silence?," May, 1985
    Scope and Content: Speech delivered by Payne at the May 4 memorial service at Kent State University.
  6. "Kent State University, May 1-4, 1970: A Study of Conflict," undated
  7. Untitled paper, undated
    Scope and Content: This paper outlines Payne's interest in the Kent State May 4 shootings and the creation of "Kent State: A Requiem."

SERIES 5: Audio Visual

  1. Audiocassette recording, KGIL Radio program "I Want to Know," 1980
    Scope and Content: Radio interview of J. Gregory Payne and John David.
  2. Videotape (VHS): Kent State: Mary Vecchio and John Filo, undated 
    Scope and Content: Boston news clip of Vecchio and Filo at Emerson; 3-minute news package on "Emerson Remembers Kent State"
  3. Videotape (VHS): Kent State Reunion, undated
    Scope and Content: Boston news story showing brief clips from "Emerson Remembers Kent State," including Mary Ann Vecchio and John Filo meeting, Dean Kahler, and nighttime vigil.
  4. Videotape (VHS): "Kent State: 25th Anniversary," 1995
    Scope and Content: Boston news clip of Emerson College commemoration of May 4 shootings at Kent State.
  5. Videotape (VHS): Kent State: Events," 1995
    Scope and Content: News spots from various local (Boston) and national news broadcasts with clips from Emerson College commemoration and the May 4 memorial program at Kent State University. Highlights include Payne; Dean Kahler; Peter, Paul and Mary; and clip of performance of “Kent State: A Requiem” featuring Mary Ann Vecchio.