1980s Culture and Society

Compare grassroots media with official records to explore political, social and welfare issues of the 1980s such as the rise of conservatism, nuclear threat, and the AIDS crisis.

Material is drawn from volunteer-led cooperatives to national archives, and spans the US and the UK with additional content from Australia and Canada.

The rich cultural production of the decade is also presented through a variety of source materials showcasing subcultures, alternative lifestyles, and consumer culture.

  • Grassroots newsletters and serials from the Interference Archive and University of Warwick, covering local uprisings and social justice movements
  • US government policy papers and memoranda on civil rights issues, anti-drug campaigns, and the religious right
  • Organisational records, from regional campaign groups, such as the Leamington Anti-Racist, Anti-Fascist Committee, to international charities like Friends of the Earth
  • Atari Coin-Op Division Corporate Records from the Strong National Museum of Play, featuring arcade games such as Asteroids, Centipede, Battle Zone, APB, and Arabian
  • Music and subculture zines from Bowling Green State University on a variety of genres, including punk, disco, rap, reggae, and more
  • Photographs of key events, movements, trends, and celebrities of the decade as well as video footage of advertisements and notable news stories

Key data

Period covered


Source archives

  • Bowling Green State University
  • British Film Institute
  • Interference Archive
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • Mirrorpix
  • The National Archives, UK
  • Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum
  • Sequoyah National Research Center
  • State Library of New South Wales
  • Strong National Museum of Play
  • University of Warwick
  • Alternative lifestyles
  • Black Power movements
  • Consumer culture
  • Disability rights
  • Environmentalism
  • Feminism
  • Indigenous rights
  • New media
  • Rise of conservativism
  • Sexuality and health
  • Subcultures, including music and fandom
  • Threat of nuclear war
  • Advertisements
  • Ephemera
  • Government files
  • Magazines
  • Manuscripts and typescripts
  • Newspapers
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs
  • Press kits
  • Video clips
  • Zines
  • Jenn Brandt, California State University Dominguez Hills
  • Jon-Paul Dyson, The Strong National Museum of Play
  • Emily K. Hobson, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Kennetta Hammond Perry, Northwestern University
  • Miranda Johnson, University of Otago
  • Kenny Monrose, University of Cambridge
  • Hillary Pimlott, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Lucy Robinson, University of Sussex
  • Matthew Worley, University of Reading
  • Australian and New Zealand Studies
  • Communities, Peoples and Nations
  • Cultural Studies
  • Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish Studies
  • North American Studies
  • Sexuality and LGBTQI+ Histories
  • Sociology, Social History and Social Science
  • Technology

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