Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Hippie Etymology

I have some JPEGs of old newspaper clippings that demonstrate how the categorical boundaries between "beatniks" and "hippies" were rather fuzzy in the period between 1963 and 1965. In a UPI wire service report from March 8, 1963, the writer uses the terms "arty beatniks" and "bewhiskered young hippies" interchangably. Allegedly, the beatniks had awarded a hipness prize to Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) for his skills at poetry.

I also have a clipping from a Wisconsin newspaper that describes the "fashion scene" on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus circa 1965. The article divides the student body into three groups: fraternity/sorority members, beatniks, and the unaffiliated students who don't fit into the first two groups. Interestingly, one of the paragraphs about beatniks begins, "Hippies, as Beatniks prefer to call themselves..." The beginning of that sentence is historically important not only because it is one of the first appearances of the word "hippies" in its modern sense to appear in a local newspaper, but also because it suggests that beatniks and hippies had much more in common than previous historians of the 1960s have been willing to admit.

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