The Inside Dirt On The Old Mole

As the chaos of the student strike escalated on the Harvard campus, an underground journal with a mysterious pipeline to the administration's secret documents added fuel to the conflict with its own brand of news and commentary.

During the strike, the bi-weekly tabloid Old Mole began distributing daily "strike specials" every morning at 6 a.m. The special issues provided protesters with the day's schedule of events--or "struggles," as the Mole termed them--and served as a forum for discussing the divisive issues within the student movement.

On the fourth day of the protest, Old Mole printed the infamous 'Dear Nate' letter--a stolen correspondence from then-Dean of the Faculty Franklin L. Ford to Nathan M. Pusey '28, the Harvard president in 1969. The letter had been "liberated" from office files during the University Hall takeover.

"This is one of the most interesting documents relating to Harvard and [the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)] that has come our way so far," wrote the Mole. In the letter, Ford told Pusey that he disagreed with the anti-ROTC position passed by the faculty, and suggested a number of ways that the Harvard Corporation could get around their opposition.

"What bothers me most is the underlying theme of the entire [faculty] resolution, a desire to go on record against all things military," Ford wrote, adding that one alternative to confronting this opinion "would be a decision not to accept these recommendations by the Faculty."


The publication of the 'Dear Nate' letter caused a campus-wide scandal. Soon afterward, Ford suffered a stroke that eventually led him to resign his post.

"Of course, it was damaging because [it challenged] the power of the faculty," says Temma Kaplan, who was a Harvard graduate student and a member of Old Mole at the time.

"There was the question of how did we get the documents," says Jon Weiner, a graduate student and a writer for Old Mole during the strike. Weiner, who says he was one of the people who made the decision to publish the controversial document, explains that the official files were delivered anonymously to the Old Mole doorstep.

"I never found out who took the documents out of the office," he says.