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Perrin, Richard : Papers, 1966-2001
Quantity2 cartons, 66 folders
This collection was donated to the Archives and Special Collections Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston by Richard Perrin, through the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences.
Richard Perrin was born in Massachusetts in 1948 and within a few years, moved with his family to Rutland, Vermont. By the time Richard was nine years old, the Perrin family had settled in Springfield, Vermont. When he was fifteen, he had traveled to Chicago to visit his brother who was a student at Northwestern University and was strongly influenced by the growing Civil Rights movement while attending and marching in a demonstration where Dick Gregory and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke. After graduation from Springfield High School in Vermont, Perrin traveled to San Diego, California to live with his brother.
While in California, Perrin had registered for the draft when he turned eighteen, and then enlisted. He was processed by January of 1967 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and took his basic at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Within months, Perrin was recognized as an outstanding soldier and was selected as Colonel’s Orderly for being judged, “most proficient in knowledge of General and Special Orders, general military subjects, your weapon, manual of arms, and your soldierly appearance.” After basic training, Perrin continued to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri to learn wheeled-vehicle mechanics. During this period, Perrin began getting more interested in the Vietnam War and began reading constantly about it, searching for answers and an understanding to his growing moral dilemma about U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
In June of 1967, Perrin met Andy Stapp, a private still in the military, who had been recently court-martialed for antiwar organizing at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Together, Perrin and Stapp, along with several others, began distributing antiwar leaflets and the antiwar publication, The Bond. Perrin’s subsequent activities eventually resulted in a court-martial for a minor pass infraction. After fifteen days of incarceration and harassment, Perrin was released with an officer noting that he had not been jailed for a pass infraction, but more so for his political activities. Part of the release agreement was that if Perrin would not work with Andy Stapp again and discontinue his talks with GIs about the war, he would be sent to Germany, not Vietnam. Once in Germany, Perrin could not ignore the racism he found in the U.S. Army. For Perrin, it was no longer only the Vietnam War, but his entire experience in the army. Over Labor Day weekend in 1967, Perrin made the decision and deserted the army, traveling by train from Heidelberg to Paris.
In Paris, Perrin connected with other deserters and publicly formed RITA (Resistance Inside the Army), not with the idea trying to get soldiers to desert, but in order to encourage resistance from inside the army. The publishing of ACT by RITA, considered the first underground GI paper, had a mailing list of about ten thousand and had a worldwide circulation. In Perrin’s own words, “it turned on a lot of guys and opened up a lot of avenues.”
In January of 1969, Perrin flew to Regina, Canada, as the political situation in France was becoming unsafe for deserters to remain. Once there, Perrin worked at a university, teaching a seminar on the U.S. Army, and by June, had started the Regina Committee of American Deserters that gave housing, and assistance to deserters. Six years later, with the granting of an amnesty that allowed him to return to the United States, Perrin crossed the U.S./Canadian border for the first time in many years to visit his parents in Vermont, who had been working for years to obtain his amnesty. Perrin currently lives in Canada and in 2001, published his autobiography, G.I. Resister: The Story of How One American Soldier and His Family Fought the War in Vietnam, available through Trafford Publishing, Canada.
The founding of R.I.T.A. (Resistance Inside the Army) in Paris 1967, (Richard Perrin, 2d from right)
Scope and Content
The collection is arranged in two boxes containing nine series, spanning the dates of 1966-2001. A sizable part of the collection is very personal in scope, consisting of correspondence between Perrin and his family members from after his graduation in Vermont, to his living in California, his experiences in the army after enlistment, and after his desertion to Paris in the fall of 1967. In addition, the collection contains a newspaper-clipping scrapbook of Perrin’s activities assembled over the years by his mother; information on amnesty rights and specific amnesty organizations and newsletters; the Regina Committee of American Deserters, founded by Perrin in 1969; and miscellaneous publications containing newsletters, flyers, and brochures. Also contained in the same series is Perrin’s book, published in 2001. Remaining series are specific subject files, related newspaper clippings, and selected magazines with topic-specific articles.
I. Autobiography, 1991-1996
Ia. Biographical Information on Richard Perrin, [unknown date, 1971 & 1979]
II. Mom’s Scrapbook, 1967-1977
III. Letters, 1966-1975
IV. Amnesty, 1973-1979
V. Regina Committee of American Deserters (RCAD), 1969
VI. Miscellaneous Publications,  1965-1973, 2001
VII. Subject Files, 1967-1991
VIII. Newspapers, 1967-2000
IX. Magazines, 1968-2000
Series I: Autobiography, 1991-1996
f. 1. Richard Perrin started his autobiography in 1991 and continued it in 1996.
Series Ia. Biographical Information on Richard Perrin, [unknown dates (1970s?) & 1971]
f. 1. Three brief biographies of Perrin written in the 1970s. The longer one is from a chapter in Roger Neville Williams’ The New Exiles.
Series II. Mom’s Scrapbook, 1967-1977
f. 1. This series encompasses Betty Perrin’s scrapbook of numerous local and national newspapers’ clippings on Perrin’s desertion and the ensuing media coverage, along with several articles about their tenacious work for their son’s amnesty. Also included in this series is a transcript of a speech Betty Perrin gave at Dartmouth College’s “Rally for Amnesty” in 1977.
Series III. Letters, 1966‑1975
f. 1. California, 1966
f. 2. Selected letters from Ron, 1967-1969
f. 3. Letters from Ron to parents, 1967-1970
f. 4. December, 1967
f. 5. Letters from Army to folks, 1967
f. 6. Letters from Army to folks, 1967
f. 7. Reverend Henderson letters, 1967-1975
f. 8. Mom & Dad letters, 1967-1970
f. 9. Mom & Dad letters, 1967-1970
f. 10. Mom & Dad letters, 1967-1970
f. 11. Selected letters, 1967-1968 
f. 12. Letters to Nama (Perrin’s Grandmother), 1967-1968
f. 13. Selected letters to Mom & Dad, 1973-1975
f. 14. Letters received after NY Times interview with Gloria Emerson, 1973-1974
f. 15. Letters received after NY Times interview with Gloria Emerson, 1973-1974
Series IV. Amnesty, 1973-1979
f. 1-4. Correspondence and newsletters from several amnesty organization including Americans for Amnesty, National Council for Universal and Unconditional Amnesty, Toronto American Exiles’ Association, and Gold Star Parents for Amnesty. This series also contains some additional correspondence to Perrin’s parents from sources as the United States Department of Justice and the United States Congress.
Series V. Regina Committee of American Deserters (RCAD), 1969
f. 1-2. Founded by Perrin in 1969, RCAD gave housing, food, and assistance to deserters who were seeking immigration status in Canada. Also in this series, is an article entitled The Exploitation of Youth, by Melody Kilian and Rick Ayers (1969). There are also two RCAD ink stamps used for mailings by the committee.
Series VI. Miscellaneous Publications,  1965-1973
f. 1-6. Miscellaneous publications collected by Perrin, dating from his boot camp period to after his desertion in 1967 to Paris, and then his continued work in Canada. There are newsletters, pamphlets, flyers, and a listing of Perrin’s own collection of monographs. The last folder (13) contains Perrin’s book G.I. Resister, published in 2001.
Series VI. Miscellaneous Publications,  1965-1973 (con’t)
f. 7-13. Miscellaneous publications collected by Perrin, dating from his boot camp period to after his desertion in 1967 to Paris, and then his continued work in Canada. There are newsletters, pamphlets, flyers, and a listing of Perrin’s own collection of monographs. The last folder (13) contains Perrin’s book G.I. Resister, published in 2001.
Series VII. Subject Files, 1967‑1991
f. 1-9. Subject files contents were left according to original order, regardless of size. They contain the following headings: Committee for G.I. Rights, Draft Resistance Manual, Black Caucus – first aid manual, Calgary Committee on War Immigrants, Contacts, Terry Klug, Committee to Aid Immigrants, Mayor Bernie Sanders, and Conscience Canada, Inc.
Series VIII. Newspapers, 1967-2000
f. 1-9. This series contains numerous clippings from several different newspapers that have been sorted chronologically. There are some separate folders containing issues of: Prairie Fire, American Report, and Amnesty.
Series IX. Magazines, 1968-2000
f. 1-11. This series encompasses Perrin’s personal collection of magazines containing articles on relevant topics. Included in this series are: a folder of Newsweek’s articles including the February 26th, 1968 issue on RITA’s First Act; Time Magazine; Ramparts issue listings; American Legion; AMEX-Canada; New York Times Magazine; Esquire; George; and Modern Maturity.