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John Sinclair Guitar Army manuscript

Identifier: MSS 0517

Scope and Contents

In addition to the carbon typescript of Sinclair’s Guitar Army, the collection includes the original typewriter-bond box that housed the manuscript and ephemera related to the Free John Sinclair movement. Included is a brochure distributed by the Committee to Free John Sinclair entitled “The 10 year sentence of John Sinclair,” a “Free John Now!” petition postcard pre-addressed for delivery to Governor William Milliken, and a blank sheet of letterhead for the Rainbow People’s Party Legal Defense Fund.


  • Creation: 1969-1971


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

John Sinclair was born and raised in Davison, near Flint, Michigan. He attended Albion College from 1959-1961 and completed his B.A. in English at the University of Michigan, Flint College in 1964. He was the founder of the Detroit Artist’s Workshop, the editor of Work and CHANGE magazines, an author and poet, and the founder of LEMAR, an effort to obtain legalization of marijuana. In addition, Sinclair was the manager of the musical group MC-5, co-founder of the White Panther Party (later known as the Rainbow People’s Party), and the founder of Trans-Love Energies, a “multi-media commune to promote a new form of cooperative living based on freedom, mutual trust, and love.”

In July 1969, Sinclair was sentenced to 9 1/2 to 10 years for possession of two marijuana cigarettes, a judgment that brought widespread opposition to his personal conviction and the general penalties of drug laws. The Committee to Free John Sinclair publicized Sinclair’s identity as a “new-movement revolutionary leader” and protested the fairness of his conviction by asking, “Was John Sinclair jailed for what he did or for what he represents?”. While in prison, John Sinclair wrote Guitar Army (Douglas/World Book) and published a collection of writings entitled Music and Politics (World, 1971). On December 10, 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono headlined a Free John Now Rally in Ann Arbor, and just three days later, the Michigan Supreme Court released Sinclair and overturned his conviction.

The John and Leni Sinclair Papers, 1957-1999 [finding aid]. Bently Historical Library, University of Michigan. Retrieved November 2005 from biographical information derived from the collection.


.33 linear foot (5 items)


Five items from American author, poet, and political activist John Sinclair, including the carbon typescript of Guitar Army and ephemera related to the "Free John Sinclair" movement.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, August 2005

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Processing Information

Processed by Karalee Kopreski, November 2005. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, June 2021.


Finding aid for John Sinclair Guitar Army manuscript
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2021 June 15
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA