UFOs and Computerized Dating: Newspaper Topics at NMU in the Mid-1960s

Throughout the northwind logoyears, the student newspaper creates a picture of what the times were like for both NMU students and the country in general. While looking for the article in the microfilm records from the mid-1960s, we ran across some other fascinating incidents from the time period and thought that we would share them with you.

Many of the concerns of Northern’s students at the time were about issues at a national scale. The newspapers featured many satirical articles about current events, especially political campaigns and Vietnam. Whether or not eighteen year olds should be given the right to vote was a topic that the newspapers covered heavily, often using the famous argument that if an eighteen year old could fight for their country in Vietnam then they should have the right to elect their representatives. As one might predict, the tone of the newspaper suggests that most students supported the enfranchisement of eighteen year olds.

The ads and articles run in the newspaper also reflect the topics which NMU students were interested in during the 1960s. For instance, there were advertisements about a recorded lecture which Northern students could purchase that discussed the topic of whether or not putting LSD in sugar cubes would spoil the taste of coffee. The ad urged students to “Know the Truth” and “Hear the Facts” and also promised to discuss the “Five Levels of Consciousness Expansion”. There were also advertisements for a book entitled “1001 Ways to Beat the Draft”. One article at the time questioned whether or not the “Beatles cult” had become a religion.

Another topic of interest in Northern’s newspaper in 1966 and 1967 involved something created at MIT and Harvard—the Contact computerized dating program.  Phi Alpha Gamma, an honorary journalism fraternity at the time, offered to give students a questionnaire which would then be run through a computer named Eros that would give them their best dating match across campus. It could even be expanded to tell them their best date in the entire country. The article advertised that this process cost only $3 and encouraged students to apply now and “avoid the Christmas rush”. In January of 1967, another article was run on the same topic stating that because such interest had been shown in the program, there would now be a “computer dance” later that month for students to attend with their dates.

The Northern News also featured dramatic incidents such as UFO sightings. In October of 1966, one front page article stated that “three NMU students on their way for a midnight pizza Wednesday spotted a flashing triangular shaped object high in the sky above the Olson Library”. They reportedly watched the objects for over an hour with “awe and disbelief”. A security officer passing by them also saw the lights. The students contacted another NMU student who was a member of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena and he informed them that no star, constellation, or any other space object was supposed to be in that location. The newspaper even featured a depiction of what the lights supposedly looked like.

This is only a limited snippet of what the NMU newspapers of the mid-1960s discussed. By simply browsing through any era of the newspaper, curious, fascinating, and informative stories can be stumbled upon.

Prepared by Annika Peterson


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