Reply to Suzaan Boettger's Query of 24 Feb. 97 Re: Diggers

Mon, 24 Feb 1997 20:59:47 -0500 (EST)

I don't know the etymology of "dig" as used by the Beats, but the
Haight-Ashbury Diggers have variously attributed the derivation of their
name to three sources: the shortlived movement of peasants who resisted
enclosure of the commons during the English Civil War; the Beats' use
of the term; and the so-called "Digger Indians," as early Euro-American
settlers pejoratively called certain of the aboriginal Californians and
inhabitants of the Great Basin (based on their practice of foraging
for edible roots).

As for a short bibliography of sources on the later Diggers, later this
year my (nearly completed) dissertation will be available: "The
Haight-Ashbury Diggers and the Cultural Politics of Utopia, 1965-1968,"
Cornell University Department of History. The most accessible published
sources are Charles Perry, _The Haight-Ashbury: A History_ (New York:
Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1984); Emmett Grogan, _Ringolevio: A
Life Played for Keeps_ (New York: Citadel Press, 1990 [1972]--I
recommend this edition because it includes Peter Coyote's illuminating
introduction, a necessary corrective to Grogan's self-aggrandizing
roman-a-clef); Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, _Acid Dreams: The Complete
Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond_ (rev. ed.; New
York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1992); David Zane Mairowitz, _The Radical
Soap Opera: Roots of Failure in the New Left_ (New York: Avon Books,
1976 [1974]); and R.G. Davis, _The San Francisco Mime Troupe: The First
Ten Years_ (Palo Alto, Calif.: Ramparts Press, 1975).

If you want to read the Diggers' screeds for yourself, check out their
on-line archive maintained by Eric Noble at

I'd love to read a copy of your paper when you finish a draft.

-- Michael Wm. Doyle

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