University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Burt Gerding Papers, 1959-1980, 1994

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Gerding, Edward Burton, 1927-2013
Title: Burt Gerding papers
Dates: 1959-1980, 1994
Abstract: The Burt Gerding Papers (1959-1980, 1994) document the activities of the Austin Police Department during the tumultuous period of the mid-1960s to early 1970s. During this time, the UT campus was alive with political activity and student protests about the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. The Gerding Papers highlight the political and social climate of the time, as well as the extensive and oftentimes controversial police surveillance conducted on Austin political activists.
Identification: urn:taro:utexas.cah.03430
Extent: 8.5 linear feet
Language: English .
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Burt Gerding was a former lieutenant in the Austin Police Department known for his role monitoring students and political activities at University of Texas at Austin in the 1960s and early 70s. Gerding was born in Greenville, Texas and raised in Dallas. Upon graduating high school, he joined the US Navy as a corpsman and served in World War II. In 1950, after telling a friend in the Austin Police Department (APD) that "anyone could be a cop," Gerding took and passed the police entrance exam to prove his point. He officially joined APD in March 1950. In 1953, Gerding became a Sergeant with the APD Forgery Detail.

By the early 1960s, Gerding was promoted to lieutenant and lead the Criminal Investigation Division. Assigned to the University District, he interacted frequently with the UT Police Department and UT students. During the integration movement of the early 60s, Gerding monitored pro-integration demonstrations and protests, including the Wheedon service station incident and the Roy's Drugstore protest, which drew between 4,000 and 5,000 people.

Gerding also worked as an APD Intelligence Officer. In consultation with UTPD and the FBI, Gerding monitored the activities of suspected campus radicals and leftist student political activists. Through FBI agent and friend George Carlson, Gerding worked with agents from the FBI's secret Counterintelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO. The program was established in 1956 to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" American political groups that were considered threatening or subversive. COINTELPRO most frequently targeted leftist groups, including communist and socialist organizations, Black Power groups, and anti-Vietnam-war groups.

In consultation with FBI agents, Gerding used controversial and sometimes illegal counterintelligence techniques to monitor and disrupt leftist organizations and activists on and around the UT Austin campus, including students and faculty members. Common methods included legal harassment (such as excessive traffic stops), divulgence of private personal information, vandalism, psychological warfare (such as anonymous letters and propagation of false or misleading information), and warrantless break-ins. Gerding frequently utilized the services of student informants, many of whom were paid by the FBI, to report on the activities of political activists, as well as campus events. Gerding extensively targeted the leftist political groups Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Student Mobilization Committee (SMC), and the Black Panther Party with the goal of discrediting them and ultimately forcing them to disband or leave Austin.

In the early 1970s, Gerding was transferred to the APD Narcotics Division, where he worked as a Narcotics Agent. After leaving APD, Gerding went to work for Westinghouse Electric in Round Rock, Texas, where he did security work. Gerding died in March 2013.


Deflem, M. 2008. Surveillance and Governance. Bingley: JAI Press.

Dreyer, T. 2006. The Spies of Texas. The Texas Observer, 17 November.

Scope and Contents

The Burt Gerding Papers (1959-1980, 1994) document the activities of the Austin Police Department during the tumultuous period of the mid-1960s to early 1970s. During this time, the UT campus was alive with political activity and student protests about the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. The Gerding Papers highlight the political and social climate of the time, as well as the extensive and oftentimes controversial police surveillance conducted on Austin political activists.

The UT Austin Student Political Activities (1959-1976, 1994) series includes extensive clippings from political newspapers such as The Rag, as well as political handouts for student groups including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC), and the Young Socialists Alliance (YSA). The series contains many photos of student meetings and protests, as well as film and audio reels of protests. Police reports, legal information, and reports from Gerding's student informants are also included. Also in this series are police surveillance videos that formerly comprised the Patrick McGarrigle Collection and protest photographs that formerly comprised the Art Osborn Collection. This series contains cassette tape recordings of a 1994 oral history interview with Gerding, as well as a full transcript.

The Narcotics Division (1964-1973) series contains informational pamphlets on narcotics laws and regulations, anti-drug handouts and other marketing materials, and training materials for Narcotics Agents.

The Westinghouse Electric (1970-1980) series relates to Gerding's position in security at Westinghouse after his time with Austin PD. This series primarily consists of security notes and surveillance photos, as well as labor, management, and union publications.

Archivist's note:

The materials formerly comprising the Art Osborn [92-337] and Patrick McGarrigle [2001-164] Collections have been merged with the Burt Gerding Papers.


Conditions Governing Access

Access to some audiovisual formats requires an appointment; contact repository for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; contact repository for more information.

Written permission is required to reproduce or publish collection material; contact repository for more information.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Caroline, Larry
Gerding, Edward Burton, 1927-2013
Jackson, Larry
Sell, Evelyn
Corporate Names
Austin (Tex.). Police Department
Student Mobilization Committee (U.S.)
University of Texas at Austin. Police Department
Black power
Civil rights movements
New Left
Police patrol--Surveillance operations
Protest movements
Students--Political activity
Twentieth century
Vietnam War (1961-1975)
Round Rock
United States

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Burt Gerding Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Erin Donohue, March 2014.

OCLC Number


Detailed Description of the Collection

UT Austin student political activities, 1959-1976, 1994

4Zf350 [SRH1230022236] Rising Up Angry , 1969-1970
Texas Observer , March 1969 – May 1970
Fire Next Time [SDS], November 1969, undated
Challenge [The Revolutionary Newspaper], March 1969 – March 1970
The Rag and related publications, 1971
The Rag , 1971-1972
The Militant , 1969-1970
Pat [reports on Community United Front], 1970
Sal [reports on Young Socialists Alliance and the Student Mobilization Committee], 1970
The Rag , 1968-1969
The Golden Fleece [underground newspaper], undated
4Zf351 [SRH1230022237] Black Panther [newspaper], 1969-1970
S.M.C. [Student Mobilization Committee], 1969, undated
UT Comm Against War in Vietnam/University Committee to End the War in Vietnam (UC and EWV), 1968-1969
A.A.B.L. [Afro-Americans for Black Liberation], 1968-1970, undated
S.D.S. [Students for a Democratic Society], 1968-1969, undated
The Rag; student political notes and fliers, 1968 – 1969. undated
Don Wheedon picketing, undated
The Rag and other clippings, April 1969– May 1969, undated
SDS, civil rights and antiwar movement student pamphlets, handouts and notes, 1968-1969, undated
The Rag and other newspapers, 1968-1969, undated
Dissent journal, March – April 1969
Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorder, March 1968
4Zf352 [SRH1230022238] The Rag , 1967-1970, undated
SDS UT rally [photos], March 24, 1969
Student civil rights protests, 1969, undated
State and federal court rulings, 1959-1972, undated
4Zf353 [SRH1230022245] Primacord detonating fuse, undated
"Wanted: Pig Gerding" poster, undated
Flaming Creatures film reviews and clippings; promotional materials, 1966
SMC [Student Mobilization Committee] march [photos], April 18, 1970
Political booklets; crime and law enforcement booklets, 1965-1969, undated
The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society , 1967
Independent Socialist Bulletin , April 1969
Spartacist , 1965
Ghetto Members and Associated Persons, 1963-1964
Socialist and other leftist political booklets, 1964-1968, undated
The Rag , June 3, 1974
"Spring" booklet by David Stark
Political booklets [Lin Piao report to 9th National Congress of Chinese Communist Party; Port Huron Statement], 1966-1969
Evelyn Sell and other news clippings, 1974-1976
Nation of Islam reports; SDS press releases, 1965, undated
November 15 moratorium, 1969
SDS and SMC police reports and clippings, 1969-1970, undated
Lee Otis Johnson Community Center, undated
Reports on SMC, SDS, and other student groups, 1968, undated
Program for Educational Opportunity, 1969, undated
UT Socialists, SMC, La Raza Unida, and other Austin political clippings, 1969-1970
UT Student political activities; reports and clippings, 1968-1970, undated
Afro-Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) and civil rights movement, 1968-1969, undated
October 15 moratorium, 1969, undated
Texas Union [Chuck Wagon] protests — committee report to Senate members, February 1970
Reports on UT student political activities; faculty involvement in student protests, 1971, undated9/5/69 – 3/8/70 Includes Waller Creek incident and Chuck Wagon [Notes, memos, clippings on student political groups], 1968-1970, undated
3/7/70 – 6/23/70 Including YSA Report [notes, memos, clippings on student political groups], 1970
Photos of student meetings, protests, 1966-1968, undated
Speech material, UT [speeches, police reports, notes, promotional materials, memos], 1972-1973, undated
Student Mobilization Committee antiwar literature, 1970, undated
Gun laws and other legal materials, 1968-1969, undated
Gerding oral history interview transcript [partial], 1994
4Zf354 [SRH1230022246] SDS and civil rights, 1965-1968, undated
UT student political group observations and memos, 1967-1968, undated
UT SDS observation reports and memos, 1967-1969
SDS "Ten Days in April" , 1968
Negro Association for Progress (NAP) and Don Wheedon protest, 1967-1968, undated
Police memos on UT student groups in civil rights and antiwar movements, 1969, undated
UT student political group memos on antiwar movement, civil rights, labor strikes, 1968-1969, undated
Promotional materials and notes on student political groups, antiwar and civil rights movements, 1969, undated
Charlene Mitchell (Communist party candidate) and Wheedon protest clippings and reports, 1968, undated
The Rag , August 1970; February – November 1971, undated
Minutemen Publications on Target, undated
Police reports on UT student political activities; promotional political materials, 1961-1963, 1968, 1970, undated
Political newspapers [ Challenge, The Rag, Progressive Labor], November 1969 – June 1970
Political newspapers [ The Militant, World Revolution, The Rag], December 1968; May – December 1969
Search Warrant Searches, [police education seminar], April 22, 1970
Political newspapers [ The Rag, Lone Star Dispatch], December 1969; May – August 1970; June 1971
4Zf355 [SRH1230022240] Intelligence report; headshots/mugshots, May 1970, undated
Political clippings and event fliers, 1966-1969, undated
The Rag, November – December 1970, Lone Star Dispatch , November 1970
Political clippings and newspapers [ The Rag, Lone Star Dispatch], 1968-1970, undated
Political essay and memos; Austin Police Department intelligence reports, 1968-1970, undated
Police intelligence report; SMC meeting notes, 1970
Police reports on Austin political groups, 1968-1970, undated
[Negatives] Unidentified people, undated
Evelyn Sell lawsuit, 1967-1980, undated
Burt formularies [photos of student gatherings], circa 1970
Political pamphlets, 1964, 1970, undated
Stephen Russell vs. Robert A. Miles, et al., May 1972
The Rag , 1972
Radical Black Power and anti-war revolution material, undated
2.325/D13b [SRH1230000652] Oversize materials
Austin Sun, Vol. 1, No. 1, October 17 – 23, 1974
The Spark, Austin, Texas, Vol. 1, Issue 1, September 5, 1986
4Zd539a [SRH1230019892] Audio
"Reel 1 – 4/5/68 7 ½ years, State Capitol – Jim Ray" , April 5, 1968
Reel 2 – 4/5/68 7 ½ years, State Capitol – Jim Ray. , April 5, 1968
"Eddie Arnold" , undated
"Anti-War March 3-69-?" [2 reels], March 1969
Unlabeled film, undated
3Y190.1 Police surveillance reels [seven reels]
Austin PD tape 60s + 70s [VHS]
2X290b [SRH1230014776] Gerding oral history interview [cassette tapes and transcript]

4Zf354 [SRH1230022246] Narcotics Agency, 1964-1973
Texas narcotics laws; magazines on electronics and guns, 1964-1969
Hallucinogenic chemical manufacturing processes, undated
Narcotics Agency reports and anti-drug promotional materials, 1964, 1971, undated
Advanced narcotics course, April 26 – May 21, 1971
Drug informational pamphlets and anti-drug promotional materials, 1969-1973, undated
Instructions on writing narcotics reports, undated
Narcotics Agency – educational materials for police, 1964, 1971, undated
Informational pamphlets on medicine and drugs, 1967-1971, undated
Anti-drug and civil service pamphlets, 1971, undated
Gun pamphlets and catalogs, 1970, undated
Narcotics Agency — forms, training materials, 1966-1971, undated

4Zf355 [SRH1230022240] Westinghouse Electric, 1970-1980
Electrical Workers Union pamphlets, 1970, undated
Security procedures and contacts, 1979, 1980, undated
Westinghouse parking lot security photos, undated
Westinghouse security notes, 1974, undated
Television monitors [slides], undated
Westinghouse union info and security photos, 1973, undated
Labor publications, 1971-1973
Personal [Westinghouse employment papers]
Westinghouse general operations, 1975 – 1976 undated
Management instructional materials, 1971-1972, undated
Westinghouse employee opinion survey, 1973-1974
Round Rock survey [employee opinion survey], 1973