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The Hugo Keesing collection on music and the Gulf Wars

 Collection 0332-SCPA

The Hugo Keesing collection on music and the Gulf Wars consists of artifacts, collectibles, publications, sound recordings, and sheet music primarily related to the 1990 Gulf War, as well as the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis and the 2003 Iraq War. Collected by Hugo Keesing, the bulk of the materials cover the period 1990–1992 in the years during and immediately following the First Gulf War. The collection has been separated into six series: realia, newspapers and magazines, clippings and ephemera, sheet music, audio recordings, and personal materials pertaining to Keesing and his research.


  • Majority of material found within 1990-1992
  • 1979-2009

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use. Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:

Duplication and Copyright Information

Copyright was not transferred with the donation of the materials; all rights remain with the creators and rights holders.


5.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The Hugo Keesing collection on music and the Gulf Wars has been separated into six series, including realia, newspapers and magazines, clippings and ephemera, sheet music, audio recordings, and personal materials pertaining to Keesing and his research. The bulk of the materials cover the period 1990–1992, when the First Gulf War occurred. Other materials correspond to related events including the Iran Hostage Crisis and the 2003 Iraq War. Original order of materials has been maintained.

Historical Note

[See finding aid for the Hugo Keesing collection on popular music and culture for information on Hugo Keesing]

In the summer of 1990, Saddam Hussein led the Iraqi army in an invasion of Kuwait, the small neighboring country that contains six percent of the world’s oil reserves. U.S. President George H. W. Bush saw the invasion as a threat not only to the international economy, but also to post-Cold-War international diplomacy. With support from the United Nations Security Council, Bush organized a coalition that included the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Egypt among others, to send military forces into Kuwait, hoping to both expel Hussein’s army, and demonstrate the power of international cooperation.

The resultant Gulf War (also known as the Persian Gulf War or the First Gulf War) lasted from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991. It was fought in two stages. The first, codenamed “Operation Desert Shield,” involved the installation of allied troops in Saudi Arabia to secure the border. The second stage, initiated on January 17, 1991 and codenamed “Operation Desert Storm,” was the combat phase. The allied forces attacked first with air strikes, then on foot, culminating in a 100-hour land war that lasted from February 24 to February 28.

The majority of American civilians reacted to the Gulf War with enthusiasm. This confidence was due in part to a rise in patriotism following the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis, in which 52 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days by a group of Iranian students who seized the U.S. Embassy. In addition to exacerbating diplomatic tensions, the Crisis inspired both a surge of American nationalism and general wariness of the Middle-Eastern region. Twelve years later at the onset of the Gulf War, these attitudes resurfaced; support for American troops was expressed through public service announcements, display of yellow ribbons, and production of memorabilia such as Desert Storm trading cards, T shirts, and pins. Some popular musicians, most notably country artists, recorded songs in support of Bush’s cause. Other musicians used their music as a medium for protest. Songs such as the Rolling Stones’ “Highwire” and Jello Biafra’s spoken word piece “Die for Oil, Suckers” critique the United States’ involvement in Middle-Eastern affairs, and question Bush’s motivations for invading Kuwait.

After four days of combat Hussein’s forces were subdued, and the Coalition withdrew troops, earning Bush criticism for failing to remove Hussein from power. After the September 11 attacks in 2003, President George W. Bush led the United States in a second initiative against Iraq that resulted in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. This invasion was the beginning of the Iraq War (also known as the Second Gulf War), in which the United States fought until 2011.


This collection is organized into six series. Series 5 is further devided into 3 sub-series based on the type of recording.

  1. Realia
  2. Newspapers & Magazines
  3. Clippings & Ephemera
  4. Sheet Music
  5. Recordings
  6. Personal

Custodial History

Gift of Hugo Keesing received in a single shipment in 2015.

Related Materials

In addition to this collection, the other Keesing materials at Special Collections in the Performing Arts (SCPA) are separated into ten other collections (see the list below). Also available for access are thousands of LP singles and pieces of sheet music pertaining to popular music in the twentieth century.

An additional finding aid exists to further describe the memorabilia contained within several of the Keesing collections.

The Keesing collection also contains thousands of catalogued books, available for use in the Lowens room. To view the available titles, visit the Libraries' catalog. Using the "type of search" drop-down menu, select "call number" and type "MKEESING" into the word search box. This brings up a multi-page, browse-able list of Keesing Collection books.

Additionally, the following books and CD collections by Dr. Keesing are available for use at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library:

Keesing, Hugo A. Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America's Forgotten War. Bear Family Productions, 2018. 4-CD boxed set and accompanying 159-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 19705.

Keesing, Hugo A. Next Stop is Vietnam: The War on Record. Bear Family Records, 2010. 13-CD boxed set and accompanying 304-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 12460.

Keesing, Hugo A. Incomplete Bibliography of Pop/Rock Music: Key Word Version. Call number: Reference, ML128.R6 K43 1989.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Semper Fi": An Annotated Index of World War II Era Songs about the United States Marine Corps. 1997. Call number: Paged Collections, ML128.W2 K43 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. Victory Girls: An Incomplete, Annotated Index of World War II Sheet Music Depicting Women in Non-Military Work. 1997. Call number: Reference, ML128.W2 K44 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Youth in Transition: A Content Analysis of Two Decades of Popular Music." 1972. Call number: Lowens Special Collections Room, ML3477 .K44 1972.

The Hugo Keesing collection on music and the Gulf Wars
James Ace
Fall 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States