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Early in the morning of August 24, 1970, nearly a ton of explosives detonated in a van in front of Sterling Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus. The blast heard 30 miles from Madison, killed one researcher, injured three people, and hurled shrapnel around a three block radius. More than two dozen campus buildings suffered damage. The event succeeded in capturing national attention, but failed in its goal of destroying an Army research facility.


  • Sterling Hall Historic Marker Plaque
  • Newspaper clipping printed 10 years after the bombing at Sterling Hall. The image features the wreckage at Sterling Hall, showing two men standing amongst debris, and a car in the front of the image, also filled with debris.

Sterling Hall housed the university physics department, as well as the Army Mathematics Research Center (AMRC). The AMRC, which performed research for the Department of Defense, had previously been the target of demonstrations. The UW campus, site of the Dow Chemical protests in 1967, had an active anti-war culture during the Vietnam War. Students and residents regularly gathered for protests and demonstrations against the involvement of the U.S. military in Vietnam. 

“Archival photos: Remember the UW-Madison Sterling Hall bombing 49 years ago.” June 6, 2020. https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/university/archival-photos-remembering-the-uw-madison-sterling-hall-bombing-49-years-ago/collection_d122a408-25ed-5ce0-ac97-7de68b69fe23.html 

“Sterling Hall Bombing.” June 6, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterling_Hall_bombing 

"Sterling Hall bombing: Seven men linked by a moment in history.” June 6, 2020. https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/university/sterling-hall-bombing-seven-men-linked-by-a-moment-in-history/article_6817a970-a981-11df-9407-001cc4c03286.html 

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Olson, Michael G. Sterling Hall Historic Marker Plaque May 26, 2020, Madison.

James J. Kasparek, Mss2003.173. Wisconsin Veterans Museum (Madison, Wis).