"Question Authority” buttons and bumper stickers appeared by January 1979, sold by Kate Donnelly (now Donnelly/Colt Progressive Resources). The “Question Authority” saying became popular in the post-Vietnam era United States.
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority” is a quotation that appeared by 2001, falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
Wikipedia: Question Authority
“Question authority” is a popular bumper sticker slogan which first appeared in the late 1970s, and a common graffiti slogan. It encourages people to avoid the argument from authority fallacy. The origin of the phrase is sometimes attributed to Timothy Leary. Benjamin Franklin was often quoted as saying “it is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” The term can also be read humorously as a noun phrase signifying “someone who is an authority on the subject of questions.”
Donnelly/Colt Progressive Resources Catalog
Who We Are
Donnelly/Colt Progressive Resources is a small, family-owned and operated business that has provided progressive materials for consciousness raising and fundraising since 1975. It was just one of those ventures a newly formed couple ventured upon, after stints in college and various jobs. We, Kate Donnelly and Clay Colt, wanted to change the world to make it a more tolerant and peaceful place. We also wanted to stop waiting tables and cleaning 16mm films for a living. So we bought a proof press in San Francisco where we were living, drove 3,000 miles east, set it up and began hand setting wooden and metal type and printing bumperstickers – one at a time. This was a unique service nobody else was doing at the time. It was also incredibly labor-intensive. Three decades later, I’m not sure we have a more just and peaceful planet, but it’s not for lack of trying. Our business has grown and waned and grown and waned as the progressive movements have.
We’ll be here providing you with resources to counter the official propaganda, and fight the good fight. We honor each of you and your struggles everywhere.
January 1979, Mother Jones magazine, pg. 68, col. 2 classified ad:
“Question Authority” bumperstickers and buttons, 50c. Buttons, bumperstickers, T-shirts, custom printing—inquire Kate Donnelly, P.O. Box 271-MJ, New Vernon, NJ 07976.
8 April 1979, New York (NY) Times, “Connecticut Journal: Petitions...Potomac Scene” by Richard L. Madden, pg. CN3:
It was like a replay of a Vietnam War protest: a crowd of earnest young people in blue jeans, wearing buttons that read “Question Authority,” all in front of the television cameras.
7 May 1979, New York (NY) Times, “Gadfly Monthly Makes a Mark” by N. R. Kleinfield, pg. D3:
Mr. Dowie, who often wears jeans and a button that says, “Question Authority,” explains that the purpose of Mother Jones is to stalk stories likely to boil the blood of the corporate world, which it considers the hidden government of the country.
16 September 1979, New York (NY) Times, “Talking Shirts Make Parent a Walking Ad” by Louise Saul, pg. NJ21:
To prove that one can be ove 50 and still be alive, I wear a purple shirt with white letters that read, “Question Authority.”
New York Takes Stock Of Anti-Nuclear Protest
By William E. Mckibben,
Published: Saturday, November 03, 1979
“We’re going to go at this every way we know.” one demonstrator said late in the day, the pink summons marking his arrest pinned to his chest with a button commanding, “Question Authority.”
Los Angeles (CA) Times
They Want the World to ‘Question Authority’
Socially active family has been putting its slogans on magnets and bumper stickers since the ‘70s. The Iraq war keeps them busy.
The Nation | DISPATCH FROM HAMPTON, CONN.
April 22, 2003|Elizabeth Mehren, Times Staff Writer
Colt and Donnelly met and fell in love at Windham College in Vermont—a school whose pacifist inclinations helped put it out of business. The pair dropped out so they could protest the war in Vietnam full time.
Donnelly was the daughter of a Connecticut labor organizer. Colt (to his occasional embarrassment) was the son of Republicans from New Jersey.
These accidental entrepreneurs began almost 30 years ago when they bought a small hand-printing press after their Nixon sticker drew such attention. While Donnelly waited on tables and Colt cleaned film at a county library, they cranked out such bumper sticker classics as “Question Authority.” Their low-tech equipment forced them to make items one at a time.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, September 12, 2010 • Permalink