Kaleidoscope was an underground newspaper founded by editor John Kois, radio disk jockey Bob Reitman, and designer and musician John Sahli. It was published in Milwaukee from October 6, 1967 to November 11, 1971 with a total of 105 biweekly issues. From an alternative and radical-liberal perspective, Kaleidoscope addressed and critiqued the social, political, and cultural issues of its day, including American politics, police actions, civil rights, gender issues, sexuality, activist activities, and contemporary art, music, and literature. Attempts to censor the publication were a challenge from the very first issue, and one case, Kois v. Wisconsin, even went to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1972 (after the newspaper had folded). Earlier, editor and publisher John Kois had been convicted of obscenity, but the Court ruled in the newspaper’s favor stating that the publication of two photos and a poem entitled “Sex Poem” in an article about censorship did not constitute obscenity. In a concurring statement Justice William O. Douglas wrote that “the vague umbrella of obscenity laws was used in an attempt to run a radical newspaper out of business . . . . If obscenity laws continue in this uneven and uncertain enforcement, then the vehicle has been found for the suppression of any unpopular tract.”
A complete run of Kaleidoscope was donated to Special Collections in 2014 by Gordon Simons, co-owner of the Avant Garde Coffeehouse, a local landmark and center of the folk/blues revival in Wisconsin from 1962-1968. This project was made possible through the efforts of the transdisciplinary Avant Garde Project, an initiative of the UWM Finger-Style Guitar Program. Digitization of the Kaleidoscope was supported by the Polly and Stanley Stone fund, which is overseen by the Chipstone Foundation.
The entire digital collection of Kaleidoscope is keyword searchable.