The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center
CredoResearch digital collections in Credo

Collecting area: African American women

Du Bois Family Papers

Du Bois Family Papers

1888-2019 Bulk: 1970-1977
9 boxes 7.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1143

Du Bois Williams (center) surrounded by family during her graduation, ca. 1959

Yolande Du Bois Williams Irvin, the only grandchild of American sociologist and historian W. E. B. Du Bois, was introduced to social thought at an early age, devoting her career to being an educator and avid supporter of civil rights. Her specific area of interest was youth mental health, especially that of teenage girls. She studied psychology in university and worked with various organizations to promote mental health causes. Following in her grandfather’s footsteps, she delivered lectures across the United States regarding African American history, civil rights, feminism, and W. E. B. Du Bois’s work, retaining a consistent connection to her family and the similarities in academic values that they held.

The collection reveals the daily life of the family, including education, careers, and personal everyday life, both in context of and as separate as relatives of Du Bois. Other members of the Du Bois family in the collection include Yolande Du Bois Williams Irvin’s mother (Nina Yolande Du Bois), husband (Arthur McFarlane I), son (Arthur McFarlane II), economic confidant (Gloria Peress), and close contacts Janette Trout and Melissa Williams. Materials largely stem from her graduate education, as well as professional and educational experience.

Gift of Arthur McFarlane, 2021

Subjects

Civil rightsMental healthMental health servicesPsychologistsPsychologyTeaching

Contributors

Williams, Y. Du Bois

Types of material

CorrespondenceManuscriptsPhotographs
Evans, Cheryl L.

Cheryl L. Evans Papers

1946-2019 Bulk: 1960-2015
3 boxes, 1 oversized folder 3 linear feet
Call no.: RG 050/6 E93

Cheryl Evans singing at Medford High School, ca. 1962

A lifelong activist, performer, and educator, Cheryl Lorraine Evans was born in 1946 in west Medford, MA, the eldest of five. As a high school student, Evans attended the march on Washington in 1963, and was then the first in her family to attend college, in 1964 joining the largest class at UMass Amherst to date. She graduated four years later as a pivotal organizer of African American students across campus, the Five Colleges, and in the region – during the period when Black student groups, the Black Cultural Center, and the Black Studies department all had their origins at UMass. Evans was the first elected president of an African American student organization at UMass, and remains an organizer to this day, particularly as a key connector for Black alumni and through her UMass Black Pioneers Project.

Evans went on to work at UMass as an assistant area coordinator of Orchard Hill, an area housing the majority of the students of color and CCEBS students on campus at the time, and then for the Urban University Program at Rutgers University. She worked for over a decade in early childhood education, mostly in New Jersey and New York City, then while working for the State of Massachusetts received her MA in Communication from Emerson College, partially to help her public radio show, “Black Family Experience.” Evans was the first African American woman to run for City Council in Medford, and was appointed to the Massachusetts Area Planning Council by Governor Dukakis. She taught for five years at Northshore Community College, received her PhD from Old Dominion University in 1997, and ended her career at Bloomfield College, where she was a professor for 18 years until her retirement in 2016. A prolific singer as a child and young adult, Evans was, and continues to be, a performance artist, with several theater pieces focused on Black history, all in addition to her outreach, organizing, and workshops, many focused on increasing the number of Black graduate and doctoral students.

The Cheryl Evans Papers document over 60 years of the life of the educator and activist, including childhood report cards and essays, clippings from the civil rights movement she followed and joined as a high school student, undergraduate records and ephemera, documentation of Black UMass alumni events, and records from her careers in public advocacy, education, and the theater. Evan’s time at UMass is especially well documented, including schoolwork, numerous photographs of student life on campus, social and political organization records, including contact lists of and correspondence with Black students, and the original protest demands from the 1970 Mills House protest and march to Whitmore.

Gift of Cheryl L. Evans, 2018

Subjects

African American college students--MassachusettsAfrican American women teachersUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst--AlumniUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst--Students

Types of material

Photographs
Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive

Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive

ca. 1920-2023
Call no.: MS 1182
Depiction of Maya Angelou at James Baldwin's birthday party, 1984. Photo by Irma McClaurin.
Maya Angelou at James Baldwin's birthday party, 1984. Photo by Irma McClaurin.

The Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive (BFA) is an archival home for Black women and their allies. Founded by Dr. Irma McClaurin, Black feminist anthropologist, academic administrator, award-winning poet and author, past president of Shaw University and leader in higher education, the BFA seeks to identify Black women from all walks of life who are artists, activists, and academics but may not be well known, and document their wide array of contributions at many levels: community, state, national, and global. In addition to being an ongoing resource for academic and community researchers, the BFA also aims to be a training center, where Black archivists can actively participate in their own history and uplift and protect the endangered legacy of Black women. Articles about Dr. McClaurin and the BFA have appeared in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, UMass Magazine and on the the Black Presence website.

The BFA is an umbrella collection, made up of a growing and diverse group of collections documenting Black women, allies, movements, and organizations. Highlights include the papers of renown anthropologists Sheila Walker and Carolyn Martin Shaw; Belizean writer Zee Edgell; activist and educator Cheryl Evans, who founded the Black Pioneers Project documenting the experience of Black students at UMass Amherst during the late 1960s; Lawrence (Larry) Paros, a UMass alum and forerunner of the Alternative Education movement in America, past director of the 1968 Yale Summer High School (YSHS); and the papers of Dr. Irma McClaurin, BFA founder, which include her photographs of iconic Black figures. The development of the BFA has been supported by two grants from the Wenner Gren Foundation: The Historical Archive Grant and The Global Initiative Grant (GIG) for “The Black Feminist Archive Pandemic Preservation Project of Black Women Practicing Anthropologists” project

Collections include:

Shaw, Carolyn Martin, 1944-

Carolyn Martin Shaw Papers

1962-2017 Bulk: 1972-2010
10 boxes 12.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 974
Depiction of Carolyn Martin Shaw in Kenya, ca.1972
Carolyn Martin Shaw in Kenya, ca.1972

From a childhood spent in a tenement in Norfolk, Va., Carolyn Martin Shaw went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a pioneer in Black Feminist anthropology. Educated in segregated schools, she was an outstanding student, winning scholarship funding to Michigan State University, where she received both her BS (1966) and PhD (1975). Shaw’s dissertation on Kikuyu kinship morality marked several themes that she developed through subsequent research projects in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Based in the Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz throughout her career, she was a productive scholar, publishing dozens of articles and chapters, and two important monographs, Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Class and Sex in Kenya (1995) and Women and Power in Zimbabwe: Promises of Feminism (2015), and she filled a variety of administrative posts, including department chair, Provost of the Kresge residential college, and Chair of the UC system-wide Committee on Privilege and Tenure. She has received numerous awards in her career, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Zimbabwe in 1983-1984, a Danforth Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and a McHenry Award for Service to the Academic Senate at UCSC. Shaw retired from UCSC in 2010.

Documenting her work in Black feminist anthropology, the Carolyn Martin Shaw collection includes published and unpublished writing, correspondence, and a wealth of information on her research in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Along with her fieldnotes, research data, and photographs, the collection also includes records of her faculty service at USCS, and awards received for teaching and university service.

Gift of Carolyn Martin Shaw, May 2017

Subjects

Anthropologists--CaliforniaEthnology--KenyaEthnology--ZimbabweFeminismUniversity of California Santa Cruz--FacultyWomen--Africa
Upperman, Mae

Mae Upperman Collection

3 boxes, ca. 200 books 3 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1194

Born in 1937, Mae Upperman grew up Asbury Park, New Jersey, a town segregated by race and wealth. She was educated at Tufts University, receiving a B.A. in adult education and physical therapy, and Boston University, receiving a Master’s degree in education. Her career features work in several fields, each one with a focus on improving lives of vulnerable individuals in society. These contributions include: working as a physical therapist for the Visiting Nurses Association of Boston; working at the Action for Boston Community Development, a non-profit dedicated to helping Boston residents out of poverty; researching new initiatives in Head Start; and developing and managing a center-based early intervention program for children with developmental disabilities. Alongside Upperman’s professional achievements, she is also an artist, poet, and book collector.

The Mae Upperman Collection consists of more than 200 books by Black women authors and Upperman’s artwork, much of which depicts abstract Black figures. An article about Upperman and her collection appeared in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian in 2023.

Gift of Mae Upperman, 2023

Subjects

African American women artistsAfrican American women authors

Types of material

PaintingsWorks of art
Wijeyesinghe, Charmaine L.

Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe Papers

1985-2016
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: FS 213
Photo of Charmaine Wijeyesinghe, ca. 2023
Charmaine Wijeyesinghe, ca. 2023

Charmaine Wijeyesinghe has studied, consulted, and written in the area of social justice education and organizational change for almost 40 years. She earned her bachelor’s in psychology (’80), a master’s in education (’85) and her EdD (’92) from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), and while a grad student worked as an administrator at UMass, including serving as Staff Associate to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Assistant Dean of Students, and Assistant University Ombudsperson. After defending her dissertation she became Dean of Students at Mount Holyoke College, and later turned to career as a consultant. She was National Program Consultant for the National Conference for Community and Justice, where she developed social justice programs and trainings, and is now an independent consultant and author who addresses the areas of organizational development, identity development, and social justice, working primarily with colleges and universities around the country. Her doctoral work on Multiracial adults, completed in 1992, yielded one of the first models of Multiracial identity development which was adopted into the anti-bias curriculum of the Anti Defamation League. Dr. Wijeyesinghe has published articles, book chapters, and edited multiple volumes on Multiracial identity, racial identity and conflict resolution practice, the evolution of social identity models, and intersectionality. Wijeyesinghe received the (inaugural) NCORE Award for Scholarship in 2017 and (with Johnston-Guerrero) the Multiracial Network of ACPA’s Innovation Award in 2021. She was inducted into the ACPA Diamond Honoree Program in 2024.

The Charmaine Wijeyesinghe Papers document two branches of Wijeyesinghe’s scholarly and public engagements in the fields of social identity, Multiracial issues, and the application of intersectionality to higher education. Wijeyesinghe’s work and output related to her doctoral degree and 1992 dissertation, Towards a Theory of Bi-Racial Identity Development: A Review of the Literature on Black Identity Development, White Identity Development, and Bi-Racial Identity Issues, are well documented, including coded transcripts from interviews and Wijeyesinghe’s work log. Wijeyesinghe’s extensive engagement at professional conferences and as a workshop trainer frames the remaining materials, which include training workbooks and presentation agendas, programs, and handouts.

Gift of Charmaine Wijeyesinghe, 2023-2024.

Subjects

African Americans -- Race identityBlack people -- Race identityEducation, HigherEducational consultantsRacially mixed people -- Race identityUniversities and collegesWhite people -- Race identity
Yolande Du Bois Scrapbook Collection

Yolande Du Bois Scrapbook Collection

1915-1929 Bulk: 1915-1929
1 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1183

Nina Yolande Du Bois (1900-1961), better known as Yolande Du Bois, was an American teacher best regarded for her contributions to the Harlem Renaissance. Her father was sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois and her mother was Nina (née Gomer) Du Bois. She was born on October 21, 1900, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She faced many health-related issues in her early childhood and also quarreled often with her parents. In her early adulthood, she enrolled at Fisk University in 1920 and graduated in 1924. While attending Fisk, she was in a relationship with Jimmie Lunceford, a prominent jazz musician. At her father’s insistence, she ended her relationship with Lunceford and would later go on to marry acclaimed Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen on April 9, 1928. Their highly-publicized wedding was the talk of many African-American socialites at the time, with every minor detail recorded by the press. However, Yolande and Countee soon grew distant in their marriage, resorting to counseling at first and then divorce following Countee’s coming out as gay to Yolande. With the divorce finalized in the spring of 1930, Yolande chose to pursue higher education and rewrite the course of her life.

After a period of illness, she began to teach English and history at Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland. There, she met Arnette Franklin Williams, whom she married in September 1931 and then later divorced in 1936. She had one daughter with Williams, Yolande Du Bois Irvin Williams, whom she took care of following the divorce. However, during this period, Yolande also moved to New York City with her mother, where she began to take courses at Columbia University’s Teachers College, eventually earning her master’s. She then continued to work as a teacher and to raise her daughter in Baltimore until her death in March 1961. She was survived by her father and her daughter.

Yolande’s scrapbooks, photo albums, and other personal artifacts from her youth (approximately 1915-1929) reflect her travels, undergraduate experiences at Fisk University, outings with her family and friends, artistic pursuits, and more. These scrapbooks showcase trips to England, France, Switzerland, and elsewhere in Europe, across Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, and New York, as well as other sites of importance in her life. These scrapbooks capture snapshots of her time at Fisk University, from breakups to athletic events, and from classical music concerts to Zeta Beta Phi rush week materials. Each scrapbook showcases a different aspect of Yolande’s late teenage life as well as her early adulthood, coupled with notes, sketches, and illustrations from friends, postcards and fliers from all over the United States and Europe, and her personal takes on the world around her.

Acquired from Brody Drake, 2023.

Subjects

African Americans--History--1877-1964Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963Du Bois, Yolande Nina, 1900-1961

Contributors

Du Bois, Yolande Nina, 1900-1961

Types of material

Black-and-white photographsClippings (information artifacts)Notes (documents)Photograph albumsScrapbooks
Restrictions: none none