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

Collecting area: African American

Hudson, Judith Collings

Judith Collings Hudson Collection

1964-2000
2 boxes 3 linear feet
Call no.: MS 896

A 1967 graduate of Springfield College, Judith Collings Hudson earned doctoral degree in 2001 through the UMass Amherst School of Education for her dissertation, Freedom teachers: Northern White women teaching in southern Black communities, 1860s and 1960s. The project was an ambitious comparative study of the experiences of White teachers, mostly northern women, living and teaching in southern Black communities during the Reconstruction era south and those who taught during Mississippi Freedom Summer.

The Hudson Papers focus closely on the second half of her dissertation, relating to the Freedom Schools and educational initiatives associated with the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the civil rights movement. In addition to her dissertation, research notes, some correspondence, and background materials, the collection includes an important array of audio interviews with teachers and participants in the Freedom Summer, most of which have been transcribed.

Gift of Judith Hudson, June 2016

Subjects

Civil rights movements--MississippiMississippi Freedom ProjectTeachers--Mississippi

Contributors

AudiocassettesOral histories (literary works)
Illustrated Sheet Music

Illustrated Sheet Music Collection

1896-1946
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 960
Depiction of Waiting for the Robert E. Lee
Waiting for the Robert E. Lee

Advances in color printing technologies combined with decreasing costs of publication led to a flowering of illustrated sheet music between 1890 and the 1920s.

This small collection is comprised of illustrated sheet music dating primarily from the first quarter of the twentieth century. Representing a cross-section of popular music at the time from minstrel tunes to patriotic marches, most of the songs were selected either for their representation of African Americans (usually in stereotypical and racist caricature) or as examples of pro-war propaganda during the First World War.

Subjects

African Americans--Pictorial worksWorld War, 1914-1918--Pictorial works

Types of material

ScoresSheet music
Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage

Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage Records

1975-2006 Bulk: 1997-1999
6 boxes 6.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 758
Depiction of Landing at Havana, Cuba, Nov. 24, 1998
Landing at Havana, Cuba, Nov. 24, 1998

Organized at the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Mass., the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage was a twelve-month walk through the eastern United States, the Caribbean, Brazil, West Africa, and South Africa in 1998-1999, reversing the direction of the Middle Passage symbolically and geographically. A “living prayer of the heart, mind, and body for the sons and daughters of the African Diaspora,” the Pilgrimage was intended by the participants to contribute to a process of healing the wounds inflicted by hundreds of years of slavery and racial oppression. Along the way, participants visited sites associated with the history of slavery, from slaves’ quarters in Virginia to stations on the Underground Railroad and villages that had been raided in Africa, offering prayers for those who had suffered under slavery and commemorating the dignity of those held in bondage and those who resisted.

Chronicling the course of the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage from conception to conclusion, this collection contains a rich textual and visual record of a spiritual approach to addressing the legacy of slavery in the Americas. The collection includes the range of materials collected by participants during the Pilgrimage, including lists of reading materials, information on the sites visited, a handful of mementoes and souvenirs, some correspondence, and notes and photographs taken along the way.

Subjects

Pilgrims and pilgrimagesSlavery--History

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.

Collections include:

Jaffe, Bernard

Bernard Jaffe Papers

1955-2016
4 boxes 2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 906
Depiction of W.E.B. Du Bois at home in Accra, 1963
W.E.B. Du Bois at home in Accra, 1963

A New York native with a deep commitment to social justice, Bernard Jaffe was an attorney, confidant, and longtime friend of W.E.B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois. In 1951, Jaffe joined Du Bois’s defense team at a time when the civil rights leader was under indictment for failing to register as a foreign agent. Forging a close relationship through that experience, he was retained as a personal attorney, representing the Du Bois family interests after they settled abroad. Jaffe was later instrumental in placing the papers of both W.E.B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois and served on the executive board of the W.E.B. Du Bois Foundation, set up by Shirley’s son, David Graham Du Bois.

This rich collection centers on the close relationship between attorney Bernard Jaffe and his friends and clients, Shirley Graham Du Bois and W.E.B. Du Bois. Although there is little correspondence from W.E.B. Du Bois himself, the collection contains an exceptional run of correspondence with Shirley, from the time of her emigration to Ghana in 1961 until her death in China in 1977 and excellent materials relating to David Graham Du Bois and the work of the W.E.B. Du Bois Foundation.

Gift of Jonathan Klate and Bernard Jaffe, Apr. 2016

Subjects

Ghana--History--1957-

Contributors

Du Bois, David GrahamDu Bois, Shirley Graham, 1896-1977Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation

Types of material

Photographs
Kaplan, Sidney, 1913-

Sidney and Emma Nogrady Kaplan Papers

ca.1937-1993
58 boxes 85 linear feet
Call no.: FS 149
Depiction of Sidney Kaplan, May 1972
Sidney Kaplan, May 1972

Access restrictions: Temporarily stored offsite; contact SCUA in advance to request materials from this collection.

An eminent scholar of African American history and activist, Sidney Kaplan was raised in New York City and graduated from City College in 1942. After wartime service as a Lieutenant in the Army, Kaplan returned to his education, completing an MA in history from Boston University (1948) and PhD at Harvard (1960), taking up the study of African American history at a time when few white scholars showed interest. Joining the English Department at UMass in 1946, Kaplan’s influence was widely felt at UMass Amherst and in the local community: he was among the founders of the Department of Afro-American Studies, a founder of the UMass Press, a founder and editor of the Massachusetts Review, and he was the editor of Leonard Baskin’s Gehenna Press. Over more than thirty years at UMass, he worked on diverse projects in history, literature, and the arts, often in partnership with his wife Emma Nogrady, a librarian at Smith College whom he married in 1933, ranging from studies of Poe and Melville to a biographical dictionary of African Americans and a study of Shays’ Rebellion. In 1973, they were co-authors of the first comprehensive study of depictions of African Americans in the visual arts, The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution (based on an exhibition planned for the National Portrait Gallery), and in 1991, the UMass Press published a collection of Sidney’s essays, American Studies in Black and White. A Fulbright lecturer in Greece and Yugoslavia and exchange Professor at the University of Kent, Kaplan was the recipient of the Bancroft Award from the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History for best article of the year in the Journal of Negro History, and he was awarded the UMass Amherst Chancellor’s Medal in 1979, one year after his retirement. Sidney Kaplan died in 1993 at age 80 and was followed by Emma in 2010.

The Kaplan Papers document a long career devoted to the study of African American history and life. The extensive correspondence, research notes, and drafts of articles and other materials offer important insight into the growth of African American studies from the 1950s through 1970s as well as the growth of UMass Amherst into a major research university.

Gift of Paul Kaplan, May 2011

Subjects

African Americans--HistoryMassachusetts ReviewUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst--FacultyUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American StudiesUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of EnglishUniversity of Massachusetts Press

Contributors

Kaplan, Emma Nogrady, 1911-Kaplan, Sidney, 1913-
Katzman, Lillian Hyman

Lillian Hyman Katzman Papers

1952-1989
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 611
Depiction of

When Lillian Hyman volunteered to work with the Democratic Party in New York City in 1948, she was sent over to the office of W.E.B. Du Bois to assist him with some secretarial work. From that beginning, she was hired as a secretary, remaining in Du Bois’s employ for several years until she, regretfully, left for higher pay. Hyman later earned her masters degree and taught in the public schools in New York, starting the first class for children diagnosed with brain injury.

The Katzman Papers contains a series of letters and postcards sent by Du Bois during the early 1950s when Hyman worked as his secretary. Friendly and informal, they concern lecture tours by Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham, out west, and arrangements for his home at Grace Court in Brooklyn. The collection also includes a handful of publications by Du Bois, newspaper clippings, and some congratulatory letters to Hyman on her marriage.

Gift of Carol L. Goldstein, April 2009

Contributors

Du Bois, Shirley Graham, 1896-1977Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963Katzman, Lillian Hyman
Latimer, Catherine A.

Catherine A. Latimer Collection

1854-1953 Bulk: 1915-1948
ca.130 vols. 12 linear feet
Call no.: RB 031

A friend and associate of W.E.B. Du Bois, Catherine A. Latimer became the first African American librarian at the New York Public Library, when she was hired at the 135th Street Branch in 1920. Born in Tennessee and raised in a relatively well to do family in Brooklyn , Latimer studied librarianship at Howard University, graduating in 1918. From early on, she had a keen interest in the burgeoning cultural scene in Harlem in the 1920s and in African American history more generally, and she played a pivotal role in acquiring Arturo Schomburg’s outstanding African American collection in 1926. Latimer worked at the NYPL for 28 years, up until her death in 1948.

The collection contains a remarkable assemblage of books by African American writers and on African American subjects collected by Catherine Latimer during the 1920s through 1940s. Amoing the books are scarce titles in African American history, poetry, and literature including signed volumes by W.E.B. Du Bois (5 titles), Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, and James Weldon Johnson.

Gift of Ruby C. Latimer with the assistance of Dario Bosley, Sept. 2015.

Subjects

African Americans--HistoryAmerican literature--African American authors

Contributors

Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963McKay, Claude, 1890-1948

Types of material

Books
Lerner, Steve, 1946-

Steve Lerner Papers

1994-2011
22 boxes 22.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 673
Depiction of Diamond, La.
Diamond, La.

For decades, the writer Steve Lerner has been a significant contributor to public awareness of the issues surrounding environmental justice. Immersed in the environmental movement through his work as research director at Commonweal, a health and environment research institute founded with his brother Michael in 1976, Lerner earned wide recognition for his first book, Eco-Pioneers (1998), about “practical visionaries” who developed pragmatic solutions to environmental problems. In two subsequent books, Lerner turned to an examination of the impact of environmental toxins and industrial pollutants on low-income communities and people of color and the rise of grassroots opposition within those communities. In Diamond (2006), Lerner explored the impact of a Shell Chemical plant in Louisiana as a microcosm of the broader environmental-justice movement, and more recently, Sacrifice Zones (2010) traced the organization and resistance against industrial and chemical pollutants in a dozen communities in the eastern United States. In 2007, Lerner left his position at Commonweal, but continues his research and writing on environmental issues.

The research notes, interviews, photographs and other documentation comprising the Lerner collection form the basis for Lerner’s three major books.

Subjects

Environmental justiceEnvironmentalism

Types of material

AudiotapesPhotographs
Levasseur, Raymond Luc

Raymond Luc Levasseur Papers

1966-2017
10 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 971

Raymond Luc Levasseur went underground with a revolutionary Marxist organization in 1974 and spent a decade in armed resistance against the American state. Radicalized by his experiences in Vietnam and by a stint in a Tennessee prison for the sale of marijuana, Levasseur became convinced that revolutionary action was a “necessary step in defeating the enemy — monopoly Capitalism and its Imperialism expression.” As a leader of the Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson Unit, later called the United Freedom Front, he took part in a string of bombings and bank robberies targeting symbols of the state including government and military buildings and corporate offices. All active members of the UFF were arrested in 1984 and 1985 and sentenced to long prison terms, although the government’s effort to prosecute them (the Ohio 7) on separate charges of seditious conspiracy ultimately failed. Levasseur served twenty years of a 45-year prison sentence, approximately thirteen years of them in solitary confinement, before being released on parole in 2004. He continues to write and speak out for prisoners’ rights.

The Levasseur papers are an important record of a committed revolutionary and political prisoner. Beginning with his work in the early 1970s with the Statewide Correctional Alliance for Reform (SCAR), a prisoners’ rights organization, the collection includes communiques and other materials from revolutionary groups including the UFF, the Armed Resistance Unit, and the Black Liberation Army; Levasseur’s political and autobiographical writings; numerous interviews; selected correspondence; and a range of material on political prisoners and mass incarceration. Consisting in part of material seized by the FBI following Levasseur’s arrest or recovered through the Freedom of Information Act, and supplemented by newsclippings and video from media coverage, the collection has particularly rich content for the criminal and seditious conspiracy trials of UFF members (also known as the “Ohio 7”) in Brooklyn, NY and Springfield, MA, as well as Levasseur’s years in prison and his work on behalf of political prisoners.

Gift of Raymond Luc Levasseur, 2017

Subjects

Anti-imperialist movements--United StatesPolitical prisoners--United StatesPrisons--United StatesRevolutionaries

Contributors

Armed Clandestine MovementBlack Liberation ArmyManning, TomOhio 7Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson UnitStatewide Correctional Alliance for ReformUnited Freedom FrontWilliams, Raymond C.

Types of material

PhotographsTrials