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

Collecting area: Antiracism

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

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-
Karen Lederer Political Button Collection

Karen Lederer Political Button Collection

1978-2018 Bulk: 1980-1998
1 .05 linear feet
Call no.: 1167
Assortment of buttons from the Karen Lederer Political Button Collection

Collection of 38 political buttons donated by Karen Lederer, UMass Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Department faculty member, covering several social change issues including: gay rights, political candidates, unions, anti-nuclear activism, women’s rights, campaigns at UMass, racism, anti-war movement, AIDS, single payer health care, the environment, domestic violence, the Equal Rights Amendment, and other assorted events in Western Mass.

Gift of Karen Lederer, July 2022

Subjects

Anti-nuclear movements--MassachusettsGay Liberation MovementLabor unions--Massachusetts

Contributors

Karen Lederer

Types of material

Buttons (information artifacts)
LaGuer, Benjamin

Benjamin LaGuer Papers

ca. 1980-2020
20 30 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1149
Depiction of Benjamin LaGuer, photo by Patrick O'Coner
Benjamin LaGuer, photo by Patrick O'Coner

Benjamin LaGuer was born in the Bronx in 1963, lived in Puerto Rico with his mother between the ages of eleven and fifteen, and then moved back to the US, settling with his father in Leominster, Massachusetts. After serving in the US Army from 1980 until he received a general discharge under honorable conditions in 1983, LaGuer was arrested for raping and beating his elderly neighbor in Leominster. He maintained his innocence, rejecting a plea that could have released him after a couple years. His case went to trial, and he was convicted in 1984 by an all-white jury. He was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after fifteen years. LaGuer fought to prove his innocence and earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. LaGuer and his case brought together a diverse group of supporters, including Leslie Epstein, John Silber, Noam Chomsky, Ellen Story, and Deval Patrick, whose support was used against Patrick when he ran for Governor of Massachusetts. LaGuer was denied parole several times because he refused to admit guilt, and passed away from liver cancer on November 4, 2020, alone in a prison hospital.

The Benjamin LaGuer Papers include the ten boxes LaGuer was allowed to have with him in prison and contain his writings, correspondence, legal files documenting his attempts to prove his innocence, and personal effects. Added to this collection is material originally housed at Northeastern University, collected by Eric Goldscheider during the journalist’s time reporting on LaGuer and developing a close friendship.

Subjects

Criminal justice, Administration ofPrisoners--MassachusettsPrisons--Massachusetts

Contributors

Patrick, DevalSilber, John, 1926-2012
Restrictions: Family correspondence is under review and some portion might be closed.
Levasseur, Raymond Luc

Raymond Luc Levasseur Trial transcripts

1989
12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 334

For over a decade, the radical United Freedom Front waged a concerted revolutionary campaign, confronting U.S. imperialism in Central America, apartheid, and other issues. Led by Raymond Luc Levasseur (b. 1940), the UFF carried out a string of bank robberies and bombings in the northeast, usually providing forewarning to avoid casualties. On November 4, 1984, following an intense nationwide manhunt, the FBI succeeded in apprehending Levasseur and his wife Patricia Gros near Deerfield, Ohio, and within a year, most of the remaining members of the UFF were under arrest. Levasseur and six of his comrades were eventually sentenced to long terms for the robberies and bombings and (two of them) for the death of a New Jersey state trooper. The government’s attempt in 1989 to bring charges of seditious conspiracy and violations of the RICO act, however, ended in an acquittal on most charges and a hung jury on the rest. Having served nearly half of his 45 year sentence, Levasseur was released from prison in November 2004.

The Levasseur Collection consists of the complete transcripts of the 1989 sedition trial of the “Ohio Seven” (US v. Levasseur).

Subjects

Political prisoners--United StatesSeditionUnited Freedom Front

Contributors

Levasseur, Ray Luc
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
Lewis, David L., 1936-

David Levering Lewis Papers

ca.1955-2012
54 boxes 81 linear feet
Call no.: MS 827
Depiction of David Levering Lewis
David Levering Lewis

The historian David Levering Lewis is the author of eight remarkably diverse monographs. Raised in an academic family, his father was president of Morris Brown College, Lewis enrolled at Fisk University at the age of 15 and was only 26 when he was awarded a doctorate in modern European history from the London School of Economics (1962). Through an academic career that has included numerous stops, including Morgan State, Notre Dame, Howard, the University of the District of Columbia (1970-1980), and Rutgers (1985-2003), Lewis remained consistently productive. Author of the first academic biography of Martin Luther King (1970) and a history of the Dreyfus Affair (1974), he wrote an influential study of the Harlem renaissance (1981) and important works on colonialism in Africa (1987) and Islamic Spain (2008), but he is best known for his two monumental biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois (1993, 2000), each of which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. One of the most lauded African American historians of his generation, Lewis was recipient of the Bancroft Prize, the Francis Parkman Prizes, the 2009 National Humanities Medal, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and he was elected as a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Lewis was Julius Silver University Professor in History at New York University from 2003 until his retirement.

The papers of David Levering Lewis document a long and productive career as an academic historian and scholar of African American history and culture. Beginning with his years in college and graduate school, the collection offers a rich perspective on the evolution of his career. Lewis’s essential biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois are particularly well documented, however the collection includes abundant materials for each of his earlier projects, including correspondence, research notes, and drafts.

Subjects

African Americans--HistoryColonies--Africa--HistoryDu Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963Harlem RenaissanceHistorians--United StatesKing, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968United States--History--20th century

Types of material

Photographs
Lyons, Louis Martin

Louis Martin Lyons Papers

1918-1980
9 boxes 4.5 linear feet
Call no.: RG 002/3 L96
Depiction of Louis M. Lyons
Louis M. Lyons

As a journalist with the Boston Globe, a news commentator on WGBH television, and Curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, Louis M. Lyons was an important public figure in the New England media for over fifty years. A 1918 graduate of Massachusetts Agricultural College and later trustee of UMass Amherst, Lyons was an vocal advocate for freedom of the press and a highly regarded commentator on the evolving role of media in American society.

The Lyons Papers contain a selection of correspondence, lectures, and transcripts of broadcasts relating primarily to Lyons’ career in television and radio. From the McCarthy era through the end of American involvement in Vietnam, Lyons addressed topics ranging from local news to international events, and the collection offers insight into transformations in American media following the onset of television and reaction both in the media and the public to events such as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the war in Vietnam, and the social and political turmoil of the 1960s.

Subjects

Boston GlobeCivil rights movementsFreedom of the PressFrost, Robert, 1874-1963Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973Journalistic ethicsJournalists--Massachusetts--BostonKennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968TelevisionUniversity of Massachusetts. TrusteesVietnam War, 1961-1975WGBH (Television station : Boston, Mass.)World War, 1914-1918

Contributors

Lyons, Louis Martin, 1897-

Types of material

Letters (Correspondence)Speeches
Mann, Eric

Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann Papers

1967-2007
22 boxes 11 linear feet
Call no.: MS 657
Depiction of Eric Mann, Dec. 1969<br />Photo by Jeff Albertson
Eric Mann, Dec. 1969
Photo by Jeff Albertson

Revolutionary organizers, writers, and theorists, Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann have been active in the struggle for civil rights for decades. The son of Jewish Socialist and labor organizer from New York, Mann came of age during the early phases of the Civil Rights movement and after graduating from Cornell (1964), he became field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality. Increasingly radicalized through exposure to Black revolutionary nationalists, Mann took part in the Newark Community Union Project and became a leader in anti-imperialist opposition to the war in Vietnam as a New England regional coordinator for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later with the Revolutionary Youth Movement I — the Weatherman above-ground tendency of SDS. Following a militant demonstration at the Harvard Center for International Affairs late in 1969, Mann was convicted of assault on the basis of perjured testimony and sentenced to two years in prison. An organizer of his fellow prisoners even behind bars, he was “shipped out” often in the middle of the night, from prison to prison, spending the last year at Concord State Prison. After being released early in July 1971, he continued his prison activism through the Red Prison Movement. At the same time, as a writer, he earned a national audience for his book Comrade George: an account of the life, politics, and assassination of Soledad Brother George Jackson. Feeling himself at a low point in his radical career, Mann met Lian Hurst while vacationing in Mexico during the summer 1974. Hurst, a leader in the Berkeley Oakland Women’s Union, architect, and a strong Socialist Feminist, soon became his partner in life and politics, and Mann left Massachusetts to join with her in Berkeley. Hurst lead a group of women from BOWU who formed a “Thursday night group” and left the organization with the polemic, “socialist feminism is bourgeois feminism” all of whom moved towards integrating women’s liberation and Marxism-Leninism. At her urging, the two took part in Marxist Leninist party building, becoming union organizers with the United Auto Workers, and eventually moving to Los Angeles. Hurst was elected shop steward by her fellow workers as a known revolutionary. There, Mann led a campaign to keep the Van Nuys assembly plant open (1982-1992) — captured in his book, Taking on General Motors. They joined the August 29th Movement and its successor, the League of Revolutionary Struggle. They left LRS in 1984. In 1989, Mann and veterans of the GM Van Nuys Campaign formed the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which has been a primary focal points for their work ever since, helping to build consciousness, leadership, and organization within communities of color. Hurst became editor of AhoraNow, an innovative bilingual left publication that featured articles by Black and Latino working class leaders and helped initiate the center’s National School for Strategic Organizing. In 2003 Hurst wrote, “Socialist Feminism: Thoughts After 30 Years” for AhoraNow, a critical re-engagement of those important debates from an historical perspective after a 30 year reunion of BOWU’s key leaders. Mann’s latest book is Playbook For Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer. Hurst and Mann continue to write and agitate in the cause of revolutionary change, particularly for oppressed communities of color.

The Mann-Hurst collection contains the records of two lives intertwined with one another with the cause of liberation of Black and Latino communities, women, and an internationalist pro-socialist anti-imperialism. Containing a nearly complete set of publications, the collection also contains early materials on Lian Hurst’s work with BOWU and the both Eric and Lian’s time as organizers for the UAW and their participation in the August 29th Movement and League of Revolutionary Struggle. Of particular interest are a series of letters home written by Eric during his imprisonment. The collection contains comparatively little on Hurst and Manns’ more recent work with the Labor/Strategy Strategy Center or Bus Riders Union

Subjects

August 29th MovementBerkeley Oakland Women's UnionCommunists--CaliforniaFeminismInternational Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of AmericaLabor unions--CaliforniaLeague of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L)Prisoners--MassachusettsRed Prison MovementsStudents for a Democratic Society (U.S.)

Contributors

Mann, Lian Hurst
Massachusetts Indian Association. Stockbridge Auxilliary

Massachusetts Indian Association Stockbridge Auxiliary Records

1886-1909
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 151 bd

The Stockbridge Auxilliary of the Massachusetts Indian Association was formed by prominent local women in western Berkshire County who sought to aid in educational and missionary work for and among Indians, and to “abolish all oppression of Indians within our national limits.”

Records include minutes that document the group’s committees, meetings, dues, and contributions to Indians on reservations nation-wide, accounts, membership lists, and a letter.

Subjects

Indians of North America--Arizona--Social conditionsIndians of North America--Government relations--HistoryIndians of North America--Missions--HistoryIndians of North America--Social conditionsIndians, Treatment of--United States--HistoryLake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the IndianLake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian and Other Dependent PeoplesStockbridge Indians--Social conditions

Contributors

Carter, Henry JMassachusetts Indian Association. Stockbridge Auxiliary
Meier, August, 1923-2003

August Meier Collection

1837-1984
3 boxes, 329 titles 34.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 844
Depiction of

A pioneer in African American history, August Meier was a model of an engaged academic, a prolific writer, active participant in the civil rights struggle, and staunch member of the NAACP, SNCC, and CORE. While pursuing graduate work at Columbia under Henry Steele Commager, Meier taught at a succession of Historical Black Colleges, including Tougaloo (1945-1949), Fisk (1953-1956), and Morgan State (1957-1964). His dissertation, completed in 1957, became the first of eleven books he wrote or edited, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915 (1963), with much of later work conducted in collaboration with Elliott Rudwick and John Bracey. Meier joined the faculty at Kent State University in 1967 and remained there until his retirement in 1993. His much-anticipated monograph on the history of the NAACP had not been completed at the time of death in 2003.

Organized in two discrete parts, the Meier collection bookends a long career in the study of African American history. The first part of the collection is centered on Meier’s association with the Pioneer Youth summer camp in Rifton, N.Y., and his growing consciousness of the fundamental problems of race and class in American society, with some materials from his wartime years as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. The second part of the collection includes books collected by Meier during his academic career, mostly on African American history and culture. Titles range from works on the Civil Rights movement to literature and poetry of the late nineteenth century and Harlem Renaissance, works on slavery and antislavery, race theory, the South, and African American education and religion.

Subjects

African Americans--HistoryAntislavery movementsCamps--New York (State)Civil rights movementsCommunists--United StatesDepressions--1929Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt),1868-1963Oberlin College--StudentsPioneer Youth of AmericaRace relationsWorld War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Braunthal, Gerard, 1923-

Types of material

NewslettersSongbooks