The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Special Collections & University Archives
CredoResearch digital collections in Credo

Collecting area: Civil rights

White Light Communications

White Light Communications Collection

1989-1999
150 items 54 linear feet
Call no.: MS 984

A not-for-profit media company based in Burlington, Vermont, White Light Communications produced dozens of videos during the late 1980s and early 1990s reflecting the voices and experiences of psychiatric survivors. With initial funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, Executive Director Paul Engels and his colleagues, all psychiatric survivors themselves, built a fully-equipped television production studio and conducted nearly one hundred interviews with ex-patients and leaders in the antipsychiatry movement. Although most of the interviews were conducted in Burlington, they also produced documentaries, and covered national events such as the final two Alternatives conferences and “Self Help Live,” a broadcast that focused on highlighting consumer/survivor leaders.

The hundreds of video interviews and other productions that comprise the White Light Communications collection were produced by, for, and about psychiatric survivors. Paul Engels interviewed nearly a hundred ex-patients including important leaders in the movement such as Judi Chamberlin, Sally Zinman, Howie the Harp, and George Ebert, and several episodes focused on the mental health system and activism in Vermont. The subjects of the interviews range widely from homelessness to involuntary treatment, peer support, suicide, surviving the mental health system, and the history of the psychiatric survivors movement.

Gift of Paul Engels, May 2017

Subjects

AntipsychiatryCivil rights movements--United StatesEx-mental patientsMental health services--United StatesMental illness--Alternative treatmentMentally ill--Social conditionsPsychiatric survivors movement

Contributors

Chamberlin, Judi, 1944-2010Dart, Justin, 1930-2002Ebert, GeorgeEngels, PaulMillett, KateZinman, Sally

Types of material

Oral histories (Document genres)U-maticVideotapes
Winston, Robert

Bob Winston Collection

1964-1993
36 boxes 49.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 452

An educator and activist, Robert M. Winston was born in New York City during the first wave of the baby boom and lived many of the principles associated with his generation. Winston became active in the civil rights and antiwar movements while a graduate student at Indiana University in the mid-1960s, working in cause while building his academic career. After being dismissed from a position at the University of New Hampshire for his antiwar activities, he moved on to UMass Amherst, where he earned a doctorate in education, serving as head of the Valley Peace Center at the same time. His activism continued into

The Winston Papers contain a dense assemblage of personal correspondence, subject files, posters, and audiovisual and printed materials documenting a career in social justice movements. The earliest materials in the collection stem from Winston’s involvement in the civil rights movement in Indiana and his opposition to the war in Vietnam, including a surprisingly wide array of materials from left-oriented periodicals to antiwar newspapers printed for servicemen and women, and the collection documents the ups and downs of his academic career. Later materials touch on his interests in U.S. intervention in Central America during the 1980s, the prison-industrial complex, civil liberties, and environmental issues.

Subjects

Alinsky, Saul David, 1909-1972Amherst (Mass.)--HistoryCivil rights movementsDraft--United States--HistoryKennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968Peace movementsPolitical activists--MassachusettsRosenberg, Ethel, 1915-1953Rosenberg, Julius, 1918-1953Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts
Ziths, Frankie

Frankie Ziths Collection

ca. 1968-1990
20 boxes ca. 30 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1130
Depiction of Frankie Ziths in front of the Black Panther Party Harlem Branch office, 1977. Photo by Kwesi Balagoon (with Ziths's camera).
Frankie Ziths in front of the Black Panther Party Harlem Branch office, 1977. Photo by Kwesi Balagoon (with Ziths's camera).

Frankie “Ashbuloh” Ziths, born Frank Gumbs, Jr. on December 6, 1933 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, was a vital member of the Black Panther Party, joining in the late 1960s. Ziths served as the official New York photographer for the Party’s newspaper, The Black Panther, and covered the Panther 21 trial first for The Black Panther, then for Right On!, the East Coast Panther newspaper. As more of the members of the Harlem Branch were arrested and jailed or forced underground, Ziths kept the Branch’s business and programs moving forward until it closed in 1981. One of the programs Ziths took over was the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, which raised awareness and funds to support political prisoners in the US. Through the NCDPP, Ziths maintained long-standing correspondences with incarcerated fellow activists and sent them money, often from his own pocket. In the late 1970s, Ziths began honing his skills as a photographer and became a respected New York paparazzi, eventually working as one of the city’s most sought-after news photographers and a stringer for the Associated Press and The New York Times. Ziths died of lung cancer on December 31, 1990.

Prompted by his wife Barbara Dee Ziths (now Barbara Heller), who recognized the historical significance of the work of Black community activists in New York, Ziths began preserving material documenting the Panther 21 trial, and eventually the activities of the Harlem Branch of the Black Panther Party. Heller and Ziths saved all the material that was in the branch when it closed in 1981. The Frankie Ziths Collection includes administrative files, publications, posters, original artwork and layouts, and memorabilia from the Party’s Harlem Branch, documenting the ideological split of the Black Panther Party in 1971 and support for the Black Liberation Army; administrative files and correspondence from the NCDPP; Ziths own notebooks and journals, including notebooks recording his experiences at the Panther 21 trial; and Ziths complete archive of photographic negatives, slides, and prints, representing his career as a paparazzi and press photographer and documenting activism in New York and elsewhere in the East Coast Black Panther Party community.

Gift of Barbara Heller

Subjects

Black Panther Party

Contributors

National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners

Types of material

Photographs