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

Collecting area: Counterculture

Social Change Collection

Social Change Collection

1937-2008
5 boxes 2.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 457
Depiction of Join the SMC, 1970
Join the SMC, 1970

The term social change is used in SCUA to refer to individuals and organizations who actively seek to better the world around them, as well as to individuals experiencing shifts in economic, cultural, and social life. Few movements for change exist in isolation. Following W.E.B. Du Bois, we recognize that seemingly disparate issues in social justice are often intrinsically and deeply interconnected, so that to create change in one area requires close attention to others. It is the flow of ideas, people, and organizations that constitutes the warp and weft of social change in the twentieth century.

Created to collocate small groups of manuscripts, documents, letters, and other unpublished materials relating to the history and experience of social change, the Social Change Collection is focused largely on movements of the 1960s and after. While entirely miscellaneous, the collection includes interesting material relating to the peace and antiwar movements during the 1960s, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the conflict in Vietnam, antiimperialist movements in Central and South America, and a small number of items relating to sexuality, gender, and feminism.

Acquired variously.

Subjects

Anti-imperialist movementsCommunismFeminismPeace movementsVietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements

Contributors

Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Social Change Periodicals

Social Change Periodicals Collection

1969-2006
14 boxes 21 linear feet
Call no.: MS 306
Depiction of Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980
Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980

Assembled to bring together short and broken runs of periodicals produced by activists and movements for social justice, the Social Change Periodicals Collection touches on a wide variety of topics. Much of the original collection came from subscriptions held by the Everywoman’s Center at UMass Amherst, however the collection has grown to include materials supplied by many other donors. The bulk of periodicals come from the period 1965-1990 and the subjects covered range from feminism to gay rights, and political radicalism, to peace, prison, labor, antiracism, and the counterculture more generally. The collection has been organized thematically into 19 series.

Subjects

African Americans--Suffrage--PeriodicalsCentral America--Politics and government--PeriodicalsDisarmament--PeriodicalsFeminism--PeriodicalsGay liberation movement--PeriodicalsLabor--United States--PeriodicalsLesbians--PeriodicalsNonviolence--PeriodicalsPeace--PeriodicalsPrisons--United States--PeriodicalsRadicalism--United States--PeriodicalsSocialism--PeriodicalWomen--Periodical

Types of material

Periodicals
Sommer, Mark

Mark Sommer Papers

1966-2017
13 boxes 16.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 973

Mark Sommer, with Zetta, the first newborn goat at the Sommer homestead in northern CA, May 1985

Mark Sommer is an explorer, storyteller, and award-winning public radio and print journalist focused on advocacy and narratives of social, political, and environmental change and positive action. In Washington, D.C., Sommer found himself on hand for some of the 1960s pivotal moments, where he was involved with the Liberation News Service and the New Left think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies. Sommer moved to California in 1969 to explore the counterculture, spending several years journeying – spiritually, psychedelically, and physically between communes, farms, and wilderness homesteads along the western coast – before he and his wife built a self-reliant organic homestead in the deep woods of northern CA, where they lived from the 1970s to the 1990s. The resilience of nature deeply impacted Sommer’s outlook and work as a writer and journalist, driving his interest in the human capacity for overcoming adversity. Sommer founded and directed the Mainstream Media Project, a nonprofit media placement service scheduling leading edge thinkers and social innovators for extensive radio interviews, and Sommer served as host and executive producer of the internationally syndicated and award winning, one-hour weekly radio program, A World of Possibilities. Sommer is the author of three books (Beyond the Bomb, The Conquest of War, and Living in Freedom), and hundreds of op-eds in major newspapers worldwide. Current projects include short and movie length videos crafted from his photographs, films, interviews, and experiences.

Chronicling over five decades of creative and journalistic output of a life-long explorer and progressive advocate, the Mark Sommer Papers are an extensive collection, covering Sommer’s entire career and personal life from the late 1960s to the present. Writings include personal and multiple travel journals (including a unique trip to North Vietnam in 1968), correspondence, student essays, op-eds, articles, project and grant plans, memoirs, and book manuscripts. Additional journals exist in audio format, along with radio interviews where Sommer served as a guest. Slides, photographs, and movies cover Sommer’s family and home life to his wide-ranging travels and interests. Some main topics of coverage include foreign policy and international politics, progressivism, peace and conflict studies, the anti-nuclear and disarmament movements, wilderness and back-to-the-land experiences, and later in life fatherhood. Materials from Mainstream Media Project have been separated into the Mainstream Media Project Records.

Gift of Mark Sommer, May 2017

Subjects

Antinuclear movementCounterculture--United StatesInstitute for Policy StudiesJournalists--CaliforniaNuclear disarmamentPeace--researchPeaceful change (International relations)Political activistsReconciliationSelf-reliant living--CaliforniaSustainable livingTravel writingVietnam War, 1961-1975

Types of material

ArticlesCorrespondenceDiariesMemoirsPhotographsSound recordingsVideo recordings
Wasserman, Harvey, 1945-

Harvey Wasserman Papers

ca.1965-2017
34 boxes 50 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1082
Depiction of Harvey Wasserman at MUSE press conference, 1979
Harvey Wasserman at MUSE press conference, 1979

A journalist, writer, and historian, Harvey Wasserman has been an activist for radical democracy and alternative energy for over five decades. Influenced by civil rights activism as a child, Wasserman became seriously involved in journalism while on the staff of the Michigan Daily at the University of Michigan. After graduating in 1967, he joined the Liberation News Service supplying news to underground and alternative media outlets, remaining with the LNS branch that eventually settled on the Montague Farm Commune in Montague, Mass. During more than a decade at the Farm, Wasserman and his fellow communards helped ignite the modern movement opposing nuclear power. Helping to found two vital antinuclear groups, the Alternative Energy Coalition and the Clamshell Alliance, he became a key strategist and organizer of the mass protests at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and was a motive force behind the Musicians United for Safe Energy concerts in 1979. His activism has since expanded into a broad range of environmental issues, alternative energy, election protection, and politics. A prolific writer, he is author of Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States (1972) and Solartopia (2007), among other books, and his articles have appeared in both the mainstream and alternative press.

The Wasserman Papers document the career of a key figure in antinuclear and alternative energy activism. The collection includes a nearly comprehensive set of Wasserman’s writings, materials on the antinuclear movement, solar power, the Montague Farm Commune, and materials relating to his efforts to protect the American electoral system.

Gift of Harvey Wasserman, 2017

Subjects

Antinuclear movementsCommunal living--MassachusettsEnvironmentalismLiberation News ServiceMontague Farm CommunityRenewable energySolar energyUnited States--History--20th century
WBCN and the American Revolution Documentary Collection

WBCN and the American Revolution Documentary Collection

ca.1968-2010
Call no.: MS 788
Depiction of

On March 15, 1968, a failing classical music station, WBCN-FM, was reinvented as Boston’s first voice in radical underground radio, and its influence quickly spread nationally. Its characteristic blend of cultural chaos, including rock, folk, blues, and jazz, interspersed with news, radical politics, and community programming, provided a soundtrack for a generation fighting to remake its world. WBCN earned its nickname, “The American Revolution.” The station’s eclectic and unpredictable broadcasts included music from little-known performers who would emerge into the biggest acts of the day; regularly scheduled live musical performances from local clubs; trenchant political analysis and newscasts of the major events of the day; interviews with legendary cultural figures; and innovative new shows including one of the first women’s programs and the Lavender Hour, the nation’s first regularly broadcast LGBT radio show. Music, politics, culture, and community were intensely interconnected through WBCN, while its “listener line,” which took calls and answered questions on any subject, helped make it a virtual two-way hub for countercultural Boston.

While producing a documentary film about WBCN, and the music, politics, and social change during the period 1968-1974, former WBCN newscaster and announcer Bill Lichtenstein recognized the importance of archiving the wealth of primary materials that told the story of WBCN, its community and the dramatic changes of the era. The American Revolution Documentary Collection is the product of Lichtenstein’s energy, serving as an umbrella for a suite of interrelated collections focused on the impact of underground media in the Boston area and the profound social, political, and cultural changes of that time. These collections include the work of photographers, journalists, and writers who would go on to prominence, as well as activists, artists, and everyday people who witnessed and took part in an extended public conversation on the direction of our nation during the period of profound social, political, and cultural upheaval and who used media to help change it.

WBCN and the American Revolution collections include:

Selected recordings from the Collection are available to stream through Airtime Pro, a web-based radio platform. ​Hear the music, news reports, ads, rare live musical broadcasts, station ID’s, interviews, zaniness, and more, as broadcast from WBCN-FM’s launch in 1968 and over the next seven years. You can listen using the player below or go directly to the Airtime Pro site, here: https://amrev.airtime.pro/

Subjects

Alternative radio broadcasting--MassachusettsBoston (Mass.)--History--20th centuryCambridge (Mass.)--History--20th centuryNineteen sixtiesRock musicVietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movementsWBCN (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)

Types of material

PhotographsSound recordings
Weather Underground Collection

Weather Underground Organization Collection

1918-1978 Bulk: 1973-1978
5 boxes 2.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1145

The 1960s and 1970s were decades rich with activist organizations intent on radically transforming U.S. politics and society as well as striving to end racial and gender inequality. One such group was Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Launched in 1962, with the infamous Port Huron Statement, SDS helped the nascent anti-Vietnam war movement gain traction in 1965 by organizing the first national demonstration in Washington, D.C. Over the course of the next four years, the organization grew at a rapid pace, claiming over 300 chapters under its moniker. Arguments over tactics and strategy culminated during an eventful national convention in June of 1969 in which three factions, all claiming to represent “the true SDS”, split the organization apart.
               
The most notorious of these factions was the Weathermen, (later renamed the less patriarchal Weather Underground Organization [WUO]). The WUO aimed to spark revolution in the United States, initially, through the use of targeted political bombings, political communiques, and support of Black liberation movements. Following the March 1970 accidental self-bombing of three of its New York collective members, Ted Gold, Diana Oughton, and Terry Robbins in a New York townhouse owned by Cathy Wilkerson’s father, the organization opted to conduct more targeted bombings where no one would be hurt.
               
After two-to three-years of high-profile bombings, including the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, corporate buildings, and law enforcement institutions, with minimal impact, the organization began to consider how to regain influence with the greater Left. This began WUO’s “inversion” phase which included the publication of a book/manifesto titled Prairie Fire, the establishment of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, and a periodical, Osawatomie. The WUO’s Central Committee believed that this inversion strategy would allow them to influence and lead the greater anti-war/anti-imperialist movement.

The inversion strategy did not spark the all-encompassing revolution imagined by the WUO and members slowly began to surface, breaking apart the organization in the mid-late 1970s. While the WUO did not accomplish what they set out to do, their extreme tactics and notoriety with the FBI left lasting impressions on American society and the history of activism in the 1970s.
     
This small collection of materials donated by a member of the WUO includes books, pamphlets, manuscripts, notes, military manuals, maps of correctional facilities, and correspondence between members from 1973 to 1978, many of them coded through the use of letters replacing names. It also holds papers critical of  the WUO written by its own members between 1976 and 1978. This represents the period when Clayton Van Lydegaf gathered members in his “Cadre School”, to rigorously analyze and document how the organization fell apart, including a transcript from a recorded interview session in which Bernadine Dohrn repudiated all methods and practices of the WUO. These papers reflect the power struggle seen later within the WUO, as well as the contempt that many of its members grew to nurture for the organization as it strayed from its original purpose.

The collection also contains many political papers on subjects such as women and their place within the WUO, the anti-fascist movement, Black liberation movements, imperialism, and the origins of fascism. It also holds accounts of the WUO’s history, along with critiques, notes, and adaptations for their manifesto, Prairie Fire.

Gift of Jeff Perry, 2021

Subjects

FeminismImperialismRevolutionariesWeather Underground Organization--History

Types of material

CorrespondenceManuals (instructional materials)Notes (documents)Pamphlets
Williams, Paul, 1948-2013

Paul Williams Papers

ca. 1958-2005
53 boxes 79.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1158
Depiction of Paul Williams, ca. 1973
Paul Williams, ca. 1973

Born in 1948 in Boston, Paul Williams was an avid reader of science fiction and published his first fanzine, Within, in 1962 at the age of 14. A few years later, after completing his first semester at Swarthmore, Williams hitchhiked to New York City. There he wrote and published—typing up the mimeo stencils himself—the first issue of Crawdaddy! With the birth of this publication, Williams is widely recognized as the founder of serious rock and roll journalism. He left Crawdaddy! in 1968 and went on to establish Entwhistle Books with David Hartwell, Chester Anderson, and Joel Hack. Williams continued to write, collecting his early works on rock and roll in two books and contributing articles as a freelancer for Rolling Stone. During the early 1970s, Williams lived on several intentional communities, including the Fort Hill Community in Cambridge, and wrote the surprise best seller Das Energi and its follow-up, Apple Bay during this period. In 1975, his profile of friend Philip K. Dick launched P.K.D. to a national audience, and Williams later served as the literary executor of the Dick estate following the death of his friend in 1982. His extensive writing on Bob Dylan spanned forty years and resulted in a significant body of publications including a multi-volume work on the artist. In 1995, Williams suffered a near fatal bike accident that left him partially disabled. A remarkable initial recovery proved to be short-lived and within a few years after the accident, Williams began exhibiting symptoms of early-onset dementia, a result of the traumatic brain injury he sustained. He died in 2013 leaving behind a tremendous legacy as author, editor, and publisher.

The Paul Williams Papers is comprehensive collection of materials that documents the writings and relationships that shaped the field of rock and roll journalism. Alongside manuscripts of the numerous books and articles Williams wrote are notebooks, correspondence, and media. Early issues of Crawdaddy! and Williams’s writings on science fiction author Philip K. Dick (including audio cassette tapes of the 1974 P.K.D. interview) are featured as well as his working files on Bob Dylan. Correspondence includes Theodore, Sturgeon, Chester Anderson, David Hartwell, Susan Ann Protter, Julian Moody, Raymond Mungo among many others.

Subjects

Communal livingCrawdaddy! (New York, N.Y.)Rock musicScience fiction

Contributors

Williams, Paul, 1948-2013

Types of material

CorrespondenceManuscriptsPhotographs
Wolf, Lloyd

Lloyd Wolf Photograph Collection

1989
13 digital color prints
Call no.: PH 008
Depiction of Deadhead, 1989.  Photo by Lloyd Wolf
Deadhead, 1989. Photo by Lloyd Wolf

A photographer from Washington, D.C., Lloyd Wolf is a well known photojournalist and documentarian who often works on topics in social change. During the course of a career that began in the late 1970s, Wolf has worked on projects ranging from documenting the impact of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., to Jewish mothers and fathers, Moroccan Jewry, drug rehabilitation in prison, and Black-Jewish dialog.

The 13 images in the collection are part of Wolf’s series, “Acid Reign,” a project conducted in 1989 with a sociologist from UNC-Greensboro, Rebecca Adams, exploring the lives of dedicated Deadheads. The prints were made for exhibition at the symposium, Unbroken Chain: the Grateful Dead in Music, Culture, and Memory, held at UMass Amherst in November 2007. All rights remain with Lloyd Wolf.

Subjects

Deadheads (Music fans)--Photographs

Contributors

Wolf, Lloyd

Types of material

Photographs
Wulkan, Ferd

Ferd Wulkan Collection

1968-1985
8 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 841

A 1968 graduate in mathematics from MIT, Ferd Wulkan has been a fixture in activist circles for many years. A member of SDS in college and a rank-and-file clerical union leader at Boston University, Wulkan moved to Amherst in 1989. His passion has been the intersection of the labor movement with other progressive movements; he served for 15 years as a field representative with Locals 509 and 888 of SEIU, working with non-faculty professional personnel at UMass Amherst and Boston, and then as a representative and organizer for the Massachusetts Society of Professors from 2004 to 2016. In 2007, Wulkan became organizing director for the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), a grassroots advocacy organization for affordable and accessible public higher education.

The Wulkan Collection consists of a fascinating array of material from Leftist and radical political movements during the late 1960s and early 1980s, with an emphasis on the Cambridge-Somerville area. In addition to a rich assemblage of formally published pamphlets and magazines, the collection includes a large number of fliers, handouts, informally published works, and underground newspapers on Socialist, Feminist, and anarchist topics and relating to the war in Vietnam, the labor movement, civil rights, and Black Power.

Subjects

Cambridge (Mass.)--HistoryFeminism--MassachusettsRadicals--Massachusetts--CambridgeSomerville (Mass.)--HistoryUnderground press publicationsVietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements

Contributors

Black Panther Party