Doris E. Abramson Papers, ca.1930-2007.
(25 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 127
After earning her masters degree from Smith College in 1951, Doris Abramson (class of 1949) returned to UMass in 1953 to become instructor in the English Department, remaining at her alma mater through a long and productive career. An historian of theatre and poet, she was a founding member of the Speech Department, Theatre Department, and the Massachusetts Review. In 1959, a Danforth grant helped Abramson pursue doctoral work at Columbia. Published in 1969, her dissertation, Negro Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1925-1969, was a pioneering work in the field. After her retirement, she and her partner of more than 40 years, Dorothy Johnson, ran the Common Reader Bookshop in New Salem.
An extensive collection covering her entire career, Abramson’s papers are a valuable record of the performing arts at UMass, her research on African American playwrights, her teaching and directing, and many other topics relating to her diverse interests in literature and the arts.
- African-American theater
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
Common Reader Bookshop Collection, 1978-1997.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 472
Co-owned by Dorothy Johnson and Doris Abramson, the Common Reader Bookshop in New Salem, Massachusetts specialized in women’s studies materials, or in their words, “books by, for, and about women.” A couple for almost 40 years and married in 2004, Johnson and Abramson, a professor in the theater department at UMass, opened the store in 1977. After nearly twenty-five years in operation, the book shop closed its doors for business in 2000. Comprised mostly of photographs, the collection highlights not only the shop as a place, but also the the community it fostered.
- Booksellers and Bookselling--Massachusetts
- New Salem (Mass.)--History
- Abramson, Doris
- Common Reader Bookshop (New Salem, Mass.)
- Johnson, Dorothy
Robert Francis Papers, 1891-1988.
17 boxes (8.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 403
The poet and essayist Robert Francis settled in Amherst, Mass., in 1926, three years after his graduation from Harvard, and created a literary life that stretched for the better part of half a century. An associate of Robert Frost and friend of many other writers, Francis occasionally worked as a teacher or lecturer, including a brief stint on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College, but he sustained himself largely through his writing, living simply in “Fort Juniper,” a cottage he built on Market Hill Road in North Amherst. A recipient of the Shelley Award (1939) and the Academy of American Poets award for distinguished poetic achievement (1984), Francis was a poet in residence at both Tufts (1955) and Harvard (1960) Universities. He died in Amherst in July 1987.
The Francis Papers contains both manuscript and printed materials, drafts and finished words, documenting the illustrious career of the poet. Of particular note is Francis’s correspondence with other writers, publishing houses, and readers, notably Paul Theroux. Also contains personal photographs and Francis family records and a small number of audio recordings of Francis reading his poetry. Letters from Francis to Regina Codey, 1936-1978, can be found in MS 314 along with two typescript poems by Francis.
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- University of Massachusetts Press
- Brown, Rosellen
- Ciardi, John, 1916-
- De Vries, Peter
- Fitts, Dudley, 1903-
- Francis, Robert, 1901-1987
- Hall, Donald, 1928-
- Humphries, Rolfe
- Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972
- Moss, Howard, 1922-
- Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972
- Theroux, Paul
- Wilbur, Richard, 1921-
Types of material
- Phonograph records
Gordon Heath Papers, 1913-1992.
44 boxes (22.75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 372 and 372 bd
A multi-talented performer, the African American expatriate Gordon Heath was variously a stage and film actor, musician, director, producer, founder of the Studio Theater of Paris, and co-owner of the Parisian nightclub L’Abbaye. Born in New York City, Heath became involved in acting as a teenager and enjoyed a career that spanned post-World War II Broadway to the Black Arts Movement of the 1970s. In addition to his many roles on film and stage, he and his partner Lee Payant enjoyed success as recording artists in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Heath collection includes personal and professional correspondence, scrapbooks containing photos and clippings from assorted television and film productions in addition to songs, poetry, and reviews of plays or playbills from productions he attended. The Papers also contain art work, sheet music, personal and production photographs, and drafts of his memoirs.
- Abbaye (Nightclub : Paris, France)
- African American actors--France--Paris--History
- African American singers--France--Paris--History
- African Americans in the performing arts--History
- African-American theater--History--20th century
- Baldwin, James, 1924-
- Chametzky, Jules
- Dodson, Owen, 1914-
- Expatriate musicians--France--Paris--History
- Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
- Musicians--United States--History
- Paris (France)--Intellectual life--20th century
- Payant, Lee--Correspondence
- Primus, Pearl
- Rive gauche (Paris, France)--Intellectual life--20th century
- Studio Theater of Paris
- Theater--Production and direction--France--Paris--History
- Abramson, Doris E
- Heath, Gordon, 1918-1991
Types of material
- Sheet music
Valley Women's History Collaborative Records, 1971-2008.
15 boxes (10 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 531
During the early phases of second wave feminism (1968-1978), the Pioneer Valley served as a center for lesbian and feminist activity in western Massachusetts, and was home to over 400 hundred, often ad hoc, groups, such as the Abortion and Birth Control (ABC) Committee, ISIS Women’s Center, the Mudpie Childcare Cooperative, and the Springfield Women’s Center.
The records of the Valley Women’s History Collaborative document the activities of these groups as well as the efforts of the founders of the Women Studies program and department at UMass Amherst to preserve this history. Of particular value are the many oral histories conducted by the collaborative that record the history of women’s activism in the Pioneer Valley, especially as it relates to reproductive rights.
- Abortion--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
- Birth control--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
- Feminism--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
- Feminists--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
- Mary Vazquez Women's Softball League
- Women--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
- Valley Women's History Collaborative
Types of material
Cemetery Inscriptions Collection, 1902-2005.
4 boxes (6 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 669
Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the Association promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives. To raise public awareness about the significance of historic gravemarkers and the issues surrounding their preservation, the AGS sponsors conferences and workshops, publishes both a quarterly newsletter and annual journal, Markers, and has built an archive of collections documenting gravestones and the memorial industry.
Consisting of self-published and limited-run compilations of gravestone transcriptions from historical cemeteries, the AGS Cemetery Inscriptions Collection offers rich documentation of epitaphs and memorial language, with an emphasis on colonial and early national-era in New England and Ohio. The collection is arranged by state and town.
- Association for Gravestone Studies
L. Sidney Eslinger Collection, 1905-2003.
2 boxes (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: PH 040
Lucille “Sidney” Eslinger was born in Albany, Missouri, on November 9, 1922, the daughter of Delano R. and Alice M. Willoughby Eslinger. After graduating from high school in 1941, Eslinger turned down an opportunity to attend college to work at Caterpillar Tractor Company in Peoria, lll., partly for the opportunity to play for the Caterpillar Dieselettes, the fast-pitch softball team. Through a co-worker, Eslinger developed an interest in history, becoming an active proponent of historic preservation in central Illinois, including graveyards. After retiring from Caterpillar, she and a friend operated a dog grooming business and she was active in the Humane Society. Sidney died in Peoria on August 14, 2011.
The Eslinger Collection contains materials relating to Sidney Eslinger’s interests in gravestone studies, including four books; a research notebook about Springdale Cemetery in Peoria; a photo album of Old Peoria State Hospital; correspondence and miscellaneous materials about stone quarries and symbolism; and a photo scrapbook, “Coin Harvey: A Legend in His Time.” States represented include Illinois and Indiana.
- Monte Ne (Ark.)
- Old Peoria State Hospital
- Springdale Cemetery (Peoria, Ill.)
- Eslinger, L. Sidney (Lucille Sidney)
Types of material
Beth Hapgood Papers, 1789-2005.
67 boxes (35 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 434
Daughter of a writer and diplomat, and graduate of Wellesley College, Beth Hapgood has been a spiritual seeker for much of her life. Her interests have led her to become an expert in graphology, a student in the Arcane School, an instructor at Greenfield Community College, and a lecturer on a variety of topics in spiritual growth. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hapgood befriended Michael Metelica, the central figure in the Brotherhood of the Spirit (the largest commune in the eastern states during the early 1970s) as well as Elwood Babbitt, a trance medium, and remained close to both until their deaths.
The Hapgood Papers contain a wealth of material relating to the Brotherhood of the Spirit and the Renaissance Community, Metelica, Babbitt, and other of Hapgood’s varied interests, as well as 4.25 linear feet of material relating to the Hapgood family.
- Brotherhood of the Spirit
- Channeling (Spiritualism)
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Hapgood family--Correspondence
- Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
- Nineteen sixties--Social aspects
- Occultism--Social aspects
- Popular culture--History--20th century
- Renaissance Community
- Rock music--1971-1980
- Warwick (Mass.)--History
- Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
- Boyce, Neith, 1872-1951
- Hapgood, Beth--Correspondence
- Hapgood, Charles H
- Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds
- Hapgood, Hutchins, 1869-1944
- Hapgood, Norman, 1868-1937
- Metelica, Michael
Samuel E. Murray Papers, ca.1945-1989.
14 boxes (7 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 568
One of the pioneers in the ephemera trade, Samuel E. Murray (1906-1989) was a long time antiquarian bookman, based at his home in Wilbraham, Mass. Born on Christmas Day, 1906, Murray interrupted his college studies to go to sea, but after the Depression left him unemployed, he landed a position as sales representative for McGraw-Hill and, later, G. & C. Merriam and other firms. Always an avid book collector, Murray left the publishing industry in 1970 to become a full time bookseller. Without ever advertising or issuing catalogs, he developed a wide reputation among dealers and collectors for his keen eye and perspicacity with rare and uncommon books. A generalist by trade, Murray had a particular fondness for colorplate books and travel literature, but was renowned both for his extensive reference library and for recognizing early on the value of ephemera. After a lengthy bout with myelofibrosis, Murray died at home on June 4, 1989.
The Murray Papers contain correspondence between Murray and a range of his fellow booksellers and clients, as well as his extensive card files on fellow book dealers and wants lists. The collection offers insight into the operations of a well known antiquarian bookman during the 1970s and 1980s.
- Antiquarian booksellers--Massachusetts
- Book collecting
- Books--Want lists
- Printed ephemera--Collectors and collecting--Massachusetts
- Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
- Ephemera Society of America
- Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989
New WORLD Theater Records, 1979-2010.
41 boxes (61.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 025/F2/N4
New WORLD Theater was founded at UMass Amherst in 1979 by Roberta Uno with the mission of presenting innovative works of theater by contemporary artists of color, with the goal of fostering creative communities, promoting cultural equity, and embracing diverse cultural backgrounds, social engagement, and a commitment to justice. For more than thirty years New WORLD Theater produced many dozens of plays and other dramatic works representing new voices in the theater, as well as plays from the traditional multicultural repertory, and they have supported the arts through performance residencies, conferences and colloquia, and a variety of initiatives aimed at the diverse communities they serve, youth, and theater professionals. New WORLD Theater has contributed significantly to national conversations on cultural equity. After more than three decades of acclaim and recognition, New WORLD Theater was closed by UMass Amherst in summer 2010.
The bulk of the New WORLD Theater collection consists of administrative records documenting the day-to-day activities of the theater, however, it also contains an extensive and exceptionally rich archive of taped interviews, conferences, and theatrical productions. Taken together, the audiovisual material traces the history of New WORLD through the words and performances of artists who both contributed to and benefited from the theater.
- African Americans--Drama
- American drama--Minority authors
- Asian Americans--Drama
- Ethnic groups--United States--Drama
- Hispanic Americans--Drama
- Minorities--United States--Drama
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- New WORLD Theater
- Page, Priscilla
- Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
- Audiovisual materials
- Sound recordings