“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all'; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”
W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951
In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.
While not comprehensive, the following includes a brief synopsis of some of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:
Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.
A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.
Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).
- African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
- Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
- Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
- Arts management and arts administration:
In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
- Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
- Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
- Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
- Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.
The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.
- Cookery and culinary history
SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
- Literature and the arts
Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
- Politics and political culture
SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.
Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University Archives collects, preserves, and makes available official and non-official records documenting the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community, including its administration, departments and programs, faculty, and staff. The Archives avidly collects materials that reflect the lives and experiences of its students and alumni and that reflect our history as one of the Commonwealth’s two land grant institutions.
SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:
MassEquality Records, ca.1993-2008.
Call no.: MS 674
In the late 1990s, MassEquality was formed as a coalition of advocacy groups that sought to build legislative support for same-sex marriage and gay rights in Massachusetts. Formally incorporated as a 501(c)4 advocacy organization in late 2001, the coalition hired its first employee, Campaign Coordinator Marty Rouse, in late 1993, and achieved a landmark success that November when the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state may not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to allow equal marital rights to same-sex couples. Since that time, MassEquality has continued to champion marriage equality nationally.
The MassEquality Records document the origins, operations, and activism of one of the leading organizations in New England advocating for marriage rights and civic equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation. The collection includes some material generated by the Freedom to Marry Coalition, a partner in the coalition, and a series of large banners and posters, some of which were displayed during the event celebrating the arrival of marriage equality in Massachusetts.
- Gay rights--New England
- Gays--Legal status, laws, etc.--New England
- Same-sex marriage--Law and legislation--New England
- Freed to Marry Coalition
Types of material
Radical Student Union Records, 1905-2006 (Bulk: 1978-2005).
Call no.: RG 045/80 R1
Founded by Charles Bagli in 1976, the Revolutionary Student Brigade at UMass Amherst (later the Radical Student Union) has been a focal point for organization by politically radical students. RSU members have responded to issues of social justice, addressing both local, regional, and national concerns ranging from militarism to the environment, racism and sexism to globalization.
The RSU records document the history of a particularly long-lived organization of left-leaning student activists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beginning in the mid-1970s, as students were searching for ways to build upon the legacy of the previous decade, the RSU has been a constant presence on campus, weathering the Reagan years, tough budgetary times, and dramatic changes in the political culture at the national and state levels. The RSU reached its peak during the 1980s with protests against American involvement in Central America, CIA recruitment on campus, American support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and government-funded weapons research, but in later years, the organization has continued to adapt, organizing against globalization, sweatshops, the Iraq War, and a host of other issues.
- Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- College students--Political activity
- El Salvador--History--1979-1992
- Iraq War, 2003-
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Persian Gulf War, 1991
- Political activists--Massachusetts--History
- Student movements
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- United States. Central Intelligence Agency
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Progressive Student Network
- Radical Student Union
- Revolutionary Student Brigade
Types of material
Harold Ambellan Memoir, 2005.
Call no.: MS 855
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., the expatriot sculptor Harold Ambellan was a participant in the Federal Art Project during the 1930s and a figure in the radical Artists’ Union and Sculptors Guild. After naval service during the Second World War, Ambellan left the United States permanently to escape the hostile climate of the McCarthy-era, going into exile in France. Although a friend of artists such as Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko, Ambellan’s work was primarily figurative and centered on the human form. His work has been exhibited widely on both sides of the Atlantic. He died at his home in Arles in 2006 at the age of 94.
In 2005, Victoria Diehl sat with her friend, Harold Ambellan, to record his memories of a life in art. Beginning with recollections of his childhood in Buffalo, N.Y., the memoir delves into the impact of the Great Depression, Ambellan’s experiences in the New York art scene of the 1930s and his participation in the leftist Artists’ Union, his Navy service, and his expatriate years in France from the 1950s-2000s. Ambellan’s memoir also includes extended discussion of his views of democracy, patriotism, and art, and his career as a sculptor.
- Artists--20th century
- Depressions, 1929
- Expatriate artists--France
- New Deal, 1933-1939
- Sculptors--20th century
- World War, 1939-1945
- Diehl, Victoria
- Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967
Types of material
- Oral histories
Sidney Lipshires Papers, 1932-2012.
Call no.: MS 730
Born on April 15, 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland to David and Minnie Lipshires, Sidney was raised in Northampton, Massachusetts where his father owned two shoe stores, David Boot Shop and The Bootery. He attended the Massachusetts State College for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago and was awarded a BA in economics in 1940. His years at the University of Chicago were transformative, Lipshires became politically active there and joined the Communist Party in 1939. Following graduation in 1941, he married Shirley Dvorin, a student in early childhood education; together they had two sons, Ellis and Bernard. Lipshires returned to western Massachusetts with his young family in the early 1940s, working as a labor organizer. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 working as a clerk and interpreter with a medical battalion in France for over a year. Returning home, he ran for city alderman in Springfield on the Communist Party ticket in 1947. Lipshires married his second wife, Joann Breen Klein, in 1951 and on May 29, 1956, the same day his daughter Lisa was born, he was arrested under the Smith Act for his Communist Party activities. Before his case was brought to trial, the Smith Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Disillusioned with the Communist Party, he severed his ties with it in 1957, but continued to remain active in organized labor for the rest of his life. Earning his masters in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1971, Lipshires taught history at Manchester Community College in Connecticut for thirty years. During that time he worked with other campus leaders to establish a statewide union for teachers and other community college professionals, an experience he wrote about in his book, Giving Them Hell: How a College Professor Organized and Led a Successful Statewide Union. Sidney Lipshires died on January 6, 2011 at the age of 91.
Ranging from an autobiographical account that outlines his development as an activist (prepared in anticipation of a trial for conspiracy charges under the Smith Act) to drafts and notes relating to his book Giving Them Hell, the Sidney Lipshires Papers offers an overview of his role in the Communist Party and as a labor organizer. The collection also contains his testimony in a 1955 public hearing before the Special Commission to Study and Investigate Communism and Subversive Activities, photographs, and biographical materials.
- Communism--United States--History
- Jews--Political activity--United States--History--20th century
- Labor movement--United States--History--20th century
- Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--Biography
- Lipshires, David M
- Lipshires, Joann B
- Lipshires, Sidney
Types of material
Harvey Swados Papers, 1933-1983.
Call no.: MS 218
The author and social critic Harvey Swados (1920-1972) was a graduate of the University of Michigan who embarked on a literary life after service in the merchant Marine during the Second World War. His first novel, Out Went the Candle (1955), introduced the themes to which Swados would return throughout his career, the alienation of factory workers and the experience of the working class in industrial America. His other works include a widely read collection of stories set in an auto plant, On the Line, the novels False Coin (1959), Standing Fast (1970), and Celebration (1975), and a noted collection of essays A Radical’s America (1962). His essay for Esquire magazine, “Why Resign from the Human Race?,” is often cited as inspiring the formation of the Peace Corps.
The Swados collection includes journals, notes, typewritten drafts of novels and short stories, galley proofs, clippings, and correspondence concerning writings; letters from family, publishers, literary agents, colleagues, friends, and readers, including Richard Hofstadter, Saul Bellow, James Thomas Farrell, Herbert Gold, Irving Howe, Bernard Malamud, and Charles Wright Mills; letters from Swados, especially to family, friends, and editors; book reviews; notes, background material, and drafts of speeches and lectures; financial records; biographical and autobiographical sketches; bibliographies.
- Authors, American--20th century--Biography
- Jewish authors--United States--Biography
- National Book Awards--History--20th century
- Socialists--United States--Biography
- Bellow, Saul
- Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979
- Gold, Herbert, 1924-
- Hofstadter, Richard, 1916-1970
- Howe, Irving
- Malamud, Bernard
- Mills, C. Wright (Charles Wright), 1916-1962
- Swados, Harvey, 1920-1972
TWUA New Bedford Joint Board Records, 1942-1981.
Call no.: MS 134
Four local unions located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, that joined in 1939 and became the first affiliates of the New Bedford Joint Board of the Textile Workers Union of America. Includes by-laws, minutes of board of directors and local meetings, correspondence, subject files, photographs, and scrapbooks relating to the administration of the New Bedford Joint Board, documenting its role in addressing grievances filed against individual companies, in facilitating arbitration, and hearing wage stabilization Board cases.
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Textile workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Textile Workers Union of America
Workmen's Circle Bulletins Collection, 1926-1928.
Call no.: MS 164 bd
Created by immigrants as a mutual aid society, the Workmen’s Circle has been around for more than 100 years, and has grown into a national organization with branches throughout the United States. Early issues addressed by the group include building tuberculosis sanitoriums, providing a healthcare and insurance benefit network for members, and creating Labor Lyceums that offered adult education to immigrants and workers.
The collection consists of 10 issues of the group’s publication, the Workmen’s Circle Bulletin, produced in New York City from 1926-1928 and published in Yiddish.
- Jews--Social conditions--United States
- Mutual aid societies
- Working class--New York
MUSE Records, ca.1980-1989.
Call no.: MS 521
Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), an activist organization opposing the use of nuclear energy, was founded in 1979 by Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, and John Hall. The MUSE Foundation was established with the proceeds of the concerts and for several years provided small grants to support antinuclear and environmental work.
The bulk of the MUSE collection consists of applications from grass-roots, progressive organizations in the United States relating to their work. As such, the collection presents a wonderful snapshot of early 1980s activisim. The collection is part of the Famous Long Ago Archive.
- Activists--United States
- Antinuclear movement--United States
- Musicians United for Safe Energy
Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006.
Call no.: MS 306
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.
- African Americans--Suffrage--Periodicals
- Central America--Politics and government--Periodicals
- Gay liberation movement--Periodicals
- Labor--United States--Periodicals
- Prisons--United States--Periodicals
- Radicalism--United States--Periodicals
Types of material