Special Collections and University Archives
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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
  • Oral histories

Margo Culley Papers, 1973-1985

1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 103

A former Professor of English at UMass Amherst and contributor to the Program in Women’s Studies, Margaret (Margo) Culley was a specialist in women’s literature, particularly in women’s autobiography and diaries as a literary form. Her research drew variously upon work in literature, history, American studies, and religion, exploring gender and genre, language, subjectivity, memory, cultural diversity, and narrative. Between 1985 and 1994, she edited three volumes on American women’s autobiographical writing, and another on feminist teaching in the college classroom.

The Culley Papers offer a somewhat fragmentary glimpse into Culley’s academic career and her commitments to women’s literature. The collection includes selected notes for research and teaching, annotated bibliographies of women’s literature, a performance script for The Voices of Lost New England Women Writers, a federal grant proposal for The Black Studies/Women’s Studies Faculty Development Project (1981), and notes related to a study on minority women in the classroom. Letters collected by Culley’s students (late 18th and early 19th century) have been separated from the collection and designated as manuscript collections.

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Women
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Women's Studies
  • Culley, Margo

William F. Field Papers, 1948-1986

27 (13.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 030/2 F5
William F. Field Papers image
William F. Field relaxing on couch, ca. 1971

The University’s first Dean of Students, William F. Field held the post from 1961 until his retirement in 1988. The 27 years Field was Dean of Students was a critical time of growth and unrest, as the University’s student population more than tripled in size and the nation-wide movements for civil rights and against the Vietnam War were reflected through student activism and protest on the University’s campus. Responsible for ending student curfews and overseeing all dorms becoming co-ed, Field also worked with minority students and faculty to support the Black Arts Movement on campus and the founding of the W.E.B Du Bois Afro-American Studies Department.

The William F. Field Papers document Field’s career as an administrator at the University of Massachusetts and specifically his role as Dean of Students from 1961-1988. The correspondence, memoranda, reports, notes, and other official printed and manuscript documents are a rich resource for one of the most important and volatile eras in the University’s history. Of particular interest are extensive files on student protests and activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the growing diversity of the campus student population, flourishing of the Black Arts Movement on campus and the founding of the W.E.B. Du Bois Afro-American Studies Department.

  • African American college students--Massachusetts
  • Field, William Franklin, 1922-
  • Race relations--United States
  • Universities and colleges--United States--Administration
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dean of Students
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American Studies
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States
Types of material
  • Correspondence
  • Memorandums

Maida L. Riggs Papers, 1932

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 095
Maida L. Riggs Papers image
Maida Riggs, ca.1944

Maida Leonard Riggs, Class of 1936, taught women’s physical education at UMass before shifting to teacher preparation. Riggs was a beloved member of the UMass faculty for 28 years before her retirement. An adventurous spirit took Riggs around the globe: to Europe with the Red Cross during World War II; as a bicycling tour leader after the war; on a trek across Nepal at age 62; to Russia, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Uzbekistan. After retiring, Riggs, a self-described compulsive traveler, embarked on a more personal journey to explore her roots. Riggs transcribed over 250 letters by her pioneer great-grandmother, Mary Ann Clark Longley, and published them under the title A Small Bit of Bread and Butter: Letters from the Dakota Territory, 1832-1869, an absorbing and sometimes heartbreaking account of life on the frontier. An avid photographer, Riggs took advantage of any opportunity to use her camera. These images, particularly from World War II, tell as many stories as do her correspondence. Her book, Dancing in Paratrooper Boots, contains typed copies of her letters from her days as a Red Cross volunteer during the war.

The Riggs Papers are a rich documentary history of the World War II era, both in America and Europe, as well as an engrossing study (in transcripts) of the American frontier. Included with extensive correspondence and photographs are published and unpublished prose, and Lovingly, Lucy: Vignettes of a Pioneer Woman’s Life, an essay on Riggs’s paternal grandmother, Lucy Dodge Riggs. Additional items in the collection include handwritten journals, one detailing a trip to China and Japan in 1982, and Riggs’s photographs of young children at play taken for her book on child development, Jump to Joy: Helping Children Grow Through Active Play. Riggs also took her genealogical research seriously, meticulously charting her family’s 1638 immigration from England to Massachusetts. With camera in hand, she later traveled to England in search of more evidence of the Longley’s English roots.

  • China--Description and travel
  • Longley family
  • Riggs family
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Alumni and alumnae
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Physical Education
  • Women physical education teachers
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945--Women
  • Riggs, Maida L.
Types of material
  • Photographs

American Watch Company Band Engagement Book, 1878-1883

1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 364

Band of musicians who worked at the Waltham Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts. Engagement book itemizes engagement dates and locations, and membership (including recent immigrants), and includes information about rehearsals, business meetings, and payment.

  • American Watch Company--Employees--Recreation
  • American Watch Company--Employees--Social life and customs
  • American Watch Company--History
  • Brass bands--Massachusetts--Waltham
  • Industrial recreation--Massachusetts--Waltham
  • Waltham (Mass.)--Social conditions--19th century
  • American Watch Company. Band
  • South Side Brass Band (Waltham, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Appointment books

Polish Women's Club of Three Rivers Records, 1924-1994

3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 391

Polish-American women’s club located near Palmer, Massachusetts, that aims to encourage Polish women to become United States citizens and provide them with classes in the English language; to take an active part in local, state and federal politics; to support local Polish-owned businesses; to preserve and integrate Polish culture with those of other ethnicities present in the United States; to encourage higher education in the Polish-American community.

Includes meeting minutes (primarily in Polish), histories, anniversary programs, town and state citations, and government publications, documenting the activities, membership, and national recognition of the club over a period of seventy years.

  • Americanization--History--20th century
  • Palmer (Mass.)--Ethnic relations--20th century
  • Palmer (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
  • Poles--Cultural assimilation--Massachusetts--History--20th century
  • Polish American friendly societies--Massachusetts--Palmer--History
  • Polish Americans--Ethnic identity--History--20th century
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Palmer
  • Polish Americans--Political activity--History--20th century
  • Massachusetts Federation of Polish Women's Clubs
  • Polish American Women Citizens Political Club of Three Rivers and Thorndike (Palmer, Mass.)
  • Polish Women's Club of Three Rivers (Palmer, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Programs

Doris E. Abramson Papers, ca.1930-2007

(25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 127
Doris E. Abramson Papers image
Doris Abramson

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
  • Poets--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
  • Abramson, Doris E.

American History Workshop Records, 1980-2016

42 boxes (63 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 922

Founded by Richard Rabinowitz in 1980, American History Workshop is a consortium of historians, designers, and filmmakers who promote public understanding of history through innovative exhibition and interpretation. Collaborating with a national roster of clients, the AHW provides consultation and assistance in developing, designing, and installing exhibitions that convey current historical scholarship and pedagogical practice for the public. Their exhibits have explored a wide array of critical themes in American history, including slavery, civil rights, and social justice; Constitutional and political history; immigration; urbanization; and labor history. In recent years, they have expanded their operations to include services such as audience analysis, media production, fund raising assistance, and organizational development.

The records of the American History Workshop document over three decades of work by one of the premier firms in historical exhibition and interpretation. The collection contains detailed records of nearly 600 projects prepared in collaboration with organizations ranging from the New-York Historical Society and Arizona Historical Society to the Smithsonian, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

  • Exhibitions
  • Public history
  • Rabinowitz, Richard
  • Singer, Michael

League of Women Voters of Central Berkshire Records, 1959-2001

9 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 478

First founded as a chapter for Pittsfield and later for all of central Berkshire county, this local league is one of many Massachusetts chapters of the national non-partisan political organization, League of Women Voters, that influences public policy through education and advocacy by registering voters, organizing candidate forums, publishing voting guides, and disseminating general information on the legislative process and the functioning of government on the local, state, and federal levels.

The bulk of the collection documents the activities and topics of interest to members of the League of Women Voters of Central Berkshire during the last three decades of their work before disbanding in 2001. The chapter consistently served to educate the public on voter registration, the voting process, and on the functioning of local and state government. Other issues of importance included child care and rights, prison reform, clean water, and health care.

  • Berkshire County (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Drinking water--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • Prisons--Massachusetts
  • League of Women Voters of Central Berkshire

Local Rural Life Audiotape Collection, 1980s

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 507

Audiotape recordings of interviews conducted with members of the Pioneer Valley community for a public radio program. Titles of the shows that aired include: “Portrait of a Farm Woman,” “Hadley: the Portrait of an Endangered Town,” Keeping Rural Businesses in Business,” and “Shepherds, Bumpkins and Farmers’ Daughters.”

  • Farmers--Massachusetts--History
  • Hadley (Mass.)--History
  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
Types of material
  • Sound recordings
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