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Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann Papers, 1967-2007

22 boxes (11 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 657
Eric Mann, Dec. 1969<br />Photo by Jeff Albertson
Eric Mann, Dec. 1969
Photo by Jeff Albertson

Revolutionary organizers, writers, and theorists, Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann have been active in the struggle for civil rights for decades. The son of Jewish Socialist and labor organizer from New York, Mann came of age during the early phases of the Civil Rights movement and after graduating from Cornell (1964), he became field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality. Increasingly radicalized through exposure to Black revolutionary nationalists, Mann took part in the Newark Community Union Project and became a leader in anti-imperialist opposition to the war in Vietnam as a New England regional coordinator for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later with the Revolutionary Youth Movement I — the Weatherman above-ground tendency of SDS. Following a militant demonstration at the Harvard Center for International Affairs late in 1969, Mann was convicted of assault on the basis of perjured testimony and sentenced to two years in prison. An organizer of his fellow prisoners even behind bars, he was “shipped out” often in the middle of the night, from prison to prison, spending the last year at Concord State Prison. After being released early in July 1971, he continued his prison activism through the Red Prison Movement. At the same time, as a writer, he earned a national audience for his book Comrade George: an account of the life, politics, and assassination of Soledad Brother George Jackson. Feeling himself at a low point in his radical career, Mann met Lian Hurst while vacationing in Mexico during the summer 1974. Hurst, a leader in the Berkeley Oakland Women’s Union, architect, and a strong Socialist Feminist, soon became his partner in life and politics, and Mann left Massachusetts to join with her in Berkeley. Hurst lead a group of women from BOWU who formed a “Thursday night group” and left the organization with the polemic, “socialist feminism is bourgeois feminism” all of whom moved towards integrating women’s liberation and Marxism-Leninism. At her urging, the two took part in Marxist Leninist party building, becoming union organizers with the United Auto Workers, and eventually moving to Los Angeles. Hurst was elected shop steward by her fellow workers as a known revolutionary. There, Mann led a campaign to keep the Van Nuys assembly plant open (1982-1992) — captured in his book, Taking on General Motors. They joined the August 29th Movement and its successor, the League of Revolutionary Struggle. They left LRS in 1984. In 1989, Mann and veterans of the GM Van Nuys Campaign formed the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which has been a primary focal points for their work ever since, helping to build consciousness, leadership, and organization within communities of color. Hurst became editor of AhoraNow, an innovative bilingual left publication that featured articles by Black and Latino working class leaders and helped initiate the center’s National School for Strategic Organizing. In 2003 Hurst wrote, “Socialist Feminism: Thoughts After 30 Years” for AhoraNow, a critical re-engagement of those important debates from an historical perspective after a 30 year reunion of BOWU’s key leaders. Mann’s latest book is Playbook For Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer. Hurst and Mann continue to write and agitate in the cause of revolutionary change, particularly for oppressed communities of color.

The Mann-Hurst collection contains the records of two lives intertwined with one another with the cause of liberation of Black and Latino communities, women, and an internationalist pro-socialist anti-imperialism. Containing a nearly complete set of publications, the collection also contains early materials on Lian Hurst’s work with BOWU and the both Eric and Lian’s time as organizers for the UAW and their participation in the August 29th Movement and League of Revolutionary Struggle. Of particular interest are a series of letters home written by Eric during his imprisonment. The collection contains comparatively little on Hurst and Manns’ more recent work with the Labor/Strategy Strategy Center or Bus Riders Union


  • August 29th Movement
  • Berkeley Oakland Women's Union
  • Communists--California
  • Feminism
  • International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
  • Labor unions--California
  • League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L)
  • Prisoners--Massachusetts
  • Red Prison Movements
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)


  • Mann, Lian Hurst

Alida Perreault Papers, 1906-1957 (Bulk: 1928-1933)

2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 808

Alida Capistrant was the eleventh of twelve children in a large French-Canadian family in South Hadley, Massachusetts born on July 24,1914. Her parents both immigrated from Quebec in 1885. On September 30, 1895 they were married in South Hadley. The Capistrant family rented their home until 1912 when they purchased their first house in South Hadley. Alida had an active social life as a teenager and considered attending college or university, but did not pursue any further education until about 1943, when she studied at the Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Two years later she married James Perreault and the couple had two children, a daughter, Marcia (Perreault) Matthieu and a son, David James Perreault. They lived in South Hadley until 2003, when they moved to Chandler, Arizona to be near their daughter. Alida Perreault died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on April 7, 2006, and James died in 2008. Both are buried in Saint Rose Cemetery in South Hadley next to Alida’s family.

Alida’s correspondence during her high school years (1928-1932) reveal a young woman with a substantial network of friends and family. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from several friends, including two potential romantic interests. Letters document daily activities, family happenings, and later Alida’s interest in a career as a nurse and her leadership role in the South Hadley Women’s Club.


  • Capistrant family--Correspondence
  • Family--Massachusetts--History
  • High school students--Massachusetts
  • South Hadley (Mass.)--History
  • Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, Mass.)


  • Fogg, Esther
  • McEwan, William
  • Mitkiewitcz, Freddie A.

Types of material

  • Correspondence
  • Greeting cards
  • Invitations

Jane Swift Papers, 1988-2008

16 boxes (22 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 823
Jane Swift
Jane Swift

Just 36 years of age, Jane Swift became Acting Governor of Massachusetts in 2001, the first and only woman to hold that office, the youngest woman governor in US history, and the only one to give birth while in office. A native of North Adams, Swift served as a Republican in the state Senate from 1990-1996, becoming widely known for her role in passing the Education Reform Act of 1993. Defeated in a bid to represent the 1st District in the US Congress, she served in the William Weld administration before earning election as Lieutenant Governor in 1998, rising to the governorship three years later when Paul Cellucci resigned to become Ambassador to Canada. During her time in office, Swift, but her tenure is remembered both for her calm management of the fallout from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and for a series of controversies that ultimatley cost her political support. Trailing eventual nominee Mitt Romney in the 2002 Republican gubentorial primary, Swift abandoned her campaign. Returning home to Williamstown, where she has been involved in several educational initiatives, including serving as Director of Sally Ride Science, a lecturer in Leadership Studies at Williams Colege, and since July 2011, CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages. She remains active in Republican politics.

Centered on her political career, Jane Swift’s Papers provide insight into her experiences as governor of Massachusetts with content ranging from policy briefings to topical files, technical reports, economic and budgetary information, correspondence, legal filings, and transition reports at the time of leaving office. The visual documentation of Swift’s time in office includes a wide range of photographs, videotapes, paraphernalia, and souvenirs. There is comparatively little material is available to document Swift’s time in the state senate.


  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • Massachusetts. Governor
  • Republican Party (Mass.)

Types of material

  • Photographs

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

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

Massachusetts Federation of Business and Professional Women Records, 1925-1992

25 boxes (36.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 394

First called for in 1918 as a result of the need for a coordinated women’s effort during World War I, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs was not officially formed until just after the armistice was signed in 1919. The new organization did not die with the end of the war, however, as first expected. Instead the group determined that the need for a national business women’s organization was of equal or greater importance during a time of peace. Today Massachusetts state affiliates continue to improve the lives of working women through action on issues such as economic empowerment, women’s health, family and medical leave, and pay equity.

The records of the Massachusetts Federation of Business and Professional Women consist chiefly of correspondence and minutes of meetings, which together chronicle the various issues the state club has worked on for more than sixty years. In addition to materials that document the efforts of the state affiliate there are also records for local chapters in Massachusetts (Hampshire County and Upper Cape Cod centered in Falmouth) which include annual reports and newsletters. Publications issued by the parent organization, BPW/USA, connect the national agenda with topics of importance to the state and local chapters.


  • Businesswomen--Massachusetts
  • Women--Massachusetts
  • Women--Societies and clubs--History


  • Business and Professional Women/USA
  • Massachusetts Federation of Business and Professional Women

Rural American Women Conference Records, 1978-1981

5 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 146

Feeling the frustrations of millions of women and girls in rural America who lacked the support or resources necessary to combat unemployment, inadequate medical care, and domestic violence, Jane Threatt along with several other women decided to form a non-profit organization that would unite these women and give them a national voice. Established in 1978, Rural American Women (RAW) was organized to promote the interests of rural women in the areas of equal rights, employment, education, family life, and freedom of all forms of discrimination.

In 1981 RAW held a series of five regional conferences throughout the country, and the bulk of this collection consists of records relating to the New England meeting. The records also include some materials documenting the group’s activities at their national headquarters in D.C., such as minutes, correspondence, newsletters, and pamphlets.


  • Rural women


  • Rural American Women

Valley Women's Union Records, 1974-1976

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 201

The Valley Women’s Union was established in 1974 by members of the Valley Women’s Center, Northampton, Massachusetts, who were committed to political change benefiting women. They were concerned that the Valley Women’s Center had become a static umbrella organization and that many of its formerly vital functions had been absorbed by local social service agencies The VWU sought to unify groups that were working for political change beneficial to women.

Records include newsletters, agendas for meetings, reports, position papers, and mailings.


  • Feminism--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
  • Feminists--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
  • Social change--Political activity--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
  • Women--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity --History


  • Valley Women's Union (Northampton, Mass.)

WAG Records, 1995-2002

2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 530

Informally referring to themselves as WAGs (Women Against Garage), Fay Kaynor, Mary Snyder, Merrylees Turner, and Mary Wentworth, opposed the building of a parking garage in the center of Amherst. Together they collected newspaper clippings, reports, minutes of meetings, and flyers that tell both sides of the story, but in particular shed light on the motivations of those opposed to the garage, concerns not well represented in the local paper, the Amherst Bulletin, at the time. Potential problems raised by garage opponents focused on the environmental issues that added traffic in Amherst would introduce, as well as the financial impact both on the town, if the revenues from the garage did not cover the investment or maintenance costs, and on locally-owned businesses that might not be able to afford higher rents if property values near the garage increased significantly.


  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government


  • Kaynor, Fay
  • Snyder, Mary
  • Turner, Merrylees
  • Wentworth, Mary L

Young Women's City Club Records, 1931-1981

2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 045

Known as Girl’s City Club until 1954, the Young Women’s City Club was a non-sectarian, self-governing, and largely self-supporting club in Northampton, Massachusetts, that developed educational and recreational opportunities for young women through programs, social events, volunteer services, and fund-raising activities. The club met regularly under the auspices of the People’s Institute until November 1979 when their rooms at James House were taken over by the Highland Valley Elder Service and the club relocated to the People’s Institute.

The records of the Young Women’s City Club document the growth and activities of the club from 1939 to 1981, with the exception of the decade 1961 to 1971. Consisting of photocopies of originals still held by the People’s Institute, the collection includes minutes of council and business meetings and scrapbook pages.


  • Women--Societies and clubs--Massachusetts


  • Young Women's City Club (Northampton, Mass.)
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