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African American (42 collections) SCUA

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Meier, August, 1923-2003

Finding aid

August Meier Collection, 1837-1984.

3 boxes, 329 titles (34.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 844

A pioneer in African American history, August Meier was a model of an engaged academic, a prolific writer, active participant in the civil rights struggle, and staunch member of the NAACP, SNCC, and CORE. While pursuing graduate work at Columbia under Henry Steele Commager, Meier taught at a succession of Historical Black Colleges, including Tougaloo (1945-1949), Fisk (1953-1956), and Morgan State (1957-1964). His dissertation, completed in 1957, became the first of eleven books he wrote or edited, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915 (1963), with much of later work conducted in collaboration with Elliott Rudwick and John Bracey. Meier joined the faculty at Kent State University in 1967 and remained there until his retirement in 1993. His much-anticipated monograph on the history of the NAACP had not been completed at the time of death in 2003.

Organized in two discrete parts, the Meier collection bookends a long career in the study of African American history. The first part of the collection is centered on Meier’s association with the Pioneer Youth summer camp in Rifton, N.Y., and his growing consciousness of the fundamental problems of race and class in American society, with some materials from his wartime years as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. The second part of the collection includes books collected by Meier during his academic career, mostly on African American history and culture. Titles range from works on the Civil Rights movement to literature and poetry of the late nineteenth century and Harlem Renaissance, works on slavery and antislavery, race theory, the South, and African American education and religion.

Subjects

  • African Americans--History
  • Antislavery movements
  • Camps--New York (State)
  • Civil rights movements
  • Communists--United States
  • Depressions--1929
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt),1868-1963
  • Oberlin College--Students
  • Pioneer Youth of America
  • Race relations
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Braunthal, Gerard, 1923-

Types of material

  • Newsletters
  • Songbooks

Miscellaneous Manuscripts

Finding aid

Miscellaneous Manuscripts, 1717-2003.

3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 719

Miscellaneous Manuscripts is an artificial collection that brings together single items and small groups of related materials. Although the collection reflects the general collecting emphases in SCUA, particularly the history of New England, the content ranges widely in theme and format.

Subjects

  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Massachusetts--History
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government
  • Massachusetts--Social conditions--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Social conditions--19th century
  • Massachusetts--Social conditions--20th century

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs

Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave-Trade

Finding aid

Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave-Trade Minute Book, 1789-1827.

1 vol. (0.2 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 935

Founded in 1789, the Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade was an early antislavery organization forged in the unique political and social climate of post-Revolutionary Rhode Island. An interdenominational organization with a membership comprised largely of Quakers, the Society served as a self-appointed watchdog for violations of the act abolishing the slave trade and they provided funds to prosecute violators and to support African Americans fighting for their rights in state courts. The Society lay essentially dormant from 1793 to 1824 , when it was revived as an all-purpose antislavery organization, and it appears to have ceased operations in 1827.

The minute book of the Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade are an essentially complete record of the organization’s formal meetings. The volume begins by laying out the organization’s constitution and includes listings of officers and members and summary records of their activities.

Subjects

  • African Americans--Rhode Island
  • Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
  • Providence (R.I.)--History
  • Quakers--Rhode Island

Contributors

  • Brown, Moses, 1738-1832
  • Howell, David, 1747-1824

Types of material

  • Minute books

Roxbury Action Program

Finding aid

Roxbury Action Program Collection, 1944-1975 (Bulk: 1966-1974).

2 boxes (1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 765
Ernest Hamilton, <em>Black Power: What is it?</em> (1966)
Ernest Hamilton, Black Power: What is it? (1966)

The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.

Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.

Subjects

  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Black Panther Party
  • Black power
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History

Contributors

  • Morrison, George

Types of material

  • Newspapers
  • Photographs

Ryan, Christina

Christina Ryan Collection, ca.1978-1995.

15 boxes (8 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 523

The collection includes publications, ephemera, periodicals, and other communications from a range of radical groups. Much of the collection relates to the sedition trial of Raymond Luc Levasseur and the Ohio Seven, but ranges into related topics, including political prisoners, Communist and revolutionary action, Puerto Rican independence, African liberation movements, and anti-Klan and antiracist activity. It is organized into six series: Ohio Seven (3 boxes), Political Prisoners (2 boxes), John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (1 box), Subject Files (5 boxes), and Radical Periodicals (4 boxes).

Subjects

  • Activists--Massachusetts
  • African Americans--Civil rights
  • Anti-imperialist movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Black Power
  • Communism--United States--History
  • Levasseur, Raymond Luc
  • Political activists--Massachusetts
  • Political prisoners--United States
  • Racism
  • Radicalism--United States
  • Revolutionaries--Puerto Rico
  • Sedition

Contributors

  • Ryan, Christina

Salah-El, Tiyo Attallah

Finding aid

Tiyo Attallah Salah-El Papers, 1890-2006.

15 boxes (7.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 590

While serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison, Tiyo Attallah Salah-El transformed himself into an activist, scholar, and advocate for the abolition of prisons. An accomplished jazz musician, Salah-El has distinguished himself for educational and scholarly work, his musical career, his close relationship with activists and educators, and for the non-profit organization he founded, The Coalition for the Abolition of Prisons (CAP).

The Papers of Tiyo Attallah Salah-El document his experience in the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pennsylvania from 1977 to the present, providing information on his education, teaching, and activism. The bulk of the collection consists of his extensive correspondence with educators, musicians, and activists. Other highlights include a manuscript copy of his autobiography and the founding documents of the The Coalition for the Abolition of Prisons.

Subjects

  • Criminal justice, Administration of
  • Jazz musicians
  • Prisoners--United States
  • Prisons--United States
  • Quakers

Contributors

  • Ahrens, Lois
  • Nagel, Mechthild
  • Neill, Montgomery
  • Salah-El, Tiyo Attallah
  • Zinn, Howard, 1922-

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)

Smith, Gilbert, b. 1801

Finding aid

Gilbert Smith and Gilbert Smith, Jr. Account Books, 1798-1846.

2 vols. (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 205 bd

Gilbert Smith was a shoemaker and doctor from New Marlborough, Massachusetts, and his son Gilbert Jr. was a prosperous farmer from Sheffield, Massachusetts. Includes merchandise sales, labor accounts, lists of boarders, and documentation of the sale of homemade butter and cheese to local merchants, as well as trade with the substantial rural black community of the region.

Subjects

  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Agricultural wages--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Dairy products--Massachusetts--Marketing--History--19th century
  • Family--Economic aspects--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Sheffield--History--19th century
  • New Marlborough (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Sheffield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century

Contributors

  • Smith, Gilbert, 1801-
  • Smith, Gilbert, d. 1804

Types of material

  • Account books

Stokes, Daniel M. J.

Finding aid

Daniel M. J. and Joyce Stokes Papers, 1984-1996.

3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 661

From 1987 through early 1988, Daniel and Joyce Stokes published Into the Night, “a newsletter for freedom for political prisoners held in the United States.” Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this simply-produced publication offered updates and commentary on Americans imprisoned for politically-motivated acts. Reflecting both the legacy of 1960s radicalism and the resurgent activism associated with U.S. imperialism in Central America, Into the Night offered news on the Ohio 7 sedition trial, the MOVE organization, and the fate of Plowshares war resisters.

The Stokes collection contains correspondence from subscribers and supporters of Into the Night, fleshing out their political philosophy and the conditions of imprisonment. Drawn from groups including the MOVE organization, the United Freedom Front, Black Liberation Army, and Plowshares, the correspondents include Ramona Africa, Alberto Aranda, Philip Berrigan, Marilyn Buck, Carl Kabat, Ray Luc Levasseur, Ruchell Cinque Magee, and Carol Manning. The collection also includes copies of other radical publications and a complete run of Into the Night itself.

Subjects

  • African American prisoners
  • African American radicals
  • Anti-imperialist movements
  • Communists
  • Into the Night
  • MOVE (Group)
  • Ohio 7
  • Plowshares
  • Political prisoners
  • Prisoners
  • Radicals
  • Revolutionaries
  • United Freedom Front

Contributors

  • Africa, Ramona
  • Aranda, Alberto
  • Berrigan, Philip
  • Buck, Marilyn
  • Gelabert, Ana Lucia
  • Hernandez, Alvaro L
  • Kabat, Carl
  • Levasseur, Ray Luc
  • Magee, Ruchell Cinque
  • Stokes, Daniel M. J.
  • Stokes, Joyce

Types of material

  • Newsletters

Tillis, Frederick, 1930-

Finding aid

Frederick Tillis Papers, 1970-2010.

10 boxes (8 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 156
Fred Tillis, Nov. 23, 1977
Fred Tillis, Nov. 23, 1977

A composer, performer, poet, educator, and arts administrator, Fred Tillis was one of the major influences on the cultural life at UMass Amherst for forty years. Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1930, Tillis began playing jazz trumpet and saxophone even before his teens. A product of segregated schools, he graduated from Wiley College at the age of 19, and received his MA and PhD in music at the University of Iowa. As a performer and composer of unusual breadth, his work spans both the jazz and European traditions, and he has written for piano and voice, orchestra, choral pieces, chamber music, and in the African American spiritual tradition, drawing upon a wide range of cultural references. After teaching at Wiley, Grambling, and Kentucky State in the 1960s, Tillis was recruited to UMass in 1970 by his former adviser at Iowa, Philip Bezanson, to teach music composition and theory. Earning promotion to Professor in 1973, Tillis was appointed Director of the Fine Arts Center in 1978, helping to jump start some of the most successful arts initiatives the university has seen, including the the Afro American Music and Jazz program, the New World Theater, Augusta Savage Gallery, Asian Arts and Culture Program, and Jazz in July. Upon retirement from UMass in 1997, he was appointed Emeritus Director of the Fine Arts and remains active as a musician and poet.

The Tillis papers document an extraordinary career in the arts, focused on Fred Tillis’s work as a composer. Consisting primarily of musical scores along with an assortment of professional correspondence relating to his publishing and miscellaneous notes, the collection offers insight into the evolution of Tillis’s musical vision from the 1970s into the new millennium.

Subjects

  • African American composers
  • African American musicians
  • Fine Arts Center (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  • Jazz
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance

Contributors

  • Tillis, Frederick, 1930-

Types of material

  • Scores

Trent family

Trent Family Papers, 1850-1996.

3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 373

Five generations of an African-American family that achieved commercial success and wealth through the restaurant and catering business as well as extensive real estate investments at the turn of the 20th century in New York City, Brooklyn, and Sea Cliff, Long Island, New York. Includes letters, public and church records, news clippings, ephemera, a videotape, and 87 photographs.

Subjects

  • African American capitalists and financiers--New York (State)--Biography
  • African American families--New York (State)--History
  • African Americans--Genealogy--Handbooks, manuals, etc
  • African Americans--New York (State)--Biography
  • African Americans--New York (State)--Social life and customs
  • Burleigh, H. T. (Harry Thacker), 1866-1949
  • Capitalists and financiers--New York (State)--Biography
  • Fuller, Meta Warrick, 1877-1968
  • Landowners--New York (State)--Biography
  • Restauranteurs--New York (State)--Biography
  • Smith family
  • Smith, William H. (William Henry), 1836-1923
  • Trent family

Types of material

  • Baptismal certificates
  • Deeds
  • Genealogies
  • Photographs
  • Vital statistics records
  • Wills
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