Special Collections and University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries

Collection area: African American (page 4 of 5)

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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

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.


  • 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


  • Braunthal, Gerard, 1923-

Types of material

  • Newsletters
  • Songbooks

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.


  • 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

Robert Paynter Papers, ca. 1970-2015

17 boxes (25.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 175

After graduating from Brown University with an A.B. in 1971, Robert “Bob” Paynter received his M.A. (1975) and Ph.D. (1980) from the Anthropology Department at UMass Amherst. He taught at Queens College and the Graduate Center at CUNY before returning to UMass in 1981 as an Associate Professor, where he conducted research and taught for the remainder of his career. Paynter studied and practiced historical archaeology on sites throughout Western Massachusetts, most notably Deerfield Village and the W. E. B. Du Bois Homesite in Great Barrington. Throughout his tenure at UMass, he was active on several university and departmental committees, including service to the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP), as well as a Board member of Historic Northampton and Historic Deerfield. Bob Paynter retired from the Anthropology Department in 2016.

The Robert Paynter Papers span the length of his career from early articles and presentations given in the 1970s to his more recent research, writing, and teaching. Materials include grant applications, lecture notes, drafts of articles, and committee work, including contributions to the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP). Paynter’s ongoing efforts to preserve the Du Bois homesite in Great Barrington are also documented, both his archeological site work and his service on the Advisory Board of the W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation.


  • Archaeology--Massachusetts
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Homes and haunts--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Anthropology


  • Paynter, Robert

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.


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


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

Types of material

  • Minute books

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.


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


  • Morrison, George

Types of material

  • Newspapers
  • Photographs

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).


  • 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


  • Ryan, Christina

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.


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


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

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)

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.


  • 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


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

Types of material

  • Account books

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.


  • 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


  • 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
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