Special Collections and University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries

Collection area: Civil rights (page 4 of 5)

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Kevin McVeigh Papers, 1974-2010

15 boxes (22.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 668

A lifelong activist for social and environmental justice, Kevin McVeigh was among the founders of two prominent antinuclear and environmental organizations in Northern California, the Pelican Alliance (1978) and Interhelp (1981). After relocating to Massachusetts, he continued in environmental activism, founding the Green River Center in Greenfield in 1987, but in response to the intense public health crisis, he gradually shifted his focus to become an advocate for persons with HIV/AIDS. As a founder of the AIDS Community Group of Franklin County (Mass.), he has coordinated AIDS services for Tapestry Health, a not-for-profit organization providing affordable health care to in Western Massachusetts.

The McVeigh Papers document a career as a committed antinuclear activist and advocate for persons with HIV/AIDS. The collection includes organizational materials from each of the groups McVeigh helped found: The Pelican Alliance, Interhelp, the Green River Center, the AIDS Community Group of Franklin County, and Tapestry Health, as well as correspondence, newspaper clippings, journals and magazines related to the issues concerning, notes from HIV/AIDS caregivers’ conferences, materials relating to men’s support groups, and other material related to environmental protection and anti-war activism. Finally, the collection includes audio files of an oral history (approximately two hours) conducted with McVeigh in July 2010, and a small collection of antinuclear books from small publishing houses.


  • AIDS (Disease)
  • AIDS Community Group of Franklin County
  • AIDS activists--Massachusetts
  • Antinuclear movement--California
  • Green River Center (Greenfield, Mass.)
  • Interhelp
  • Pelican Alliance
  • Public health--Massachusetts
  • Tapestry Health


  • McVeigh, Kevin

Types of material

  • Oral histories

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

Cynthia Miller Papers, 1973-1995

6 boxes (2.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 869

Known in the psychiatric survivors’ movement as Kalisa, Cynthia Miller was a radical activist on behalf of the mentally ill. An ex-patient based in New York, she became a member of Project Release in the early 1970s, one of the first wave of organizations fighting for the civil rights of mental patients and combatting forced institutionalization, and was a contributor to Madness Network News and other publications. A poet, writer, and a committed feminist and out lesbian, she took part in civil disobedience to oppose electroconvulsive therapy, working with Judi Chamberlin, George Ebert, Leonard Roy Frank, and others.

Though varied and fragmentary, Cynthia Miller’s collection is a rich resource for study of the early history of the psychiatric survivors movement and the work of one activist in resisting psychiatric oppression. The collection contains some of Kalisa’s writings and correspondence along with ephemera and a varied collection of newspapers, newsletters, and other publications relating to Project Release and several other organizations that Kalisa supported, including the Mental Patients Liberation Front and the Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients.


  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Feminism
  • Mentally ill--Civil rights
  • Psychiatric survivors movement--New York (City)


  • Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients
  • Chamberlin, Judi, 1944-2010
  • Mental Patients Liberation Front
  • Project Release

Types of material

  • Newsletters

Herman B. Nash Papers, ca.1935-2010

7 boxes (10.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 895
Civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., March 1965
Civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., March 1965

In 1944, eighteen-year old Herman B. “Keek” Nash enlisted in the Army, and after intensive Japanese language training, was assigned for duty as an intelligence officer in American-occupied Osaka, Japan. Settling in northern New Jersey after his discharge from the service in 1947, Nash held a succession of jobs, including brakeman on the Pennsylvania Railroad, before deciding to try his hand at teaching, earning a master’s degree in education at Columbia Teachers College. A solid leftist politically and a strong supporter of social justice causes and civil rights, he marched with Martin Luther King at Selma and Washington, though his ardor and political convictions came at a cost. Investigated by the FBI for alleged Communist sympathies in the late 1950s, Nash was fired from his position teaching high school science in Teaneck, N.J., in 1969, after leading a sit-in protest against school tracking. He subsequently returned to work on the railroad, where he was active with the union and took part in efforts to increase participation by African Americans and women. Yoneko Nash, Nash’s wife of 43 years, died in 2004, with Keek following in 2010.

A rich assemblage, the papers of Herman Nash offer a glimpse into the life experiences of a socially conscious veteran of the Second World War. Nearly a quarter of the collection stems from Nash’s time in the military service, including while he was learning Japanese at the University of Chicago (1944-1945) and while he was stationed in occupied Japan from spring 1946 through the following winter. Among other noteworthy items are a thick series of intelligence reports on the reaction of the local population to the occupation, noting episodes of civil unrest, crime, and other forms of social instability. The collection also contains a significant body of correspondence with family and friends, including serval whom he met in Japan. The balance of the collection relates to Nash’s interests in social justice causes, highlighted by a significant series of photographs taken during a massive civil rights demonstration in Montgomery, Ala.


  • Civil rights movements
  • Japan--History--Allied occupation, 1945-1952

Types of material

  • Photographs

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records, 1654-2016

(384.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 902

In 1661, less than a decade after the first Friends arrived in British North America, the precursor to the New England Yearly Meeting was organized as the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting. As one of approximately two dozen yearly meetings in the United States, the NEYM currently comprises eight quarterly meetings and approximately 85 monthlies, which are the basic unit of organization for the Society. Like many Yearly meetings, the NEYM has been diverse in spiritual practice, reflected in a history of separations and reunions. Most famously, Orthodox Friends in New England divided in the 1840s into the increasingly evangelically-oriented Gurneyites, who went by the name Yearly Meeting of Friends for New England (joining Friends United Meeting in 1902), and the Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends. In 1945, the disparate branches formally reunited.

Consolidated beginning in the 1960s, the NEYM collection contains the official records of the New England Yearly Meeting from its founding in the seventeenth century to the present, along with records of most of its constituent Quarterly, Monthly, and Preparative Meetings and records of Quaker schools and trusts. As varied as the Quaker practice they document, these records include minutes of meetings for business; committee records; newsletters, financial records; some personal papers; printed books and serials; and an assortment of photographs, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and electronic records. Of particular note are the vital statistics recorded by the Monthly Meetings, including general information on births, deaths, marriages, membership, and obituaries, and specifically-Quaker information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties Quakers suffered for following testimonies). The Archives Committee of the NEYM is a partner in records management and on-going documentation of the Meeting and its constituent bodies. The collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and several individual monthly meetings. The records of most monthly meetings in Maine are held at the Maine Historical Society, while important bodies of records are held at the Newport Historical Society (some Nantucket and Rhode Island Meetings) or at individual Monthly Meetings.


  • Quakers--New England
  • Society of Friends--New England--History

Northampton Domestic Partnership Coalition Collection, 1993-1995.

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 512

Established in 1995 to gain city-wide support for a domestic partnership ordinance, the Northampton Domestic Partnership Coalition’s campaign included fund raising and neighborhood canvassing. Their early efforts succeeded, and in May 1995, the Northampton City Council passed an ordinance recognizing domestic partnerships in the city allowing people of either gender to register as a couple and entitling them to visitation and child care rights in schools, jails, and health care facilities. After a summer of campaigning on both sides, the measure failed by fewer than one hundred votes.

Consisting chiefly of newspaper clippings covering both sides of the debate over Northampton’s domestic partnership ordinance, this collection includes perspectives extending from Northampton and Boston to Washington D.C. Among the publications represented are The Catholic Monitor, The Washington Blade, and Boston Magazine.


  • Domestic partner benefits--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
  • Gay couples--Legal status, laws, etc.--Massachusetts
  • Lesbian couples--Legal status, laws, etc.--Massachusetts
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Social life and customs


  • Northampton Domestic Partnership Coalition

Types of material

  • Clippings (Information artifacts)

Eugene Povirk Collection of ACLU Press Releases, 1961-1984

3 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 925

The American Civil Liberties Union has played a significant role in working with the courts, legislatures, and the public to protect civil liberties in the United States. Founded in 1920, the organization has a membership of more than a million.

An extensive run of press releases issued by the national office of the ACLU between 1961 and 1984, this collection reflects the organization’s priorities and public communications strategies during a critical time in the struggle for civil liberties. The topics range from organizational changes within the ACLU to the major issues in civil liberties of the day, including those pertaining to the civil rights movement, civic unrest, freedom of the press, the Vietnam War, and the counterculture.


  • Civil rights--United States
  • Freedom of the press
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements

Types of material

  • Press releases

Christopher Pyle Papers, ca.1970-1985

20 boxes (30 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 545

As an army captain teaching constitutional law at the U.S. Army Intelligence School in Fort Holabird, Maryland during the late 1960s, Christopher Pyle learned about the army’s domestic spying operation that targeted antiwar and civil rights protesters. Disclosing his knowledge about that surveillance in 1970 in two award-winning articles, Pyle led the fight to end the military’s domestic spying program by testifying before three Congressional committees. Currently a professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College, Pyle continues to write about civil liberties and rights to privacy focusing his attention now on the Patriot Act and the detention of aliens and citizens without trial.

Documenting Pyle’s investigation into the military domestic spying operation, the collection consists of court transcripts, telephone logs, surveillance binders, correspondence, research notes, and news clippings.


  • Civil rights--United States
  • Military intelligence
  • Military surveillance--United States

John P. Roche Collection, 1886-1965

324 items
Call no.: RB 008

A political scientist, writer, and government consultant, John P. Roche was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 7, 1923, the son of a salesman. A liberal Social Democrat and fervent anti-Communist, Roche spent his academic career at Haverford College and Brandeis and Tufts Universities, writing extensively on American foreign policy, constitutional law, and the history of political thought in America, and maintaining a strong interest in the history of the American left. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he served as an adviser to the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.

The Roche Collection consists of over 300 publications pertaining to the political left in the United States, with a smaller number of works from the radical right and from European Socialists and Communists. Concentrated in the years spanning the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the McCarthy hearings, many of the works were produced by formal political parties in response to particular political campaigns, current events, or social issues, with other works geared primarily toward consciousness raising and general political education on trade unionism, fascism, war and peace, American foreign policy, and freedom of speech and the press.


  • Communism
  • Fascism
  • Pacifism
  • Socialism
  • United States--Foreign policy--20th century
  • World War, 1939-1945


  • Coughlin, Charles E. (Charles Edward), 1891-1979
  • Roche, John P.

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
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