Political activism (69 collections) SCUA

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Ross, Laura

Laura M. Ross Papers, 1945-2003 (Bulk: 1967-1990).

13 boxes (6.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 515
Laura Ross
Laura Ross

Born in the coal mining town of Blossburg, Pa., in 1913, Laura Ross (nee Kaplowitz) grew up in poverty as one of seven children of Lithuanian immigrants. In about 1932, Ross married Harry Naddell, a wine merchant, and settled into a comfortable life Brooklyn, N.Y., raising a son and daughter. During the Second World War, however, she became intensely politicized through her work with Russian War Relief, joining the Communist Party and eventually divorcing her les radical husband. Moving to the Boston area, she married Max Ross in 1963, an attorney for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and became a noted presence in a wide range of political activities, working for civil rights, the antiwar movement, and for many years, helping to run the Center for Marxist Education in Central Square , Cambridge. Perhaps most notably, between 1974 and 1984, Ross ran for Congress three times on the Communist Party ticket, taking on the powerful incumbent Tip O’Neill and winning almost a quarter of the vote. An activist to the end, Ross died in Cambridge on August 5, 2007.

The Ross papers are the legacy of a highly visible activist, organizer, educator, and member of the Communist Party USA. Heavily concentrated in the period 1967-1990, the collection includes material relating to her affiliation with CPUSA and her work with the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Mass., including information on party membership, platforms, and conventions, minutes from various district committee meetings, material relating to the People’s Daily World, and course information and syllabi. Scattered throughout the collection are materials pertaining to contemporary political issues and elections, particularly the policies associated with Ronald Reagan. Ross was a vocal and persistent opponent of Reaganomics and the nuclear arms race that Reagan accelerated.


  • Center for Marxist Education (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • People’s Daily World
  • United States--Politics and government--1981-1989


  • Ross, Laura

Roxbury Action Program

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

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).


  • 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

Sarti, Roland, 1937-

Roland Sarti Papers, 1964-2002.

11 boxes (5.25 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 011

Born in Montefegatesi, Italy, in April 1937, Roland Sarti began his academic career as a teaching assistant and instructor at Rutgers University from 1960-1964. In the fall of 1967, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Italian History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, becoming chair of the University Seminar on Studies in Modern Italy five years later. A scholar of the fascist movement in Italy, Sarti also wrote on topics ranging from rural life in the Apennines to the life of the revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini. During his tenure at UMass, he served on the Personnel, Curriculum, and Graduate Studies Committees, and played a prominent role in the Faculty Senate and the International Programs Office, particularly with respect to the summer programs in Italy. A past president of the New England Historical Society and the Society for Italian Historical Studies, he was a board member for the European History Quarterly and the H-Italy Network. He retired from active teaching in 2002.

The Sarti Papers document Sarti’s distinguished career as professor, author, and chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They consist of professional correspondence, history department records, records of major crises at the University, Italian studies newsletters, student publications, and historical society records. A significant amount of the materials, particularly among the correspondence and periodicals, are in Italian.


  • Fascism
  • Italy--History--20th century
  • Italy--Politics and government--20th century
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History


  • Sarti, Roland, 1937-

Science for the People

Science for the People Records, ca.1969-2014.

10 boxes (6.35 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 859

At the height of the antiwar struggle in the late 1960s, a group of scientists and engineers based in Cambridge, Mass., began to turn a critical eye on the role of their fields in the larger political culture. Calling themselves Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action (SESPA), the group took the slogan “Science for the People,” which in turn became the name of their organization. With a collective membership that spread nation-wide, Science for the People was a voice for racial science and an active presence framing several of the scientific debates of the day. Through its vigorous publications, SftP explored issues ranging from the impact of military and corporate control of research to scientific rationalziation of racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality; and they contributed to the discussions of recombinant DNA, sociobiology, IQ and biological determinism, women’s health care, nuclear power, and the rise of biotechnology. Many members were engaged in supporting anti-imperialist resistance in Central America and Asia during the 1980s. The organization gradually waned in the 1980s and published the last issue of its magazine in 1989.

Donated by several members of the organization, the Science for the People collection provides a window into the organization and operation of a collective devoted to radical science. In addition to meeting minutes and notes, and some correspondence, the collection includes a nearly complete run of the Science for the People magazine, and a substantial representation of the national and Nicaragua newsletters and topical publications.


  • Science--Social aspects
  • Technology--Social aspects
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements

Slonecker, Blake, 1981-

Blake Slonecker Collection, 2008.

4 items (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 795

An historian of twentieth century social movements, Blake Slonecker received his doctorate at the University of North Carolina in 2009 and joined the history faculty at Waldorf College soon thereafter. In a dissertation examining the utopian impulses of the New Left (published in 2012 as A new dawn for the New Left: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the long sixties), Slonecker explored how the political and cultural activism of the 1960s helped reshape American political culture in the decade following.

In June 2008, Slonecker conducted oral historical interviews with four individuals who were part of the extended community centered on the Montague Farm and Packer Corners communes during the late 1960s: Tom Fels, Charles Light, Sam Lovejoy, and Richard Wizansky. In wide-ranging interviews, the former communards discuss topics ranging from the fraught politics of the era, political and cultural activism, gender roles and sexuality, and daily life on the communes.


  • Amherst College
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Clamshell Alliance
  • Green Mountain Post Films
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Musicians United for Safe Energy
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)


  • Fels, Thomas Weston
  • Light, Charles
  • Lovejoy, Sam
  • Wizansky, Richard

Types of material

  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories (document genres)

Smith, Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis Smith Collection, 1938-2014 (Bulk: 1965-2014).

26 boxes, 948 books (70 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 829

An attorney, writer, publisher, and journalist, Robert Ellis Smith is a leading expert in privacy. A graduate of Harvard (1962) and Georgetown University Law Center (1975), Smith has published Privacy Journal since 1974, a newsletter dedicated to the individual’s right to privacy, and several books, including Privacy: How to Protect What’s Left of It (1979), Workrights (1983), The Law of Privacy Explained (1993), and Our Vanishing Privacy (1993). An adjunct Professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, he is often called upon to speak on and testify concerning privacy rights. Smith’s other activism has included work in the Civil Rights movement and in environmental protection.

The Smith collection consists of publications and research files relating to Robert Ellis Smith’s long interest in the law and culture of privacy. In addition to a complete run of Privacy Journal and Ellis’ publications, the collection includes material on topics ranging from cyber security to privacy in employment, medical care, identity theft, electronic surveillance, and telecommunications.


  • Privacy
  • Privacy and identity protection
  • Privacy--Law and legislation

Social Change Collection

Social Change Collection, 1953-1980.

4 boxes (2 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 457

Miscellaneous manuscripts and documents relating to the history and experience of social change in America. Among other things, the collection includes material relating to the peace and antiwar movements during the 1960s, the conflict in Vietnam, and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).


  • Anti-imperialist movements
  • Peace movements
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts

Social Change Periodicals

Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006.

14 boxes (21 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 306
Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980
Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980

Assembled to bring together short and broken runs of periodicals produced by activists and movements for social justice, the Social Change Periodicals Collection touches on a wide variety of topics. Much of the original collection came from subscriptions held by the Everywoman’s Center at UMass Amherst, however the collection has grown to include materials supplied by many other donors. The bulk of periodicals come from the period 1965-1990 and the subjects covered range from feminism to gay rights, and political radicalism, to peace, prison, labor, antiracism, and the counterculture more generally. The collection has been organized thematically into 19 series.


  • African Americans--Suffrage--Periodicals
  • Central America--Politics and government--Periodicals
  • Disarmament--Periodicals
  • Feminism--Periodicals
  • Gay liberation movement--Periodicals
  • Labor--United States--Periodicals
  • Lesbians--Periodicals
  • Nonviolence--Periodicals
  • Peace--Periodicals
  • Prisons--United States--Periodicals
  • Radicalism--United States--Periodicals
  • Socialism--Periodical
  • Women--Periodical

Types of material

  • Periodicals

Soler, Jose A.

Jose A. Soler Papers, 1972-2014.

5 boxes (7.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 864
Jose Soler (center) at District 65 rally
Jose Soler (center) at District 65 rally

A scholar of labor studies and activist, José Soler was born in New York City to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father and has been an activist in the cause of Puerto Rican independence and human rights since the 1970s. While a student at the University of New Mexico (BA 1972), Soler emerged as a leader in the Chicano rights organization, the Brown Berets, and while living in Puerto Rico in the late 1970s, he joined the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Soler has subsequently worked in the labor movement as a shop steward, union organizer with UAW District 65, and labor journalist. As a committed Marxist and prolific writer and editor, he has taken part in causes ranging from anti-imperialist work in the Caribbean and Central America to the anti-apartheid struggle, and he has served on the Executive Board of the US Peace Council. From 1993 until his retirement in 2015, Soler worked as Director of the Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center at UMass Dartmouth where he has continued to work on behalf of public education and human rights and national self-determination.

The Soler Papers chronicle over forty years of a life-long activist’s interests and participation in left-wing political, labor, and social justice movements. There is a particular focus on topics relating to socialism and the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico, anti-imperialist movements in South and Central America and Africa, and issues affecting Puerto Rican and Hispanic workers in the United States, New England, and the New York City area. Published and promotional materials such as periodicals, magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets make up the bulk of the collection, with extensive coverage of the concerns of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño, PSP), the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), as well as New Jersey chapters of the unions Communications Workers of America (CWA) and District 65, which eventually joined the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).


  • Communications Workers of America
  • Labor unions--New York (State)--New York
  • Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño
  • United Automobile, Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America. District 65

Types of material

  • Photographs
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