Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.
Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.
View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).
Significant collecting areas
- Antinuclear movement
- New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
- Antiracism and civil rights
- The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
- Community organizations and charities
- SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
- Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the hsitory of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
- Intentional Communities
- Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
- Labor activism
- For more detailed information, see our research guide on Labor, work, and industry
- Peace Collections
- Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
- Political activism
- As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
- Social Justice
- Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.
Every fall, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives sponsors a colloquium focusing on a topic in social change. Like SCUA’s collections, these colloquia cover a broad terrain, touching on a variety of issues in social justice, equality, and democracy.
Colloquia are free and open to the public.
Author Tom Fels and media artist Mark Tribe will speak on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., in Room 2601 on Floor 26, of the Du Bois Library at UMass Amherst. The event, “Peace and War: Assessing the Legacies of Sixties Activism Today,” marks the completion of the eighth annual Social Change Colloquium.
Longtime independent writer and researcher Tom Fels’ new book Buying the Farm: Peace and War on a Sixties Commune (UMass Press, 2012) explores the long history of Montague Farm, north of Amherst, one of the era’s iconic experiments in social change. Before drawing his own conclusions about it in the book, he recounts the farm’s many early contributions to the counterculture, and later the farm’s devolution at the hands of competing farm-family factions, inviting us to question the balance between idealism and effectiveness. “For today’s young,” says Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties, “the economic future is far more bleak and global warming an unprecedented threat. Out of necessity, many will be searching for meaningful forms of communal self-sufficiency, healthful food, and renewable energy. Tom Fels’ captivating and profound reflection on one earlier commune, Montague Farm, founded in the 1960s, offers hard-learned reflections, some practical, some eternal, from a time when communes were the chosen path of many.” In the first hour of the colloquium Fels will read from Buying the Farm. There will be a question and answer period following the reading.
Mark Tribe is part of the next generation to be inspired by sixties activism. His Port Huron Project (2006-2009) is a series of reenactments of protest speeches from the New Left movements of the Vietnam era. Enacted at the site of the original event, each speech was delivered by an actor or performance artist. Videos of these performances have been screened on campuses, exhibited in art spaces, and distributed online as open-source media. As Julia Bryan-Wilson wrote in Artforum, in January 2008, “More than just recovering the past, these re-speaking projects use archival speeches to ask questions about the current place of stridency and forceful dissent, and the possibilities of effective, galvanizing political discourse.” In bringing the words of Cesar Chavez, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, and others to the public through contemporary media, Tribe, in this portion of his work, creatively recycles earlier activism to relate it to issues of today. In the second hour of the colloquium, Tribe will show and discuss some of his work.
Delevingne will discuss the mass media’s role in the nuclear power issue and his own responsibility before and after the Three Mile Island accident and Chernobyl disaster. Anna Gyorgy will discuss citizen action and democracy, with international examples based on her work with the Clamshell Alliance, and, more recently, with the strong German anti-nuclear/pro-solar movements.
New England was an epicenter of the antinuclear movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Sparked by the proposed construction of nuclear power plants in Montague, Massachusetts, and Seabrook, New Hampshire, a grass-roots movement blossomed in the region, drawing on a long tradition of non-violent political protest. Shortly after arriving in the United States from his native France in 1975, the photojournalist Lionel Delevingne began covering the antinuclear movement, including the history of civil disobedience and occupation at Seabrook, the aftermath of the Three Mile Island disaster, and other protests from New York to South Carolina and Europe.
Delevingne is the co-author of Drylands, a Rural American Saga (University of Nebraska Press, 2011); Northampton: Reflections on Paradise (Nouveau Monde Press, 1988); and Franco-American Viewpoints (Nouveau Monde Press/Wistariahurst Museum, 1988). His work has been exhibited frequently in the U.S. and abroad and published widely in the mainstream and alternative press, including the New York Times, Newsweek, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair, Le Figaro Magazine, and Die Zeit. Delevingne has participated in many award-winning projects sponsored by National Endowment of the Arts/Humanities (NEA), Massachusetts Endowment for the Humanities, University & College Designers Association (UCDA), University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Anna Gyorgy was active in the early movement against nuclear power, and is the author-editor of the classic work NO NUKES: Everyone’s Guide to Nuclear Power (South End Press, 1979/1981). She is in the process of returning to the U.S. after 25 years abroad, where she has since 1999 coordinated the multi-lingual website project: “Women and Life on Earth” (www.wloe.org).
The related exhibit “To the Village Square” includes some of the movement’s most memorable images, shot by Delevingne, along with materials drawn from the rich anti-nuclear collections held in the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and University Archives.
Why These Stories Need to be Told in their Variety, their Intensity and their Honesty” (Nov. 10)
Social justice activist Tom Weiner will give a talk on his recently published book Called to Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam War Draft. The book is the fruit of years of extensive interviews with chapters for people who made different choices among the available options: to serve, to resist, to leave the country, to become a conscientious objector, or to find a way around the draft altogether as well as a chapter for those who loved, counseled and supported. His presentation will include several of his interview subjects who will share parts of their testimonies. Weiner recently donated the tapes of the interviews and the transcripts to Special Collections and University Archives.
Amherst Disarmament Coalition Collection, 1979-1987..
Call no.: MS 165
Vigil for Peace and Justice group that peacefully protested the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, and government policy in Central America and the Middle East by organizing a weekly vigil in downtown Amherst, Massachusetts. Includes handouts and news clippings.
- Amherst (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
- Anti-imperialist movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Nuclear Moratorium Vigil (Amherst, Mass.)
- Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Social movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Vigil for Peace and Justice (Amherst, Mass.)
- Amherst Disarmament Coalition (Amherst, Mass.)
- Crowe, Frances, 1919-
Types of material
Social Change Collection, 1953-1980.
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
Mitzi Bowman Papers, ca.1970-2010.
Call no.: MS 761
For years, Mitzi Bowman and her husband Pete were stalwarts of the progressive community in Connecticut, and tireless activists in the movements for social justice, peace, and the environment. Shortly after their marriage in 1966, the Bowman’s settled in Milford, Conn., where Pete worked as an engineer. In close collaboration, the couple became ardent opponents of the war in Vietnam as well as opponents of nuclear weaponry. The focus of their activism took a new direction in 1976, when they learned of plans to ship spent nuclear fuel rods near their home. Founding their first antinuclear organization, STOP (Stop the Transport of Pollution), they forced the shipments to be rerouted, and they soon devoted themselves to shutting down nuclear power in Connecticut completely, including the Millstone and Connecticut Yankee facilities, the latter of which was decommissioned in 1996. The Bowmans were active in a wide array of other groups, including the New Haven Green Party, the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, the People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), and they were founding members of Fight the (Utility Rate) Hike, the Progressive Action Roundtable, and Don’t Waste Connecticut. Two years after Pete died on Feb. 14, 2006 at the age of 78, Mitzi relocated to Vermont, carrying on her activism.
The Bowman Papers center on Mitzi and Pete Bowman’s antinuclear activism, dating from their first forays with STOP in the mid-1970s through the growth of opposition to Vermont Yankee in the approach to 2010. The collection offers a valuable glimpse into the early history of grassroots opposition to nuclear energy and the Bowmans’ approach to organizing and their connections with other antinuclear activists and to the peace and environmental movements are reflected in an extensive series of notes, press releases, newsclippings, talks, ephemera, and correspondence. The collections also includes extensive subject files on radiation, nuclear energy, peace, and related topics.
- Antinuclear movement--Connecticut
- Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone
- Don't Waste Connecticut
- STOP (Stop the Transport of Pollution)
- Bowman, Pete
CPPAX Franklin and Hampshire Chapter Records, 1991-1999.
Call no.: MS 558
Founded in 1962, the mission of Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX) was to increase citizen involvement in politics and policy making, and to promote social and economic justice both within the U.S. and globally through U.S. foreign policy. The Franklin and Hampshire Counties chapter of CPPAX has been active in a number of issues of both local and national significance.
Minutes of meetings, subject files, and newsletters reveal issues of importance to the local chapter of CPPAX, issues that include clean elections, peace, nuclear abolition, and health care.
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Citizens for Participation in Political Action. Franklin and Hampshire Counties
William K. Hefner Papers, 1962-1978.
Call no.: MS 129
In 1960, William K. Hefner (1915-1993) became one of the first of new breed of radical pacifists to run for elective office, when he ran as a peace candidate for Congress in the 1st district of Massachusetts. An accountant from Greenfield, Hefner was involved at a national level with movements for peace and civil rights. An early member of SANE, a founder of Political Action for Peace in 1959 (now CPPAX) and the Greenfield Peace Center (1963), and an active member of the American Friends Service Committee, War Resisters League, Turn Toward Peace, and the World Without War Conference, Hefner was an energetic force in the movements for peace and disarmament, civil rights, and a more just economic system. He ran unsuccessfully for office in three elections between 1960 and 1964, and supported peace candidate H. Stuart Hughes in his bid for election to the U.S. Senate in 1962.
The Hefner papers offer a remarkable record of politically-engaged activism for peace and social justice in the early 1960s. With an intensely local focus, Hefner was tied in to the larger movements at the state and national level, corresponding with major figures such as A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Spock, and Arthur Springer. The collection includes particularly rich documentation of the early years of Political Action for Peace, which Hefner helped found, with correspondence, minutes of meetings, and publications, as well as equally rich materials on Hefner’s bids for congress in 1960 and 1962.
- American Friends Service Committee Western Massachusetts
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Civil Rights movements--Massachusetts
- Greenfield Community Peace Center
- Massachusetts Political Action for Peace
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Platform for Peace (Organization)
- Political Action for Peace
- SANE, Inc
- Turn Toward Peace (Organization)
- United States. Congress--Elections, 1960
- United States. Congress--Elections, 1962
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
- Boardman, Elizabeth F
- Hefner, William K.
- Hughes, H. Stuart (Henry Stuart), 1916-1999
- Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967
- Rustin, Bayard, 1912-1987
- Springer, Arthur
Types of material
W. L. Holland Papers, 1922-2008.
Call no.: MS 782
Born in New Zealand in 1907, Bill Holland first traveled to Japan at the age of 21 to take part in the conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations, beginning over thirty years of association with the organization. During his time at IPR, Holland held a number of leadership positions, including Research Secretary (1933-1944), Secretary-General (1946-1960), and editor of its periodicals Far Eastern Survey and Pacific Affairs. He took leave from the IPR twice: to study for a MA in economics under John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge (1934) and, during the Second World War, to become acting director of the Office of War Information in Chungking, China. Founded on an internationalist philosophy as a forum to discuss relations between Pacific nations, the IPR was targeted under the McCarthy-era McCarran act during the 1950s, accused of Communist sympathies. After political pressure led the IPR to disband in 1960, Holland accepted a position on faculty with the newly created Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia (1961-1972), helping to lead that department to international prominence. He remained in BC until the death of his wife Doreen in 1990, after which he settled in Amherst to live with his only child, Patricia G. Holland. Holland died in Amherst in May 2008.
The Holland Papers are a dense assemblage of correspondence of Bill Holland, his wife Doreen, and their family, from his first trip abroad in the 1920s through the time of his death. Although largely personal in nature, the letters offer important insight into Holland’s travel in pre-war Asia, his work with the IPR, the war, and the of the 1950s. The collection also includes a wealth of photographs, including two albums documenting trips to Japan, China, and elsewhere 1929-1933.
- China--Description and travel
- Japan--Description and travel
- World War, 1939-1945
- Holland, Doreen P.
- Institute of Pacific Relations
Types of material
Sidney Lipshires Papers, 1932-2012.
Call no.: MS 730
Born on April 15, 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland to David and Minnie Lipshires, Sidney was raised in Northampton, Massachusetts where his father owned two shoe stores, David Boot Shop and The Bootery. He attended the Massachusetts State College for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago and was awarded a BA in economics in 1940. His years at the University of Chicago were transformative, Lipshires became politically active there and joined the Communist Party in 1939. Following graduation in 1941, he married Shirley Dvorin, a student in early childhood education; together they had two sons, Ellis and Bernard. Lipshires returned to western Massachusetts with his young family in the early 1940s, working as a labor organizer. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 working as a clerk and interpreter with a medical battalion in France for over a year. Returning home, he ran for city alderman in Springfield on the Communist Party ticket in 1947. Lipshires married his second wife, Joann Breen Klein, in 1951 and on May 29, 1956, the same day his daughter Lisa was born, he was arrested under the Smith Act for his Communist Party activities. Before his case was brought to trial, the Smith Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Disillusioned with the Communist Party, he severed his ties with it in 1957, but continued to remain active in organized labor for the rest of his life. Earning his masters in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1971, Lipshires taught history at Manchester Community College in Connecticut for thirty years. During that time he worked with other campus leaders to establish a statewide union for teachers and other community college professionals, an experience he wrote about in his book, Giving Them Hell: How a College Professor Organized and Led a Successful Statewide Union. Sidney Lipshires died on January 6, 2011 at the age of 91.
Ranging from an autobiographical account that outlines his development as an activist (prepared in anticipation of a trial for conspiracy charges under the Smith Act) to drafts and notes relating to his book Giving Them Hell, the Sidney Lipshires Papers offers an overview of his role in the Communist Party and as a labor organizer. The collection also contains his testimony in a 1955 public hearing before the Special Commission to Study and Investigate Communism and Subversive Activities, photographs, and biographical materials.
- Communism--United States--History
- Jews--Political activity--United States--History--20th century
- Labor movement--United States--History--20th century
- Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--Biography
- Lipshires, David M
- Lipshires, Joann B
- Lipshires, Sidney
Types of material
Jeanine Maland Papers, 1965-2004.
Call no.: MS 467
Jeanine Maland’s papers represent a wide sampling of the activity and career of a lifelong activist, spanning the years 1965-2004. Although the collection contains limited personal information, these materials reflect Maland’s passion and commitment to social justice and social action. Her interests intersect with a number of the major social movements since the 1960s, ranging from the peace and antinuclear movements to critiques of the growing Prison Industrial Complex. While much of Maland’s activism took place on a local level, her efforts were often coordinated with national and international interests and movements.
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Maland, Jeanine