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Collecting area: Spiritual change (Page 3 of 3)

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Sirius Community

Sirius Community Collection

1979-2003
2 boxes 3 linear feet
Call no.: MS 835

Founded in September 1978, Sirius is an intentional community in Shutesbury, Mass., built on four foundational pillars: spiritual, ecological, communitarian, and educational. Established by former members of the Scottish Findhorn Community, Sirius is rooted in a non-sectarian spirituality and practices consensus in the community governance process and in their shared vision of an ecologically sustainable future.

The Sirius collection contains a nearly complete run of the commune newsletter along with a selection of fliers and brochures about the community, and a small number of newsclippings and photographs.

Subjects

Communal living--MassachusettsSustainability

Types of material

Newsletters
Steindl-Rast, David

Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers

ca. 1928-2015
60 boxes 75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 892
Depiction of Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956
Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956

Brother David Steindl-Rast was born Franz Kuno in Vienna, Austria, in 1926. He discovered The Rule of St. Benedict as a young man, which sent him on a search for an authentic version of Benedictine practice. This search brought him through the Second World War in Vienna, where he earned a Ph.D from the University of Vienna in 1952 and to the Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, New York, where he became a monk in 1953. Along with his friend Thomas Merton, Brother David is one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, leaving Mount Savior in the mid-1960s to study Zen Buddhism with Hakuun Yajutami, Shunayu Suzuki, and Soen Nakagawa. He was the first Benedictine to learn directly from Buddhist teachers and received Vatican support for his bridge-building work in 1967. Through Merton, Brother David met Thich Nhat Hanh, who introduced him to the peace movement and grounded Brother David’s spirituality in a tradition of activism. When not in seclusion, Brother David has served as a teacher of contemplative prayer, the intersection of Zen and Catholicism, and gratefulness as a spiritual practice. Through many books and articles, lectures, and residencies in spiritual centers like Tassajara and the Esalen Institute, Brother David has developed an influential philosophy and much of the current popularity of mindfulness and Zen-influenced living and activism owes a debt to his teachings.

The Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers include Brother David’s extensive published and unpublished writings, sermons, memoirs, personal journals, correspondence, photographs, recordings, and videos of his teachings. His papers extend back to his youth in Vienna, documenting his childhood and experience during the war, including a complete run of Die Goldene Wagen, the children’s magazine published by Brother David’s mother Elisabeth Rast.

Subjects

Benedictines--United StatesBuddhism--RelationsChristianity--RelationsPeace movements--United StatesPeace--Religious aspectsSpiritual life--BuddhismSpiritual life--Catholic church

Contributors

Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968Steindl-Rast, David

Types of material

Photographs
Sufi Order International

Abode of the Message Collection

1975-2012
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 780

Founded in 1975 by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, The Abode of the Message is the headquarters for members of the Sufi Order International. Sitting on 430 acres, formerly the site of a Shaker Village in New Lebanon, New York, the Abode was settled by 75 adults and 20 children coming from all over the United States. The Sufi Order initiates spent the first several months preparing for the arrival of winter, a task that required much effort since buildings were in need of repair, there was no central heating system or updated electrical wiring, and few bathrooms. Within a year, the community prospered with the establishment of woodworking, stained glass, and sewing shops, a bakery, and a small school. Today, the community is smaller in number, but their mission remains the same: to collectively embody spiritual awakening.

The collection consists chiefly of publications produced by the Abode, including two newsletters Connections and The Messenger dating from the 1970s to the present. Also represented are other Sufi Order publications, such as Heart & Wing and Mureed’s Newsletter.

Subjects

Sufi Order International
Swift, Sarah J.

Sarah J. Swift Papers

1890-1942
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 932

A Quaker and philanthropist from Worcester, Mass., Sarah J. Swift was a noted supporter of Friends’ missions in Palestine and Jamaica for over half a century. The wife of D. Wheeler Swift, an innovator in the manufacture of envelopes, Swift began to support the Friends’ foreign missions by the 1890s, becoming a major benefactor of the Eli and Sibyl Jones Mission and girls’ school in Ramallah and of the small Quaker mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica.

The Swift papers contain a thick series of letters from the Society of Friends’ Eli and Sybil Jones Mission in Ramallah, Palestine, documenting their activity between 1890 and 1942, with a much smaller series of letters relating to the mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica. The missionaries’ letters — including circular letters to supporters and others addressed to Swift personally — discuss school operations and local affairs in Palestine and Jamaica. Of particular note are letters discussing the work at Ramallah around the turn of the twentieth century and several letters discussing the hardships of wartime and recovery from war.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016

Subjects

Eli and Sybil Jones Mission (Ramallah, Palestine)Jamaica--History--20th centuryMissionaries--JamaicaMissionaries--PalestinePalestine--History--20th centuryWorld War, 1914-1918World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Jones, Alice W.Kelsey, A. EdwardVincent, Charles S.
Towle, Gifford H.

Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers

1970-1987 Bulk: 1945-1980
24 boxes 33 linear feet
Call no.: MS 881
Depiction of Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957
Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957

As a student at Mount Hermon School in the late 1920s, Gifford Hoag Towle met Marjorie Ripley Blossom, a young woman at the Northfield School for Girls. When Giff went on to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (BS 1932) and Marjorie to a midwestern Bible College for a year (before being called home due to a family crisis), they remained connected and after Giff’s graduation in 1932, they married. By the time that Giff graduated from Hartford Seminary, he had left his Quaker upbringing to enter the Congregationalist ministry, and he and Marjorie filled three pulpits near Pelham, Mass. In 1939, however, they were called by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve as missionaries in the American Marathi Mission in Maharashtra State, central India. Following two years of intensive study of the Marathi language in Ahmednagar, they settled in Vadala, a rural village on the semi-arid plains, where they worked for thirty-four years, counting furloughs. In 1946 on furlough in the U.S., Giff earned a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Cornell while pastoring a small church in the suburbs of Ithaca. In his agricultural work in India, Giff used the mission farm to demonstrate crop diversity and farm animal improvement; created co-operatives to enable poor farmers to use appropriate modern tools and machinery for pennies; taught good irrigation and soil conservation; and later built a Mechanical Unit and trained local Indians as mechanics to repair machinery and drill wells. Giff also invented a pump for which he never filed a patent, wanting instead to make it as widely available as possible. He built networks with relatives, churches, and non-profits to fund these efforts and get supplies.

The Towle Collection contains a wealth of information for research in three distinct areas: missions and religious matters; agriculture in “developing” countries; and the cultural and socio-economic context of social change in rural India. The Towles’ voluminous correspondence and reports offer a particularly rich view into mission life in India, including American participation through churches, relations between Hindus and Christians or between Christians, and the viability of these efforts. Marjorie’s letters are particularly vivid, adding significantly to our understanding of mission lives and experiences. The collection is equally rich in revealing the impact of the Towles’ agricultural work and for study of the efficacy of government agencies and non-profits seeking to understand cross-cultural issues.

Gift of Jean Reed, 2015

Subjects

Agriculture--IndiaIndia--Description and travelMaharasthra (India)--Economic conditionsMissionaries--India

Contributors

Towle, Marjorie Blossom, 1907-1994

Types of material

Photographs
Traprock Peace Center

Traprock Peace Center Records

1979-2008
ca.50 boxes 75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 080

The Traprock Peace Center is a grassroots organization based in Deerfield, Massachusetts, that trains and educates people locally and globally in matters relating to disarmament and nonviolence. In 1980, the Center organized the first successful attempt in the United States to get a nuclear weapons moratorium referendum on the ballot, and the Center has served as a focal point for organizing on a wide array of issues in peace and social and environmental justice.

The records of Traprock Peace Center include correspondence, campaign materials (resolutions, organizing committee records, legislative packets), program reports, newsletters, newsclippings, and posters relating to the nuclear freeze campaign and many subsequent initiatives. Recent additions to the collection document the group’s work to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; these later additions are open for research, but are not processed.

Subjects

Antinuclear movement--MassachusettsDeerfield (Mass.)--Social conditions--SourcesNonviolence--Massachusetts--History--SourcesNuclear disarmament--History--SourcesPacifists--MassachusettsPolitical activists--Massachusetts

Contributors

Traprock Peace Center
Restrictions: unprocessed materials in this collection have been temporarily moved offsite; these boxes are closed to research. Contact SCUA for more information.
Turner, Abel

Abel Turner, The Life and Travels of Abel Turner

1839
451p. 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 708 bd

As a young man in Foxcroft, Maine, Abel Turner was caught up in the evangelical revivals and converted to Free Will Baptism, becoming a minister by the age of 21. Beginning in the backwoods settlements, Turner spent the better part of a decade attempting to “convert sinners” in Piscataquis and Penobscot Counties and the in the Burned-Over District of New York state, from Utica to Penn Yan and Cattaraugus County.

Written for his wife, Abel Turner’s long and detailed autobiography is a remarkable record of a young Free Will Baptist minister’s labors during the Second Great Awakening. Beginning with his childhood in Maine and his conversion experience, the manuscript provides insight into Turner’s experiences preaching in the rough-hewn interior settlements of Maine and the Burned-Over District of New York from roughly 1821 through 1839. In addition to some wonderful commentary on evangelical religion in the heart of the Awakening and on Turner’s own spiritual development, the memoir includes fascinating descriptions of the towns and people he met along the way.

Subjects

Free Will Baptists (1727-1935)--ClergyMaine--History--19th centuryNew York (State)--History--19th centurySecond Great Awakening--Maine--HistorySecond Great Awakening--New York (State)--History

Contributors

Turner, Abel

Types of material

Autobiographies
White, Willis H.

Willis H. White Papers

1874-1966 Bulk: 1919-1942
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 929

A convinced Friend who became an advocate for peace, Willis H. White was a member of the East Greenwich Monthly Meeting. A secretary in the Providence-based real estate firm William H. White & Sons, White was active in several organizations promoting peace and spiritual renewal within the Society of Friends in the years after the First World War.

The bulk of Willis H. White’s papers are concentrated on his activities on behalf of peace, social justice, and the Society of Friends in the period 1919-1922. The collection includes materials documenting White’s work with the American Friends Service Committee and on invigorating the Society through the London Conference of All Friends and the evangelical Forward Movement of Friends, and there is a relatively small, but interesting series of letters from the labor and peace activist, A. J. Muste.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016

Subjects

Conference of All FriendsForward movement (Evangelical movement)PacifismPeace movementsQuakers--Rhode IslandWorld War, 1914-1918

Contributors

American Friends Service CommitteeBonell, Harold C. (Harold Charles), 1908-1977Muste, A. J. (Abraham John), 1885-1967

Types of material

Ephemera
Wilson, Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir Wilson Papers

1975-2012
5 boxes 7.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1059

A philosopher, writer, activist, and artist, Douglas Wilson founded the Rowe Conference Center affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist camp in Rowe, Mass. Born in Vancouver, B.C., in 1946, but raised primarily in California, Wilson earned degrees at UC Santa Barbara (1967) and the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley (1970), before being ordained at the First Uniarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn. He first came to Rowe in 1971 to work as assistant director of the Junior High summer camp, but soon proposed building a center at Rowe modeled on the Esalen Institute which would offer year-round retreats and workshops founded in Unitarian Universalist principles of equality, justice, freedom, peace, and the respect for the interdependent web of all existence. Serving as Executive Director (and after 1985, as co-Executive Director with his partner Prue Berry), Wilson brought together people who were “politically aware, psychologically sophisticated, and religiously based,” ranging from the Berrigans and Nearings to Jean Houston and Abbie Hoffman. The Wilsons retired from Rowe in December 2012.

The Wilson collection contains nearly forty years of files accumulated during Douglas Wilson’s time as Director of the Rowe Conference Center. In addition to a nearly complete run of the Center newsletter, Wilson retained materials on dozens of the thinkers, writers, and activists who came to Rowe, with each file containing correspondence (usually both directions), background notes and clippings.

Gift of Douglas Fir Wilson and Prue Berry, Nov. 2018

Subjects

Peace movements--MassachusettsUnitarian Universalist Rowe Camp & Conference CenterUnitarians--Massachusetts

Types of material

Newsletters
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