University of Massachusetts Amherst
Special Collections and University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries
SCUA

Cooley, Bertha Strong

Bertha Strong Cooley Collection, 1901-1949
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 506

An educator, farmer’s wife, and resident of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, Bertha Strong Cooley was an ardent Socialist who published regularly in local newspapers on topics ranging from anti-imperialism, democracy, capitalism, Communism, Russia, World War II, and civil rights.

The Cooley scrapbooks reflect the views of a teacher and farmer’s wife who used the newspapers to express her passion for social justice. Cooley ranged widely in responding to the news of the day, espousing Socialism and opposing racial injustice, war, imperialism, economic oppression, and Capitalism. One scrapbook contains writings by Cooley, the other clippings of articles dealing with topics of interest.

Background on Bertha Strong Cooley

Bertha Strong Cooley was born on July 31, 1862, the fifth of six children of Ellen (Humphrey) and David Almerin Strong, the pastor of the Monument Congregational Church in South Deerfield, Mass., and later state representative for the towns of Deerfield and Whately. Educated in the local public schools, Cooley worked as a teacher in South Carolina and Georgia and, less certainly, as a language teacher at the Deerfield Academy, and during the academic year 1897-1898, she was enrolled as an unclassified student at the University of Chicago.

Cooley’s life took a turn in the years after 1900. A Socialist with a strong social conscience and equally strong opinions, she began publishing short stories, poetry, essays, and letters to the editor in the Springfield newspapers by 1901, and after marrying a Deerfield farmer, Edwin Almerin Cooley (1852-1933) on July 27, 1905, she dramatically expanded the scope of her writing. From the 1920s through 1940s, she was a regular presence in more than a half dozen newspapers, expressing her views on topics ranging from racial justice to Sacco and Vanzetti, the Depression, the failures of Capitalism, world peace, and the promise of Socialism and Communism. Cooley died on July 12, 1950 and is buried in Brookside Cemetery in Deerfield.

Contents of Collection

The Cooley scrapbooks reflect the views of a teacher and farmer’s wife who used the newspapers to express her passion for social justice. Cooley ranged widely in responding to the news of the day, espousing Socialism and opposing racial injustice, war, imperialism, economic oppression, and Capitalism. One scrapbook contains writings by Cooley, the other clippings of articles dealing with topics of interest.

Collection inventory
Cooley, Bertha Strong, Scrapbook 1
1901-1942

The scrapbook includes clipped copies of short stories, poems, essays, and letters to the editor written by Cooley and published in a variety of newspapers from Boston to the Berkshires. Of special note are a series of handwritten, retained copies of letters to the editor, including a wonderful, though sadly incomplete letter containing a first-hand account from a friend of Cooley’s who marched in a procession commemorating Sacco and Vanzetti.

Cooley, Bertha Strong, Scrapbook 2
1939-1949

Includes copies of articles and letters to the editor on topics of interest to Cooley, including anti-imperialism, democracy, Capitalism, Communism, Russia, World War II, and civil rights. Laid into the volume, but not pasted in, are a large number of published letters by Cooley.

Administrative information
Provenance

Gift of Wilma Zapka, 1996 (1996-074) and Sara Woodbury, Tilton Library, July 2016 (2016-153).

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Aug. 2015.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Bertha Strong Cooley Scrapbooks (MS 506). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Civil rights
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Race relations--United States
  • Social justice--Massachusetts
  • Socialists--Massachusetts
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Cooley, Bertha Strong
Types of material
  • Letters to the editor
  • Scrapbooks

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