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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)

Arvo A. Solander Papers, 1930-1958

8 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 587

Graduating from Harvard in the thick of the Great Depression, Arvo A. Solander worked as a civil and sanitary engineer for a variety of state and federal agencies, including the Civil Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the 1930s, as opportunity arose, he filled positions as a road engineer, in the design and construction of water and sewage plants, in pollution control, as a safety engineer in the shellfish industry, and in mosquito control, taking jobs throughout Massachusetts and as far away as Tennessee. After using his talents as an officer in the Sanitary Corps during the Second World War, based primarily in Arkansas, Solander returned home to Massachusetts and opened a private engineering office in South Hadley. He worked as a civil engineer and surveyor until his death in January 1976.

The Arvo Solander Papers consists of twenty-four bound volumes documenting thirty years of varied work as an engineer, including his contributions to the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. Within the bound volumes are a wide range of reports, typescripts, sketches and diagrams, graphs, contracts and design specifications, photographs, and postcards.


  • Civil engineers
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
  • Depressions--1929
  • Fisheries--Massachusetts
  • Mosquitoes--Control
  • Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)
  • Roads--Design and construction
  • Sanitary engineers
  • Sewage disposal plants--Design and construction
  • United States. Federal Civil Works Administration
  • Water--Pollution--Tennessee
  • Water-supply--Massachusetts
  • Westfield State Sanatorium
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Wrentham State School


  • Solander, Arvo A

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

José A. Soler Papers, 1972-2014

20 boxes (26.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 864
José Soler (center) at District 65 rally
José 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). An additional seven boxes were added to the collection in June 2016, which remain unprocessed. The new materials offer additional documentation from the Dubin Labor Education Center and Soler’s work and interests in education (testing, privatization, and unions), labor, Marxist-Leninism, and various events in the United States and Latin America.


  • 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

Levi Stockbridge Papers, 1841-1878

(2 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 S76
Levi Stockbridge, ca.1853
Levi Stockbridge, ca.1853

Born in Hadley, Mass., in 1820, Levi Stockbridge was one of the first instructors at Massachusetts Agricultural College and President from 1879-1882. Known for his work on improving crop production and for developing fertilizers, Stockbridge was an important figure in the establishment of the college’s Experiment Station. After filling in as interim President of MAC in 1879, he was appointed president for two years, serving during a period of intense financial stress. After his retirement in 1882, he was named an honorary professor of agriculture.

The Stockbridge Papers include correspondence, personal notebooks, travel diary, journal as a farmer (1842-1845), writings, lectures, notes on experiments, clippings, photocopies of personal and legal records, and biographical material, including reminiscences by Stockbridge’s daughter. Also contains auction records, notebook of Amherst, Massachusetts town records (1876-1890), and printed matter about Amherst and national elections, including some about his candidacy for Congress on Labor-Greenback party ticket 1880. Also contains papers (13 items) of Stockbridge’s son, Horace Edward Stockbridge (1857-1930), agricultural chemist and educator, including a letter (1885) from him to the elder Stockbridge, written from Japan while he was professor at Hokkaido University.


  • Agriculture--Experimentation--History
  • Agriculturists--Massachusetts--History
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
  • Greenback Labor Party (U.S.)--History
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Legislators--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. President
  • Massachusetts Cattle Commission
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1865-1950
  • Stockbridge family


  • Stockbridge, Horace E. (Horace Edward),1857-1930
  • Stockbridge, Levi, 1820-1904

Types of material

  • Diaries

E. Sidney Stockwell Papers, 1910-1928

7 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 691
Sid Stockwell
Sid Stockwell

A member of the Massachusetts Agricultural College class of 1919, Ervin Sidney Stockwell, Jr. (1898-1983) was born in Winthrop, Mass., to Grace Cobb and E. Sidney Cobb, Sr., a successful business man and owner of a wholesale dairy. Entering MAC as a freshman in 1915, Stockwell, Jr., studied agricultural economics and during his time in Amherst, took part in the college debate team, winning his class award for oratory, and dramatics with the Roister Doisters. He performed military service in 1918 at Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Camp Lee, Va. Stockwell went on to found a successful custom-house brokerage in Boston, E. Sidney Import Export, and was followed at his alma mater by his son and great-grandson.

The extensive correspondence between Sidney Stockwell and his mother, going in both directions, provides a remarkably in-depth perspective on a typical undergraduate’s life at Massachusetts Agricultural College during the time of the First World War, a period when MAC was considered an innovator in popular education. The letters touch on the typical issues of academic life and social activity, Stockwell’s hopes for the future, his military service and the war. Following graduation, Stockwell undertook an adventurous two year trip in which he worked his way westward across the country, traveling by rail and foot through the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana, Washington state and California, taking odd jobs to earn his keep and writing home regularly to describe his journey. An oral history with Stockwell is available in the University Archives as part of the Class of 1919 project.


  • Agricultural education--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
  • Montana--Description and travel
  • North Dakota--Description and travel
  • Washington--Description and travel
  • World War, 1914-1918


  • Stockwell, E. Sidney
  • Stockwell, Helen Cobb

Roscoe Wilfrid Thatcher Papers, 1900-1934

4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 T43
Roscoe W. Thatcher
Roscoe W. Thatcher

The agronomist Roscoe Thatcher served as the last president of Massachusetts Agricultural College and the first when the institution changed its name to Massachusetts State College in 1931. Before coming to Amherst, Thatcher had extensive experience in both agricultural research and administration, having served as director of the agricultural station for the state of Washington, as professor of plant chemistry at the University of Minnesota (1913-1917), and as dean of the School of Agriculture and director of the Minnesota Experiment Station (1917-1921), and as director of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva. Selected as President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1927, he helped expand the two year program in practical agriculture to become the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and oversaw curricular reform, orienting vocational training toward citizenship education. The student health service also started during his tenure. Thatcher resigned due to ill health in 1933. Although he returned to research in agricultural chemistry at the College in April 1933, he died in his laboratory on December 6, 1933.

Official and administrative correspondence, memos, and other papers, relating to Thatcher’s service as president of Massachusetts State College together with writing and biographical material.


  • Massachusetts State College. President


  • Thatcher, Roscoe Wilfrid, 1872-1933

John Thomson Photograph Collection, 1863

8 items (0.2 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 002
Caledonia Sugar Mill
Caledonia Sugar Mill

The Scotsman John Thomson is considered one of the fathers of social documentary photography and a pioneer in the photography of southeast Asia. Between 1861 and 1872, he traveled extensively in Asia, documenting the scenery and people of modern day Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and China.

The collection includes eight albumen prints from wet-plate collodion negatives taken early in Thomson’s photographic career. The images of Penang, Malaysia, are all signed by John Thomson, with five dated November 1863. Subjects include Malay people, a native infantry regiment, sugar mill, temple, and Thomson’s widely reproduced image of tree ferns.


  • George Town (Pinang)--Photographs
  • Kedah--Photographs
  • Malaysia--Photographs


  • Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921

Types of material

  • Albumen prints
  • Photographs

Frederick Tillis Papers, 1970-2010

10 boxes (8 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 156
Fred Tillis, Nov. 23, 1977
Fred Tillis, Nov. 23, 1977

A composer, performer, poet, educator, and arts administrator, Fred Tillis was one of the major influences on the cultural life at UMass Amherst for forty years. Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1930, Tillis began playing jazz trumpet and saxophone even before his teens. A product of segregated schools, he graduated from Wiley College at the age of 19, and received his MA and PhD in music at the University of Iowa. As a performer and composer of unusual breadth, his work spans both the jazz and European traditions, and he has written for piano and voice, orchestra, choral pieces, chamber music, and in the African American spiritual tradition, drawing upon a wide range of cultural references. After teaching at Wiley, Grambling, and Kentucky State in the 1960s, Tillis was recruited to UMass in 1970 by his former adviser at Iowa, Philip Bezanson, to teach music composition and theory. Earning promotion to Professor in 1973, Tillis was appointed Director of the Fine Arts Center in 1978, helping to jump start some of the most successful arts initiatives the university has seen, including the the Afro American Music and Jazz program, the New World Theater, Augusta Savage Gallery, Asian Arts and Culture Program, and Jazz in July. Upon retirement from UMass in 1997, he was appointed Emeritus Director of the Fine Arts and remains active as a musician and poet.

The Tillis papers document an extraordinary career in the arts, focused on Fred Tillis’s work as a composer. Consisting primarily of musical scores along with an assortment of professional correspondence relating to his publishing and miscellaneous notes, the collection offers insight into the evolution of Tillis’s musical vision from the 1970s into the new millennium.


  • African American composers
  • African American musicians
  • Fine Arts Center (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  • Jazz
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance


  • Tillis, Frederick, 1930-

Types of material

  • Scores

Ruth J. Totman Papers, ca. 1914-1999

6 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 097
Ruth Totman and Jean Lewis, ca.1935
Ruth Totman and Jean Lewis, ca.1935

Trained as a teacher of physical education at the Sargent School in Boston, Ruth J. Totman enjoyed a career at state normal schools and teachers colleges in New York and Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College in 1943, building the program in women’s physical education almost from scratch and culminating in 1958 with the opening of a new Women’s Physical Education Building, which was one of the largest and finest of its kind in the nation. Totman retired at the mandatory age of 70 in 1964, and twenty years later, the women’s PE building was rededicated in her honor. Totman died in November 1989, three days after her 95th birthday.

The Totman Papers are composed mostly of personal materials pertaining to her residence in Amherst, correspondence, and Totman family materials. The sparse material in this collection relating to Totman’s professional career touches lightly on her retirement in 1964 and the dedication of the Ruth J. Totman Physical Education Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Supplementing the documents is a sizeable quantity of photographs and 8mm films, with the former spanning nearly her entire 95 years. The 8mm films, though fragile, provide an interesting, though soundless view into Totman’s activities from the 1940s through the 1960s, including a cross-country trip with Gertrude “Jean” Lewis, women’s Physical Education events at the New Jersey College for Women, and trips to Japan to visit her nephew, Conrad Totman..


  • College buildings--Massachusetts--Amherst--History--Sources
  • Conway (Mass.)--Genealogy
  • Dairy farms--Massachusetts
  • Family farms--United States
  • Farm life--United States
  • Physical Education for women
  • Totman family
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
  • Women physical education teachers


  • Drew, Raymond Totman, 1923-1981
  • Lewis, Gertrude Minnie, 1896-
  • Totman, Conrad D
  • Totman, Ruth J

Types of material

  • Genealogies

Ralph L. Tucker Collection, 1951-ca.2000

14 boxes (6 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 041
Erased stone, Salem, Mass.
Erased stone, Salem, Mass.

Known for his extensive research into Boston and Merrimac Valley area gravestone carvers, particularly Joseph Lamson and John Hartshorne, Ralph Tucker received the AGS Forbes Award in 1992 for his excellence in carver research. One of the attendees at the inaugural Dublin Seminar, and the first President of the Association for Gravestone Studies, Tucker served as editor of a column, “17th and 18th Century Gravestones and Carvers,” in the AGS Newletter from 1993-1999. Born on May 29, 1921 in Winthrop, Mass., Tucker attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, and Episcopal Theological School. He married Mildred R. Moore in 1946 and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1947. Tucker spent two years as a missionary in China, returning to serve parishes in Utah, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. In addition to extending his ministry to hospitals and prisons, he participated in 1960s Civil Rights protests in Alabama and Boston. In 1985 he went to Zimbabwe as a missionary, retiring to Maine soon thereafter where he acted as interim pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in Bath. Tucker died March 28, 2010, and was survived by his wife, four sons — Ralph, Jr., Richard R., Roger W., and Paul M. Tucker, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Tucker collection includes research notes and copies of published works stemming from Ralph Tucker’s decades of research on stone carvers and other gravestone-related topics, along with hundreds of images documenting carvers and stones in Massachusetts.


  • Cemeteries--Massachusetts
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
  • Stone carving--Massachusetts


  • Tucker, Ralph L.

Types of material

  • Photographs

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