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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
Image of 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.

Gift of Eugene Povirk, 2007

Subjects

  • 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

Contributors

  • Ross, Laura
Valley Peace Center (Amherst, Mass.)

Valley Peace Center Records

1965-1973
28 boxes 13.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 301

In the summer of 1967, members of University of Massachusetts Amherst campus groups, such as the Faculty Group on War and Peace and the Students for Political Action, joined with individuals from other area colleges and from the community at large to form the Valley Peace Center of Amherst for the purposes of opposing the Vietnam War, providing draft counseling, eliciting pledges from the government to avoid first use of nuclear and biological weapons, and reduction of the power of the “military-industrial complex”. The Center was active for more than five and a half years, drawing its financial support largely from the community and its human resources from student and community volunteers.

Correspondence, minutes, volunteer and membership lists, financial records, newsletters, questionnaires, notes, petitions, clippings, posters, circulars, pamphlets, periodicals, other printed matter, and memorabilia. Includes material relating to alternative service, boycotts, war tax resistance, prison reform, environmental quality, and political candidates.

Gift of Nonny Burack and Dean A. Allen, 1974

Subjects

  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
  • Draft--United States--History
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Social movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)--History--20th century

Contributors

  • Valley Peace Center (Amherst, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Ephemera
  • Pamphlets
Vega, Carlos

Carlos Vega Collection

ca.1966-1995
148 volumes, 1 box, 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 800
Image of Carlos Vega ca. 1990
Carlos Vega ca. 1990

An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995.  He survived until April 2012.

The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.

Gift of Jesse Vega-Fry, Apr. 2012

Subjects

  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Civil Rights movements--Africa
  • Civil Rights movements--Central America
  • Civil Rights movements--Chile
  • Civil Rights movements--United States
  • Civil Rights movements-Asia
  • Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
  • Latin America--Periodicals
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Radicalism--United States
  • Revolutionary literature
  • Socialism
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • Venceremos Brigade
Whipple, Charles L.

Charles L. Whipple Papers

1925-1991
21 boxes 10.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 360
Image of Charles L. Whipple, ca.1935
Charles L. Whipple, ca.1935

Charles Lewis Whipple was a noted journalist, editor, and the first ombudsperson for the Boston Globe. As a student at Harvard in the 1930s, Whipple joined the Young Communist League, carrying his radical politics with him when he joined the Globe’s staff in 1936 and became an active member of the American Newspaper Guild. Although classified as unfit for military duty due to the loss of vision in one eye, Whipple joined the Red Cross during the Second World War, and served with distinction with over thirty months of overseas service. After returning to civilian life and severing ties with the Communist Party, he resumed his position at the Globe, rising steadily to become editor of the opinion page in 1962 and ombudsperson in 1975. An editorial he wrote in 1967 is considered the first editorial in a major American newspaper to oppose the war in Vietnam. Although he formally retired from the Globe in 1979. Whipple worked an additional three years with the Xinhua News Agency in Beijing as editor of the Beijing Review and the China Daily, China’s first English-language daily. Whipple died in Northampton, Mass., in 1991, following complications from surgery.

A mixture of personal and professional correspondence, writing, and subject and clipping files, the Charles Whipple Papers document a long and exceptional career in journalism. The diverse roles that Whipple filled at the Boston Globe from the 1930s through 1970s resulted in rich documentation of his work as an organizer for the American Newspaper Guild on the eve of the Second World War; his writing and editorial work during the Vietnam War and as the Globe’s Ombudsman in the 1970s; and the three years he spent in China setting up an English-language newspaper during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Subjects

  • American Newspaper Guild
  • Boston Globe
  • Communists--Massachusetts
  • Journalists--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Newspaper employees--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Contributors

  • Whipple, Charles L.

Types of material

  • Photographs
Aronson, James

James Aronson Collection of W.E.B. Du Bois

1946-1983
2 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 292

Materials written by or pertaining to W.E.B. Du Bois, collected by James Aronson, who was executive editor of the “National Guardian” from 1948 to 1967. Includes correspondence, speeches by Du Bois in published form, articles by Du Bois, biographical sketches and tribute articles about Du Bois, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

Subjects

  • African Americans--Civil rights
  • African Americans--History--1877-1964
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Death and burial
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on Pan-Africanism
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on democracy
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on pacifism
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on socialism
  • National Guardian
  • Socialism--Africa

Contributors

  • Du Bois, Shirley Graham, 1896-1977
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Speeches
Heath, Gordon, 1918-1991

Gordon Heath Papers

1913-1992
44 boxes 22.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 372 and 372 bd
Image of Gordon Heath, Paris
Gordon Heath, Paris

A multi-talented performer, the African American expatriate Gordon Heath was variously a stage and film actor, musician, director, producer, founder of the Studio Theater of Paris, and co-owner of the Parisian nightclub L’Abbaye. Born in New York City, Heath became involved in acting as a teenager and enjoyed a career that spanned post-World War II Broadway to the Black Arts Movement of the 1970s. In addition to his many roles on film and stage, he and his partner Lee Payant enjoyed success as recording artists in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Heath collection includes personal and professional correspondence, scrapbooks containing photos and clippings from assorted television and film productions in addition to songs, poetry, and reviews of plays or playbills from productions he attended. The Papers also contain art work, sheet music, personal and production photographs, and drafts of his memoirs.

Subjects

  • Abbaye (Nightclub : Paris, France)
  • African American actors--France--Paris--History
  • African American singers--France--Paris--History
  • African Americans in the performing arts--History
  • African-American theater--History--20th century
  • Baldwin, James, 1924-
  • Chametzky, Jules
  • Dodson, Owen, 1914-
  • Expatriate musicians--France--Paris--History
  • Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
  • Musicians--United States--History
  • Nightclubs--France--Paris--History
  • Paris (France)--Intellectual life--20th century
  • Payant, Lee--Correspondence
  • Primus, Pearl
  • Rive gauche (Paris, France)--Intellectual life--20th century
  • Studio Theater of Paris
  • Theater--Production and direction--France--Paris--History

Contributors

  • Abramson, Doris E
  • Heath, Gordon, 1918-1991

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Scripts
  • Sheet music
  • Sketches
Katzman, Lillian Hyman

Lillian Hyman Katzman Papers

1952-1989
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 611
Image of

When Lillian Hyman volunteered to work with the Democratic Party in New York City in 1948, she was sent over to the office of W.E.B. Du Bois to assist him with some secretarial work. From that beginning, she was hired as a secretary, remaining in Du Bois’s employ for several years until she, regretfully, left for higher pay. Hyman later earned her masters degree and taught in the public schools in New York, starting the first class for children diagnosed with brain injury.

The Katzman Papers contains a series of letters and postcards sent by Du Bois during the early 1950s when Hyman worked as his secretary. Friendly and informal, they concern lecture tours by Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham, out west, and arrangements for his home at Grace Court in Brooklyn. The collection also includes a handful of publications by Du Bois, newspaper clippings, and some congratulatory letters to Hyman on her marriage.

Gift of Carol L. Goldstein, April 2009

Contributors

  • Du Bois, Shirley Graham, 1896-1977
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
  • Katzman, Lillian Hyman
Primus, Pearl

Pearl Primus Collection

1995-2006
3 boxes 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 912

A pioneer of African dance in the United States and a vital scholarly voice, Pearl Primus burst onto the scene in the early 1940s as a choreographer, performer, composer, and teacher. Born in Trinidad in 1919 and raised in New York City, Primus was introduced to performance through the National Youth Administration and the New Dance Group. Her interest in the dance cultures of Africa and the African diaspora formed the conceptual center of her work throughout her career, drawing upon her deep scholarly research. In addition to her creative work, Primus earned a doctorate in anthropology from NYU and taught at a number of universities, including the Five Colleges. She died in New Rochelle, N.Y., in October 1994.

Conducted with Pearl Primus’ fellow dancers, musicians, friends, and collaborators between 1995 and 2005, the interviews comprising this collection were recorded by Peggy and Murray Schwartz for use in their book, The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus (New Haven, 2011). The oral histories provide insights into Primus’s sometimes controversial life career, her performances, teaching, and legacy.

Gift of Peggy and Murray Schwartz, Dec. 2013

Subjects

  • Choreographers
  • Dance--Africa
  • Dancers

Contributors

  • Nash, Joe, 1919-2005
  • Washington, Donald

Types of material

  • Audiocassettes
  • Betacam-SP
  • Videotapes
Tillis, Frederick, 1930-

Frederick Tillis Papers

1970-2010
10 boxes 8 linear feet
Call no.: FS 156
Image of 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.

Subjects

  • 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

Contributors

  • Tillis, Frederick, 1930-

Types of material

  • Scores
Gordon, Ann

Ann Gordon Papers

1986-1989
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: FS 016

Ann Gordon served as the editor of the Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton papers as a member of African American Studies department from 1982 until the project’s conclusion in 1989. While at the University, Gordon, along with John Bracey, Joyce Berkman, and Arlene Avakian planned a conference discussing the history of African American Women voting from the Cady Stanton’s meeting at Seneca Falls to the Voting Rights Act. The conference, called the African American Women and the Vote Conference, was held in 1988.

The collection is comprised of proposals, reports, meeting transcripts, and correspondence from Gordon’s work planning the 1988 African American Women and the Vote Conference. Also included is preliminary work by Gordon to organize the papers given at the conference into book form.

Subjects

  • African American women
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American Studies

Contributors

  • Gordon, Ann