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.
William F. Field Papers, 1948-1986.
Call no.: RG 30/2 F5
The University’s first Dean of Students, William F. Field held the post from 1961 until his retirement in 1988. The 27 years Field was Dean of Students was a critical time of growth and unrest, as the University’s student population more than tripled in size and the nation-wide movements for civil rights and against the Vietnam War were reflected through student activism and protest on the University’s campus. Responsible for ending student curfews and overseeing all dorms becoming co-ed, Field also worked with minority students and faculty to support the Black Arts Movement on campus and the founding of the W.E.B Du Bois Afro-American Studies Department.
The William F. Field Papers document Field’s career as an administrator at the University of Massachusetts and specifically his role as Dean of Students from 1961-1988. The correspondence, memoranda, reports, notes, and other official printed and manuscript documents are a rich resource for one of the most important and volatile eras in the University’s history. Of particular interest are extensive files on student protests and activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the growing diversity of the campus student population, flourishing of the Black Arts Movement on campus and the founding of the W.E.B. Du Bois Afro-American Studies Department.
- African American college students--Massachusetts
- Field, William Franklin, 1922-
- Race relations--United States
- Universities and colleges--United States--Administration
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dean of Students
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American Studies
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States
Types of material
Stonewall Center Records, 1962-2005.
Call no.: RG 30/2/6
Following a series of homophobic incidents on the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1985, the Program for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Concerns was established as an administrative center in the Office of Student Affairs. Later renamed after the notorious riots in New York, the Stonewall Center has provided the campus and surrounding community with cultural and educational programming through speakers, films, video and book library, Speakers Bureau on LGBTQ issues, referrals and support, advocacy and community outreach.
The records of the Stonewall Center include documentation of day to day operations, including phone logs, memos, and budget information, as well as posters and press releases for events, publications, campus and external reports, training manuals, surveys, newspaper clippings, and ephemera such as banners, tee-shirts, and buttons.
- Gay college students--Massachusetts
- Gays--Services for
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns
- Stonewall Center
- Yeskel, Felice
Silvio O. Conte Papers, 1950-1991.
Call no.: MS 371
Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts’s First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.
Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- Massachusetts. Senate
- United States--Politics and government--20th century
- United States. Congress. House
- Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991
Types of material
- Sound recordings
Lionel Delevingne Photograph Collection, ca.1975-1995.
Call no.: PH 047
Born and raised in France, the photojournalist Lionel Delevingne studied education at l’Ecole Normale in Paris, but settled permanently in the United States in 1975. Based at first in Northampton, Mass., he became a prolific photographer of American social movements while working for the Valley Advocate and other publications, covering the early years of the Clamshell Alliance and the antinuclear movement in considerable depth. His work has been exhibited frequently and published widely in the mainstream and alternative press, including the New York Times, Le Figaro Magazine, Die Zeit, Newsweek, Washington Post Magazine, Mother Jones, and Vanity Fair.
The Delevingne collection includes remarkable visual documentation of the antinuclear movement of the 1970s and beyond, including some of the its most iconic images. Beginning with coverage of the Seabrook occupation, Delevingne covered the movement as it spread throughout the northeastern U.S. and internationally. The collection includes exhibition prints, prints for publication, and digitized images ranging in date from the mid-1970s through 1990s. Copyright in the images has been retained by Delevingne.
- Antinuclear movement--United States
- Clamshell Alliance
- Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant (N.H.)
- Delevingne, Lionel
Types of material
Beth Hapgood Papers, 1789-2005.
Call no.: MS 434
Daughter of a writer and diplomat, and graduate of Wellesley College, Beth Hapgood has been a spiritual seeker for much of her life. Her interests have led her to become an expert in graphology, a student in the Arcane School, an instructor at Greenfield Community College, and a lecturer on a variety of topics in spiritual growth. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hapgood befriended Michael Metelica, the central figure in the Brotherhood of the Spirit (the largest commune in the eastern states during the early 1970s) as well as Elwood Babbitt, a trance medium, and remained close to both until their deaths.
The Hapgood Papers contain a wealth of material relating to the Brotherhood of the Spirit and the Renaissance Community, Metelica, Babbitt, and other of Hapgood’s varied interests, as well as 4.25 linear feet of material relating to the Hapgood family.
- Brotherhood of the Spirit
- Channeling (Spiritualism)
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Hapgood family--Correspondence
- Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
- Nineteen sixties--Social aspects
- Occultism--Social aspects
- Popular culture--History--20th century
- Renaissance Community
- Rock music--1971-1980
- Warwick (Mass.)--History
- Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
- Boyce, Neith, 1872-1951
- Hapgood, Beth--Correspondence
- Hapgood, Charles H
- Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds
- Hapgood, Hutchins, 1869-1944
- Hapgood, Norman, 1868-1937
- Metelica, Michael
Haymarket People's Fund Western Massachusetts Records, 1975-1983.
Call no.: MS 336
A granting agency that advises and provides funding for grass roots, non-profit projects and organizations in order to bring about broad social change by addressing local issues and community needs. Records include minutes, reports, correspondence, successful and unsuccessful grant applications from Western Massachusetts organizations, grant source information, and grantee materials including organization reports, publications, member lists, clippings, and other materials.
- Berkshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Citizen's associations--Massachusetts--History
- Community power--Massachusetts--History
- Franklin County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Hampden County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Political activists--Massachusetts--History
- Social action--Massachusetts--History
- Haymarket People's Fund (Boston, Mass.)
International Oil Working Group Collection, 1957-1987 (Bulk: 1980-1985).
Call no.: MS 268
The International Oil Working Group (IOWG) is one of a number of organizations that worked to implement an oil embargo initiated by the United Nations General Assembly against South Africa to protest the country’s policies of apartheid. The IOWG grew out of the Sanctions Working Group established in 1979. Although the nature and timing of the change in names is unclear, it appears that Dr. Teresa Turner was instrumental in the formation of both groups and was primarily responsible for their organization and administration. Other directors included Luis Prado, Arnold Baker and Kassahun Checole. While the group was loosely organized, it maintained the basic structure of a special advisory board with a pool of research associates. Primary activities involved researching topics related to the oil embargo; writing papers for regional, national, and international conferences; giving testimony at UN meetings; providing information to governments, unions and other groups committed to aiding in the implementation of the oil embargo; lecturing to students and members of the community on the subject of sanctions against South Africa; and collaborating with the UN Center Against Apartheid. Research topics included tanker monitoring to detect and expose those shipping companies that broke the embargo; the energy needs in those countries in southern Africa which depend upon South Africa to meet some of their energy demands; ways to effectively implement and enforce the oil embargo; trade union action by oil transport workers; Namibian independence and decolonization; and underground oil storage in South Africa.
Collection consists of administrative papers including financial records, minutes and association history materials; correspondence; printed materials produced by the IOWG; conference files; UN documents relating to South Africa and sanctions; and reference materials, including published reports, news clippings, newsletters and journals, related to oil shipping, tanker information and South African economic and political activity generally.
- Apartheid--South Africa--History
- Economic sanctions--South Africa--History
- Namibia--History--Autonomy and independence movements
- Namibia--Politics and government--1946-1990
- Petroleum industry and trade--History--20th century
- Petroleum industry and trade--Political aspects--South Africa
- South Africa--Politics and government--1978-1989
- Tankers--South Africa--History
- International Oil Working Group
- Turner, Terisa
Randy Kehler Papers, 1978-1997.
Call no.: MS 396
A veteran of the peace movement and founder of the Traprock Peace Center (1979), Randy Kehler was active in the National Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, the Peace Development Fund, and the Working Group on Electoral Democracy. Beginning in 1977, he and his wife became war tax resisters, withholding federal income tax to protest U.S. military expenditures, donating it instead to charity. As a consequence, their home was seized by the IRS in 1989, setting up a protracted legal struggle that resulted in Kehler’s arrest and imprisonment and the sale of the house. They remain tax resisters.
The Kehler Papers document the five year struggle (1989-1994) against the seizure and sale of the Kehlers’ home by the IRS. The collection includes meeting minutes, notes, correspondence, newspaper clippings; letters to the editor, essays, articles, plans and strategy documents for the vigil set outside the Kehler home; support committee information and actions; correspondence with government officials, the IRS, and the Justice Department; letters of support; documents from the legal proceedings; and political literature addressing the Kehlers’ situation.
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Argo, Ed
- Colrain (Mass.)
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Political activists--Massachusetts
- Tax collection--Massachusetts--Colrain
- Tax evasion--Massachusetts--Colrain
- Taxation--Law and Legislation
- Traprock Peace Center
- Valley Community Land Trust
- War tax resitance--Massachusetts--Colrain
- Withholding tax--Law and legislation
- Withholding tax--Massachusetts
- Corner, Betsy
- Kehler, Randy
- Link, Mary
- Mosely, Don
- Nelson, Juanita
Types of material
- Court records
- Legal documents
- Letters (Correspondence)
Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies Records, 1956-1976.
Call no.: MS 020
An oecumenical ministry based in Amherst, Massachusetts, that sought to inspire local citizens to act upon their religious faith in their daily lives and occupations, and to reinvigorate religious dialogue between denominations.
Includes by-laws, minutes, membership records, news clippings, press releases, treasurer’s reports, letters to and from David S. King, correspondence between religious leaders and local administrators, and printed materials documenting programs and organizations in which the Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies (L.A.O.S.) participated or initiated, especially Faith and Life Meetings. Also contains questionnaires, announcements, bulletins, and photographs.
- Christian union--Massachusetts--History
- Interdenominational cooperation--Massachusetts--History
- King, David S., 1927-
- Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material