Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers, ca. 1928-2015.
60 boxes (75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 892
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The Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers include Brother David’s extensive published and unpublished writings, sermons, memoirs, personal journals, correspondence, photographs, recordings, and videos of his teachings.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.
- Benedictines--United States
- Peace movements--United States
- Peace--Religious aspects
- Spiritual life--Buddhism
- Spiritual life--Catholic church
- Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968
- Steindl-Rast, David
Types of material
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.
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.
- Free Will Baptists (1727-1935)--Clergy
- Maine--History--19th century
- New York (State)--History--19th century
- Second Great Awakening--Maine--History
- Second Great Awakening--New York (State)--History
Types of material
Digital (+)Finding aid
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.
- Conference of All Friends
- Forward movement (Evangelical movement)
- Peace movements
- Quakers--Rhode Island
- World War, 1914-1918
- American Friends Service Committee
- Bonell, Harold C. (Harold Charles), 1908-1977
- Muste, A. J. (Abraham John), 1885-1967
Types of material
Antislavery Pamphlet Collection, 1725-1911.
(7.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RB 003
The Antislavery Collection contains several hundred printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. The holdings include speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.
- Antislavery movements--United States
- Slavery--United States
- American Anti-Slavery Society
- American Colonization Society
Elwood Babbitt Papers, 1974-2000.
2 boxes (3 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 517
Clairvoyant from his youth, Elwood Babbitt developed his psychic abilities at the Edgar Cayce Institute, and by the mid-1960s, was well known in Western Massachusetts through his readings and lectures, often opening his home to other seekers. Charles Hapgood, a professor at Keene State College, worked closely with Babbitt studying the physical effects of the medium’s trance lectures, and by 1967, he began to take on the painstaking process of transcribing and copying them. With communications purporting to come from Jesus, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and the Hindu god Vishnu, among others, these lectures formed the basis for several books by Hapgood and Babbitt, including Voices of Spirit (1975) and Talks with Christ (1981). Babbitt ultimately established a non-profit, alternative school, the Opie Mountain Citadel, which was essentially run out of Babbitt’s home in Northfield.
The collection consists of proofs of publications, lectures, some correspondence, film reels, and transcripts of spiritual communications for which Babbitt was the medium.
- Channeling (Spiritualism)
- Hapgood, Charles H
Brotherhood of the Spirit Documentary, ca.1973.
Call no.: Video
Beginning in a treehouse in Leyden, Mass., during the summer of 1968, the Brotherhood of the Spirit (later the Renaissance Community) grew to become the largest commune in the eastern United States. Founded by Michael Metelica and six friends, and infused with the spiritual teachings of Elwood Babbitt, the commune relocated several times during its first half decade, setting down at different points in Heath, Charlemont, Warwick, Turners Falls, and Gill, Mass., as well as Guilford, Vt.
Produced at UMass Amherst, this video (digitized from a 16mm motion picture original) provides a largely laudatory glimpse of commune life during the boom years of the Brotherhood of the Spirit, probably around 1973. Sound quality in the video is highly uneven, often poor, particularly in the first two minutes.
- Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Metelica, Michael
Types of material
- Motion pictures (Visual works)
Civilian Conservation Corps in Massachusetts Photograph Collection, ca.1930-1939.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: PH 015
Relief program established for unemployed men by President Franklin D. Roosevelt whose main work in Massachusetts through the 1930s and early 1940s was tree planting, fire fighting, insect control, and tree and plant disease control. Contains photographs arranged alphabetically by forest name that depict road building, tree planting, and other developments in the state forests. Includes some images of workers.
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)--Massachusetts--History
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)--Photographs
- Forest roads--Massachusetts--Design and construction--Photographs
- Forests and forestry--Massachusetts--Photographs
- New Deal, 1933-1939--Massachusetts--History
- Tree planting--Massachusetts--Photographs
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
Types of material
Clarence Carroll Clark Papers, 1909-1981.
2 boxes (1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 393
Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1911, Dr. Clark accepted the position of director of the Chapel of the Comforter in Greenwich Village, New York, a mission that abandoned its traditional Christian practices in favor of the teachings of theosophy. A prolific writer and lecturer, Clark stressed in his work the similarities between Eastern and Western religions, and emphasized his belief that unity among religions would bring about a spiritual re-awakening throughout the world. After serving as director of the Chapel of the Comforter for more than forty years, Clark retired in 1950.
Clark’s papers document his career as a professor of English, Episcopal priest, theosophist, and Director of the Chapel of the Comforter. Consisting of correspondence, lecture notes, and his writings, the collection chronicles his religious beliefs as well as his research on Emily Dickinson and her poetry.
- Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886
- Religion--United States
William Smith Clark Papers, 1814-2003 (Bulk: 1844-1886).
(14.75 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 003/1 C63
Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1826, William Smith Clark graduated from Amherst College in 1848 and went on to teach the natural sciences at Williston Seminary until 1850, when he continued his education abroad, studying chemistry and botany at the University of Goettingen, earning his Ph.D in 1852. From 1852 to 1867 he was a member of Amherst College’s faculty as a Professor of Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology. As a leading citizen of Amherst, Clark was a strong advocate for the establishment of the new agricultural college, becoming one of the founding members of the college’s faculty and in 1867, the year the college welcomed its first class of 56 students, its President. During his presidency, he pressured the state government to increase funding for the new college and provide scholarships to enable poor students, including women, to attend. The college faced economic hardship early in its existence: enrollment dropped in the 1870s, and the college fell into debt. He is noted as well for helping to establish an agricultural college at Sapporo, Japan, and building strong ties between the Massachusetts Agricultural College and Hokkaido. After Clark was denied a leave of absence in 1879 to establish a “floating college” — a ship which would carry students and faculty around the world — he resigned.
The Clark Papers include materials from throughout his life, including correspondence with fellow professors and scientists, students in Japan, and family; materials relating to his Civil War service in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry; photographs and personal items; official correspondence and memoranda; published articles; books, articles, television, and radio materials relating to Clark, in Japanese and English; and materials regarding Hokkaido University and its continuing relationship with the University of Massachusetts.
- Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
- Agricultural colleges--Massachusetts--History
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- Amherst College--Faculty
- Amherst College--Students--Correspondence
- Hokkaido (Japan)--History
- Hokkaid¯o Daigaku--History
- Hokkaid¯o Teikoku Daigaku--History
- Japan--Relations--United States
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
- Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
- Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o. President
- T¯ohoku Teikoku Daigaku. N¯oka Daigaku--History
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
- United States--Relations--Japan
- Universität Göttingen--Students--Correspondence
- Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. President
Types of material