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Steindl-Rast, David

Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers

ca. 1928-2015
60 boxes 75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 892
Image of Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956
Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956

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The Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers include Brother David’s extensive published and unpublished writings, sermons, memoirs, personal journals, correspondence, photographs, recordings, and videos of his teachings.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
  • Buddhism--Relations
  • Christianity--Relations
  • Peace movements--United States
  • Peace--Religious aspects
  • Spiritual life--Buddhism
  • Spiritual life--Catholic church
  • Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968
  • Steindl-Rast, David
Types of material
  • Photographs

Sufi Order International

Abode of the Message Collection

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.

  • Sufi Order International

Turner, Abel

Abel Turner, The Life and Travels of Abel Turner

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
  • Turner, Abel
Types of material
  • Autobiographies

White, Willis H.

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.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
  • Conference of All Friends
  • Forward movement (Evangelical movement)
  • Pacifism
  • 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
  • Ephemera


Antislavery Pamphlet Collection

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.

  • Abolitionists--Massachusetts
  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Slavery--United States
  • American Anti-Slavery Society
  • American Colonization Society
Restrictions: Collection currently unavailable due to renovations in SCUA

Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-

Elwood Babbitt Papers

2 boxes 3 linear feet
Call no.: MS 517
Image of Elwood Babbitt, 1970.  Photo by Gary Cohen
Elwood Babbitt, 1970. Photo by Gary Cohen

Clairvoyant from 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.

Language(s): German
  • Channeling (Spiritualism)
  • Hapgood, Charles H
  • Mediums–Massachusetts
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-

Book of Hours (Use of Rome)

Book of Hours (Use of Rome)

1 vol. 144 fol. linear feet
Call no.: MS 963
Image of Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Books of hours are the most common surviving form of the medieval book and are as diverse as the patrons who commissioned them. Beginning in the mid-thirteenth century, they flourished as part of a rich array of devotional works used to frame the temporal structure of a community’s spiritual lives. In keeping with individual spiritual and aesthetic preferences, books of hours were often customized to appeal to the particular purchaser, and they vary greatly through time and from region to region.

This diminutive and comparatively austere book of hours (Use of Rome) appears to have been produced near Bruges between about 1460 and 1470, possibly influenced by the prolific illuminator Willem Vrelant. Written in Latin in a skilled Gothic Italic Rotunda hand, the book lacks a calendar and miniatures of any kind, nor is there any evidence that any were ever present.

Acquired from Scott Gwara, Feb. 2017
Language(s): Latin
  • Books of hours--Belgium--Early works to 1800
  • Catholic Church--Liturgy--Texts--Early works to 1800
  • Catholic Church--Prayers and devotions--Latin--Early works to 1800
  • Hammer, Christian, 1818-1905
  • Virgin, Thore, 1886-1957
Types of material
  • Books of hours
  • Illuminated manuscripts

Brotherhood of the Spirit

Brotherhood of the Spirit Documentary

15.24 minutes
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)

Canning, Josiah D. (Josiah Dean), 1816-1892

Josiah D. Canning, The Shad-Fishers Manuscript

1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1009 bd

The “Peasant Bard” of Gill, Mass., Josiah D. Canning, published five books of poetry between 1838 and 1892 extolling the spiritual virtues of nature and the agrarian life. The son of a minister, Canning worked as a printer for several years before settling down to farming life, churning out poetry that reflected his reverence for the land.

This small collection consists of a printed copy of Josiah Canning’s fourth book, The Shad-Fishers, published by R.C. Graves in Greenfield, Mass., in 1854, along with a manuscript copy of the same work bound in workmanlike leather over boards. Although it is not possible to determine with certainty, the manuscript may be Canning’s own.

Acquired from Eugene Povirk, Jan. 2018
  • Poetry--Massachusetts--Gill
Types of material
  • Manuscripts (Documents)

Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)

Civilian Conservation Corps in Massachusetts Photograph Collection

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
  • Photographs