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New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

Learn more:

New England Telephone and Telegraph Company

Western Massachusetts Ice Storm Photograph Collection

1942
1 envelope 0.15 linear feet
Call no.: MS 354 bd
Image of Ice damage near Becket
Ice damage near Becket

Approximately every twenty years, western New England suffers from devastating ice storms, leaving heavy ice coating on trees and buildings and hazardous conditions. Major storms struck in 1921, 1942, 1961, 1983, 1998, and 2008, with the storm of December 29-30, 1942, disrupting power and closing roads throughout a broad swath of the northeast. In northern New York state, ice depths reached six inches.

The collection includes twenty six of an original thirty eight photographs depicting ice storm damage to power lines in the Pittsfield District (Windsor, Middlefield, Washington Mountain to Becket) resulting from the storm in December 1942. The collection also includes a cover letter pertaining to photos (not included) documenting a similar situation in Northampton, affecting the New England Power Service Co.

Subjects

  • Electric lines--Massachusetts--Photographs
  • Electric power systems--Natural disaster effects --Massachusetts--Photographs
  • Ice storms--Massachusetts--Photographs

Contributors

  • New England Power Service Company

Types of material

  • Photographs
New Victoria Publishers

New Victoria Publishers Records

1974-2009
6 boxes 11 linear feet
Call no.: MS 883
Image of From the top down: Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay Lamperti, Petey Becker, Bonnie Arnold, and ReBecca Béguin (ca. 1976)
From the top down: Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay Lamperti, Petey Becker, Bonnie Arnold, and ReBecca Béguin (ca. 1976)

Founded in 1975 in Lebanon, NH, by Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay (Lamperti), Katie Cahill, Nina Swaim, and Shelby Grantham, New Victoria Printers became one of two all-female print shops in New England at the time. Believing strongly that “the power of the press belongs to those who own it,” they began to solicit work from non-profit and politically-oriented groups. Like its namesake Victoria Press, an 1860s women run print shop in London owned by Emily Faithful, an early advocate of women’s rights, New Victoria was also committed to feminist principles. The shop offered work and training in printing, machine work, and other traditionally male dominated fields; initially focused on printing materials from the women’s movement; and was organized as a collectively owned and democratically run organization.

Additionally, the shop functioned as a de facto women’s center and lesbian hub for Lebanon and the surrounding area, often overlapping with the lesbian social club Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society, (a.k.a. the Amelia’s). The print shop was a place of education, community, creativity, and activism, and soon publishing opportunities, as the group founded New Victoria Publishers in 1976 to publish works from their community. The print shop closed in 1985, with Dingman and McKay taking over the running of the non-profit publishing company out of their home in Norwich, VT, with an emphasis on lesbian fiction in addition to other women-focused works. An early bestseller, Stoner McTavish by Sarah Dreher, put them on the map, with the company publishing over a hundred books by and about lesbians, winning three Lambda Literary Awards and several other honors.

The New Victoria Publishers Records consist of photographs, newsletters, and cards put out by the collective, materials printed by the press, marketing and promotional materials, author correspondence, graphics and cover art, book reviews, financial and legal records, histories of the organization, news clippings, and an almost full run of the books published by the company. The collection is particularly rich in documenting the work and production of a women owned business within the feminist press movement as well as the lesbian publishing industry.

Subjects

  • Collective labor agreements – Printing industry
  • Feminist literature – Publishing
  • Lesbian authors
  • Lesbians' writings -- Publishing
  • Women printers – New England
  • Women publishers – New England

Contributors

  • Beth Dingman
  • Claudia McKay
  • New Victoria Printers
  • New Victoria Publishers

Types of material

  • Photographs
New WORLD Theater

New WORLD Theater Records

1979-2010
41 boxes 61.5 linear feet
Call no.: RG 025/F2/N4
Image of Photo by Edward Cohen, 2002
Photo by Edward Cohen, 2002

New WORLD Theater was founded at UMass Amherst in 1979 by Roberta Uno with the mission of presenting innovative works of theater by contemporary artists of color, with the goal of fostering creative communities, promoting cultural equity, and embracing diverse cultural backgrounds, social engagement, and a commitment to justice. For more than thirty years New WORLD Theater produced many dozens of plays and other dramatic works representing new voices in the theater, as well as plays from the traditional multicultural repertory, and they have supported the arts through performance residencies, conferences and colloquia, and a variety of initiatives aimed at the diverse communities they serve, youth, and theater professionals. New WORLD Theater has contributed significantly to national conversations on cultural equity. After more than three decades of acclaim and recognition, New WORLD Theater was closed by UMass Amherst in summer 2010.

The bulk of the New WORLD Theater collection consists of administrative records documenting the day-to-day activities of the theater, however, it also contains an extensive and exceptionally rich archive of taped interviews, conferences, and theatrical productions. Taken together, the audiovisual material traces the history of New WORLD through the words and performances of artists who both contributed to and benefited from the theater.

Subjects

  • African Americans--Drama
  • American drama--Minority authors
  • Asian Americans--Drama
  • Ethnic groups--United States--Drama
  • Hispanic Americans--Drama
  • Minorities--United States--Drama
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst

Contributors

  • New WORLD Theater
  • Page, Priscilla
  • Uno, Roberta, 1956-

Types of material

  • Audiovisual materials
  • Sound recordings
Nichols, Reuben

Reuben Nichols, The adventures and ramblings of a sailor

1840
1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 901 bd

The son of a Revolutionary War veteran from Fairfield County, Conn., Reuben Nichols went to sea as teenager and spent a quarter of a century sailing the Atlantic aboard merchant ships and privateers. After rising to become master of the New York and Savannah packets Exact and Angelique in the 1830s, he retired to a life on shore near Bridgeport.

This vigorous account of a life on the antebellum seas runs Nichols’ childhood hardships through a series of adventures at sea in war and peace. An observant and effective writer, Nichols describes voyages to western and northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and South America during and after the War of 1812. During a colorful career, he took part in the operations of warships and privateers, witnessed attempted mutinies and desertions, rescued the abolitionist John Hopper from a mob in Georgia, and was drawn into the struggles for colonial liberation. His experiences aboard the privateer Kemp and descriptions of Haiti, Cape Verde, Spain, Gibraltar, Turkey, and Argentina are particularly evocative.

Acquired from William Reese, Mar. 2016

Subjects

  • Abolitionists--Georgia
  • Argentina--Description and travel--19th century
  • Aruba--Description and travel--19th century
  • Gibraltar--Description and travel--19th century
  • Haiti--Description and travel--19th century
  • Hopper, John, 1815-1865
  • Merchant ships--Connecticut
  • Mutiny
  • Privateering
  • Sailors--Connecticut
  • Spain--Description and travel--19th century
  • Stratford (Conn.)--History
  • Turkey--Description and travel--19th century
  • United States--History--War of 1812--Naval operations

Types of material

  • Autobiographies
  • Memoirs
Northampton Labor Council (AFL-CIO)

Northampton Labor Council Minutebooks

1933-1985
2 boxes 0.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 055

From its origins in 1899 as the Northampton Central Labor Union, the Northampton Labor Council coordinated political activity and worked for union cooperation in strikes, boycotts, and celebrations. With 29 unions in its ranks by 1903, it was one of the few labor councils to include both AFL and CIO affiliates during the period of their intense competition during the 1930s, however from 1945 until the AFL-CIO merger, CIO unions were excluded. By 1985, the NLC had 14 affiliated local unions.

As the coordinating body for the political and social activities of fourteen labor unions in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the surrounding area, the Labor Council generated union support for strikes, boycotts, and celebrations, and hosting annual Labor Day parades. Includes photocopies of four minutebooks, spanning the years 1933-1985.

Subjects

  • Central Labor Union (Northampton, Mass.)
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts--Northampton
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century

Contributors

  • Northampton Labor Council (AFL-CIO)
Norwegian Information Service

Norwegian Information Service Photographs of Sami (Lapp) People

1 envelope 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 297
Image of Sami girls
Sami girls

During the Second World War, the Nazi occupation and subsequent liberation of the arctic regions of northern Norway resulted in the near total devastation of the existing infrastructure and the displacement of most of the population, including the native Sami (Lapps). The end of the war did not signal an end to hardship: the challenges of post-war resettlement was accompanied by a sustained effort by the Norwegian government to modernize and assimilate the Sami, largely through the systematic suppression of Sami culture. The language was banned from use in schools until 1958 and other forms of suppression persisted longer, and it was decades more before the rights of the Sami as an indigenous people were codified into law.

The dozen photographs that comprise this collection document Sami life in northern Norway during the period just after the end of the Second World War when Sami people were returning home after years as refugees. Taken by the Norwegian Information Service and presumably associated with the Norwegian modernization program, the collection includes images of traditional Sami sod dwellings, men at work on construction of sled and boat, and portraits of women and children.

Subjects

  • Dwellings--Norway--Photographs
  • General stores--Norway--Photographs
  • Sami (European people)--Photographs
  • Sleds--Norway--Photographs
  • Sod houses--Norway--Photographs
  • Tents--Norway--Photographs

Contributors

  • Norwegian Information Service

Types of material

  • Photographs
Obrebski, Joseph, 1907-1967

Joseph Obrebski Papers

1923-1974
48 boxes 24 linear feet
Call no.: MS 599

A student of Bronislaw Malinowski, the Polish ethnographer Jozef Obrebski was a keen observer of cultural change among eastern European peasantry in the years before the Second World War. After working with the resistance in Warsaw during the war, Obrebski went on to do additional ethnographic research in Jamaica (with his wife Tamara), taught at Brooklyn and Queens College and C.W. Post University, and from 1948-1959, he was senior social affairs officer with the United Nations. He died in 1967.

The Obrebski collection consists largely of ethnographic data collected by Obrebski in Macedonia (1931-1932), Polesia (1934-1936), and Jamaica (1947-1948), including field and interview notes, genealogies, government documents relating to research sites, and ca. 1000 photographs; together with correspondence (1946-1974), drafts of articles, analyses of collected data, and tapes and phonograph records, largely of folk music; and papers of Obrebski’s wife, Tamara Obrebski (1908-1974), also an ethnologist and sociologist.

Language(s): Polish

Subjects

  • Anthropologists--Poland
  • Ethnology--Jamaica
  • Ethnology--Macedonia
  • Ethnology--Poland
  • Peasantry--Macedonia
  • Peasantry--Poland

Contributors

  • Obrebski, Joseph, 1907-1967

Types of material

  • Photographs
Oglesby, Carl, 1935-2011

Carl Oglesby Papers

ca.1965-2004
96 boxes 67.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 514
Image of Carl Oglesby, 2006. Photo by Jennifer Fels
Carl Oglesby, 2006. Photo by Jennifer Fels

Reflective, critical, and radical, Carl Oglesby was an eloquent voice of the New Left during the 1960s and 1970s. A native of Ohio, Oglesby was working in the defense industry in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1964 when he became radicalized by what he saw transpiring in Vietnam. Through his contacts with the Students for a Democratic Society, he was drawn into the nascent antiwar movement, and thanks to his formidable skills as a speaker and writer, rose rapidly to prominence. Elected president of the SDS in 1965, he spent several years traveling nationally and internationally advocating for a variety of political and social causes.

In 1972, Oglesby helped co-found the Assassination Information Bureau which ultimately helped prod the U.S. Congress to reopen the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. A prolific writer and editor, his major works include Containment and Change (1967), The New Left Reader (1969), The Yankee and Cowboy War (1976), and The JFK Assassination: The Facts and the Theories (1992). The Oglesby Papers include research files, correspondence, published and unpublished writing, with the weight of the collection falling largely on the period after 1975.

Gift of Carl Oglesby, 2006-2008

Subjects

  • Assassination Information Bureau
  • Gehlen, Reinhard, 1902-1979
  • Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963--Assassination
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
  • Pacifists
  • Political activists
  • Student movements
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
  • United States--Foreign relations
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975
  • Watergate Affair, 1972-1974

Contributors

  • Oglesby, Carl, 1935-2011
Parker, George A.

George A. Parker Photograph Album

1876
1 vol., 90 images 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: RG 130 P37
Image of The Giant Squash
The Giant Squash

A prominent member of the Massachusetts Agricultural College Class of 1876, George A. Parker (1853-1926) began a career in landscape gardening and the development of parks shortly after graduation. Shortly after the turn of the century, he was appointed Superintendent of Parks in Hartford, Conn., helping to develop Colt Park and a number of smaller properties that turned the city into one of the models for New England. He resigned from his post in January 1926 and died later that year from heart disease.

The Parker Album is a more extensive version of the standard class album for 1876, featuring not only albumen portraits mounted on thick stock of the faculty and students, but almost fifty views of campus. Among these are uncommon images of the major academic buildings, the chapel, and hash house, but also interior and exterior shots of buildings on campus, such as the Botanic Museum and the Durfee greenhouses, and images of the students in military drill. All photographs were taken by John L. Lovell of Amherst.

Gift of George A. Parker, Sept. 1915

Subjects

  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Photographs

Contributors

  • Lovell, John L., 1825-1903
  • Parker, George A

Types of material

  • Albumen prints
  • Photographs