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Cummington School of the Arts

Cummington School of the Arts Records, 1908-1993
30 boxes (45 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 891
Image of Poster, ca.1925
Poster, ca.1925

In 1923, Katherine Frazier established the Playhouse-in-the-Hills as a venue for theatrical performances in the small Berkshire County town of Cummington, Mass. Frazier’s vision, however, soon led her to expand the project into the Cummington School of the Arts (later the Cummington Community of the Arts), which she envisioned as “an environment congenial to creative activity.” Over its seventy years of operation, the School emphasized creative collaboration across the fine arts, offering not only performances, but summer residencies and six-week courses where writers, artists, performers, and musicians could study and practice under the guidance of visiting artists. Among its noted alumni were luminaries such as Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Diane Arbus, Marianne Moore, and Archibald Macleish, and the school was a starting point for Harry Duncan’s renowned Cummington Press. The increasing financial challenges facing not-for-profit organizations led a cessation of operations in about 1993.

The records of the Cummington School of the Arts offer a cross-sectional view of the School across its years of operation. In addition to a very small selection of personal material from Katherine Frazier, the collection includes valuable correspondence and ephemera relating to the school’s philosophy and founding, and nearly a third of the collection consists of records of students, often including their applications, comments on the work accomplished in Cummington, and occasionally, copies of work produced. The balance of the collection consists of many of the school’s publications, administrative materials (including curricula and planning documents), and financial and fundraising materials.

Transferred from Springfield Museums through Margaret Humberston, Dec. 2015

Dethier, V. G. (Vincent Gaston), 1915-1993

Vincent G. Dethier Papers, 1943-1993
8 boxes (12 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 168
Image of Vincent Dethier, 1978
Vincent Dethier, 1978

The Gilbert L. Woodside Professor of Zoology at UMass Amherst from 1975-1993, Vincent Dethier was an authority on the biophysics of insect chemosensation and neuroethology. Born in Boston in 1915 into a family of accomplished musicians, Dethier received his doctorate at Harvard in 1939 for a study of the feeding behavior of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. After service with the Army Air Corps in North Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War and a stint at the Army Chemical Center in Maryland, he resumed his academic career, joining the zoology faculty at Ohio State, Johns Hopkins (1947-1958), the University of Pennsylvania (1958-1967), and Princeton (1967-1975) in succession. His appointment at UMass marks the founding of the university’s program in Neuroscience and Behavior. In addition to over 170 scholarly papers and five scholarly monographs on insect physiology, Dethier wrote several popular works on natural history as well as short stories and children’s books. The recipient of numerous honors during his academic career, Dethier was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1960), the National Academy of Sciences (1965), and the American Philosophical Society (1980), and was recipient of the Entomological Society of America’s Founders’ Memorial Award (1967) and the John Burroughs Medal (1993) for nature writing.

Documenting his post-World War II career, Vincent Dethier’s correspondence relates to scientific organizations, publishing, travel, and speaking engagements, with somewhat sparser information on his research. There are also a handful of photographs, including a series of lantern slides from Dethier’s work in Africa, as well as a scrapbook, a complete set of his publishing scientific papers, and a sampling of short stories and creative writing.

Subjects
  • Entomology
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Biology Department
Types of material
  • Photographs

Drucker, Jeffrey I.

Jeffrey Drucker Photograph Collection, 1966-1969
387 photographs
Call no.: RG 50/6 D78
Image of Simon and Garfunkel at the Curry Hicks Cage, Dec. 3, 1967
Simon and Garfunkel at the Curry Hicks Cage, Dec. 3, 1967

Jeffrey Drucker was a student and photographer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1966 to 1969, where he majored in production management and was the WMUA station engineer. As a student, Drucker was a photography enthusiast, taking snapshots of events across campus, thoroughly documenting his years as an undergraduate at UMass in the late-sixties.

The Jeffrey Drucker Photograph Collection contains 387 photographs of a diverse array of campus events, including the Dow Chemical protest in 1968, parades, Roister Doisters productions, musicians like Stevie Wonder and Simon and Garfunkel performing at on-campus concerts, and iconic campus buildings. Many of Drucker’s photographs were printed in the Index yearbook as well as the University of Massachusetts Daily Collegian and give a clearly student perspective to life on campus.

Subjects
  • Protests and demonstrations--Photographs
  • Rock concerts--Massachusetts--Amherst--Photographs
  • Roister Doisters (University of Massachusetts Amherst)--Photographs
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Photographs
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students and alumni--Photographs
Types of material
  • Black-and-white negatives
  • Gelatin silver prints

Famous Long Ago Archive

Famous Long Ago Collection, ca.1960-2005
Image of The barn, Montague Farm Photo by Roy Finestone, Oct. 1976
The barn, Montague Farm Photo by Roy Finestone, Oct. 1976

Ray Mungo’s Famous Long Ago (1970) and Steve Diamond’s What the Trees Said (1971) are classic visions of late 1960s counterculture and of life in New England communes. The communes on which Mungo and Diamond settled, Packer Corner and the Montague Farm, became the center of what might be considered a single extended community, embracing the Wendell Farm and Johnson Pasture and Tree Frog Farm in Vermont. The Farmers themselves were, and remain, a diverse group, including photographers, novelists, and poets, artists, actors, and activists.

An umbrella collection, the Famous Long Ago Archive contains a growing number of collections relating to the communes at Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Johnson Pasture, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm. These range from the papers of Steve Diamond, Raymond Mungo, and Jonathan Maslow to Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner (the latter of whom lived at Montague Farm), the records of the Liberation News Service, the Alternative Energy Coalition, and Musicians United for Safe Energy, to the photographic collections of Roy Finestone and Stephen Josephs. View all the Famous Long Ago Collections.

Collections include:

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Political activists--Massachusetts

Finkelstein, Sidney Walter, 1909-1974

Sidney Finkelstein Papers, 1914-1974
11 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 128

Noted critic of music, literature, and the arts, as well as a writer and an active member of the Communist Party U.S.A. Includes letters to and from Mr. Finkelstein; original manuscripts of reviews, articles, essays, and books; legal documents, educational, military, and personal records, financial papers, contracts, photographs, and lecture and course notes.

Gift of Maynard Solomon, 1986
Subjects
  • Art criticism--United States--History--20th century
  • Communism--United States--History
  • Communist Party of the United States of America--History--20th century
  • Communist aesthetics--History--Sources
  • Culture--Study and teaching--United States--History--20th century
  • Music--History and criticism
  • Musical criticism--United States--History
  • Socialist realism--History--Sources
Contributors
  • Cohen, R. S. (Robert Sonné)
  • Finkelstein, Sidney Walter, 1909-1974
  • Gorton, Sally Kent, 1915-2000
  • Hille, Waldemar, 1908-
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971
  • Lawson, John Howard, 1894-
  • Richmond, Al, 1913-1987
  • Selsam, Millicent Ellis, 1912-
  • Siegmeister, Elie, 1909-
  • Thomson, Virgil, 1896-
  • Veinus, Abraham
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs

League of Women Voters of Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)

League of Women Voters of Amherst Records, 1939-2001
60 boxes (33 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 296

Non-partisan political organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts that influences public policy through education and advocacy by registering voters, organizing candidate forums, publishing voting guides, and disseminating general information on the legislative process and the functioning of government on the local, state, and federal levels.

Includes minutes, annual reports, financial records, publications, extensive files on specific programs, photographs, video- and audio-tapes, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings. Also contains information on two league members who rose to national prominence: Lucy Wilson Benson (Under Secretary of State in the federal government in 1977) and Jane F. Garvey (Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1997).

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Education--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
Contributors
  • Benson, Lucy Wilson
  • Garvey, Jane F
  • League of Women Voters of Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Literature & the arts

MAC baseball team, 1878

MAC baseball team, 1878

Literature and the arts play a vital role in the culture and traditions of New England. Western Massachusetts in particular has had a rich history of fostering writers and poets, musicians, dancers, and actors. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives seeks to document not only the lives and work of writers and performers in our region, but the creative and artistic process; showing not just the inspiration, but the perspiration as well.

View all collections in Literature and the arts

Significant collections

  • Arts and arts management
    • Significant collections under the National Arts Policy Archive and Library include materials from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and the Arts Extension Service.
  • Poetry
    • SCUA houses significant collections for the poets Robert Francis, Madeleine de Frees, and Anne Halley, as well as small collections for William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens. The records of the Massachusetts Review are an important literary resource.
  • Prose writing
    • Collections of note include the papers of writers William J. Lederer (author of The Ugly American, Nation of Sheep, and Their Own Worst Enemy), William Manchester (The Death of a President and American Caesar), Jodi Picoult (many novels from Songs of the Humpback Whale in 1992 to The Storyteller in 2013), Mary Doyle Curran (The Parish and the Hill).
  • Journalism
    • Journalists and photojournalists associated with traditional print and new media, including an important collection for the Liberation News Service, a media service for the alternative press, and the Social Change Periodicals Collection, which includes alternative and radical small press publications. The papers of Sidney Topol provide insight into the technical development of cable television.
  • Literary criticism and linguistics
    • The papers of literary scholars associated with the University; records of the Massachusetts Review.
  • Performing arts
    • The vibrant performing arts community in western Massachusetts is well represented in SCUA through groups ranging from the Arcadia Players Baroque music ensemble to theater troupes such as Double Edge Theater, the Valley Light Opera, and the New World Theater. Among the most significant national collections are the Roberta Uno Asian Women Playwrights Collection and the papers of African American expatriate actor and director Gordon Heath, while the James Ellis Theatre Collection includes nearly 8,000 printed volumes on the English and American stage, 1750-1915, along with numerous broadsides, graphics, and some manuscript materials. Musical collections include the papers of Philip Bezanson and Charles Bestor, the score collection of Julian Olevsky, and the Katanka Fraser Political Music Collection.

Printed materials

Within its holdings, SCUA houses collections of the published works of W.E.B. Du Bois, Robert Francis, Anne Halley, William J. Lederer, William Manchester, Thomas Mann, William Morris, Wallace Stevens, and William Butler Yeats, as well as the personal poetry libraries of Halley, Francis, and Stevens. The department also has an extensive collection of Science Fiction magazine fiction and Scottish literature.

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Simon, Peter, 1947-

Peter Simon Collection, ca. 1945-2016
10 boxes (20 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 009
Image of Peter Simon in mirror photographing Jennie Blackton at the Bitter End Cafe, 1968
Peter Simon in mirror photographing Jennie Blackton at the Bitter End Cafe, 1968

Peter Simon’s life and work as a photojournalist follows the quintessential arc of the counterculture, baby boom generation. The son of Richard Simon, founder of Simon and Schuster, Peter grew up in the New York City suburb of Riverdale and attended Boston University, graduating in 1969. While a student at BU, he began documenting the political turmoil in the US when he became photo editor for the radical student newspaper, the BU News, and later as a press photographer for the Cambridge Phoenix. In 1970, Simon left Boston to form Tree Frog Farm, a back-to-the-land commune in Guilford, Vermont, and after leaving there in 1972, he immersed himself in the New Age, forming a close relationship with spiritual leader Ram Dass. Among the most constant threads connecting his work throughout these changes was music. Simon’s sisters, Carly, Lucy, and Joanna have all been involved in music, and through a partnership with longtime friend Stephen Davis and his association with Rolling Stone magazine, Simon enjoyed unique access to many of the most important musicians of his generation. He spent time on the road with the Grateful Dead; went backstage and at home with Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and many others. His early forays into the world of reggae with Bob Marley and other Jamaican recording artists resulted in one of his nine books, Reggae Bloodlines. Simon’s other photographic interests are as wide-ranging as his background. A visitor to Martha’s Vineyard since the 1950s and a resident since 1974, his work reflects the changes and cultural richness of that island; his family’s friendship with Jackie Robinson has driven his lifelong documentation of baseball, and he is in high demand for portraits, weddings, and other work for hire.

The Peter Simon Collection houses the original negatives for Simon’s complete body of work as a photo journalist and also includes many photographs taken by his father Richard, an avid amateur photographer, which documents the Simon family and life in Riverdale and Stamford, Connecticut, where the family had a summer home.

Subjects
  • Boston (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Counterculture--United States--20th century
  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Musicians--Photographs
  • Simon, Carly--Photographs
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Contributors
  • Simon, Richard L. (Richard Leo), 1899-1960
Types of material
  • Photographs

Slonecker, Blake, 1981-

Blake Slonecker Collection, 2008
4 items (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 795

An historian of twentieth century social movements, Blake Slonecker received his doctorate at the University of North Carolina in 2009 and joined the history faculty at Waldorf College soon thereafter. In a dissertation examining the utopian impulses of the New Left (published in 2012 as A new dawn for the New Left: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the long sixties), Slonecker explored how the political and cultural activism of the 1960s helped reshape American political culture in the decade following.

In June 2008, Slonecker conducted oral historical interviews with four individuals who were part of the extended community centered on the Montague Farm and Packer Corners communes during the late 1960s: Tom Fels, Charles Light, Sam Lovejoy, and Richard Wizansky. In wide-ranging interviews, the former communards discuss topics ranging from the fraught politics of the era, political and cultural activism, gender roles and sexuality, and daily life on the communes.

Gift of Blake Slonecker, Aug. 2013
Subjects
  • Amherst College
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Clamshell Alliance
  • Green Mountain Post Films
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Musicians United for Safe Energy
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Contributors
  • Fels, Thomas Weston
  • Light, Charles
  • Lovejoy, Sam
  • Wizansky, Richard
Types of material
  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories (document genres)

Social change

Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

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.
  • Environmentalism
    • 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 history 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
  • 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.

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