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Labor, work, and industry

Picket line, New Bedford

Picket line, New Bedford, 195
“Teamsters crossed the Hathaway picket line”

Western Massachusetts was an early and important center of both industrialization and the development of organized labor, and in recent years, it has experienced many of traumatic effects of de-industrialization and economic transformation. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives seeks to document the history of organized labor, the experience of work, and business and industry in New England.

At the heart of the SCUA holdings is a suite of collections documenting the organized labor movement in New England. The official records of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, a large and important collection, is joined by records for trades ranging from clothing and textile workers to carpenters, electrical workers, and granite cutters.

Of particular note is the John W. Bennett Labor History Collection, a large assemblage of labor-related realia and ephemera, including hundreds of badges, pins, watch fobs, lighters, and other artifacts distributed to union members at annual conventions and other union events. The collection is a unique resource for study of the iconography of organized labor and includes items from representative unions and locals ranging from the Knights of Labor in the 1870s to the present. While centered on New England, the Bennett Collection extends nationally.

Notable collections

  • Organized Labor
    • From the records of the Massachusetts State AFL-CIO to the papers of union locals and labor leaders.
  • See all Business and industry
    • Manufacturing
      • The industrial heritage of New England is represented in collections ranging from the records of the Clement Co., Lamson and Goodnow, and the Northampton Cutlery Company (manufacturers of cutlery), the American Writing Paper Company, the Rodney Hunt Co. (a manufacturer of textile machinery and waterwheels), and Smith and Wesson. The most recent collection is the papers of Sidney Topol, CEO of Scientific-Atlanta, a corporation at the forefront of the growth of cable television in the United States.
    • Merchants and commerce
      • Account books and other business records for a number of New England merchants dating back to the eighteenth century, ranging from small scale traders to keepers of rural general stores to shipping merchants trading in the Atlantic economy.

Learn more:

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Student Body
1867-2007
(155 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 045

Since the arrival of the first class of students at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1867, the student body at UMass has grown to over 20,500 undergraduates and nearly 6,000 graduate students.

Record Group 45 includes the collected records of student activities at UMass Amherst, from student publications and organizations (fraternities and sororities, unions, and honorary societies) to records of student government, student protests, and religious and social groups. Also included are class notes and correspondence of some individual students while enrolled in the University.

Connect to another siteA number of student publications have been digitized and are indexed in YouMass.
Subjects
  • Aggie Life
  • Bay State Ruralist
  • College Signal
  • College students--Massachusetts
  • Greek letter societies--Massachusetts
  • Student newspapers and periodicals--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Agricultural Surveys
1910-1965
25 boxes (18 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 261

Studies were conducted by departments of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, Massachusetts State College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in conjunction with various other college departments and agencies of the state and federal governments. The surveys encompass a number of agricultural study areas such as land use, business and farm management, dairy farm and cost of milk production, tobacco and onion production, and poultry and livestock disease surveys. Supplemental statistical information and aerial photographs are also included.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Massachusetts
  • Land use--Massachusetts
Types of material
  • Aerial photographs

Massachusetts Governmental Activities Exposition

Massachusetts Governmental Activities Exposition Photograph Album
1930
88 images (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 043
Image of Library exhibit
Library exhibit

To celebrate its tercentenary in 1930, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts organized over two thousand events in 253 communities, drawing over eleven million visitors. One of the most elaborate of these events was the Exposition of Governmental Activities held at the Commonwealth Armory in Boston between September 29 and October 11. A celebration more of contemporary governmental activity than the historical precedents, the exposition featured displays representing nearly every branch of government, from the Department of Education to the state police, mental and public health, public welfare, transportation, agriculture, labor, and industry.

P.E. (Paul) Genereux (1892-1977), a commercial photographer from East Lynn, was hired to document the exhibits and displays in the Exposition of Governmental Activities, producing commemorative albums containing silver gelatin prints, carefully numbered and backed on linen. This disbound album includes 88 of the original 175 prints, including interior and exterior shots, with an additional image by Hildebrand.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts Governmental Activities Exposition--Photographs
  • Massachusetts--Centennial celebrations, etc.
Contributors
  • Genereux, P. E.
Types of material
  • Photographs

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Records
1966-1993 (Bulk: 1975-1985)
3 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 889

Founded in 1968, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is a statewide non-profit poverty law and policy center. Their mission is to advance economic, racial, and social justice through legal action, education, and advocacy, specializing in large-scale impact litigation and policy reforms in a wide range of poverty law fields. The MLRI Housing Unit was involved in several cases attempting to protect low-income and minority housing in urban settings in Massachusetts in the 1980s. In a 1982 case, Olga Ramos et al. v. Ernest Proulx et al., nine minority residents of Holyoke and two Hispanic non-profit service agencies sued Mayor Proulx and the City of Holyoke for discriminatory practices related to disproportionately demolishing housing in low income and minority neighborhoods. In Boston, MLRI joined as council for the plaintiffs in a 1981 case, Viviana Munoz-Mendoza, et al. v. Samuel R. Pierce, Jr., et al., where South End residents sued the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), claiming federal funds were being used to racially desegregate their neighborhood when a HUD grant for the Copley Place development did not make a thorough study of the impact on residential integration or address a long standing desire for low-income housing on an adjacent site known as Tent City.

The MLRI Records consist of legal records, memos, correspondence, and strategy related to litigation for fair housing practice in the Holyoke and Boston cases, Ramos v. Proulx and Munoz-Mendoza v. Pierce. Newspaper clippings, city statistics and reports, and other documents stemming from the discovery portions of the cases are also abundant.

Subjects
  • Boston (Mass.)--History
  • Discrimination in housing--Law and legislation
  • Holyoke (Mass.)--History
  • Housing--Law and legislation
Types of material
  • Legal documents

New England Labor and Community Network

New England Labor and Community Newsletters
1979-1984
1 envelope (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 202

Includes eleven of the thirteen newsletters published by the Labor and Community Network, a group of academics and trade unionists interested in labor issues in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Subjects
  • Labor--New England--Periodicals
  • New England--Social conditions--Periodicals
  • Working class--New England--Periodicals
Types of material
  • Newsletters

Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts

Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts Intiative Collection
1988-1989
1 folder (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 321

The Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts (TEAM) was formed in 1987 as a coalition of tax reformers made up government groups, civic and business leaders, human services advocates, unions, and others who shared the conviction that fair taxation and quality services must go hand-in-hand and who opposed extreme tax reduction for the dire impact it would have on state budgets and support for state programs.

This small collection contains a copy of “Talking Tax,” a publication of the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts, along with brochures for their volunteers and for the public.

Gift of Ken Fones-Wolf, 1990
Subjects
  • Taxation--Massachusetts

Ambellan, Harold

Harold Ambellan Memoir
2005
1 item (75p.)
Call no.: MS 855

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., the expatriot sculptor Harold Ambellan was a participant in the Federal Art Project during the 1930s and a figure in the radical Artists’ Union and Sculptors Guild. After naval service during the Second World War, Ambellan left the United States permanently to escape the hostile climate of the McCarthy-era, going into exile in France. Although a friend of artists such as Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko, Ambellan’s work was primarily figurative and centered on the human form. His work has been exhibited widely on both sides of the Atlantic. He died at his home in Arles in 2006 at the age of 94.

In 2005, Victoria Diehl sat with her friend, Harold Ambellan, to record his memories of a life in art. Beginning with recollections of his childhood in Buffalo, N.Y., the memoir delves into the impact of the Great Depression, Ambellan’s experiences in the New York art scene of the 1930s and his participation in the leftist Artists’ Union, his Navy service, and his expatriate years in France from the 1950s-2000s. Ambellan’s memoir also includes extended discussion of his views of democracy, patriotism, and art, and his career as a sculptor.

Subjects
  • Artists--20th century
  • Democracy
  • Depressions, 1929
  • Expatriate artists--France
  • New Deal, 1933-1939
  • Sculptors--20th century
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Diehl, Victoria
  • Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967
Types of material
  • Memoirs
  • Oral histories

American Writing Paper Company

American Writing Paper Company Records
1851-1960
19 boxes (9.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 062

Paper company based in Holyoke, Massachusetts that at one time controlled 75% of the total United States fine paper output. Records include board of directors’ minutes, by-laws, blueprints, land transactions, merger agreements, and publications. Labor files (1936-1960) comprise the bulk of the collection and include contracts, correspondence, grievances, and negotiations.

Subjects
  • Collective bargaining--Paper industry--Massachusetts--Holyoke
  • Holyoke (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Holyoke (Mass.)--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts--Holyoke
  • Paper industry workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Paper industry--Massachusetts--Holyoke
  • Strikes and lockouts--Paper industry--Massachusetts--Holyoke
Contributors
  • American Writing Paper Company
Types of material
  • Blueprints
  • Photographs

Bailey, Ebenezer

Ebenezer Bailey Papers
1852-1882
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 448

Ebenezer Bailey was a wholesale shoe purchaser and distributor from Massachusetts. The collection comprises just over 100 items, the bulk of which are receipts for the purchase and sale of shoes and slippers, covering the period from 1852 to 1882.

Acquired from Peter Masi, Mar. 2005
Subjects
  • Business records--Massachusetts
  • Dearborn, J. J
  • Lynn (Mass.)--History
  • Shoe industry--Massachusetts--Lynn
  • Shoe industry--New England--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Bailey, Ebenezer
Types of material
  • Receipts (Financial records)
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