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Frank Waugh's doves
Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all'; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951

In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.

Our approach to collecting

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).

  • African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
  • Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
  • Arts management and arts administration:
    In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
  • Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
  • Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
  • Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
  • Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

New England history and culture

The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.

  • Cookery and culinary history
    SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
  • Literature and the arts
    Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
  • Politics and political culture
    SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

Rope pull participants, ca.1913
Rope pull participants, ca.1913

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is a center for research into the history and impact of social change and the history and cultures of New England.

Regardless of format, the collections in SCUA are richly interconnected, with particular depth for a suite of movements devoted to social justice. We have exceptional holdings for African American history and culture; organized labor; the peace, antiwar, and antinuclear movements; political and cultural radicalism; alternative societies; spiritual approaches to social change; and the history of agriculture, with an increasing emphasis on organic agriculture and sustainability.

SCUA houses approximately 40,000 rare books, hundreds of thousands of photographs, and nearly 45,000 linear feet of archives, including nationally significant manuscript collections and the official records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SCUA supports the work of a wide range of researchers, from undergraduates to senior scholars and journalists to family historians, and we are resource for the individuals and communities we document.

In addition to the major areas of collecting interest, SCUA in home to an eclectic assortment of materials documenting Revolutionary-era France and Belgium (1789-1848); the history of protistology; and the American study of Japan.

Learn more:

Bill Duesing Collection, 1995-2000

14 items (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 760
Bill and Suzanne Duesing
Bill and Suzanne Duesing

A pioneer in organic agriculture in New England, Bill Duesing has been as an environmental educator, writer, artist, and lecturer over for four decades. After graduating from Yale University (1964), Duesing worked as a Cooperative Extension agent before turning to organic principles in the early 1970s. Emphasizing sustainability and greater local food sufficiency, he has been instrumental in developing organic standards for gardening and land care and he has served as both founding president and later executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association Connecticut and president of the NOFA Interstate Council. During the 1990s, Duesing produced two radio shows, “Living on the Earth” (WSHU) and “The Politics of Food” (WPKN), and he is author of Living on the Earth: Eclectic Essays for a Sustainable and Joyful Future (1993).

The Duesing collection consists of transcripts of his radio show, “Living on the Earth” (1990-2000) and fourteen recordings of “The Politics of Food,” which was broadcast monthly over WPKN (89.5 FM) in Bridgeport in 1997-1998. Each half hour segment of “Politics” included news, a fifteen minute interview, recipes, and tips, with interviewees including Mel Bristol, Jac Smit, Vincent Kay, John Wargo, Hugh Joseph, Joseph Kiefer, Julie Rawson, Michael Sligh, Kathy Lawrence, Lee Warren, and Elizabeth Henderson.


  • Cookery, Health aspects
  • Living on the Earth
  • Natural foods--Certification
  • Organic farming
  • Organic farming--Law and legislation
  • Politics of food
  • Sustainable agriculture


  • Henderson, Elizabeth, 1943-
  • Rawson, Julie

Types of material

  • Audiotapes

Enfield (Mass.) Collection, 1800-1939

8 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 010
Birdseye view of Enfield, ca.1915
Birdseye view of Enfield, ca.1915

Situated at the confluence of the east and west branches of the Swift River in western Massachusetts, Enfield was the largest and southernmost of the four towns inundated in 1939 to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Incorporated as a town in 1816, Enfield was relatively prosperous in the nineteenth century on an economy based on agriculture and small-scale manufacturing, reaching a population of just over 1,000 by 1837. After thirty years of seeking a suitably large and reliable water supply for Boston, the state designated the Swift River Valley as the site for a new reservoir and with its population relocated, Enfield was officially disincorporated on April 28, 1938.

The records of the town of Enfield, Mass., document nearly the entire history of the largest of four towns inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of the collection consists of records of town meetings and of the activities of the town Selectmen, 1804-1938, but there are substantial records for the Enfield Congregational Church. The School Committee, Overseers of the Poor, the town Library Association, and groups such as the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Bethel Masonic Lodge.


  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Women--Societies and clubs


  • Daughters of the American Revolution. Captain Joseph Hooker Chapter (Enfield, Mass.)
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town)
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). Prudential Committee
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). School Committee
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.)
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Auxiliary
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Missionary Society

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Church records
  • Photographs
  • Sermons
Tulip poplar leaves
Tulip poplar leaf Arthur Mange Collection

Drawing upon the unique materials under their care, the staff of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives organize two to three exhibits a year in their reading room and work regularly with their colleagues in the general library to prepare other exhibits for display on the Lower Level of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

Current Exhibit

Through The Photographer’s Eyes: The Diana Mara Henry Collection (20th Century Photographer)

August 19, 2016-January 13, 2017
Location: SCUA and Learning Commons, Du Bois Library

The work of photojournalist Diana Mara Henry spans four decades of political, social, and cultural change in America. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in government in 1969, Henry returned to New York to work as a researcher with NBC News and as a general assignment reporter for the Staten Island Advance, but in 1971 she began to work as a freelance photographer. Among many projects, she covered the Democratic conventions of 1972 and 1976 and was selected as official photographer for both the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year and the First National Women’s Conference in 1977, and while teaching at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan from 1974-1979, she developed its community workshop program and was a leader in a campaign to save the Alice Austen House. Her body of work ranges widely from the fashion scene in 1970s New York and personal assignments for the family of Malcolm Forbes and other socialites to political demonstrations, cultural events, and photoessays on one room schoolhouses in Vermont and Ulster County, NY, and everyday life in Brooklyn, France, Nepal, and Bali

Henry’s photographs have appeared in government documents, magazines, books such as Newsweek’s Pictures of the Year 1977, and the 1989 Pulitzer and Tony award-winning play The Heidi Chronicles. They have been exhibited in many locations including a one-woman show at the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY; The Park Avenue Armory, NYC; and The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Richmond, VA. In addition to the UMass Amherst Libraries, Henry’s photographs are in the collection of the National Archives.

The exhibit features photographs taken by Henry along with a rich array of related materials—including speeches, press releases, brochures, and her own notes—collected over the years; taken together they document the political and cultural scene of the second half of the twentieth century. Items on display cover a wide range of topics from the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, The Women’s Pentagon Action, the McGovern campaign, the New York State Women’s Meeting and First National Women’s Conference to Permaculture, New York politics, and New York society.

Upcoming Exhibits

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records

January 20, 2017-June 2017
Location: SCUA and Learning Commons, Du Bois Library

Consolidated beginning in the 1960s, the NEYM collection contains the official records of the New England Yearly Meeting from its founding in the seventeenth century to the present, along with records of most of its constituent Quarterly, Monthly, and Preparative Meetings and records of Quaker schools and trusts. As varied as the Quaker practice they document, these records include minutes of meetings for business; committee records; newsletters, financial records; some personal papers; printed books and serials; and an assortment of photographs, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and electronic records. Of particular note are the vital statistics recorded by the Monthly Meetings, including general information on births, deaths, marriages, membership, and obituaries, and specifically-Quaker information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties Quakers suffered for following testimonies).

The collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and several individual monthly meetings.

Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers

August 2017-January 2018
Location: SCUA and Learning Commons, Du Bois Library

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. 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.

Exhibits online
100 photos: Arthur Mange
Arthur Mange

Photographs from the collection of Arthur Mange.

Photographer: DMH
Diana Mara Henry Photographs

Photographs from the collection of Diana Mara Henry. An exhibit by Chuck Abel.

E.D. Hudson

An examination of social reform and antislavery in Antebellum New England. An exhibit by Charles Weisenberger.

Rhetoric or Research
Rhetoric or research

interprets student protests against CIA recruitment at UMass Amherst during the 1980s through a selection of images taken by student photojournalists.
By Tom Hohenstein (ETHIR recipient, 2011).

Gordon Heath

A digital curriculum for teaching U.S. history using archival resources. An exhibit by Emily Oswald (ETHIR recipient, 2011).

Behold And See As You Pass By
I see dead people

An online exhibit on gravestones and mortuary art in Early New England drawn from the Association for Gravestones Studies Collections. By Molly Campbell (ETHIR recipient, 2011)

Robot reader

Science fiction readership in the Cold War and beyond. An exhibit by Morgan Hubbard.

Fifteen letters
Letters home

Conrad D. Totman’s letters home from Korea, 1954-1955. An exhibit by Alex McKenzie.

Du Bois photographs

An online exhibit on the life and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois based on his papers.

Herbals and Insects
A scarab beetle

A selection of rare botanical and entomological books from the SCUA collections.

A bee

Books on bees and beekeeping. An exhibit by Richard A. Steinmetz.

Roy Finestone Photograph Collection, 1969-1990

239 images
Call no.: PH 005
Nina, Smoky, Chuck, Janis (Smoky and Nina on bikes)
Nina, Smoky, Chuck, Janis (Smoky and Nina on bikes)

A wave of experimentation in communal living in New England reached a peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with dozens of communities spread across the landscape of western Massachusetts and Vermont. Nina Finestone joined the Johnson Pastures in Guilford , Vermont, in 1969, however after the main house there went up in flames on April 16, 1970, killing four people, she joined a number of its residents who moved to the nearby Montague Farm in Montague, Massachusetts. Nina married a fellow Montague farmer, Daniel Keller, and the couple moved to Wendell in 1980.

Providing exceptional visual documentation of life at Johnson Pasture, the Montague Farm, and Wendell Farm between 1969 and 1990, the Finestone collection is centered on the lives and family of Daniel and Nina Keller. All images were taken by Roy Finestone, Nina’s father, with a medium format camera using color transparency film.


  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Keller, Daniel
  • Keller, Nina
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Wendell Farm Community (Mass.)


  • Finestone, Roy

John J. Fitzgerald Collection, 1964-1975

1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 938
John J. Fitzgerald, 1968
John J. Fitzgerald, 1968

A graduate of Holyoke High and UMass Amherst (BA 1963), John J. Fitzgerald entered the Army after graduation and served in Vietnam as a Captain in the 25th Infantry Division. He earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service, having been wounded at Cu Chi in June 1966, before leaving active duty in 1968. Returning home to Holyoke, Fitzgerald entered the master’s degree in political science at UMass (MA 1978) and renewed his longstanding interest in politics. Taking an interest in the progressive, antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy, he became head of the McCarthy campaign in Holyoke and won election as a delegate to the Democratic national convention. Fitzgerald remained involved in local Democratic politics, and in addition to teaching history in local schools for many years, he wrote and lectured on topics ranging from nuclear power to his experiences in Vietnam.

The Fitzgerald collection contains four scrapbooks relating to his involvement in politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Two of the scrapbooks document national and local reaction to the McCarthy campaign and include some articles on Fitzgerald and some ephemera. The other scrapbooks document the McGovern campaign in 1972 and politics in Holyoke in mid-1970s. The collection also includes a copy of Fitzgerald’s commission as a Reserve Commissioned Officer in the Army (1964) and two posters: Jack Coughlin’s, Weapons often turn upon the wielder. . . (1968) and Viet-nam veterans speak out. . . Viet-nam Veterans for McCarthy (1968), an antiwar petition signed by Fitzgerald. Books that arrived with the collection have been transferred and catalogued into SCUA’s general collection.


  • Holyoke (Mass.)--History--20th century
  • McCarthy, Eugene J., 1916-2005
  • Presidents--United States--Election--1968
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1965

Types of material

  • Posters
  • Scrapbooks

Robert Fowler Diary, 1831-1854

1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 174

A native of Salisbury, Massachusetts, Robert Fowler (b.1805) was a prosperous shipbuilder and merchant with a trade extending from Nova Scotia to the Gulf South. He and his wife Susan Edwards, whom he married in 1830, had at least four children.

Kept by Robert Fowler between 1831 and 1854, the volume includes both diary entries (primarily 1841-1846) and accounts. With occasional commentary on local political matters, commerce, weather, and family matters, the diary is largely a record of Fowler’s spiritual concerns and his wrestling with doctrinal matters and the relationship of religion and daily life. An ardent temperance man, he commented on religious topics ranging from the Millerite movement to the resurrection, salvation, and the duty of prayer.


  • Fatherhood
  • Fitch, Charles, 1805-1844
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--Salisbury
  • Millerite movement
  • Religious life--Massachusetts--Salisbury
  • Salisbury (Mass.)--History
  • Second Advent
  • Temperance

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Diaries

The Records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (NEYM) offer rich documentation of three and half centuries of Quakers in our region and the culture in which they lived. The heart of the collection are the records of the Yearly Meeting itself, but most Quarterly and Monthly meetings are represented as are some Quaker schools and other organizations, and there is a substantial library of Quaker books and periodicals, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown.

This volume is a guide for any researcher interested in the records of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in New England. In addition to providing a comprehensive list of the official records created by New England Quakers, it also gives a brief history of each meeting.

The bulk of the guide is arranged by meeting. To use it, a basic understanding of the administrative structure of the Society of Friends would be very helpful. The largest body is the Yearly Meeting. For many rather confusing reasons, there have been several different yearly meetings active in New England. The largest, New England Yearly Meeting, has covered almost the entire region since 1661. The yearly meeting has been composed of quarterly meetings since the early 18th century. They in turn are composed of monthly meetings, which are the basic administrative unit of the Society of Friends. Almost all of the membership information is recorded on the monthly meeting level. The monthly meeting is sometimes subdivided into smaller meetings: preparative meetings, which prepare business for the monthly meetings; and meetings for worship, which generally create no records.

The records of the yearly meetings appear first in this guide, then the quarterly meetings, then monthly meetings. There are no separate entries for preparative meetings or meetings for worship; they are discussed under the appropriate monthly meeting.

The entries for each meeting include the following information:

Name. If a meeting changed names over the years, only one entry is made, under the name the meeting held for the longer time. “See…” references are made under all other known names. If two meetings merged to form a new meeting, all three are given entries. If the name of one of the merging meetings was retained, however, it is not given a new entry.

Place. The place given is the town the monthly meeting was based in for most of its life. It is mainly provided to give a general idea of a meeting’s region; many meetings met on a rotating basis in several locations. For quarterly meetings, the states which it covers are listed. This can help narrow down a search for a specific area.

A brief history of the meeting. For monthly meetings, this history will generally describe the meetings for worship that preceded the monthly meeting, tell where the meeting was set off from, list name changes, and describe which monthly meetings were set off or joined to the meeting. The history will also try to explain any confusing circumstances regarding the structure of the meeting. However, the histories generally make no effort to explain where the meetings met, or when meeting houses were built. Nor do these histories describe prominent members or dramatic events. This would be impossible to do well in a volume of this size. Published histories are available for many of the older meetings, and these are mentioned in the notes when possible.

Quarterly meetings (given only for monthly meetings). Since 1705, all monthly meetings in N.E.Y.M. have been con- stituent parts of a quarterly meeting. Before 1699, they were direct constituents of the Yearly Meeting.

Constituent meetings. Many different sorts of smaller meetings are listed here. This information is provided mainly as a way to determine where residents of a certain town may have attended monthly meeting at a specific date. The information is somewhat unreliable, especially regarding dates.

Formally constituted preparative meetings met for business, and reported monthly to their monthly meetings. Their dates, except in very early meetings, are generally easy to discern from monthly meeting minutes. Sometimes, a monthly meeting would have only one preparative meeting, or none. Generally, preparative meetings named after their monthly meetings are not listed. One problem is that there was no formal provision for preparative meetings between 1901 and 1950. Many preparative meetings continued to meet for business during this time, usually under the heading of “particular meeting”, and are listed as preparative meetings.

Other sorts of meetings may or may not have been formally connected to their monthly meetings, and include particular meetings, meetings for worship, indulged meetings, worship groups, allowed meetings and midweek meetings. No attempt has been made to distinguish between these types of meetings, which are all listed as “W.G”. The dates are often impossible to determine, as they kept no records, and monthly meetings have not always kept track of their existence. However, they are important, being at the center of the spiritual life of Friends. Generally, any meeting for business is also a meeting for worship, but is not listed separately as such.

Records. These tables show all the records of each meeting known to be in existence. For many of the newer meetings, no records have yet been sent to the archives; as a rule, very recent records can often be obtained only through the clerk of the meeting. The records are arranged in the following order: men’s minutes; women’s minutes; joint minutes; rough minutes; vital records; ministry and counsel or equivalent; committee records; miscellaneous loose papers; newsletters.

The information given includes the type of record, the dates covered by each record, the quantity, the location of the original, and the microfilm number (if any). See the glossary and list of abbreviations for details. All of the records with microfilm numbers are available on film at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library. In addition, those with asterisks are available at the Maine Historical Society, those with plus signs are available through the Family History Centers, and those with an @ symbol can be found at the Nantucket Historical Association. In some cases, records have been missing for many years, have never been sent to the Archives, and are presumed to be irretrievably lost; an effort have been made to show this. Researchers should know that meeting minutes are generally closed for a period of twenty years before being open to the public, except for the printed Yearly Meeting minutes.

Phyllis Hamilton Sketch Collection, 1970-1989

1 box (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 752
Phyllis Hamilton, Brotherhood of the Spirit, 1971
Phyllis Hamilton, Brotherhood of the Spirit, 1971

Phyllis Hamilton was a recently divorced mother of a young daughter when she joined the Brotherhood of the Spirit in 1970. Encouraged to visit the commune by two young friends, Phyllis was attracted to the spiritual values of the group and relocated herself and her daughter from Worcester to Heath, making her at the age of 40 one of the oldest members of the community. She quickly used her more mature demeanor and appearance to the group’s advantage. In an area where realtors were increasingly reluctant to work with “hippies,” Phyllis was able to negotiate and purchase the Warwick property with the assistance of another member; together they signed the deed over to the Brotherhood after the sale was final. Her age was not her only distinction, however, she was also an artist, and used her artistic capabilities to capture the familiar faces of her fellow commune members.

The collection consists of 146 sketches of members of the Brotherhood of the Spirit (renamed the Renaissance Community in 1974) from 1970-1989. About half of the drawings were identified by the artist’s daughter, the others are of unidentified individuals.


  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts


  • Hamilton, Phyllis

Types of material

  • Sketches
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