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Soler, José A.

José A. Soler Papers

1972-2014
20 boxes 26.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 864
Image of José Soler (center) at District 65 rally
José Soler (center) at District 65 rally

A scholar of labor studies and activist, José Soler was born in New York City to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father and has been an activist in the cause of Puerto Rican independence and human rights since the 1970s. While a student at the University of New Mexico (BA 1972), Soler emerged as a leader in the Chicano rights organization, the Brown Berets, and while living in Puerto Rico in the late 1970s, he joined the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Soler has subsequently worked in the labor movement as a shop steward, union organizer with UAW District 65, and labor journalist. As a committed Marxist and prolific writer and editor, he has taken part in causes ranging from anti-imperialist work in the Caribbean and Central America to the anti-apartheid struggle, and he has served on the Executive Board of the US Peace Council. From 1993 until his retirement in 2015, Soler worked as Director of the Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center at UMass Dartmouth where he has continued to work on behalf of public education and human rights and national self-determination.

The Soler Papers chronicle over forty years of a life-long activist’s interests and participation in left-wing political, labor, and social justice movements. There is a particular focus on topics relating to socialism and the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico, anti-imperialist movements in South and Central America and Africa, and issues affecting Puerto Rican and Hispanic workers in the United States, New England, and the New York City area. Published and promotional materials such as periodicals, magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets make up the bulk of the collection, with extensive coverage of the concerns of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño, PSP), the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), as well as New Jersey chapters of the unions Communications Workers of America (CWA) and District 65, which eventually joined the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). An additional seven boxes were added to the collection in June 2016, which remain unprocessed. The new materials offer additional documentation from the Dubin Labor Education Center and Soler’s work and interests in education (testing, privatization, and unions), labor, Marxist-Leninism, and various events in the United States and Latin America.

Gift of Jose Soler, 2015, 2016

Subjects

  • Communications Workers of America
  • Labor unions--New York (State)--New York
  • Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño
  • United Automobile, Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America. District 65

Types of material

  • Photographs
UMass Peacemakers

UMass Peacemakers Records

1965-1990 Bulk: 1983-1990
10 boxes 20 linear feet
Call no.: MS 309
Image of Peacemakers contingent at the Four Days in April protests, 1984
Peacemakers contingent at the Four Days in April protests, 1984

Although the precise origins of UMass Peacemakers are murky, by 1982, the group was an active presence on the UMass Amherst campus organizing opposition to militarism and the nuclear arms race and providing support for the nuclear freeze movement. Organizing vigils, demonstrations, informational workshops, and providing civil disobedience training, the Peacemakers were the most visible pacifist group on the UMass Amherst campus in the 1980s.

The UMass Peacemakers Records focus on the activities of the student group between 1983 and 1990, documenting their role in confronting the aggressive international expansionism of the Reagan administration and its “Star Wars” program, while also engaging at the local and national level by organizing rallies, lectures, poetry readings, and film screenings. At UMass, Peacemakers was part of the larger Progressive Student Network, and worked alongside other student organizations including the Radical Student Union.

Gift of Peacemakers through Peter Sakura, May 1991

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Disarmament--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Student movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • American Friends Service Committee
  • UMass Peacemakers

Types of material

  • Brochures
  • Photographs
Vega, Carlos

Carlos Vega Collection

ca.1966-1995
148 volumes, 1 box, 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 800
Image of Carlos Vega ca. 1990
Carlos Vega ca. 1990

An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995.  He survived until April 2012.

The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.

Gift of Jesse Vega-Fry, Apr. 2012

Subjects

  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Civil Rights movements--Africa
  • Civil Rights movements--Central America
  • Civil Rights movements--Chile
  • Civil Rights movements--United States
  • Civil Rights movements-Asia
  • Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
  • Latin America--Periodicals
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Radicalism--United States
  • Revolutionary literature
  • Socialism
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • Venceremos Brigade
Africa-America Institute

Africa-America Institute Records

ca.1953-2014
439 boxes 658.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 849
Image of Studying in Lesotho, 1963
Studying in Lesotho, 1963

Founded in 1953 by a multi-racial collective of educators including Horace Mann Bond, then President of Lincoln University, and William Leo Hansberry, a professor of history at Howard University, the Africa American Institute has encouraged and supported African students in pursuit of higher education in the United States. From its early years, AAI provided financial and social support for African students studying in the U.S., but it has expanded its activities in scope with the goal of helping to building leadership for Africa within the academic, professional, business, and policy making classes. It has become a vibrant intellectual center for developing human capacity, drawing together thought leaders, researchers, and entrepreneurs interested in issues relating to the continent.

A massive body of material documenting the history of the AAI from its founding in the early 1950s to the present, the collection is a remarkable resource for study of American relations with Africa as the continent emerged from colonial domination. With a focus on the history of educational support and exchange between the continents, the collection contains a vibrant record of the growth of leadership in Africa.

Gift of Africa America Institute, 2014-2015

Subjects

  • Africa--Foreign relations--United States
  • Education, Higher--Africa
  • United States--Foreign relations--Africa

Contributors

  • Bond, Horace Mann, 1904-1972

Types of material

  • Photographs
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Journeymen Tailors Union. Local 115

ACWA Journeyman Tailors Union Local 115 Records

1945-1984
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 025

Local 115 of Connecticut was comprised of branches from Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury, and affiliated with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

The ACWA records consist of minutes of meetings, correspondence, reports, and contracts. Also included are a number of agreements between local businesses and the union identifying the union as the bargaining representative of their employees.

Subjects

  • Clothing trade--Labor unions--Connecticut
  • Labor unions--Connecticut

Contributors

  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Ancient Order of United Workmen. Deerfield Valley Lodge No. 150

Ancient Order of United Workmen. Deerfield Valley Lodge No. 150 Records

1895-1920
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 453

The Ancient Order of United Workmen, a fraternal benefit society, was originally founded in Pennsylvania in 1868. The Massachusetts lodge was founded in 1879 with the Deerfield Valley Lodge incorporated in 1880.

The collection consists of records dating from 1895–1920, including financial documents, membership information, and correspondence.

Subjects

  • Fraternal Aid Association
  • Fraternal organizations--Massachusetts
  • Shelburne Falls (Mass.)--History

Contributors

  • Ancient Order of United Workmen. Deerfield Valley Lodge No. 150

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Receipts (Financial records)
Musicians United for Safe Energy

MUSE Records

ca.1980-1989
19 boxes 28.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 521

Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), an activist organization opposing the use of nuclear energy, was founded in 1979 by Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, and John Hall. The MUSE Foundation was established with the proceeds of the concerts and for several years provided small grants to support antinuclear and environmental work.

The bulk of the MUSE collection consists of applications from grass-roots, progressive organizations in the United States relating to their work. As such, the collection presents a wonderful snapshot of early 1980s activisim. The collection is part of the Famous Long Ago Archive.

Subjects

  • Activists--United States
  • Antinuclear movement--United States

Contributors

  • Musicians United for Safe Energy
United Congregational Church of Holyoke (Holyoke, Mass.)

United Congregational Church of Holyoke (Holyoke, Mass.) Records

ca.1830-1990
9 boxes 13.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 787
Image of First Congregational Church, ca.1910
First Congregational Church, ca.1910

The present day United Congregational Church of Holyoke is the product of complex history of growth and consolidation of five separate churches responding to the changing demographics and spiritual needs of the city. Established in 1799, the First Congregational Church in Holyoke was initially a small congregation perched above the floodplain south of the center of town, sharing preachers with the equally sparse population of Baptists until the establishment of the First Baptist Church in 1826. The First Congregational Church was finally erected in 1838, and ten years later, the Second Church was established in to serve the needs of the growing Protestant population in the city center, building their own church in 1853 as the mill economy was booming. Reaching out to the millworkers, members of the Second Church opened the Grace Mission in 1870, which spun off into its own church in 1896. Skinner Chapel was founded in 1909 as an addition to the Second Congregational Church, dedicated to the prominent Skinner family. Finally, the German Reformed Church was organized in 1892, though meetings were held years earlier. In the latter part of the twentieth century, however, declining memberships in each of these churches led to a series of mergers, beginning in 1961 when the German Reformed Church united with the First Congregational to become the First United Congregational Church. Grace Church and the First UCC merged in 1973 to become Grace United, and in 1996, Grace joined with the Second Congregational Church to become the present UCC of Holyoke.

The records of the UCC of Holyoke document over 200 years of the ecclesiatical history of an industrial city. In addition to records of membership, baptisms, marriages, and church governance, the collection includes valuable records of the women’s missionary society, the German Maenner Bund, and a long run of church newsletters that offer insight into the weekly course of events in the religious community. Materials relating to Skinner Chapel are part of the collections of Wistariahurst Museum.

Subjects

  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Holyoke
  • Holyoke (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Missionaries--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • First Congregational Church (Holyoke, Mass.)
  • German Reformed Church (Holyoke, Mass.)
  • Grace Church (Holyoke, Mass.)
  • Second Congregational Church (Holyoke, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Newsletters
  • Photographs
United Paperworkers International Union. Local 14

United Paperworkers International Strike Support Group Collection

1988
1 folder 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 322

By February 1988 members of of United Paperworkers International Union Local 14 of Jay, Maine, had been on strike for seven months. With the support of their state officials and officials of Massachusetts and Northampton AFL-CIO, a caravan of strikers traveled to Northampton to inform the public of their struggle. Collection is limited to a city of Northampton resolution and a brief report of the strikers position and their trip to the city.

Subjects

  • Paper industry workers--Labor unions--Maine
  • Strikes and lockouts--Paper industry--Maine

Contributors

  • United Paperworkers International Union. Local 14
United States Works Progress Administration of Massachusetts

United States Works Progress Administration of Massachusetts Water Pollution Surveys Collection

1936-1938
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 068

Under the federal New Deal in the late 1930s, the Works Project Administration authorized a series of surveys of major watersheds to gauge water quality and sources of pollution. In Massachusetts, the studies were coordinated by the Massachusetts Department of Health and resulted in a series of more or less detailed reports issued between September 1936 and January 1938.

The pollution survey collection contains reports for six major watersheds in New England — the Blackstone, Hoosic, Housatonic, Merrimack, Nashua, and Ten Mile — measuring the impact of both civic and industrial waste on regional water resources.

Subjects

  • Blackstone River Watershed (Mass. and R.I.)
  • Hoosic River Watershed
  • Housatonic River Watershed (Mass. and Conn.)
  • Merrimack River Watershed (N.H. and Mass.)
  • Nashua River Watershed (Mass. and N.H.)
  • Ten Mile River Watershed (Mass.)
  • Water--Pollution--Massachusetts
  • Water-resources--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Massachusetts. Department of Public Health
  • Massachusetts. State Planning Board