Special Collections and University Archives
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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.

Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies Records, 1956-1976

22 boxes (11.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 020

An oecumenical ministry based in Amherst, Massachusetts, that sought to inspire local citizens to act upon their religious faith in their daily lives and occupations, and to reinvigorate religious dialogue between denominations.

Includes by-laws, minutes, membership records, news clippings, press releases, treasurer’s reports, letters to and from David S. King, correspondence between religious leaders and local administrators, and printed materials documenting programs and organizations in which the Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies (L.A.O.S.) participated or initiated, especially Faith and Life Meetings. Also contains questionnaires, announcements, bulletins, and photographs.


  • Christian union--Massachusetts--History
  • Interdenominational cooperation--Massachusetts--History


  • King, David S., 1927-
  • Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies (Amherst, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Photographs

Sandy Lillydahl Venceremos Brigade Photograph Collection, 1970-2005 (Bulk: 1970)

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 056

A 1969 graduate of Smith College and member of Students for a Democratic Society, Sandy Lillydahl took part in the second contingent of the Venceremos Brigade. Between February and April 1970, Lillydahl and traveled to Cuba as an expression of solidarity with the Cuban people and to assist in the sugarcane harvest.

The 35 color snapshots that comprise the Lillydahl collection document the New England contingent of the second Venceremos Brigade as they worked the sugarcane fields in Aguacate, Cuba, and toured the country. Each image is accompanied by a caption supplied by Lillydahl in 2005, describing the scene and reflecting on her experiences; and the collection also includes copies of the file kept by the FBI on Lillydahl, obtained by her through the Freedom of Information Act in 1975.


  • Cuba--Photographs
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)--Photographs
  • Sugarcane--Harvesting--Cuba--Photographs
  • Venceremos Brigade--Photographs

Types of material

  • Photographs

Miscellaneous Manuscripts, 1717-2003

3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 719

Miscellaneous Manuscripts is an artificial collection that brings together single items and small groups of related materials. Although the collection reflects the general collecting emphases in SCUA, particularly the history of New England, the content ranges widely in theme and format.


  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Massachusetts--History
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government
  • Massachusetts--Social conditions--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Social conditions--19th century
  • Massachusetts--Social conditions--20th century

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
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:

Radical Student Union Records, 1905-2006 (Bulk: 1978-2005)

22 boxes (14.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 045/80 R1

Founded by Charles Bagli in 1976, the Revolutionary Student Brigade at UMass Amherst (later the Radical Student Union) has been a focal point for organization by politically radical students. RSU members have responded to issues of social justice, addressing both local, regional, and national concerns ranging from militarism to the environment, racism and sexism to globalization.

The RSU records document the history of a particularly long-lived organization of left-leaning student activists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beginning in the mid-1970s, as students were searching for ways to build upon the legacy of the previous decade, the RSU has been a constant presence on campus, weathering the Reagan years, tough budgetary times, and dramatic changes in the political culture at the national and state levels. The RSU reached its peak during the 1980s with protests against American involvement in Central America, CIA recruitment on campus, American support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and government-funded weapons research, but in later years, the organization has continued to adapt, organizing against globalization, sweatshops, the Iraq War, and a host of other issues.


  • Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • College students--Political activity
  • Communism
  • El Salvador--History--1979-1992
  • Guatemala--History--1945-1982
  • Iraq War, 2003-
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Persian Gulf War, 1991
  • Political activists--Massachusetts--History
  • Racism
  • Socialism
  • Student movements
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • United States. Central Intelligence Agency
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst


  • Progressive Student Network
  • Radical Student Union
  • Revolutionary Student Brigade

Types of material

  • Banners

José A. Soler Papers, 1972-2014

20 boxes (26.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 864
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.


  • 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

University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment, 1882-2007

(53.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 015

During its first seventy five years, the mission of Massachusetts Agricultural College gradually expanded from its original focus on teaching the science of agriculture and horticulture. Coping with the changing demands of research and teaching in a disparate array of fields, responsibilities for the administration of University units were reorganized at several points, culminating in the formation of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment in 1993.

This record group consists of Dean’s annual reports, organizational charts, personnel lists, committee minutes, lecture materials, data sheets, maps and census statistics, conference proceedings, course catalogs, directories, publications, handbooks, records of the Agricultural Experiment Station, photographs and audio-visual materials, and other related materials.

Access restrictions: Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require advance notification for retrieval.


  • Agriculture--Massachusetts


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Agricultural Experiment Station
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Stockbridge School of Agriculture

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.


  • Aggie Life
  • Bay State Ruralist
  • College Signal
  • College students--Massachusetts
  • Greek letter societies--Massachusetts
  • Student newspapers and periodicals--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students

Roberta Uno Collection of Asian American Women Playwrights' Scripts, 1924-2005

25 boxes (9 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 345
Coconut masquerade postcard
Coconut masquerade postcard

Roberta Uno was the founder and long time artistic director of the New WORLD Theater at UMass Amherst, a theater in residence dedicated to the production of works by playwrights of color.

Established by Uno in 1993, the Asian American Women Playwrights Scripts Collection contains manuscripts of plays, but also production histories, reviews, and articles, along with biographies and audio and videotaped interviews with playwrights. Among the individuals represented are Brenda Wong Aoki, Jeannie Barroga, Marina Feleo Gonzales, Jessica Hagedorn, Velina Hasu Houston, Genny Lim, le thi diem thuy, Ling-Ai Li, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Nobuko Miyamoto, Bina Sharif, and Diana Son.


  • Asian American women authors
  • New WORLD Theater
  • Playwrights


  • Uno, Roberta, 1956-

Types of material

  • Scripts (Documents)
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