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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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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

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Collection
1925-1986
32 boxes (48 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 407

The Southeast Asia Collection highlights the regional wars from the 1970s to the 1980s, including a series on Southeast Asian refugees in America, along with materials on regional economic development, especially in the Mekong River Basin. The collection contains hundreds of reports on agricultural and industrial projects in the region, examining everything from the impact of electrification on village life in Thailand to a description of a Soviet-built hospital in Cambodia in 1961, to an assessment of herbicide in Vietnam in 1971.

Collected primarily by Joel Halpern and James Hafner, the collection includes background, field, and situation reports by U.S. Operations Missions and U.S. Agency for International Development; reports, publications, statistics, and background information from other U.S. government agencies, governments of Laos and Thailand, and the United Nations; correspondence, reports, and reference materials of nongovernmental organizations; reports and essays by individuals about Southeast Asia; news releases and newspapers; published and unpublished bibliographies; and interviews with U.S. military personnel. Most material comes from governmental and organizational sources, but there are papers by, and debriefs of, numerous individuals.

Subjects
  • Cambodia--History--1953-1975
  • Laos--History
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Contributors
  • Hafner, James
  • Halpern, Joel Martin

Stetson, William B.

William B. Stetson Account book
1856-1870
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 348 bd

As a young man in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, William B. Stetson (b. ca.1836) earned a living by performing manual labor for local residents. Most of his work, and increasingly so, was found in the range of tasks associated with lumbering: chopping wood, sawing boards, making shingles and fence boards. By 1870, Stetson was listed in the federal census as a lumberman in the adjacent town of Leverett.

Stetson’s rough-hewn book of accounts provides detail on the work and expenditures of a young man from Shutesbury, Massachusetts, in the years just prior to the Civil War. Carefully kept, but idiosyncratic, they document a working class mans efforts to earn a living by whatever means possible, largely in lumber-related tasks. His accounts list a number of familiar local names, including Albert Pratt, Sylvanus Pratt, Charles Pratt, Charles Nutting, E. Cushman, John Haskins, and J. Stockwell. Set into the front of the volume are a set of work records dated in Leverett in 1870, by which time Stetson had apparently focused his full energies on lumbering.

Subjects
  • Leverett (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Lumber trade--Massachusetts--Leverett
  • Lumber trade--Massachusetts--Shutesbury
  • Shutesbury (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • Stetson, William B.
Types of material
  • Account books

Stevens, Wallace, 1879-1955

Wallace Stevens Collection
1804-1973 (Bulk: 1930-1954)
1 box, 35 vols. (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 365

The modernist poet Wallace Stevens produced some of the century’s most challenging works while employed as an attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. A native of Reading, Pa., Stevens attended Harvard as an undergraduate but left in 1900 before completing his degree. He later earned a law degree at New York School of Law. Working in insurance law but still intent on becoming a writer, he did not publish his first book of poetry until he was 44 years old. Over the last thirty years of his life, he became one of the most revered contemporary poets in the country. Stevens died of cancer in 1955.

Touching on poetry, criticism, and books, the collection consists primarily of letters received by the poet Wallace Stevens along with 35 annotated volumes from his personal library. Among the correspondents represented are Charles Tomlinson, Jean Wahl, Conrad Aiken, and the art collector and Stevens’ close friend Henry Church; there are also retained copies of three letters from Stevens: two regarding an honorary degree at Harvard, and one to Tomlinson declining to respond to Tomlinson’s analysis of “The comedian as the letter C.” The books included in the collection have annotations or inscriptions to or by Stevens.

Subjects
  • Poets--Connecticut
Contributors
  • Stevens, Wallace, 1879-1955

Stockbridge, Levi, 1820-1904

Levi Stockbridge Papers
1841-1878
4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 S76
Image of Levi Stockbridge, ca.1853
Levi Stockbridge, ca.1853

Born in Hadley, Mass., in 1820, Levi Stockbridge was one of the first instructors at Massachusetts Agricultural College and President from 1879-1882. Known for his work on improving crop production and for developing fertilizers, Stockbridge was an important figure in the establishment of the college’s Experiment Station. After filling in as interim President of MAC in 1879, he was appointed president for two years, serving during a period of intense financial stress. After his retirement in 1882, he was named an honorary professor of agriculture.

The Stockbridge Papers include correspondence, personal notebooks, travel diary, journal as a farmer (1842-1845), writings, lectures, notes on experiments, clippings, photocopies of personal and legal records, and biographical material, including reminiscences by Stockbridge’s daughter. Also contains auction records, notebook of Amherst, Massachusetts town records (1876-1890), and printed matter about Amherst and national elections, including some about his candidacy for Congress on Labor-Greenback party ticket 1880. Also contains papers (13 items) of Stockbridge’s son, Horace Edward Stockbridge (1857-1930), agricultural chemist and educator, including a letter (1885) from him to the elder Stockbridge, written from Japan while he was professor at Hokkaido University.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Experimentation--History
  • Agriculturists--Massachusetts--History
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
  • Greenback Labor Party (U.S.)--History
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Legislators--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. President
  • Massachusetts Cattle Commission
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1865-1950
  • Stockbridge family
Contributors
  • Stockbridge, Horace E. (Horace Edward),1857-1930
  • Stockbridge, Levi, 1820-1904
Types of material
  • Diaries

Stocking, George, 1784-1864

George Stocking Account Book
1815-1850
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 486 bd

The shoemaker George Stocking was born on May 23, 1784, on his family’s farm in Ashfield, Mass., the second son of Abraham and Abigail (Nabby) Stocking. At 25, George married Ann Toby (1790-1835) from nearby Conway, with whom he had nine children, followed by two more children with his second wife, the widow Mary Jackson Shippey, whom he married on Dec. 16, 1840. George succeeded Amos Stocking, his uncle, in the tanning and shoemaking business at Pittsfield, Mass., where he died on Christmas day 1864.

George Stocking’s double column account book documents almost 35 years of the economic activity of a shoemaker in antebellum Ashfield, Massachusetts. Although the entries are typically very brief, recording making, mending, tapping, capping, or heeling shoes and boots, among other things, they provide a dense and fairly continuous record of his work. They also reveal the degree to which Stocking occasionally engaged in other activities to earn a living, including mending harnesses and other leatherwork to performing agricultural labor. The book includes accounts with Charles Knowlton, the local physician was was famous as a freethinker and atheist and author of Fruits of Philosophy, his book on contraception that earned him conviction on charges of obscenity and a sentence of three months at hard labor.

Subjects
  • Ashfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Knowlton, Charles, 1800-1850
  • Shoemakers--Massachusetts--Ashfield
Contributors
  • Stocking, George, 1784-1864
Types of material
  • Account books

Stokes, Daniel M. J.

Daniel M. J. and Joyce Stokes Papers
1984-1996
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 661

From 1987 through early 1988, Daniel and Joyce Stokes published Into the Night, “a newsletter for freedom for political prisoners held in the United States.” Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this simply-produced publication offered updates and commentary on Americans imprisoned for politically-motivated acts. Reflecting both the legacy of 1960s radicalism and the resurgent activism associated with U.S. imperialism in Central America, Into the Night offered news on the Ohio 7 sedition trial, the MOVE organization, and the fate of Plowshares war resisters.

The Stokes collection contains correspondence from subscribers and supporters of Into the Night, fleshing out their political philosophy and the conditions of imprisonment. Drawn from groups including the MOVE organization, the United Freedom Front, Black Liberation Army, and Plowshares, the correspondents include Ramona Africa, Alberto Aranda, Philip Berrigan, Marilyn Buck, Carl Kabat, Ray Luc Levasseur, Ruchell Cinque Magee, and Carol Manning. The collection also includes copies of other radical publications and a complete run of Into the Night itself.

Subjects
  • African American prisoners
  • African American radicals
  • Anti-imperialist movements
  • Communists
  • Into the Night
  • MOVE (Group)
  • Ohio 7
  • Plowshares
  • Political prisoners
  • Prisoners
  • Radicals
  • Revolutionaries
  • United Freedom Front
Contributors
  • Africa, Ramona
  • Aranda, Alberto
  • Berrigan, Philip
  • Buck, Marilyn
  • Gelabert, Ana Lucia
  • Hernandez, Alvaro L
  • Kabat, Carl
  • Levasseur, Ray Luc
  • Magee, Ruchell Cinque
  • Stokes, Daniel M. J.
  • Stokes, Joyce
Types of material
  • Newsletters

Stone, George E. (George Edward), 1860-1941

George Edward Stone Papers
1890-1957
14 boxes (6.75 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 085

Professor of Botany, Massachusetts Agricultural College.

Correspondence, lecture notes, reports, notes on experiments, drawings depicting original apparatus, scrapbooks of printed botanical illustrations, student papers, genealogies, memorabilia, and photographs; together with papers reflecting administrative and official duties; correspondence, notes, and news clippings on psychic phenomena; and autobiographical notes, including reflections on Massachusetts Agricultural College and on Emily Dickinson.

Subjects
  • Botany--Massachusetts
  • Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886
  • Horticulture--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Botany Department
  • Plant physiology--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Barlow, Waldo
  • Stone, George E. (George Edward), 1860-1941
Types of material
  • Herbaria
  • Photographs

Stone, John

John Stone Ledger
1836-1842
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 247 bd

A native of Barnstable County, Mass., John Stone was born on July 18, 1809, and spent the entirety of his brief life in the town of North Dennis. A general storekeeper and merchant who dealt in lumber and building materials, Stone married Elizabeth Downes on Dec. 8, 1832, only to see her die barely a year later. He married a second time to Isabella Nickerson Thomas (ca.1838?), with whom he had one son, John M. Stone, in 1839. Just 34 when he passed, John Stone died on May 18, 1843.

This volume is comprised of a number of miscellaneous accounts kept by Stone, and because there are no page numbers, the exact nature of the book is difficult to discern, however these include inventories of goods (apparently at Stone’s store) and some records of expenditures.

Subjects
  • General stores--Massachusetts--North Dennis
  • Lumber trade--Massachusetts--North Dennis
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--North Dennis
  • North Dennis (Mass.)--History
Types of material
  • Ledgers (Account books)

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