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W.R. Smith Papers, 1914-1947

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 243

W.R. Smith was a Vice President and organizer for the International Brotherhood of Papers Makers (I.B.P.M.) who principally attempted to gain union conditions for papers workers near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Includes letters to and from I.B.P.M. president James T. Carey as well as a 116-page transcript of Smith’s organizing reports for the years 1914-1920, documenting his activities in Holyoke, Massachusetts, among other cities and towns in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington.


  • Holyoke (Mass.)--Economic conditions--20th century
  • International Brotherhood of Paper Makers
  • Kalamazoo (Mich.)--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Kalamazoo (Mich.)--Social conditions--20th century
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Labor unions--Organizing--United States--History--20th century
  • Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--History--20th century
  • Paper industry workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Paper industry workers--Labor unions--Organizing--Massachusetts--Holyoke--History
  • Paper industry workers--Labor unions--Organizing--Michigan --Kalamazoo--History


  • Carey, Jeremiah T., 1870-1957
  • Smith, W. R
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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Sroka Family Papers, 1842-1960

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 216

Polish family who emigrated to the United States in 1912-1913 and settled in Chicopee, Massachusetts, working in meat packing firms and textile factories, and also as seamstresses and farmers.

Includes birth and wedding certificates, military and employment documentation, residential and passport applications, photographs, and lists of baptisms, weddings, and deaths. Also contains a family history written by Gary Sroka, correspondence, payment book for the Society of St. Joseph (Chicopee, Massachusetts), and a news clipping. All materials exist as photocopies and are written primarily in Polish, German, and Hungarian, though some are in English, Ukrainian, and Russian.


  • Chicopee (Mass.)--History
  • Immigrants--Massachusetts
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts

Mary B. Stinson Collection, 1974-1981

2 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 824

Throughout the 1970s, Mary B. Stinson (formerly Lindblom) was an active member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in California and served as a delegate to the First National Women’s Conference in Houston.

The collection includes several ephemeral objects reflecting Stinson’s activism including IWY pendant necklaces and an ERA license plate frame, along with published reports and articles relating to the IWY and a 1979 NOW conference in California.


  • Equal rights amendments
  • Feminism--United States
  • International Women's Year Conference
  • National Organization for Women
  • Women's rights--United States


  • Stinson, Mary B.

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.


  • 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


  • 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

Abode of the Message Collection, 1975-2012

1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 780

Founded in 1975 by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, The Abode of the Message is the headquarters for members of the Sufi Order International. Sitting on 430 acres, formerly the site of a Shaker Village in New Lebanon, New York, the Abode was settled by 75 adults and 20 children coming from all over the United States. The Sufi Order initiates spent the first several months preparing for the arrival of winter, a task that required much effort since buildings were in need of repair, there was no central heating system or updated electrical wiring, and few bathrooms. Within a year, the community prospered with the establishment of woodworking, stained glass, and sewing shops, a bakery, and a small school. Today, the community is smaller in number, but their mission remains the same: to collectively embody spiritual awakening.

The collection consists chiefly of publications produced by the Abode, including two newsletters Connections and The Messenger dating from the 1970s to the present. Also represented are other Sufi Order publications, such as Heart & Wing and Mureed’s Newsletter.


  • Sufi Order International

Sarah J. Swift Papers, 1890-1942

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 932

A Quaker and philanthropist from Worcester, Mass., Sarah J. Swift was a noted supporter of Friends’ missions in Palestine and Jamaica for over half a century. The wife of D. Wheeler Swift, an innovator in the manufacture of envelopes, Swift began to support the Friends’ foreign missions by the 1890s, becoming a major benefactor of the Eli and Sibyl Jones Mission and girls’ school in Ramallah and of the small Quaker mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica.

The Swift papers contain a thick series of letters from the Society of Friends’ Eli and Sybil Jones Mission in Ramallah, Palestine, documenting their activity between 1890 and 1942, with a much smaller series of letters relating to the mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica. The missionaries’ letters — including circular letters to supporters and others addressed to Swift personally — discuss school operations and local affairs in Palestine and Jamaica. Of particular note are letters discussing the work at Ramallah around the turn of the twentieth century and several letters discussing the hardships of wartime and recovery from war.


  • Eli and Sybil Jones Mission (Ramallah, Palestine)
  • Jamaica--History--20th century
  • Missionaries--Jamaica
  • Missionaries--Palestine
  • Palestine--History--20th century
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • World War, 1939-1945


  • Jones, Alice W.
  • Kelsey, A. Edward
  • Vincent, Charles S.

Tass Sovfoto Photograph Collection, 1919-1963 (Bulk: 1943-1963)

111 items (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 010

For many years, Sovfoto, a stock photograph agency based in New York City, was the sole source in the United States for the best work in contemporary Soviet photojournalism. Founded in 1932, the company carried photographers for Tass and, later, other news agencies from throughout the Soviet republics, Eastern Europe, and China.

The Tass Sovfoto Collection depicts Soviet life, primarily in the 1950s and early 1960s. Typically rendered in heroic Soviet style, the photographs are relatively varied in subject, documenting political events (e.g., Communist Party meetings, the meeting of Kennedy and Khrushchev); generals, politicians, and celebrities (Lenin, Khrushchev, Shostakovich); and athletic and cultural events. A few images appear to be parts of photo essays aimed at a popular audience, including images of Jewish life in Russia and the life of a Soviet worker, while others are stock images of Soviet troops during the Second World War.


  • Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
  • Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
  • Lenin, Vladimir Il'ich, 1870-1924
  • Shostakovich, Dmitrii Dmitrievich, 1906-1975
  • Soviet Union--Photographs
  • World War, 1939-1945

Norman Thomas Autobiography, 1946-1958

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 186

An ardent Socialist and pacifist, Norman Thomas ran six times as a democratic socialist candidate for president of the United States. Born in 1884 in Marion, Ohio, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Thomas became a leading voice of the non-Communist left, taking up the causes of civil rights, peace, and social justice.

Thomas’s memoir traces the major events of his life from his boyhood and education at Bucknell and Princeton, to his experiences during both world wars, and from his acceptance of Socialism to his reflections on religion.


  • Pacifists--United States
  • Socialists--United States
  • World War, 1939-1945


  • Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968

Types of material

  • Autobiographies

Thresholds to Life Records, 1983-1986

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 156

Thresholds to Life is a training program for decision making, problem solving, and life planning taught by volunteers to prison inmates and offenders on probation in 30 locations in the United States. The records in this collection are those of the Thresholds program in Greenfield, Massachusetts, a United Way agency.


  • Prisoners--Massachusetts


  • Thresholds to Life

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