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Simon, Peter, 1947-

Peter Simon Collection, ca. 1945-2016
10 boxes (20 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 009
Image of Peter Simon in mirror photographing Jennie Blackton at the Bitter End Cafe, 1968
Peter Simon in mirror photographing Jennie Blackton at the Bitter End Cafe, 1968

Peter Simon’s life and work as a photojournalist follows the quintessential arc of the counterculture, baby boom generation. The son of Richard Simon, founder of Simon and Schuster, Peter grew up in the New York City suburb of Riverdale and attended Boston University, graduating in 1969. While a student at BU, he began documenting the political turmoil in the US when he became photo editor for the radical student newspaper, the BU News, and later as a press photographer for the Cambridge Phoenix. In 1970, Simon left Boston to form Tree Frog Farm, a back-to-the-land commune in Guilford, Vermont, and after leaving there in 1972, he immersed himself in the New Age, forming a close relationship with spiritual leader Ram Dass. Among the most constant threads connecting his work throughout these changes was music. Simon’s sisters, Carly, Lucy, and Joanna have all been involved in music, and through a partnership with longtime friend Stephen Davis and his association with Rolling Stone magazine, Simon enjoyed unique access to many of the most important musicians of his generation. He spent time on the road with the Grateful Dead; went backstage and at home with Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and many others. His early forays into the world of reggae with Bob Marley and other Jamaican recording artists resulted in one of his nine books, Reggae Bloodlines. Simon’s other photographic interests are as wide-ranging as his background. A visitor to Martha’s Vineyard since the 1950s and a resident since 1974, his work reflects the changes and cultural richness of that island; his family’s friendship with Jackie Robinson has driven his lifelong documentation of baseball, and he is in high demand for portraits, weddings, and other work for hire.

The Peter Simon Collection houses the original negatives for Simon’s complete body of work as a photo journalist and also includes many photographs taken by his father Richard, an avid amateur photographer, which documents the Simon family and life in Riverdale and Stamford, Connecticut, where the family had a summer home.

Subjects
  • Boston (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Counterculture--United States--20th century
  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Musicians--Photographs
  • Simon, Carly--Photographs
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Contributors
  • Simon, Richard L. (Richard Leo), 1899-1960
Types of material
  • Photographs

Sirius Community

Sirius Community Collection, 1979-2003
2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 835

Founded in September 1978, Sirius is an intentional community in Shutesbury, Mass., built on four foundational pillars: spiritual, ecological, communitarian, and educational. Established by former members of the Scottish Findhorn Community, Sirius is rooted in a non-sectarian spirituality and practices consensus in the community governance process and in their shared vision of an ecologically sustainable future.

The Sirius collection contains a nearly complete run of the commune newsletter along with a selection of fliers and brochures about the community, and a small number of newsclippings and photographs.

Subjects
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Sustainability
Types of material
  • Newsletters

Smith, W. R.

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.

Subjects
  • 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
Contributors
  • Carey, Jeremiah T., 1870-1957
  • Smith, W. R

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.

Learn more:

Solander, Arvo A.

Arvo A. Solander Papers, 1930-1958
8 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 587

Graduating from Harvard in the thick of the Great Depression, Arvo A. Solander worked as a civil and sanitary engineer for a variety of state and federal agencies, including the Civil Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the 1930s, as opportunity arose, he filled positions as a road engineer, in the design and construction of water and sewage plants, in pollution control, as a safety engineer in the shellfish industry, and in mosquito control, taking jobs throughout Massachusetts and as far away as Tennessee. After using his talents as an officer in the Sanitary Corps during the Second World War, based primarily in Arkansas, Solander returned home to Massachusetts and opened a private engineering office in South Hadley. He worked as a civil engineer and surveyor until his death in January 1976.

The Arvo Solander Papers consists of twenty-four bound volumes documenting thirty years of varied work as an engineer, including his contributions to the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. Within the bound volumes are a wide range of reports, typescripts, sketches and diagrams, graphs, contracts and design specifications, photographs, and postcards.

Subjects
  • Civil engineers
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
  • Depressions--1929
  • Fisheries--Massachusetts
  • Mosquitoes--Control
  • Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)
  • Roads--Design and construction
  • Sanitary engineers
  • Sewage disposal plants--Design and construction
  • United States. Federal Civil Works Administration
  • Water--Pollution--Tennessee
  • Water-supply--Massachusetts
  • Westfield State Sanatorium
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Wrentham State School
Contributors
  • Solander, Arvo A
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Sroka Family

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.

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

St. Kazimier Society (Turners Falls, Mass.)

St. Kazimier Society Records, 1904-1984
15 boxes (8 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 253 bd

The St. Kazimier Society was an early mutual aid society formed in the Polish community in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Established in 1904, the Society preceded the founding of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church by five years.

Records of the St. Kazimier Society of Turners Falls include administrative files, financial records, educational materials, and photographs. Account books generally reflect members’ premium payments and benefits, the income and expenses of the society itself, and of the club.

Subjects
  • Mutual aid societies--Massachusetts
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Turners Falls
  • Turners Falls (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • St. Kazimier Society (Turners Falls, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Account books

St. Stanislaus Society (Tuners Falls, Mass.)

St. Stanislaus Society Records, 1959-1969
2 vols. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 254 bd

Named for a Polish saint, Stanislaus Kostka, the Saint Stanislaus Society of Turners Falls was Lodge 549 of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, the oldest Polish fraternal organization in the United States. Like many ethnic fraternal societies, it served as a buffer between the customs and language that immigrants brought with them and the new traditions and language they were expected to learn upon entering American society. Fraternal societies like St. Stanislaus offered members a place to celebrate their Polish heritage and Roman Catholic faith, while also assisting them with some of the more practical matters of living in a new country, such as securing life insurance and home mortgages.

The two volumes in this collection contain minutes of monthly meetings of the Saint Stanislaus Society. The minutes are recorded in Polish.

Unrecorded
Language(s): Polish
Subjects
  • Fraternal organizations--Massachusetts--Turners Falls
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Turners Falls
  • Turners Falls (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Polish Roman Catholic Union of America
  • St. Stanislaus Society (Tuners Falls, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Minute books

Steindl-Rast, David

Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers, ca. 1928-2015
60 boxes (75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 892
Image of Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956
Brother David at Mount Savior Monastery, ca. 1956

Brother David Steindl-Rast was born Franz Kuno in Vienna, Austria, in 1926. He discovered The Rule of St. Benedict as a young man, which sent him on a search for an authentic version of Benedictine practice. This search brought him through the Second World War in Vienna, where he earned a Ph.D from the University of Vienna in 1952 and to the Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, New York, where he became a monk in 1953. Along with his friend Thomas Merton, 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. Through Merton, Brother David met Thich Nhat Hanh, who introduced him to the peace movement and grounded Brother David’s spirituality in a tradition of activism. 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.

Subjects
  • Benedictines--United States
  • Buddhism--Relations
  • Christianity--Relations
  • Peace movements--United States
  • Peace--Religious aspects
  • Spiritual life--Buddhism
  • Spiritual life--Catholic church
Contributors
  • Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968
  • Steindl-Rast, David
Types of material
  • Photographs

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, later earning 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, but 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 1956.

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, and there are 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
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