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What we collect

Frank Waugh's doves
Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all’; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951

In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.

Our approach to collecting

Graphic showing SCUA major collecting areas

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).

  • African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
  • Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
  • Arts management and arts administration:
    In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
  • Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
  • Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
  • Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
  • Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

New England history and culture

The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.

  • Cookery and culinary history
    SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
  • Literature and the arts
    Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
  • Politics and political culture
    SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

Albertson, Dean, 1920-

Dean Albertson Oral History Collection

1975-1977
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 224

A long-time faculty member at UMass Amherst, Dean Albertson was an historian of the twentieth century United States with a specialty in oral history. A veteran of the Second World War, Albertson received his BA from University of California Berkeley (1942) and doctorate from Columbia (1955), joining the Department of History at UMass in 1965 after several years at Brooklyn College. The author of books on Dwight Eisenhower, Claude Wickard (Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture), and the student movements of the 1960s, Albertson was interested throughout his career in new methods in research and teaching history. He died at his home in Longmeadow, Mass., on March 31, 1989, at the age of 68.

Dean Albertson’s History 384 class at UMass Amherst, required students to conduct oral histories relating to a theme in contemporary U.S. history chosen each year. Between 1975 and 1977, Albertson’s students interviewed social activists of the 1960s and early 1970s, participants and observers in the North End riots of 1975 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and war and nuclear power resisters. The collection includes transcripts of 15 interviews conducted during this period, as well as the students’ papers, which put the transcripts into context.

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Civil rights--Massachusetts--Hampden County
  • Demonstrations--Massachusetts--Chicopee
  • History--Study and teaching (Higher)--Massachusetts-- Amherst
  • Police shootings--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Political activists--Massachusetts--Interviews
  • Prison riots--New York (State)--attica
  • Puerto Ricans--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Riots--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Selma-Montgomery rights March, 1965.
  • Springfield (Mass.)--Race relations
  • Springfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Venceremos Brigade
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975--Protest movements -- Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Welfare rights movement--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)

Types of material

  • Oral histories
Barkin, Solomon, 1907-

Solomon Barkin Papers

1930-1988
11 linear feet
Call no.: FS 100

Born in 1902, Solomon Barkin was an economist, education director for the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA ), and from 1968 to 1978 a professor at the University of Massachusetts and research associate at the Labor Center.

The bulk of the Barkin collection, over 10.5 linear feet, consists of bound notebooks containing speeches, typescripts, and printed versions of articles, book reviews, congressional testimony, forewords, and introductions — nearly 600 in all — written by Barkin. One box (0.5 linear foot) contains correspondence, bibliographies, tributes and awards, and a biography. Generally, the collection illustrates Barkin’s life as both a union organizer and an economist. His writings reflect his attempts to create “a system of trade union economics” as a counterpoise to standard “enterprise economics,” as well as his belief that labor should not be viewed as a commodity.

Subjects

  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Textile Workers Union of America
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Labor Relations and Research Center

Contributors

  • Barkin, Solomon, 1907-
Barton, George W.

George W. Barton Papers

1889-1984 Bulk: 1914-1920
4.5 linear feet
Call no.: RG 050 B37

George W. Barton was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1896. After attending Concord High School in Concord, Barton began his studies in horticulture and agriculture at Massachusetts Agricultural College.

The Barton collection includes diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, announcements, and his herbarium, and relates primarily to his career at the Massachusetts Agricultural College where he studied horticulture and agriculture from 1914-1918.

Subjects

  • Botany--Study and teaching
  • Horticulture--Study and teaching
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students

Contributors

  • Barton, George W

Types of material

  • Diaries
  • Herbaria
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
Bestor, Charles

Charles Bestor Papers

1971-2002
2 boxes 0.75 linear feet
Call no.: FS 126

A composer, Professor of Composition, and Director of the Electronic and Computer Music Studios at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Charles Bestor has also taught at Juilliard School of Music and other universities, won international awards for his music, and collaborated with contemporary installation artists.

The Bestor Papers includes scores and sound recordings for two of his compositions, Suite for Alto Saxophone and Percussion and In the Shell of the Ear, as well as correspondence, concert programs, and reviews, all relating to the publication and performance of the works.

Gift of Charles Bestor, Mar.-Apr. 2004

Subjects

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance

Contributors

  • Bestor, Charles
Brann, Vincent

Vincent Brann Papers

ca.1917-2005
7.5 linear feet
Call no.: FS 094

Vincent Clinton Brann was a Professor of Dramaturgy and Directing at UMass Amherst. Born Feb. 19, 1927 in Knoxville, Iowa, Brann served in the United States Army during WWII. After completing his B.A. at the University of Iowa in 1950 he was again called to serve in the Army during the Korean Conflict (1950-1951). Brann held faculty positions at Carnegie Institute of Technology, University of Maryland Overseas Program Europe, and Smith College before joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Speech Department in 1964. Brann remained in the Speech Department until 1972 when it became the Department of Theater; he continued to teach in the Department of Theater until his retirement in 1988. Brann was well-known for his oral interpretation and performance classes as well as his productions and original scripts. At the time of his death in 2007 he was Professor Emeritus of Dramaturgy and Directing.

The Brann Papers are a collection of genealogical materials dating to the early 20th century, correspondence, family and travel photographs (particularly of Spain and France), play scripts with director’s notes, musical theater scores, and Brann’s college yearbooks.

Subjects

  • Brann family
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Speech
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater

Contributors

  • Brann, Vincent
Brooks, William Penn, 1851-

William Penn Brooks Papers

1863-1939
3 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: RG 003/1 B76
Image of Sapporo Ag. College students, 1881
Sapporo Ag. College students, 1881

Two years after graduating from Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1875, William Penn Brooks accepted an invitation from the Japanese government — and his mentor, William Smith Clark — to help establish the Sapporo Agricultural School. Spending over a decade in Hokkaido, Brooks helped to introduce western scientific agricultural practices and the outlines of a program in agricultural education, and he built a solid foundation for the School. After his return to the states in 1888, he earned a doctorate at the University of Halle, Germany, and then accepted a position at his alma mater, becoming a leading figure at the Massachusetts Experiment Station until his retirement in 1921.

Brooks’ papers consist of correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, an account book, and translations which provide rich detail on Brooks’ life in Japan, the development of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University), and practical agricultural education in the post-Civil War years.

Subjects

  • Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
  • Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
  • Hokkaido (Japan)--History
  • Hokkaid¯o Daigaku
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Japan--History--1868-
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
  • Massachusetts State Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
  • Sapporo-shi (Japan)--History

Contributors

  • Brooks, William Penn, 1851-

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
Cance, Alexander E. (Alexander Edmond), 1874-

Alexander E. Cance Papers

1911-1951
6 boxes 2.75 linear feet
Call no.: FS 045
Image of Alexander E. Cance
Alexander E. Cance

Professor and Head of the Agricultural Economics Department at the Massachusetts Agricultural College who also worked briefly for Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture.

Includes biographical materials, correspondence concerning Cance’s role in the agricultural cooperative movement, addresses, articles (both in typescript and published), lectures, book reviews, typescript of a Carnegie study of factors in agricultural economics, a summary of a U.S. Senate report of which he was co-author, “Agricultural Cooperation and Rural Credit in Europe,” and research material. No documentation of his role as a delegate to the Hoover Conference on Economic Crisis, 1920, or his position as Supervisor of Market Research with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1922.

Subjects

  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Massachusetts State College--Faculty

Contributors

  • Cance, Alexander E. (Alexander Edmond), 1874-
Chalfen family

Chalfen Family Papers

ca.1890-2011
51 boxes 76.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 770

Born into a Jewish family in Khotyn, Bessarabia (now Ukraine), in 1888, Benjamin Chalfen emigrated to United States as a young man, arriving in New York City in 1910 before making his way to Boston. Taking work as a clerk with the Roxbury Crossing Steamship Agency, he married a fellow Russian immigrant, Annie Berg in 1914 and, after their divorce a few years later, married a second time. Benjamin and Annie’s son, Melvin (1918-2007), studied Forestry at Massachusetts State College (BA 1940) and Yale (MF 1942) before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in Aug. 1942. Moved to active duty in 1943 as a communications specialist, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. After he returned home, Mel met and married a recent Smith College graduate, Judith Resnick (1925-2011), with whom he raised three sons. The couple settled into a comfortable life in the Boston suburbs, where Mel carved out a successful career as a home inspector and educator while Judith became well known as a supporter of the arts and as one of the founders of Action For Children’s Television (1968), an important force in promoting quality television programing for children.

A massive archive documenting three generations of a Jewish family from Boston, the Chalfen family papers contain a rich body of photographs and letters, centered largely on the lives of Melvin and Judith Chalfen. The Chalfens were prolific correspondents and the collection includes hundreds of letters written home while Mal and Judy were in college and while Mel was serving in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War — most of these in Yiddish. The thousands of photographs cover a broader span of family history, beginning prior to emigration from Bessarabia into the 1960s. Among many other items of note are rough drafts of a New Deal sociological study of juvenile delinquency and the impact of boys’ clubs in the late 1930s prepared by Abraham Resnick (a Socialist community organizer and Judith’s father); materials from the progressive Everyman’s Theater (early 1960s); and nearly three feet of material documenting Judy Chalfen’s work with Action for Children’s Television.

Gift of the Chalfen family, 2011.
Language(s): Yiddish

Subjects

  • Action for Children's Television
  • Jews--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Massachusetts State College--Students
  • Smith College--Students
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Chalfen, Benjamin
  • Chalfen, Judith, 1925-2011
  • Chalfen, Melvin H. (Melvin Howard), 1918-2007

Types of material

  • Photographs
Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886

William Smith Clark Papers

1814-2003 Bulk: 1844-1886
14.75 linear feet
Call no.: RG 003/1 C63
Image of William Smith Clark
William Smith Clark

Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1826, William Smith Clark graduated from Amherst College in 1848 and went on to teach the natural sciences at Williston Seminary until 1850, when he continued his education abroad, studying chemistry and botany at the University of Goettingen, earning his Ph.D in 1852. From 1852 to 1867 he was a member of Amherst College’s faculty as a Professor of Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology. As a leading citizen of Amherst, Clark was a strong advocate for the establishment of the new agricultural college, becoming one of the founding members of the college’s faculty and in 1867, the year the college welcomed its first class of 56 students, its President. During his presidency, he pressured the state government to increase funding for the new college and provide scholarships to enable poor students, including women, to attend. The college faced economic hardship early in its existence: enrollment dropped in the 1870s, and the college fell into debt. He is noted as well for helping to establish an agricultural college at Sapporo, Japan, and building strong ties between the Massachusetts Agricultural College and Hokkaido. After Clark was denied a leave of absence in 1879 to establish a “floating college” — a ship which would carry students and faculty around the world — he resigned.

The Clark Papers include materials from throughout his life, including correspondence with fellow professors and scientists, students in Japan, and family; materials relating to his Civil War service in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry; photographs and personal items; official correspondence and memoranda; published articles; books, articles, television, and radio materials relating to Clark, in Japanese and English; and materials regarding Hokkaido University and its continuing relationship with the University of Massachusetts.

Subjects

  • Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
  • Agricultural colleges--Massachusetts--History
  • Agriculturists--Japan
  • Agriculturists--Massachusetts
  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Amherst College--Faculty
  • Amherst College--Students--Correspondence
  • Hokkaido (Japan)--History
  • Hokkaid¯o Daigaku--History
  • Hokkaid¯o Teikoku Daigaku--History
  • Japan--Relations--United States
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
  • Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
  • Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o. President
  • T¯ohoku Teikoku Daigaku. N¯oka Daigaku--History
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States--Relations--Japan
  • Universität Göttingen--Students--Correspondence

Contributors

  • Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. President

Types of material

  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Realia
  • Scrapbooks