Each fall, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives sponsors a colloquium focusing on a topic in social change. Like SCUA’s collections, these colloquia cover a broad terrain, touching on a variety of issues in social justice, equality, and democracy.
Colloquia are free and open to the public.
November 3, 2014, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Lower Level, W.E.B. Du Bois Library
“A Long and Winding Road: The legacy of the back-to-the-land communes of the 1960s,” will explore the nearly forty year history of some of the region’s best known communes: Montague Farm and Wendell Farms nearby in Massachusetts, and Packer Corners and Tree Frog Farms in neighboring southern Vermont. All were partners in the back-to-the-land movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s; all have survived into the current era. The colloquium’s four speakers, who have each spent much of the intervening years on or near one of the four farms, represent each of these idealistic enterprises, as well as offering their own specific views. What have they learned from their long years in service to their ideals? Was the altruism of the counterculture era borne out in the experiences they faced later? Would they recommend the route of alternative life to the youth and radicals of today?
The sources of inspiration that led to the creation of these communities and the evidence of their later influence are documented by SCUA. The Famous Long Ago archive was formed to collect, preserve, and make available materials relating to the communes at Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Johnson Pasture, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm. Collections range from from the papers of writers Steve Diamond, Raymond Mungo, and Jonathan Maslow to those of anti-war activists Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner; from the records of the Liberation News Service, the organization that spawned the farms, to the Alternative Energy Coalition, and Musicians United for Safe Energy, later enterprises of the region’s communal farmer-activists. It also includes the photographic collections of farm parent Roy Finestone, photojournalist Lionel Delevingne, and former head of a neighboring Montague ashram, Stephen Josephs.
Daniel Keller, filmmaker, farmer: Wendell Farm, Green Mountain Post Films
Verandah Porche, writer, teacher: Packer Corners Farm, Monteverdi Artists Collaborative
John Scagliotti, filmmaker, LGBT activist: Tree Frog Farm, Kopkind Colony
Susan Mareneck, artist, teacher, social worker: Early resident and longtime neighbor of Montague Farm, Montague Catholic Social Ministries
Timothy Miller, University of Kansas, scholar of intentional communities, author of The Hippies and American Values (1991), The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America (1998), The Sixties Communes: Hippies and Beyond (1999)
Verandah Porche, a forty-year resident of Packer Corners Farm (known to the reading public, through the works of Ray Mungo and others, as Total Loss Farm) works as a poet-in-residence, performer, and writing partner. Based in rural Vermont since 1968, she has published three volumes of poetry – Sudden Eden (Verdant Books), The Body’s Symmetry (Harper and Row) and Glancing Off (See Through Books) – and has pursued an alternative literary career, creating collaborative writing projects in nontraditional settings: literacy and crisis centers, hospitals, factories, nursing homes, senior centers, a 200 year-old Vermont tavern, and an urban working class neighborhood. Broad Brook Anthology, a play for voices, honors the lives of elders in her home town of Guilford, Vermont. Listening Out Loud documents her residency with Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut. Come Over is a CD of songs written with her neighbor Patty Carpenter, performed by the Dysfunctional Family Jazz band. She has read her work on NPR stations, in the Vermont State House, and at the Guggenheim Museum. In 1998 the Vermont Arts Council presented her with its Award of Merit, and Marlboro College, in 2012, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Susan Mareneck arrived in the Pioneer Valley in the mid 1960s, and spent her college years engaged in civil rights and anti-war activities, majoring Art and Political Science. After experiencing Montague Farm for several months in its early days, she settled into an unrenovated 18th century farmhouse in nearby Leverett, a building without heat or running water. Improving it slowly but concertedly over the years, she returned regularly to the house for vacations and summers, and has remained a neighbor of Montague Farm and a member of its extended family ever since. Decamping after several years for a graduate degree in art, and finally a move to New York, she spent 30 years making art and teaching it at the Spence School and the Convent of the Sacred Heart, on New York’s upper east side, before returning to western Massachusetts in 2009 to work full time with families in Turners Falls as Executive Director at Montague Catholic Social Ministries. Living three blocks from Ground Zero, Susan saw her world change forever on 9/11. Her turn from education to social work reflects her long interest in non-profits and the role of faith in social change. Her work in that area has included projects directed toward employment, racism, educational policy, and prisons. She has exhibited, lectured, and published in the visual arts and historic preservation, and remains active in organizing the local history of her town, North Leverett, Mass.
John Scagliotti is an Emmy Award-winning American film director, producer, and radio broadcaster. He has received honors for his work on documentaries about LGBT issues including Before Stonewall and After Stonewall. During the 1970s, Scagliotti was the News and Public Affairs Director of the pioneering radio station WBCN-FM in Boston. For his work in radio, he was awarded two Major Armstrong Awards. In the early 1980s, he attended New York University Film School and went on to create In the Life for PBS, the first gay and lesbian national television series in the United States. The Scagliotti-produced documentary film Before Stonewall (1985) won the Audience Award at L.A. Outfest and two Emmies. Scagliotti directed a companion piece, After Stonewall, which won a Golden Eagle and the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Scagliotti is openly gay. His partner for 24 years was the late, highly regarded journalist Andrew Kopkind. Together they produced the radio show The Lavender Hour. Scagliotti is a longtime resident of the Kopkind Colony, an activist community housed at Tree Frog Farm, a close neighbor to Packer Corners Farm in Guilford, Vermont. The Kopkind Colony holds an educational summer residency program for nonpartisan, independent journalists and community organizers. In addition, the Colony fosters public education through publication of its lectures and the hosting of open forums on contemporary issues held at Tree Frog Farm and in other educational centers around the country.
Daniel Keller, a founder of Wendell Farm, in Wendell Massachusetts, has lived there, keeping it a working organic farm, since its inception in 1969. In collaboration with Charles Light, a former communard of the Johnson Pasture and Montague Farm, Keller’s Green Mountain Post Films, with offices in nearby Turners Falls, has produced and distributed award-winning films for more than twenty-five years. GMP’s first documentary Lovejoy’s Nuclear War, released in 1975, about Montague Farm activist Sam Lovejoy, was one of the first films to question the nuclear energy policy of the United States. Since then GMP Films has continued to produce movies that explore social issues, Its films have been used as educational and organizational tools for activists working on peace, veteran, nuclear, environmental, and other related issues. GMP films include: The Last Resort (1978), and Save the Planet (1979), both on nuclear issues; The Secret Agent (1983), on Agent Orange; and Unknown Secrets (1990), on the reaction of artists and writers to the arrest, trial, and execution of accused spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. For Vietnam Experience Keller and Light teamed up with musician Country Joe McDonald to bring viewers closer to the reality of the Vietnam War. Cannabis Rising is an early investigation into the issues surrounding marijuana today so much in the news.
Timothy Miller is a longtime student of communal living, professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas, and author of The Hippies and American Values (1991), The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America (1998), The Sixties Communes: Hippies and Beyond (1999). His course offerings include a history of intentional communities in America; American religious history; and an overview of new and alternative religious movements in the United States. Miller’s major research focus is the history of intentional communities in America, especially in the twentieth century. For his work in this area, Professor Miller has been recognized by the Communal Studies Association as a distinguished scholar. Additional areas of research interest include American religious history, new and alternative religious movements in the United States, and religion in Kansas. Professor Miller also coordinates the Religion in Kansas Oral History Project. His most recent publications include The Encyclopedic Guide to American Intentional Communities (Richard Couper Press), Spiritual and Visionary Communities: Out to Save the World (Ashgate Publishing), as well as the second edition of The Hippies and American Values (University of Tennessee Press), and the second edition of Following In His Steps: A Biography of Charles M. Sheldon (University of Tennessee Press). Through Miller’s work on American communes, he has long been familiar with the extended farm family at the center of the current symposium. In a recent book review, taking in the larger field in which he is involved, he wrote, “…it can be safely said that Montague Farm has the best published record of any of the communes.”
Jose A. Soler Papers, 1972-2014.
Call no.: MS 864
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).
- 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
Southeast Asia Collection, 1925-1986.
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.
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975
- Hafner, James
- Halpern, Joel Martin
Bonnie Acker Collection, 1983-2000.
Call no.: MS 582
A collection of t-shirts, gift cards, and posters designed by activist and political artist Bonnie Acker. Each item features an illustration by Acker in support of various issues relating to social change ranging from peace with Nicaragua, to nuclear abolition and from lifting the debt of impoverished countries, to the Burlington, Vermont community land trust.
- Antinuclear movement--United States
- Peace movements
- Acker, Bonnie
Types of material
American Friends Service Committee Records, 1975-2005.
Call no.: MS 459
Established in 1968 in response to the war in Vietnam, the AFSC office in western Massachusetts did not limit its focus to draft and military counseling, instead the organization broadened its focus over time to include educational and outreach programs for a variety of peace and socal justice issues. Today the chapter focuses on economic justice, campaigns against U.S. military intervention, and actions to combat racism and classism. With an emphasis on serving the community of western Massachusetts, the program is equally committed to calling attention to issues of both national and local importance. Recent campaigns range from ending the war in Iraq and supporting peace in Columbia to preventing the construction of a new jail in Chicopee.
The collection consists chiefly of subject files that together provide a picture of the various issues in which the western Massachusetts AFSC was involved. Topics range from the organization’s earliest focus, the Vietnam War, to the first Gulf War, landlord/tenant relations, immigration, and landmines. The collection also includes materials relating to public figures, some of whom traveled to the region to speak.
- Massachusetts--Economic conditions
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Social justice--Massachusetts
- American Friends Service Committee. Western Massachusetts
Allan C. Boschen Esperanto Collection, 1852-2015.
Call no.: RB 028
A constructed language developed by a Polish physician, L.L. Zamenhof, and first published in 1887, Esperanto is the most widely spoken auxiliary language in the world. Fundamentally utopian in origin, Esperanto is a simplified and highly rationalized language derived from a pastiche of languages, primarily European. By creating a universal second language, Zamenhof hoped that Esperanto would help transcend national and cultural boundaries and thus promote peace and understanding in a fractious world. Allan Boschen, an engineer with General Electric in Pittsfield, was a student and teacher of Esperanto and longtime officer with the Esperanto Society of New England.
The Esperanto book collection includes instructional materials in the language from around the world along with a diversity of imprints ranging from novels and poetry to travel books, histories and biographies, political writings, materials on China and Vietnam, children’s literature, and even a cookbook. We expect to add to the collection in future.
- Languages, Artificial
Gerard Braunthal Papers, 1958-1894.
Call no.: FS 013
Born in Germany in 1923, Gerard Braunthal was a scholar of German politics and taught as a professor in the Political Science department from 1954. Before receiving his B.A. from Queens College in 1947, Braunthal served in intelligence during World War II, going on to receive his M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1948 and Ph.D from Columbia University in 1953. While studying at Columbia, Braunthal worked as an interviewer for US Air Force intelligence. An expert on the German Social Democratic party (SPD), Braunthal published extensively on modern German politics. His work on the subject was well regarded in Germany as well as the United States. In parallel to his academic research, Braunthal was also an anti-war and anti-nuclear activist, serving on the executive committees of both the Valley Peace Center and the Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX). Braunthal received the Order of Merit from the German government.
The collection includes Braunthal’s correspondence, article manuscripts and research materials, as well as pamphlets, form-letters, and broadsides relating to anti-Vietnam war activism, interspersed with a small amount of personal correspondence from his own antiwar activities. Among his research materials is a collection of interview transcripts with members of the Federation of German Industry (BDI). There is also a significant collection of documents from his involvement with local activist groups, which includes minutes, form-letters, reports, conference proceedings, and leaflets.
- Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Political Science
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975
- Braunthal, Gerard, 1923-
Civilian Public Service Camp Newsletter Collection, 1941-1944.
Call no.: MS 537
Born out of a unique collaboration between the United States government and the historic peace churches, the first Civilian Public Service Camps were established in 1941 to provide conscientious objectors the option to perform alternative service under civilian command. Nearly 12,000 COs served in the 152 CPS camps in projects ranging from soil conservation, agriculture, and forestry to mental health. While the work was supposed to be of national importance, many of the men later complained that the labor was menial and not as important as they had hoped. Furthermore with no ability to earn wages and with their churches and families responsible for financing the camps, many COs, their wives and children found themselves impoverished both during and after the war.
During their time off, many of the men in the CPS camps published newsletters discussing education programs, which frequently involved religious study, work projects, and news about individuals sent to family and friends back home. This collections consists of newsletters created in camps in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Indiana, Maryland, and Colorado.
- Civilian Public Service--Periodicals
- Conscientious objectors--United States
- Pacifists--United States
- World War, 1939-1945--Conscientious objectors--United States
Types of material
Construyamos Juntos Collection, 1986.
Call no.: PH 052
In May 1985, a group of activists in Western Massachusetts opposed to the interventionist U.S. foreign policy of the Reagan era formed a construction brigade to assist with basic human needs and express solidarity with the people of Central America. Modeled on the Venceremos Brigade, Construyamos Juntos, Building Peace of Nicaragua, raised over $20,000 for construction supplies in addition to funds for individual travel. Between January and March 1986, the 17 activists joined a smaller brigade from West Virginia in constructing the Carlos Armin Gonzales elementary school in San Pedro de Lovago. During their first month in Nicaragua, they witnessed a Contra assault on the town that left one assailant dead and two residents of the town wounded.
This exhibit includes 55 mounted images and 99 35mm slides taken during the brigade’s time in Nicaragua, documenting the brigade’s construction work and providing a valuable visual record of life in Nicaragua during the Contra war. Used in public talks about Contruyamos Juntos, the collection includes exhibit labels that explain the purpose and activity of the brigade, the history of Nicaragua, and the Contra attack in January 1986.
Types of material
Bertha Strong Cooley Collection, 1939-1947.
Call no.: MS 506
A resident of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, Bertha Strong Cooley wrote letters to the editor on a regular basis on topics ranging from anti-imperialism, democracy, capitalism, Communism, Russia, World War II, and civil rights. Her strong views on peace and and social justice were expressed in lively and intelligent submissions published in area newspapers. The collection consists of a scrapbook containing news clippings of Cooley’s letters to the editor as well as those submitted by others writing about the same topics.
- African Americans--Civil rights
- Social justice--Massachusetts
- World War, 1939-1945
- Cooley, Bertha Strong