Special Collections and University Archives
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Denise Karuth and Fred Pelka Papers, 1981-2012

36 boxes (54 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 833

Denise Karuth and Fred Pelka are activists and historians of the disability rights movement based in Massachusetts. Both are graduates of SUNY Buffalo, while Karuth holds a masters in rehabilitation counseling from Boston State College and a masters in divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. Karuth came into activism through her church’s involvement in the civil rights movement and her own experience as a student dealing with blindness and multiple sclerosis at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After moving to Boston, her activism continued in efforts by the disability community to secure accessible and affordable mass transit in Massachusetts, and she has been involved with a broad spectrum of disability campaigns and organizations, serving as a peer counselor for people with disabilities, as Executive Director of Boston Self-Help Center, as a consultant on disability issues for the Human Genome Initiative, as a grant writer at the Stavros Center for Independent Living, and as Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Accessible Transportation under Gov. Michael Dukakis. She has also been an advocate for people who are homeless and was a principal founder of the First Church Shelter of the First Church in Cambridge. Karuth’s lifelong partner Fred Pelka, himself a person with disabilities, became involved in disability rights activism in 1983 while working at the Boston Center for Independent Living, and has made an impact as an editor and prolific author since. A 2004 Guggenheim Fellow, he has written three books on disability issues: The ABC-CLIO Companion to the Disability Rights Movement (1997), The Civil War Letters of Charles F. Johnson, Invalid Corps (2004), and What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement (2012). His fourth book, A Different Blaze, was published by Hedgerow Books in 2014, and is his first published poetry.

The Karuth and Pelka collection documents thirty years of social justice activism in Massachusetts centered on the movement for disability rights. Beginning in the1980s struggle for accessibility in transportation, the collection reflects the breadth of Karuth’s commitments and work on issues ranging from apartheid and US imperialism to homelessness and HIV/AIDS, and her work with organizations such as First Church in Cambridge, Amnesty International, Not Dead Yet, the Governor’s Council of Accessible Transportation, and the Boston Self Help Center. Pelka’s part of the collection contains extensive research and background material, notes, and drafts for each of his books, including lengthy transcripts of interviews with pioneers in disability rights.


  • AIDS activists--Massachusetts
  • Boston Self-Help Center
  • First Church (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Homelessness--Massachusetts
  • Local transit accessibility
  • Massachusetts. Governor's Commission of Accessible Transportation
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.


  • Pelka, Fred

League of Women Voters of Amherst Records, 1939-2001

60 boxes (33 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 296

Non-partisan political organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts that influences public policy through education and advocacy by registering voters, organizing candidate forums, publishing voting guides, and disseminating general information on the legislative process and the functioning of government on the local, state, and federal levels.

Includes minutes, annual reports, financial records, publications, extensive files on specific programs, photographs, video- and audio-tapes, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings. Also contains information on two league members who rose to national prominence: Lucy Wilson Benson (Under Secretary of State in the federal government in 1977) and Jane F. Garvey (Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1997).


  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Education--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-


  • Benson, Lucy Wilson
  • Garvey, Jane F
  • League of Women Voters of Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Oral histories
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Laura M. Ross Papers, 1945-2003 (Bulk: 1967-1990)

13 boxes (6.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 515
Laura Ross
Laura Ross

Born in the coal mining town of Blossburg, Pa., in 1913, Laura Ross (nee Kaplowitz) grew up in poverty as one of seven children of Lithuanian immigrants. In about 1932, Ross married Harry Naddell, a wine merchant, and settled into a comfortable life Brooklyn, N.Y., raising a son and daughter. During the Second World War, however, she became intensely politicized through her work with Russian War Relief, joining the Communist Party and eventually divorcing her les radical husband. Moving to the Boston area, she married Max Ross in 1963, an attorney for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and became a noted presence in a wide range of political activities, working for civil rights, the antiwar movement, and for many years, helping to run the Center for Marxist Education in Central Square , Cambridge. Perhaps most notably, between 1974 and 1984, Ross ran for Congress three times on the Communist Party ticket, taking on the powerful incumbent Tip O’Neill and winning almost a quarter of the vote. An activist to the end, Ross died in Cambridge on August 5, 2007.

The Ross papers are the legacy of a highly visible activist, organizer, educator, and member of the Communist Party USA. Heavily concentrated in the period 1967-1990, the collection includes material relating to her affiliation with CPUSA and her work with the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Mass., including information on party membership, platforms, and conventions, minutes from various district committee meetings, material relating to the People’s Daily World, and course information and syllabi. Scattered throughout the collection are materials pertaining to contemporary political issues and elections, particularly the policies associated with Ronald Reagan. Ross was a vocal and persistent opponent of Reaganomics and the nuclear arms race that Reagan accelerated.


  • Center for Marxist Education (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • People’s Daily World
  • United States--Politics and government--1981-1989


  • Ross, Laura

Roxbury Action Program Collection, 1944-1975 (Bulk: 1966-1974)

2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 765
Ernest Hamilton, <em>Black Power: What is it?</em> (1966)
Ernest Hamilton, Black Power: What is it? (1966)

The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.

Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.


  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Black Panther Party
  • Black power
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History


  • Morrison, George

Types of material

  • Newspapers
  • Photographs

Levi Stockbridge Papers, 1841-1878

(2 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 S76
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.


  • 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


  • Stockbridge, Horace E. (Horace Edward),1857-1930
  • Stockbridge, Levi, 1820-1904

Types of material

  • Diaries

Valley Peace Center Records, 1965-1973

28 boxes (13.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 301

In the summer of 1967, members of University of Massachusetts Amherst campus groups, such as the Faculty Group on War and Peace and the Students for Political Action, joined with individuals from other area colleges and from the community at large to form the Valley Peace Center of Amherst for the purposes of opposing the Vietnam War, providing draft counseling, eliciting pledges from the government to avoid first use of nuclear and biological weapons, and reduction of the power of the “military-industrial complex”. The Center was active for more than five and a half years, drawing its financial support largely from the community and its human resources from student and community volunteers.

Correspondence, minutes, volunteer and membership lists, financial records, newsletters, questionnaires, notes, petitions, clippings, posters, circulars, pamphlets, periodicals, other printed matter, and memorabilia. Includes material relating to alternative service, boycotts, war tax resistance, prison reform, environmental quality, and political candidates.


  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
  • Draft--United States--History
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Social movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)--History--20th century


  • Valley Peace Center (Amherst, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Ephemera
  • Pamphlets

Activism of the 1980s Photograph Collection, 1985-1987

(0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 012
Die-in at the Student Union
Die-in at the Student Union

During the academic year 1986-1987, the campus at UMass Amherst was a hotbed of political protest, fueled in part by the US intervention in Central America. The arrival on campus of a CIA recruiting officer in November set off a string of demonstrations that attracted the support of activists Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter, daughter of former president Jimmy Carter. The occupation of the Whitmore Administration Building was followed by a larger occupation of adjacent Munson Hall, resulting in a number of arrests. Hoffman, Carter, and eleven co-defendants were tried and acquitted on charges of disorderly conduct were tried in April 1987.

The Collection contains 61 mounted photographs of marches, demonstrations, and protests in Amherst and Northampton, Mass., taken by Charles F. Carroll, Byrne Guarnotta, and Libby Hubbard, all students at UMass Amherst. The photographs are a vivid record of campus and community activism, and particularly the mobilization against the CIA and American intervention in Central America, as well as the arrest and trial of Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter.


  • Amherst (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts
  • CIA on Trial Project (Amherst, Mass.)
  • Carter, Amy
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Demonstrations--Massachusetts
  • Hoffman, Abbie
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Student movements
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • United States. Central Intelligence Agency
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students


  • Carroll, Charles F
  • Guarnotta, Byrne
  • Hubbard, Libby
  • Radical Student Union

Types of material

  • Photographs
Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905
Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905

The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, UMass has supported publication of three volumes of Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has digitized the papers and made them freely available on the internet while serving as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books. SCUA continues in its efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.

Every February, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass Amherst commemorate Du Bois’s birthday by co-sponsoring a public colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert and Bethina Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, Arnold Rampersad, and David Levering Lewis.

Significant collections (view all)

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Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910
Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

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Roland Sarti Papers, 1964-2002

11 boxes (5.25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 011

Born in Montefegatesi, Italy, in April 1937, Roland Sarti began his academic career as a teaching assistant and instructor at Rutgers University from 1960-1964. In the fall of 1967, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Italian History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, becoming chair of the University Seminar on Studies in Modern Italy five years later. A scholar of the fascist movement in Italy, Sarti also wrote on topics ranging from rural life in the Apennines to the life of the revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini. During his tenure at UMass, he served on the Personnel, Curriculum, and Graduate Studies Committees, and played a prominent role in the Faculty Senate and the International Programs Office, particularly with respect to the summer programs in Italy. A past president of the New England Historical Society and the Society for Italian Historical Studies, he was a board member for the European History Quarterly and the H-Italy Network. He retired from active teaching in 2002.

The Sarti Papers document Sarti’s distinguished career as professor, author, and chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They consist of professional correspondence, history department records, records of major crises at the University, Italian studies newsletters, student publications, and historical society records. A significant amount of the materials, particularly among the correspondence and periodicals, are in Italian.


  • Fascism
  • Italy--History--20th century
  • Italy--Politics and government--20th century
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History


  • Sarti, Roland, 1937-
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