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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
Communist Party of Massachusetts

Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection

1932-1957
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 538

A branch of the Communist Party of the United States of America, the Communist Party of Massachusetts enjoyed strong popularity during the 1930s and 1940s, organizing the textile and other manufacturing industries.

This small collection is comprised of a miscellaneous assemblage of fliers, broadsides, and ephemera issued by the Communist Party of Massachusetts and its affiliates from the mid-1930s through the repression of the McCarthy era. Originating mostly from Boston, the items in the collection center on significant themes in Communist thought, including opposition to Fascism and militarism, labor solidarity against capital, and elections. A small number of items relate to Party-approved cultural productions, including plays and gatherings to celebrate Lenin or the Russian Revolution. Many items are associated with Otis A. Hood, a perpetual candidate for public office on the Communist Party ticket who became a target for McCarthy-era repression in the mid-1950s.

Acquired from Eugene Povirk, 2008

Subjects

  • Antiwar movements--Massachusetts
  • Communists--Massachusetts
  • Elections--Massachusetts
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Communist Party of Massachusetts

Types of material

  • Broadsides
  • Fliers
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

W.E.B. Du Bois Papers

1803-1984
328 boxes 168.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 312
Image of W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois

Scholar, writer, editor of The Crisis and other journals, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, the NAACP, and the Pan African Congresses, international spokesperson for peace and for the rights of oppressed minorities, W.E.B. Du Bois was a son of Massachusetts who articulated the strivings of African Americans and developed a trenchant analysis of the problem of the color line in the twentieth century.

The Du Bois Papers contain almost 165 linear feet of the personal and professional papers of a remarkable social activist and intellectual. Touching on all aspects of his long life from his childhood during Reconstruction through the end of his life in 1963, the collection reflects the extraordinary breadth of his social and academic commitments from research in sociology to poetry and plays, from organizing for social change to organizing for Black consciousness.

Acquired from Shirley Graham Du Bois, 1973

Subjects

  • African Americans--Civil rights
  • African Americans--History--1877-1964
  • Crisis (New York, N.Y.)
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on democracy
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Pan-Africanism
  • United States--Race relations

Contributors

  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

Types of material

  • Photographs
East German Book Collection

East German Book Collection

1948-1993
ca.300 vols. 13 linear feet
Call no.: RB 021

From the official optimism of the post-war years in East Germany through the dynamic press of the 1970s to the end of the regime in 1989, the state and its critics developed a distinctive print culture that was reflected in its literary and artistic output and in its popular and academic works.

The DDR collection contains miscellaneous volumes printed in East Germany, including literature and drama, touristic books, popular history, works on the arts, and a variety of academic and reference works.

Subjects

  • Germany (East)--History

Types of material

  • Books
East German Packaging Design Collection

East German Packaging Design Collection

ca.1955-1985
4 boxes 6 linear feet
Call no.: MS 519

The concept of product marketing in a Communist state may seem slightly incongruous, but in the countries of the Eastern Bloc, consumer goods were packaged and sold with much the same care as they were in the west. The Packaging Design Collection contains examples of quotidian products sold during the post-war period, ranging from boxes for soap powder to toothpaste, shampoo, and sugar sacks. The collection documents the visual language used on consumer products in East Germany and the evolution of graphic design in the Communist states of Eastern Europe from the 1950s through 1980s.

Gift of James and Sibylle Fraser, Nov. 2006

Subjects

  • Germany, East
  • Packaging--Design--Germany, East
Finkelstein, Sidney Walter, 1909-1974

Sidney Finkelstein Papers

1914-1974
11 boxes 5.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 128

Noted critic of music, literature, and the arts, as well as a writer and an active member of the Communist Party U.S.A. Includes letters to and from Mr. Finkelstein; original manuscripts of reviews, articles, essays, and books; legal documents, educational, military, and personal records, financial papers, contracts, photographs, and lecture and course notes.

Gift of Maynard Solomon, 1986

Subjects

  • Art criticism--United States--History--20th century
  • Communism--United States--History
  • Communist Party of the United States of America--History--20th century
  • Communist aesthetics--History--Sources
  • Culture--Study and teaching--United States--History--20th century
  • Music--History and criticism
  • Musical criticism--United States--History
  • Socialist realism--History--Sources

Contributors

  • Cohen, R. S. (Robert Sonné)
  • Finkelstein, Sidney Walter, 1909-1974
  • Gorton, Sally Kent, 1915-2000
  • Hille, Waldemar, 1908-
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971
  • Lawson, John Howard, 1894-
  • Richmond, Al, 1913-1987
  • Selsam, Millicent Ellis, 1912-
  • Siegmeister, Elie, 1909-
  • Thomson, Virgil, 1896-
  • Veinus, Abraham

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs
Fischer, Britta

Britta Fischer, U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association Photograph Collection

1978
449 items 1 linear feet
Call no.: PH 054

Founded in 1974, the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association was among the first American organizations devoted to fostering people-to-people diplomacy between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. The vision of veteran civil rights activist Unita Blackwell, the USCPFA sponsored speakers, seminars, and cultural exchanges, and in the 1970s, was among the first groups to organize tours from the United States to the People’s Republic.

The 449 color slides (35 mm.) that comprise the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association collection document one of the group’s early tours, undertaken at the height of the agitation over the Gang of Four. Beyond simple touristic scenes, the collection depicts a state-sponsored version of everyday life in China during the early post-Mao era.

Gift of Britta Fischer via Sigrid Schmalzer, 2010

Subjects

  • Beijing (China)--Photographs
  • Children--China--Photographs
  • China--Photographs
  • Factories--China--Photographs
  • Great Wall of China (China)--Photographs
  • Jinan (China)--Photographs
  • Shanghai (China)--Photographs
  • Tian'an Men (Beijing, China)--Photographs
  • Yangzhou (China)--Photographs

Types of material

  • Photographs
Fraser, James H. (James Howard), 1934-2013

James H. and Sibylle Fraser Collection

1934-1990
2 boxes, books 20 linear feet
Call no.: MS 655

An author, scholar, and librarian, James Fraser had a voracious intellectual appetite that ranged from visual culture to the inter-war avant garde to Communist-era eastern Europe. Born April 30, 1934, Fraser earning his doctorate in Library Science at Columbia University and enjoyed a career of nearly 50 years in academic libraries. A specialist in international children’s literature, he and Sibylle von Holstein, his wife of 56 years, became known for building research collections at a number of university libraries, drawing upon their extraordinary knowledge of 20th century book arts, graphic design, photography, political ephemera, and East German culture, among other areas. Fraser was also an energetic exibitions curator, often based upon material he had collected. Jim Fraser died at home after a short illness on Nov. 25, 2013.

The product of two active and eclectic collectors, the Fraser collection contains over 1200 imprints on art and design in Communist-era eastern Europe, East Germany, 1960s radicalism, and other subjects, along with ephemera on radical movements in both the United States and Europe.

Gift of James and Sibylle Fraser. 2006-2013.
Language(s): German

Subjects

  • Art and design--Germany (East)
  • Germany (East)--History
  • United States--Politics and government--1963-1969

Contributors

  • Fraser, Sibylle
Fried, Lewis

Lewis Fried Collection of Jack Conroy

1969-1995
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 414

A voice of the radical working class during the Great Depression, Jack Conroy was the son of a union organizer, born and raised in the mining camps near Moberly, Mo. His novels The Disinherited (1933) and A World to Win (1935) were among the best known works of “proletarian” American fiction to appear in the 1930s.

The Conroy Collection includes a series of 24 letters from Jack Conroy to Lewis Fried, a professor of English at Kent State University and UMass PhD, along with a small number of letters by associates of Conroy, and a selection of publications associated with or including work by him. Of particular interest are Fried’s oral history interviews with Conroy (1971) and Sally Goodman (1978).

Subjects

  • Anvil
  • Bontemps, Arna Wendell, 1902-1973
  • Communists--United States
  • Depressions--1929
  • New Anvil
  • Working class authors

Contributors

  • Conroy, Jack, 1899-1990
  • Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979
  • Fried, Lewis Frederick, 1943-
  • Gold, Michael, 1894-1967
  • Goodman, Percival
  • Goodman, Sally
  • Snow, Walter

Types of material

  • Oral histories
Goldfarb, Theodore D., 1935-

Theodore D. Goldfarb Collection

1978 June-July
389 digital images 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: PH 071
Part of: Science for the People Collection
Image of Oil processing plant machinery, June 1978
Oil processing plant machinery, June 1978

An environmental chemist, Ted Goldfarb was a founder of the Science for the People chapter at SUNY Stony Brook and an organizer of the group’s second trip to the People’s Republic of China in June 1978. The twelve delegates from SftP went with the intention of studying the organization of science and technology in China with respect to how it met people’s needs, and they were toured through a succession of factories, production facilities, farms, schools, and institutes in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Changsha, and Beijing, among other locations.

The nearly 400 slides in this collection were taken by Ted Goldfarb (and handful by his colleague Judith Weinstein) when they were members of the second Science for the People delegation to the People’s Republic of China in June 1978. Reflecting their interests in science and technology, the slides document a succession of factories, production facilities, schools, and institutes they visited, but include shots of typical street scenes, markets, artisans and factory workers, and tourist sites such as the Great Wall, Ming Tombs, and Forbidden City. In addition to the images of China, a handful were taken during a stopover in Delhi and Agra, India, on the way back to the United States.

Subjects

  • Acrobats--China--Shanghai
  • China--Photographs
  • Cotton manufacture--China--Shanghai--Photographs
  • Factories--China--Photographs
  • Forbidden City (Beijing, China)--Photographs
  • Great Wall of China (China)--Photographs
  • India--Photographs
  • Ming Tombs (China)--Photographs
  • Science for the People
  • Textile factories--China--Shanghai--Photographs

Contributors

  • Weinstein, Judith

Types of material

  • Photographs