James Baker Free Spirit Press Collection, 1969-2005 (Bulk: 1969-1974).
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 834
James Baker was a member of the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune (later the Renaissance Community) in the early 1970s, and a key contributor to the Free Spirit Press, the commune’s publishing operation. Part promotion, information, and entertainment, the Free Spirit Press
magazine ran for four issues in the winter and spring 1972-1973.
The Baker collection consists of the surviving materials from the production of Free Spirit Press concentrated heavily in the period between winter 1972 and summer 1974. Accumulated mostly while preparing a brochure for the commune, the manuscript material contains copies of the commune’s by-laws and membership rolls, comments from community members on how they wished to be represented, and a story board for the brochure and series of quotes from community members to be included. The second half of the collection contains hundreds of images, mostly 35mm negatives, taken of or by the commune and its residents. The images depict the production and distribution of Free Spirit Press and the commune band (Spirit in Flesh, later called Rapunzel), but they also include several rolls of film taken by commune members of major rock and roll acts of the era, including the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, Santana, Chuck Berry, Hot Tuna, and Fleetwood Mac.
- Berry, Chuck
- Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Grateful Dead (Musical group)
- Grateful Dead (Musical group)--Photographs
- Metelica, Michael
- Renaissance Community (Commune)
- Rock music--1971-1980--Photographs
- Taj Mahal (Musician)
- Taj Mahal (Musician)--Photographs
Types of material
Black Mass Communications Project Collection, ca.1970-1985.
10 boxes (15 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 045/30 B4
The Black Mass Communications Project was founded as an educational and informational outlet for Black students at UMass Amherst in 1968 and authorized in the following year as a Registered Student Organization. Over the years, BCMP played varied roles on campus, hosting cultural events, lectures, workshops, and social gatherings as to help keep black music alive. Many of its early members were also affiliated with the student radio station WMUA, and throughout the 1970s, the organization played a prominent role in providing programming to the station, offering programming highlighting African American music and current affairs.
The BCMP collection consists of many dozens of reel to reel audiotapes of radio broadcasts aired over WMUA during the 1970s and early 1980s by and for the university’s African American community. Included is a range of locally-produced public affairs, cultural, and music programming, with some content licensed from around the country. A few of the tapes are associated with the Five College’s National Public Radio affiliate, WFCR.
- African American college students
- African American music
- College radio stations--Massachusetts
- WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
- WMUA (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
Alton H. Blackington Photograph Collection, 1898-1943.
15 boxes (4 linear feet).
Call no.: PH 061
A native of Rockland, Maine, Alton H. “Blackie” Blackington (1893-1963) was a writer, photojournalist, and radio personality associated with New England “lore and legend.” After returning from naval service in the First World War, Blackington joined the staff of the Boston Herald, covering a range of current events, but becoming well known for his human interest features on New England people and customs. He was successful enough by the mid-1920s to establish his own photo service, and although his work remained centered on New England and was based in Boston, he photographed and handled images from across the country. Capitalizing on the trove of New England stories he accumulated as a photojournalist, Blackington became a popular lecturer and from 1933-1953, a radio and later television host on the NBC network, Yankee Yarns, which yielded the books Yankee Yarns (1954) and More Yankee Yarns (1956).
This collection of Blackington’s glass plate negatives was purchased by Robb Sagendorf of Yankee Publishing around the time of Blackington’s death. Reflecting Blackington’s photojournalistic interests, the collection covers a terrain stretching from news of public officials and civic events to local personalities, but the heart of the collection is the dozens of images of typically eccentric New England characters and human interest stories. Most of the images were taken by Blackington on 4×5″ dry plate negatives, however many of the later images are made on flexible acetate stock and the collection includes several images by other (unidentified) photographers distributed by the Blackington News Service.
- Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933--Photographs
- Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937--Photographs
- Maine--Social life and customs--Photographs
- Massachusetts--Social life and customs--Photographs
- New England--Social life and customs--Photographs
- New Hampshire--Social life and customs--Photographs
- Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945--Photographs
- Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921--Photographs
Types of material
Boston Jazz Society Records, ca. 1973-2014.
6 boxes (10 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 880
Founded in 1973, the Boston Jazz Society grew from a small group of enthusiasts listening to music in living rooms to a thriving organization that “kept Jazz alive” in New England. As Jazz’s popularity began to fade in the late 1960s, local Jazz societies formed to provide support to artists and give them the means and venues to continue to perform on the road. The Boston Jazz Society was originally inspired by one of the earliest, the Left Bank Jazz Society of Baltimore. Like the Left Bank, BJS produced concerts in clubs, theaters, and hotels but expanded their efforts to include exhibits, television and radio shows, and a Jazz education program for grade school students. The longest running BJS activities, however, were the annual Jazz Barbecues and starting in 1975, the BJS Scholarships. The scholarship program raised funds for young Jazz musicians to attend the New England Conservatory of Music’s Jazz Department and the Berklee School Of Music and began the musical careers of many important musicians, composers, and teachers. BJS was also deeply connected to the local music scene, celebrating Roxbury, Mass. natives Alan Dawson and Roy Haynes, whose brother Vincent was a long-time board member, among many others. After 42 years of promoting Jazz music in Boston, the Boston Jazz Society, Inc. dissolved in 2015.
The Boston Jazz Society Records extensively document BJS’s meetings, events, business dealings, and scholarship administration through meeting minutes, posters, correspondence, photographs, recordings, videos, and BJS’s own propaganda and publications. The majority of the BJS records came from the collection of founding member and longtime president Aureldon Edward Henderson and also represents his involvement in promoting Jazz in the Boston area.
- Jazz musicians--Massachusetts--Boston
- Berklee School of Music
- Haynes, Roy
- Henderson, Aureldon Edward
- New England Conservatory of Music
Cambodian Americans in Amherst Exhibition Collection, 1986.
1 box (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 114
Organized by UMass anthropology professor Joel Halpern, the images in this collection were put on display during the Cambodian New Year celebration in 1986. As part of the celebration, members of the large community of Cambodian refugees who have resettled in Amherst were recognized.
Types of material
Center for Popular Economics Records, 1978-1986.
21 boxes (12.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 109
Established in 1978 by a group of radical economists at UMass Amherst and local community and labor activists, the Center for Popular Economics. The Center’s staff grew to include a diverse group of economics professors, degree candidates, and activists from a wide range of educational institutions and social forums.
The collection documents the development of the Center’s program, curriculum, and staff, as well as their fund raising, advertising, outreach and networking activities.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Economics
- Center for Popular Economics (U.S.)
CIA on Trial Project Records, 1985-1989.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 508
In 1986 demonstrations against CIA recruitment on the University’s campus led by activists Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter, daughter of former President Jimmy Carter, resulted in the takeover of two school buildings and more than sixty arrests. The CIA on Trial Project was a group established in Amherst to support the individuals arrested as well as to raise funds for their legal defense.
News clippings covering the protests, fliers, memos from the University’s administration, and correspondence with Chancellor Duffey capture the mood on campus during and after the protests.
- CIA on Trial Project (Amherst, Mass.)
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
Class Action Records, 2004-2010.
13 boxes (19.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 687
Since incorporating as a non-profit in 2004, Class Action has been dedicated to exploring issues surrounding class and identifying means of dismantling classism. Founded by Felice Yeskel (an activist and founder of the Stonewall Center at UMass Amherst) and Jennifer Ladd, Class Action offers training, workshops, and organizational consulting to raise awareness of the impact of class barriers and class privilege on the lives of individuals and communities and of the intersections between race and class. Their goals include making class a diversity issue and promoting a broader vision of economic and social justice that will create lasting systemic change.
The records of Class Action include administrative files for the organization along with a range of materials used in training sessions and workshops.
- Social classes
- Ladd, Jennifer
- Yeskel, Felice
Types of material
Alvin P. Cohen Collection, 1957-1968.
2 boxes (1.6 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 145
As an undergraduate at the University of California Berkeley in the late 1950s, Alvin P. Cohen planned on a career in engineering, but after earning his bachelors degree and working as a laboratory technician, he returned to undergraduate status and then to graduate school in Chinese. Cohen’s time at Berkeley coincided with the turbulence of the first wave of student revolt, the civil rights and antiwar movements, and the Free Speech Movement, however as a married man with children, he was more an observer than activist. After completing his dissertation, The Avenging Ghost: Moral Judgment in Chinese Historical Texts, in 1971, he joined the faculty at UMass Amherst, initially with a split appointment teaching Chinese and working as East Asian bibliographer in the library. Over the next three and a half decades, he helped build the Program in Asian Languages and Literature, becoming its Chair in the 1990s and President of the Warring States Project.
Consisting of newsclippings, fliers, and other ephemera collected as the Free Speech Movement was at its height, the Cohen collection provides a valuable window on 1960s activism and the cross-fertilization between the various student movements. The materials cover a range of issues from free speech on campus to the California legislature, civil rights, the war in Vietnam, and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Of particular interest is a letter received by Cohen from a friend Doug Wachter in 1960, shortly after Wachter had been called before HUAC.
- College students--United States--Political activity
- Student movements--California
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Asian Languages and Literatures
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Mary Doyle Curran Papers, 1948-1979.
5 boxes (2.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 435
Author, editor, and professor, Mary Doyle Curran published her only novel, The Parish and the Hill, in 1948. The collection includes unpublished drafts of novels and short stories; photographs; correspondence from family and friends; publishers and literary associates such as Saul Bellow and Josephine Herbst.
- Women authors--Massachusetts
- Curran, Mary Doyle, 1917-1981