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.”
Arvo A. Solander Papers, 1930-1958.
Call no.: MS 587
Graduating from Harvard in the thick of the Great Depression, Arvo A. Solander worked as a civil and sanitary engineer for a variety of state and federal agencies, including the Civil Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the 1930s, as opportunity arose, he filled positions as a road engineer, in the design and construction of water and sewage plants, in pollution control, as a safety engineer in the shellfish industry, and in mosquito control, taking jobs throughout Massachusetts and as far away as Tennessee. After using his talents as an officer in the Sanitary Corps during the Second World War, based primarily in Arkansas, Solander returned home to Massachusetts and opened a private engineering office in South Hadley. He worked as a civil engineer and surveyor until his death in January 1976.
The Arvo Solander Papers consists of twenty-four bound volumes documenting thirty years of varied work as an engineer, including his contributions to the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. Within the bound volumes are a wide range of reports, typescripts, sketches and diagrams, graphs, contracts and design specifications, photographs, and postcards.
- Civil engineers
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
- Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)
- Roads--Design and construction
- Sanitary engineers
- Sewage disposal plants--Design and construction
- United States. Federal Civil Works Administration
- Westfield State Sanatorium
- World War, 1939-1945
- Wrentham State School
- Solander, Arvo A
Types of material
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Student Body, 1867-2007.
Call no.: RG 045
Since the arrival of the first class of students at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1867, the student body at UMass has grown to over 20,500 undergraduates and nearly 6,000 graduate students.
Record Group 45 includes the collected records of student activities at UMass Amherst, from student publications and organizations (fraternities and sororities, unions, and honorary societies) to records of student government, student protests, and religious and social groups. Also included are class notes and correspondence of some individual students while enrolled in the University.
- Aggie Life
- Bay State Ruralist
- College Signal
- College students--Massachusetts
- Greek letter societies--Massachusetts
- Student newspapers and periodicals--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
John Wright Account Books, 1818-1859.
Call no.: MS 162
Farmer, freight hauler, laborer, cider-maker, landlord, and town official who was a seventh-generation descendant of Samuel Wright, one of the first English settlers of Northampton, Massachusetts. Nine bound volumes and four folders of loose material include accounts of his businesses with his brother Samuel and son Edwin and activities, as well as letters, and miscellaneous papers and figurings.
- Freight and freightage--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
- Account books
Burgett-Irey Family Papers, 1832-2010 (Bulk: 1929-2008).
Call no.: MS 605
Born in 1908 to Louis and Sarah Kessel Burgett, Katherine grew up on the family farm outside of Oquawka, Illinois. In 1924 her parents purchased their own farm in Monmouth, which they later lost due to the devastating impact of the Depression on agriculture, and it was there that she first met her future husband, Kenneth Monroe Irey, a student at Monmouth College. The newlyweds moved to New Jersey in 1931 where Kenneth was transferred for work. As a chemical engineer, Kenneth enjoyed a successful career and comfortably supported his wife and two children. Retiring in 1970, he and Katherine spent their later years pursuing two passions: traveling and bird-watching. Kenneth and Katherine’s eldest daughter, June Irey Guild, spent most of her adult life in Massachusetts where she has married twice, raised six children, and operated her own business. During her retirement years, June focused on preserving her family’s history by collecting letters and recoding family narratives.
The Burgett-Irey Family Papers chronicle the changes that many twentieth-century American families experienced as the nation descended into an economic depression, entered into a world war, and emerged as one of the most powerful countries in the world. The collection, which will continue to grow, includes approximately 65 letters between Katherine Burgett Irey and her family. Most of the letters exchange family updates, particularly precious after Katherine relocated to New Jersey. Among the earliest letters is an account of Katherine and Kenneth’s first meeting described as “fast work,” since he asked her out on the spot. Also included are autobiographical writings by Kenneth describing his cross-country trip to California in 1927 and a brief history of his life and career.
- Bird watching
- Burgett family
- Irey family
- Marriage--United States
- Motherhood--United States--History--20th century
- Mothers--United States--History--20th century
- Women--United States--History--20th century
- Guild, June Irey
- Irey, Katherine Burgett
- Irey, Kenneth Monroe, 1905-1994
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Timothy Cushing Account Book, 1764-1845 (Bulk: 1781-1806).
Call no.: MS 485 bd
A carpenter by trade and a farmer, Timothy Cushing lived in Cohasset, Massachusetts, throughout most of his adult life. Born on Feb 2, 1738, the eighth child of Samuel Cushing, a selectman and Justice of the Peace from the second district in Hingham (now Cohasset), Cushing married Desire Jenkins (b. 1745) on June 4, 1765, and raised a considerable family of eleven children. During the Revolutionary War, he served for a brief period in companies raised in Cohasset, but otherwise remained at home, at work, until his death on December 26, 1806.
Cushing’s accounts offer a fine record of the activities of a workaday carpenter during the first decades of the early American republic, reflecting both his remarkable industry and the flexibility with which he approached earning a living. The work undertaken by Cushing centers on two areas of activity — carpentry and farm work — but within those areas, the range of activities is quite broad. As a carpenter, Cushing set glass in windows, hung shutters, made coffins, hog troughs, and window seats; he worked on horse carts and sleds, barn doors, pulled down houses and framed them, made “a Little chair” and a table, painted sashes, hewed timber, made shingles, and worked on a dam. As a farm worker, he was regularly called upon to butcher calves and bullocks, to garden, mow hay, plow, make cider, and perform many other tasks, including making goose quill pens. The crops he records reflect the near-coastal setting: primarily flax, carrots, turnips, corn, and potatoes, with references throughout to cattle and sheep. During some periods, Cushing records selling fresh fish, including haddock and eels.
- Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts--Cohasset--18th century
- Carpenters--Massachusetts--Cohasset--18th century
- Cohasset (Mass.)--Economic conditions--18th century
- Cohasset (Mass.)--Economic conditions--18th century
- Cushing, Isaac, 1813-1891
- Cushing, Timothy, 1738-1806
Types of material
- Account books
Ashley Hubbard Memorandum Book, 1826-1860.
Call no.: MS 032
Born in 1792, Ashley Hubbard was raised on a farm in Sunderland, Mass., and spent a life invested in agriculture. Prospering in both work and family, Hubbard owned one hundred acres of land at the height of his operations and had a successful, though relatively small scale run of livestock, including horses, oxen, milk cows, and sheep.
In this slender volume, a combination daybook and memorandum book, Hubbard maintained a careful record of breeding and maintaining his livestock. Succinctly, the memos make note of the dates and places on which he serviced horses, took heifers or cows to bulls, or pastured his stock, and there are occasional notices on sheep.
- Sunderland (Mass.)--History
Types of material
- Memorandum books
Lyman Loomis Daybook, 1836-1857.
Call no.: MS 626 bd
Born on July 31, 1818, the fifth of eight children of Squire and Patience (Root) Loomis, Lyman Loomis spent his life as a farmer and agricultural worker in Westfield, Mass. Loomis married Elmina Hayes in March 1846, and died in May 1902.
A slender and rough hewn volume kept by a farm laborer, the Loomis account book contains sketchy records detailing work performed and crops tended, with occasional notes on commodities purchased.
- Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts--Westfield
- Westfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Loomis, Lyman, 1818-1902
Types of material
Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers, 1970-1987 (Bulk: 1945-1980).
Call no.: MS 881
For thirty five years, Gifford Towle (1907-1987) and his with Marjorie worked as missionaries in the state of Maharashtra, India. Born and raised a Quaker, Towle was educated at the Mt. Hermon School and Massachusetts State College, graduating in 1932. After marrying in a Quaker ceremony held in Congregational Church that September, Towle entered the Hartford Seminary with the goal of preparing himself for foreign missionary work. Gaining experience through appointments at churches in Packardville, Pelham, and Southampton, Massachusetts, he enlisted with the American Marathi Mission in 1939. Assigned to the Vadala Mission in Ahmadnagar, the oldest missionary outpost of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, he drew on his education at Mass. State to introduce modern agricultural engineering technologies and concepts, particularly in the “the practical field of water resources.” After retiring in 1973, Towle toured the country lecturing on India and his experiences.
The Towle collection is a remarkably rich assemblage reflecting over three decades of life as a foreign missionary and agricultural engineer in rural India. Between regular reports on the progress of the mission and his extensive correspondence with his family and American and Indian associates, the collection provides a detailed record of the massive changes affecting India from the end of colonialism through the beginning of India’s green revolution and into the early 1970s. A diligent writer, meticulous record keeper, and avid photographer, Towle left a thorough record of his life’s work and its impact on the lives of rural Indians.
- India--Description and travel
- Maharasthra (India)--Economic conditions
- Towle, Marjorie Blossom
Types of material
John Woodward Account book, 1838-1868.
Call no.: MS 063 bd
John Woodward was a farmer in Groton, Mass., during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Although little is known of his life, it appears that Woodward was born in nearby Tyngsboro on March 7, 1813, and that he married twice: first to Rebecca Sawtelle of Groton in 1823 and second to Mary Jane Nutting — almost 30 years his junior — in Dec. 1866. With Mary Jane, at least, he was highly reproductive, fathering his first son, a seventh child, at the age of 66. Woodward died in Groton on Apr. 20, 1895, and was buried in his family’s ancestral home of Dunstable.
John Woodward’s accounts document the financial transactions of fairly typical farmer in Groton over the period of three decades. Raising an array of produce, from cranberries and chestnuts, to squash, barley, apples, and turnips, Woodward also raised poultry and a variety of livestock. The ledger documents the day to day exchanges of food and labor that comprised the core of the local economy. Noteworthy among his customers are locally prominent families such as Blood and Swett and at least two Nuttings.
- Groton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
- Account books