David F. Noble Papers, 1977-2010.
15 boxes (22.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 879
David F. Noble was a critical and highly influential historian of technology, science, and education, writing from a strong leftist perspective. Receiving his doctorate at the University of Rochester, Noble began his academic career at MIT. His first book, America By Design (1977), received strong reviews for its critique of the corporate control of science and technology, but proved too radical for MIT, which denied him tenure despite strong support from his peers. A stint at the Smithsonian followed, but ended similarly, and he continued to face opposition in his career for his radicalism and persistence. After several years at Drexel (1986-1994), Noble landed at York University, where he remained committed to a range of social justice issues, including opposition to the corporatization of universities. Among his major works Forces of Production (1984), A World Without Women (1992), The Religion of Technology (1997), Digital Diploma Mills (2001), and Beyond the Promised Land (2005). Noble died of complications of pneumonia in December 2010, and was survived by his wife Sarah Dopp and three daughters.
The challenges of academic freedom and corporate influence that Noble confronted throughout his career, and his trenchant analysis of technology, science, and religion in contemporary culture, form the core of this collection. Although the files relating to his first book were mostly lost, each of his later books is well represented, accompanied by general correspondence, documentation of his lawsuits against his employers, and selective public talks and publications. Noble’s time at York is particularly well documented, including content relating to his principled stand against grading students.
- Academic freedom
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Faculty
- Science--Social aspects
- Technology--Social aspects
- York University--Faculty
People for Economic Survival Records, 1974-1977.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 535
Established in October 1974, People for Economic Survival (PES) was a Socialist group based in Northampton, Massachusetts, first organized with the short-term goal of pressuring local banks to sell food stamps. The group’s vision for the longer term, however, was to stimulate change that would result in the replacement of an economy based on corporate profit with one based on people’s needs. After two and half years of community activity, including working for lower utility rates and against cutbacks in welfare, human services, and unemployment benefits, PES disbanded.
The PES collection consists of flyers, meeting minutes, and a full run of Take It, the group’s newsletter.
- Food stamps--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Northampton (Mass.)--History
- Public welfare--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
- People for Economic Survival
John P. Roche Collection, 1886-1965.
Call no.: RB 008
A political scientist, writer, and government consultant, John P. Roche was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 7, 1923, the son of a salesman. A liberal Social Democrat and fervent anti-Communist, Roche spent his academic career at Haverford College and Brandeis and Tufts Universities, writing extensively on American foreign policy, constitutional law, and the history of political thought in America, and maintaining a strong interest in the history of the American left. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he served as an adviser to the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.
The Roche Collection consists of over 300 publications pertaining to the political left in the United States, with a smaller number of works from the radical right and from European Socialists and Communists. Concentrated in the years spanning the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the McCarthy hearings, many of the works were produced by formal political parties in response to particular political campaigns, current events, or social issues, with other works geared primarily toward consciousness raising and general political education on trade unionism, fascism, war and peace, American foreign policy, and freedom of speech and the press.
- United States--Foreign policy--20th century
- World War, 1939-1945
- Coughlin, Charles E. (Charles Edward), 1891-1979
- Roche, John P.
Phyllis Rodin Papers, 1950-2014.
ca.50 boxes (75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 894
Born into a Jewish Lithuanian family in Williamsburg., N.Y., on May 10, 1914, Phyllis Rodin was drawn to the struggle for peace and social justice from early in life. Her widowed mother set an example as an antiwar activist and advocate for women’s rights, and after marrying at age 18, Phyllis and her husband ran a dairy farm that they reorganized on cooperative principles in the 1930s. A watershed in her life came after witnessing the suffering of war first hand while engaged as a psychiatric aid worker for the Red Cross during the Second World War. From that point, Rodin was an unrelenting activist for peace, traveling internationally and remaining vocal through the McCarthy era and Vietnam War and diving headlong into the second wave of the feminist movement. Returning to school late in life, she completed an undergraduate degree at Wisconsin before moving to Amherst in 1980 to study for a doctorate in Future Studies through the UMass Department of Education. Her activism barely skipped a beat as she worked closely with Quaker groups and stalwart activists such as her friend Frances Crowe to oppose nuclear weapons and violence in all forms. Rodin died in Amherst on Jan. 2015.
The Rodin Papers are the product of a long life of a woman devoted to the struggle for peace, feminism, and social justice. Richer in documenting Rodin’s latter decades and the philosophy of world peace she honed, the collection contains an abundance of correspondence, ephemera, and audiovisual materials related to international work in peacebuilding.
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
Laura M. Ross Papers, 1945-2003 (Bulk: 1967-1990).
13 boxes (6.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 515
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
Robert Ellis Smith Collection, 1938-2014 (Bulk: 1965-2014).
26 boxes, 948 books (70 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 829
An attorney, writer, publisher, and journalist, Robert Ellis Smith is a leading expert in privacy. A graduate of Harvard (1962) and Georgetown University Law Center (1975), Smith has published Privacy Journal
since 1974, a newsletter dedicated to the individual’s right to privacy, and several books, including Privacy: How to Protect What’s Left of It
(1983), The Law of Privacy Explained
(1993), and Our Vanishing Privacy
(1993). An adjunct Professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, he is often called upon to speak on and testify concerning privacy rights. Smith’s other activism has included work in the Civil Rights movement and in environmental protection.
The Smith collection consists of publications and research files relating to Robert Ellis Smith’s long interest in the law and culture of privacy. In addition to a complete run of Privacy Journal
and Ellis’ publications, the collection includes material on topics ranging from cyber security to privacy in employment, medical care, identity theft, electronic surveillance, and telecommunications.
- Privacy and identity protection
- Privacy--Law and legislation
Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006.
14 boxes (21 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 306
Assembled to bring together short and broken runs of periodicals produced by activists and movements for social justice, the Social Change Periodicals Collection touches on a wide variety of topics. Much of the original collection came from subscriptions held by the Everywoman’s Center at UMass Amherst, however the collection has grown to include materials supplied by many other donors. The bulk of periodicals come from the period 1965-1990 and the subjects covered range from feminism to gay rights, and political radicalism, to peace, prison, labor, antiracism, and the counterculture more generally. The collection has been organized thematically into 19 series.
- African Americans--Suffrage--Periodicals
- Central America--Politics and government--Periodicals
- Gay liberation movement--Periodicals
- Labor--United States--Periodicals
- Prisons--United States--Periodicals
- Radicalism--United States--Periodicals
Types of material
Norman Thomas Autobiography, 1946-1958.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 186
An ardent Socialist and pacifist, Norman Thomas ran six times as a democratic socialist candidate for president of the United States. Born in 1884 in Marion, Ohio, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Thomas became a leading voice of the non-Communist left, taking up the causes of civil rights, peace, and social justice.
Thomas’s memoir traces the major events of his life from his boyhood and education at Bucknell and Princeton, to his experiences during both world wars, and from his acceptance of Socialism to his reflections on religion.
- Pacifists--United States
- Socialists--United States
- World War, 1939-1945
- Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968
Types of material
Sue Thrasher Poster Collection, ca.1975-2010.
50 posters, 1 box (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 861
The activist, writer, and educator, Sue Thrasher became involved in the civil rights movement while a student at Scarritt College in 1961. A native of rural West Tennessee, Thrasher was drawn to the local chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee shortly after arriving on campus, and in 1964, she helped found the Southern Students Organizing Committee, serving as its first executive director and taking part in the “white folks project” during Mississippi Summer. As a stalwart of the freedom movement and its historian, she joined the staff at the Highlander Center in 1978, helping to organize their archives and conducting oral histories. After more than twenty years of social activism in the South, Thrasher came to UMass Amherst to earn a doctorate in Educational Policy and Research, and from 1997 until her retirement in 2013, she worked as Partnership Coordinator at Five Colleges Incorporated, linking faculty with public school districts in western Massachusetts. Among her several works on the civil rights movement is the collaborative volume Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (2000).
A visual record of Sue Thrasher’s involvement in movements for social justice, the collection includes dozens of posters reflecting international liberation movements (Mozambique, Palestine, Central America), Cuba, the antiwar movement, campaigns for literacy in Nicaragua, the International Council on Adult Education (Chile and Bangladesh), and activities at the Highlander Center (benefit concerts by Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Sweet Honey in the Rock). The collection also includes two Nicaraguan masks collected by Thrasher.
Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995.
148 volumes, 1 box, (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 800
An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995. He survived until April 2012.
The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- Civil Rights movements--Africa
- Civil Rights movements--Central America
- Civil Rights movements--Chile
- Civil Rights movements--United States
- Civil Rights movements-Asia
- Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
- Latin America--Periodicals
- Radicalism--United States
- Revolutionary literature
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- Venceremos Brigade