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Rodin, Phyllis

Phyllis Rodin Papers, 1950-2014
ca.50 boxes (75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 894
Phyllis Rodin Papers image
Phyllis Rodin

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.

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Feminists
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts

Ross, Laura

Laura M. Ross Papers, 1945-2003 (Bulk: 1967-1990)
13 boxes (6.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 515
Laura M. Ross Papers image
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.

Subjects
  • 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
Contributors
  • Ross, Laura

Smith, Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis Smith Collection, 1938-2014 (Bulk: 1965-2014)
35 boxes, 948 books (83.5 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 (1979), Workrights (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 Smith’s publications, the collection includes material on topics ranging from cyber security to privacy in employment, medical care, identity theft, electronic surveillance, and telecommunications, and a thick run of correspondence relating to Privacy Journal, including letters seeking advice on issues in privacy and privacy invasion. Also included is a small collection of material relating to Smith’s civil rights work in Alabama during the mid-1960s.

Subjects
  • Privacy
  • Privacy and identity protection
  • Privacy--Law and legislation

Social Change Periodicals

Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006
14 boxes (21 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 306
Social Change Periodicals Collection image
Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980

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.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Suffrage--Periodicals
  • Central America--Politics and government--Periodicals
  • Disarmament--Periodicals
  • Feminism--Periodicals
  • Gay liberation movement--Periodicals
  • Labor--United States--Periodicals
  • Lesbians--Periodicals
  • Nonviolence--Periodicals
  • Peace--Periodicals
  • Prisons--United States--Periodicals
  • Radicalism--United States--Periodicals
  • Socialism--Periodical
  • Women--Periodical
Types of material
  • Periodicals

Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968

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.

Subjects
  • Pacifists--United States
  • Socialists--United States
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968
Types of material
  • Autobiographies

Thrasher, Sue

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.

Types of material
  • Masks
  • Posters

Vega, Carlos

Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995
148 volumes, 1 box, (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 800
Carlos Vega Collection image
Carlos Vega ca. 1990

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.

Subjects
  • 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
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Radicalism--United States
  • Revolutionary literature
  • Socialism
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • Venceremos Brigade

Alternative Energy Coalition

Alternative Energy Coalition, ca.1975-1985
9 boxes (13.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 586

A product of the vibrant and progressive political culture of western Massachusetts during the early 1970s, the Alternative Energy Coalition played a key role in the growth of antinuclear activism. In 1974, the AEC helped mobilize support for Sam Lovejoy after he sabotaged a weather tower erected by Northeast Utilities in Montague, Mass., in preparation for a proposed nuclear power plant, and they helped organize the drive for a referendum opposing not only the proposed plant in Montague, but existing plants in Rowe, Mass., and Vernon, Vt. Forming extensive connections with other antinuclear organizations, the AEC also became one of the organizations that united in 1976 to form the Clamshell Alliance, which made an art of mass civil disobedience.

The AEC Records provide insight into grassroots activism of the 1970s and 1980s, galvanized by the seemingly unrestrained growth of the nuclear power industry. The records, emanating from the Hampshire County branch, contain both research materials used by the AEC and organizational and promotional materials produced by them, including publications, minutes of meetings, correspondence, and materials used during protests. Of particular interest are a thick suite of organizational and other information pertaining to the occupation of the Seabrook (N.H.) nuclear power plant in 1979 and minutes, notes, and other materials relating to the founding and early days of the Clamshell Alliance. The collection is closely related to the Antinuclear Collection (MS 547).

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Hampshire County (Mass.)--History
  • Nonviolence--Massachusetts
  • Nuclear energy--Massachusetts
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Political activists--Massachusetts
  • Renewable energy source
  • Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant (N.H.)
  • Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station
Contributors
  • Alternative Energy Coalition
  • Clamshell Alliance
Types of material
  • Realia

American History Workshop

American History Workshop Records, 1980-2016
42 boxes (63 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 922

Founded by Richard Rabinowitz in 1980, American History Workshop is a consortium of historians, designers, and filmmakers who promote public understanding of history through innovative exhibition and interpretation. Collaborating with a national roster of clients, the AHW provides consultation and assistance in developing, designing, and installing exhibitions that convey current historical scholarship and pedagogical practice for the public. Their exhibits have explored a wide array of critical themes in American history, including slavery, civil rights, and social justice; Constitutional and political history; immigration; urbanization; and labor history. In recent years, they have expanded their operations to include services such as audience analysis, media production, fund raising assistance, and organizational development.

The records of the American History Workshop document over three decades of work by one of the premier firms in historical exhibition and interpretation. The collection contains detailed records of nearly 600 projects prepared in collaboration with organizations ranging from the New-York Historical Society and Arizona Historical Society to the Smithsonian, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Subjects
  • Exhibitions
  • Public history
Contributors
  • Rabinowitz, Richard
  • Singer, Michael

Amherst Growth Study Committee, Inc.

Amherst Growth Study Committee Records, 1971-1974
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 543
View of the proposed the Amherst Fields
View of the proposed the Amherst Fields

In May 1971 Otto Paparazzo Associates announced their plans to develop 640 acres of land in East Amherst upon which a proposed 2,200 residential units, a commercial center, and a golf course would be built. Concerned about unnatural growth of the community and about the effect such a development would have on the environment, a group of residents formed the Amherst Growth Study Committee within a few months of the announcement. Despite these concerns, the Zoning Board of Appeals issued a formal permit for construction in December 1971, which the AGSC immediately appealed. Even though the group was unable to overturn the zoning board’s decision, they did achieve their ends, in part, when state and town agencies prevented the project from moving forward due to an overloaded sewage system. More importantly, the group increased public awareness about growth and housing in the town of Amherst.

Records include notes from AGSC meetings, correspondence, and newspaper clippings documenting coverage of the story in local papers.

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
Contributors
  • Amherst Growth Study Committee, Inc
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