The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, UMass has supported publication of three volumes of Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has digitized the papers and made them freely available on the internet while serving as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books. SCUA continues in its efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.
Every February, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass Amherst commemorate Du Bois’s birthday by co-sponsoring a public colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert and Bethina Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, Arnold Rampersad, and David Levering Lewis.
Significant collections (view all)
- Africa American Institute. Records, 1953-2014
- Antislavery Pamphlet Collection
- Several hundred pamphlets relating to political antislavery in the United States, with an emphasis opn New England.
- See our Antislavery pamphlets digital archive
- Aronson, James. Collection, 1946-1983
- Editor of the National Guardian
- Banks, Katherine Bell. Papers, 1926-1960.
- Letters from W.E.B. Du Bois to Banks, a family friend
- Bond, Horace Mann. Papers, 1830-1979
- Educator, President of Lincoln University
- Brown, John. Papers (microfilm), 1826-1942 (bulk: 1856-1859)
- Du Bois, W. E. B. Papers, 1868-1963
- Heath, Gordon. Papers, 1940-1991
- Expatriate writer, actor, director, and musician
- Hudson Family. Papers, 1780-1955
- Family papers of the antislavery activist Erasmus D. Hudson
- International Oil Working Group. Records, 1981-1986
- Lewis, David Levering. Papers, ca.1955-2012
- Massachusetts. Special Commission on Unequal Education Opportunities. Records, 1974-1978
- Obrebski, Joseph and Tamara. Papers, 1923-1974
- Anthropological field work in Jamaica, 1947-1948
- Urban League of Springfield (Mass.). Records, 1970s
- Trent, Lloyd A. Family Papers, 1850-1996
Frances and Mary Allen Collection of Deerfield Photographs, 1900-1910.
Call no.: PH 001
Influenced by the arts and crafts movement, Frances and Mary Allen began taking photographs of their native Deerfield, Mass., in the mid-1880s. Displaying a finely honed pictorialist aesthetic, the sisters specialized in views of Deerfield and surrounding towns, posed genre scenes of life in colonial times, and the local scenery, earning a reputation as among the best women photographers of the period.
The Allen sisters photograph album contains ten gelatin developing out prints of street scenes in Deerfield, ca.1900-1910. Among these are two shots of the house they inherited from their aunt Kate in 1895, which thereafter became their home and studio.
- Deerfield (Mass.)--Photographs
- Women photographers--Massachusetts
- Allen, Frances
- Allen, Mary E. (Mary Electa), 1858-1941
Types of material
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Local 125 Records, 1928-1984.
Call no.: MS 001
Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Local 125 was a chapter of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) that worked to improve wages and hours of work, to increase job security, to provide facilities for advancing cultural, educational, and recreational interests of its members, and to strengthen the labor movement. Key figures in Local 125 included Aldo Cursi who, with Mamie Santora, organized the Connecticut shirtworkers and served as Manager from 1933 to 1954; John Laurie who served as Business Manager from 1933 to 1963; and Nick Aiello, Business agent in 1963 and Manager from 1964 to 1984.
The collection includes constitution, by-laws, minutes, contracts, piece rate schedules, accounts, subject files, scrapbooks, newsclippings, printed materials, photographs and a phonograph record. These records document the history of Local 125 from its founding in 1933 to 1984, when the Local office in New Haven was closed. Included also are correspondence and case materials pertaining to grievance and arbitration proceedings (access restrictions apply).
- Clothing trade--Labor unions--Connecticut
- Labor unions--Connecticut
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Textile industry--Connecticut
- Textile workers--Labor unions--Connecticut
- Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Local 125
Types of material
- Sound recordings
Harold Ambellan Memoir, 2005.
Call no.: MS 855
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., the expatriot sculptor Harold Ambellan was a participant in the Federal Art Project during the 1930s and a figure in the radical Artists’ Union and Sculptors Guild. After naval service during the Second World War, Ambellan left the United States permanently to escape the hostile climate of the McCarthy-era, going into exile in France. Although a friend of artists such as Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko, Ambellan’s work was primarily figurative and centered on the human form. His work has been exhibited widely on both sides of the Atlantic. He died at his home in Arles in 2006 at the age of 94.
In 2005, Victoria Diehl sat with her friend, Harold Ambellan, to record his memories of a life in art. Beginning with recollections of his childhood in Buffalo, N.Y., the memoir delves into the impact of the Great Depression, Ambellan’s experiences in the New York art scene of the 1930s and his participation in the leftist Artists’ Union, his Navy service, and his expatriate years in France from the 1950s-2000s. Ambellan’s memoir also includes extended discussion of his views of democracy, patriotism, and art, and his career as a sculptor.
- Artists--20th century
- Depressions, 1929
- Expatriate artists--France
- New Deal, 1933-1939
- Sculptors--20th century
- World War, 1939-1945
- Diehl, Victoria
- Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967
Types of material
- Oral histories
Antinuclear Activism Collection, ca.1977-1990.
Call no.: MS 547
In the mid-1970s, Western Massachusetts was a hotbed of antinuclear activism, sparked both by the proposal to build a nuclear power plant in Montague, Mass., and by the construction and operation of plants nearby in Rowe, Mass., and Seabrook, N.H. A group of activists associated with the Liberation News Service and Montague Farm commune, including Anna Gyorgy, Sam Lovejoy, Harvey Wasserman, Steven Diamond, Chuck Light, and Dan Keller, were instrumental in organizing popular opposition to nuclear power and they helped establish several antinuclear organizations, ranging from the Alternative Energy Coalition to the Renewable Energy Media Service, Clamshell Alliance, and Musicians United for Safe Energy.
The Antinuclear Activism Collection contains the results of the grassroots opposition to nuclear power in Western Massachusetts. The bulk of the collections consists of a variety of publications produced by or collected by a group of antinuclear activists in Franklin County, Mass. In addition to a large number newspapers (e.g. Clamshell Alliance News) and pamphlets, the collection includes t-shirts and bumper stickers, ephemeral publications, notes, sporadic correspondence, and other information collected both for research purposes and to aid in their public campaigns. Of particular interest are a set of early minutes of the Clamshell Alliance Coordinating committee (1977-1978), and information on protests at the Seabrook and Rowe nuclear facilities and the proposed facility at Montague. The collection is part of the Famous Long Ago Archive.
- Antinuclear movement–Massachusetts
- Clamshell Alliance
- Gyorgy, Anna
- Nuclear energy--Massachusetts
- Renewable Energy Media Service
- Alternative Energy Coalition
Ebenezer Bailey Papers, 1852-1882.
Call no.: MS 448
Ebenezer Bailey was a wholesale shoe purchaser and distributor from Massachusetts. The collection comprises just over 100 items, the bulk of which are receipts for the purchase and sale of shoes and slippers, covering the period from 1852 to 1882.
- Business records--Massachusetts
- Dearborn, J. J
- Lynn (Mass.)--History
- Shoe industry--Massachusetts--Lynn
- Shoe industry--New England--History--19th century
- Bailey, Ebenezer
Types of material
- Receipts (Financial records)
Solomon Barkin Papers, 1930-1988.
Call no.: FS 100
Born in 1902, Solomon Barkin was an economist, education director for the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA ), and from 1968 to 1978 a professor at the University of Massachusetts and research associate at the Labor Center.
The bulk of the Barkin collection, over 10.5 linear feet, consists of bound notebooks containing speeches, typescripts, and printed versions of articles, book reviews, congressional testimony, forewords, and introductions — nearly 600 in all — written by Barkin. One box (0.5 linear foot) contains correspondence, bibliographies, tributes and awards, and a biography. Generally, the collection illustrates Barkin’s life as both a union organizer and an economist. His writings reflect his attempts to create “a system of trade union economics” as a counterpoise to standard “enterprise economics,” as well as his belief that labor should not be viewed as a commodity.
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Textile Workers Union of America
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Labor Relations and Research Center
- Barkin, Solomon, 1907-
Elmer C. Bartels Papers, 1965-2010.
Call no.: MS 817
As the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission for thirty years, Elmer C. Bartels became a national leader on issues related to vocational rehabilitation and independent living for people with disabilities. While studying physics at Colby College in 1960, Bartels broke his neck in an inter-fraternity hockey game, but returned to complete his degree and then to earn an MS at Tufts. While working as a computer programmer at the Laboratory for Nuclear Science at MIT and later at Honeywell, he became involved in coordinating services and access that members of the community needed to survive. To address the range of issues relating to employment, housing, and architectural barriers for people with disabilities, he helped found three significant organizations: the Massachusetts Association of Paraplegiacs (1964), the Massachusetts Council of Organizations of the Handicapped (a cross-disability organization created in the late 1960s with Harold Remmes) and the Boston Center for Independent Living (1972). Bartels was a key figure in securing passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, considered the first civil-rights statute for persons with disabilities. In 1977, Bartels was appointed to the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission by Gov. Michael Dukakis, serving under seven successive administrations, leaving an important mark on public policy. Since leaving the MRC, Bartels has remained active as a teacher and advocate for disability issues.
The Bartels Papers are an important resource for study of the early history of disability advocacy and public policy in Massachusetts. The collection includes a wealth of material on the formation and activity of the Massachusetts Association of Paraplegiacs, the National Paraplegia Foundation, and the Mass Rehabilitation Commission; correspondence with other leading figures in the disability rights movement; and publications relating to legislation on disability issues, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living.
- People with disabilities--Civil rights
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
- Massaachusetts. Rehabilitation Commission
- Massachusetts Association of Paraplegiacs
Thomas Barton Papers, 1947-1977 (Bulk: 1960-1974).
Call no.: MS 539
In the early 1960s, Tom Barton (b. 1935) emerged as a leader in the Left-wing of the Young People’s Socialist League, the national youth affiliate of the Socialist Party. Deeply committed to the civil rights and antiwar struggles and to revolutionary organizing, Barton operated in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York and was a delegate and National Secretary at the 1964 convention in which tensions within YPSL led to its dissolution.
A small, but rich collection, the Barton Papers provide a glimpse into the career of a long-time Socialist and activist. From Barton’s entry into the Young People’s Socialist League in the latest 1950s through his work with the Wildcat group in the early 1970s, the collection contains outstanding content on the civil rights and antiwar movements and the strategies for radical organizing. The collection is particularly rich on two periods of Barton’s career — his time in the YPSL and Student Peace Union (1960-1964) and in the Wildcat group (1968-1971) — and particularly for the events surrounding the dissolution of YPSL in 1964, following a heated debate over whether to support Lyndon Johnson for president. The collection includes correspondence with other young radicals such as Martin Oppenheimer, Lyndon Henry, Juan McIver, and Joe Weiner.
- Antiwar movements
- Civil rights movements
- Socialist Party of the United States of America
- Socialists--United States
- Student Peace Union
- Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
- Young People's Socialist League
- Barton, Thomas
- Gilbert, Carl
- Henry, Lyndon
- MacFadyen, Gavin
- McIver, Juan
- Oppenheimer, Martin
- Shatkin, Joan
- Shatkin, Norm
- Verret, Joe
- Weiner, Joe
Tom Behrendt Papers, 1978-2003.
Call no.: MS 870
The attorney Tom Behrendt has worked for years in the cause of civil rights for people with mental disabilities. A past president and long-time member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, Behrendt served previously as Legal Director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project and he was a founding member of the Special Litigation and Appeals Unit of the Mental Hygiene Legal Service in New York. Behrendt’s involvements have included work with organizations such as Project Release, the Free Association, Advocacy Unlimited, and PAIMI (Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness).
The collection consists of a wide array of publications and documents relating the psychiatric survivors movement and Behrendt’s advocacy work. In addition to materials relating to NARPA conferences and a long run of NARPA’s newsletter, The Rights Tenet, the collection includes newsletters and other materials relating to the movement and issues such as electroconvulsive therapy.
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Mental health laws
- National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy
- Project Release