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Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.

Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.

View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).


Significant collecting areas

  • Antinuclear movement
    • New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
  • Antiracism and civil rights
    • The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
  • Community organizations and charities
    • SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
  • Environmentalism
    • Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the history of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
  • Intentional Communities
    • Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
  • Labor activism
  • Peace Collections
    • Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
  • Political activism
    • As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
  • Social Justice
    • Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.

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José A. Soler Papers, 1972-2014

20 boxes (26.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 864
José Soler (center) at District 65 rally
José Soler (center) at District 65 rally

A scholar of labor studies and activist, José Soler was born in New York City to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father and has been an activist in the cause of Puerto Rican independence and human rights since the 1970s. While a student at the University of New Mexico (BA 1972), Soler emerged as a leader in the Chicano rights organization, the Brown Berets, and while living in Puerto Rico in the late 1970s, he joined the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Soler has subsequently worked in the labor movement as a shop steward, union organizer with UAW District 65, and labor journalist. As a committed Marxist and prolific writer and editor, he has taken part in causes ranging from anti-imperialist work in the Caribbean and Central America to the anti-apartheid struggle, and he has served on the Executive Board of the US Peace Council. From 1993 until his retirement in 2015, Soler worked as Director of the Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center at UMass Dartmouth where he has continued to work on behalf of public education and human rights and national self-determination.

The Soler Papers chronicle over forty years of a life-long activist’s interests and participation in left-wing political, labor, and social justice movements. There is a particular focus on topics relating to socialism and the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico, anti-imperialist movements in South and Central America and Africa, and issues affecting Puerto Rican and Hispanic workers in the United States, New England, and the New York City area. Published and promotional materials such as periodicals, magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets make up the bulk of the collection, with extensive coverage of the concerns of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño, PSP), the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), as well as New Jersey chapters of the unions Communications Workers of America (CWA) and District 65, which eventually joined the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). An additional seven boxes were added to the collection in June 2016, which remain unprocessed. The new materials offer additional documentation from the Dubin Labor Education Center and Soler’s work and interests in education (testing, privatization, and unions), labor, Marxist-Leninism, and various events in the United States and Latin America.


  • Communications Workers of America
  • Labor unions--New York (State)--New York
  • Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño
  • United Automobile, Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America. District 65

Types of material

  • Photographs

Stonewall Center Records, 1962-2005

22 boxes (33 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 030/2/6

Following a series of homophobic incidents on the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1985, the Program for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Concerns was established as an administrative center in the Office of Student Affairs. Later renamed after the notorious riots in New York, the Stonewall Center has provided the campus and surrounding community with cultural and educational programming through speakers, films, video and book library, Speakers Bureau on LGBTQ issues, referrals and support, advocacy and community outreach.

The records of the Stonewall Center include documentation of day to day operations, including phone logs, memos, and budget information, as well as posters and press releases for events, publications, campus and external reports, training manuals, surveys, newspaper clippings, and ephemera such as banners, tee-shirts, and buttons.


  • Gay college students--Massachusetts
  • Gays--Services for
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns


  • Stonewall Center
  • Yeskel, Felice

Jane Swift Papers, 1988-2008

16 boxes (22 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 823
Jane Swift
Jane Swift

Just 36 years of age, Jane Swift became Acting Governor of Massachusetts in 2001, the first and only woman to hold that office, the youngest woman governor in US history, and the only one to give birth while in office. A native of North Adams, Swift served as a Republican in the state Senate from 1990-1996, becoming widely known for her role in passing the Education Reform Act of 1993. Defeated in a bid to represent the 1st District in the US Congress, she served in the William Weld administration before earning election as Lieutenant Governor in 1998, rising to the governorship three years later when Paul Cellucci resigned to become Ambassador to Canada. During her time in office, Swift, but her tenure is remembered both for her calm management of the fallout from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and for a series of controversies that ultimatley cost her political support. Trailing eventual nominee Mitt Romney in the 2002 Republican gubentorial primary, Swift abandoned her campaign. Returning home to Williamstown, where she has been involved in several educational initiatives, including serving as Director of Sally Ride Science, a lecturer in Leadership Studies at Williams Colege, and since July 2011, CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages. She remains active in Republican politics.

Centered on her political career, Jane Swift’s Papers provide insight into her experiences as governor of Massachusetts with content ranging from policy briefings to topical files, technical reports, economic and budgetary information, correspondence, legal filings, and transition reports at the time of leaving office. The visual documentation of Swift’s time in office includes a wide range of photographs, videotapes, paraphernalia, and souvenirs. There is comparatively little material is available to document Swift’s time in the state senate.


  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • Massachusetts. Governor
  • Republican Party (Mass.)

Types of material

  • Photographs

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Student Body, 1867-2007

(155 linear feet)
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.

Connect to another siteA number of student publications have been digitized and are indexed in YouMass.


  • Aggie Life
  • Bay State Ruralist
  • College Signal
  • College students--Massachusetts
  • Greek letter societies--Massachusetts
  • Student newspapers and periodicals--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students

Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995

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


  • 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

American Friends Service Committee Records, 1975-2005

24 boxes (36 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 459

Established in 1968 in response to the war in Vietnam, the AFSC office in western Massachusetts did not limit its focus to draft and military counseling, instead the organization broadened its focus over time to include educational and outreach programs for a variety of peace and socal justice issues. Today the chapter focuses on economic justice, campaigns against U.S. military intervention, and actions to combat racism and classism. With an emphasis on serving the community of western Massachusetts, the program is equally committed to calling attention to issues of both national and local importance. Recent campaigns range from ending the war in Iraq and supporting peace in Columbia to preventing the construction of a new jail in Chicopee.

The collection consists chiefly of subject files that together provide a picture of the various issues in which the western Massachusetts AFSC was involved. Topics range from the organization’s earliest focus, the Vietnam War, to the first Gulf War, landlord/tenant relations, immigration, and landmines. The collection also includes materials relating to public figures, some of whom traveled to the region to speak.


  • Activists--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Social justice--Massachusetts


  • American Friends Service Committee. Western Massachusetts

Civilian Public Service Camp Newsletter Collection, 1941-1944

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 537

Born out of a unique collaboration between the United States government and the historic peace churches, the first Civilian Public Service Camps were established in 1941 to provide conscientious objectors the option to perform alternative service under civilian command. Nearly 12,000 COs served in the 152 CPS camps in projects ranging from soil conservation, agriculture, and forestry to mental health. While the work was supposed to be of national importance, many of the men later complained that the labor was menial and not as important as they had hoped. Furthermore with no ability to earn wages and with their churches and families responsible for financing the camps, many COs, their wives and children found themselves impoverished both during and after the war.

During their time off, many of the men in the CPS camps published newsletters discussing education programs, which frequently involved religious study, work projects, and news about individuals sent to family and friends back home. This collections consists of newsletters created in camps in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Indiana, Maryland, and Colorado.


  • Civilian Public Service--Periodicals
  • Conscientious objectors--United States
  • Pacifists--United States
  • World War, 1939-1945--Conscientious objectors--United States

Types of material

  • Newsletters

Jay Goldspinner Periodicals Collection, 1974-2012

1 box (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 909
1977 Spring Equinox cover of WomenSpirit
1977 Spring Equinox cover of WomenSpirit

All social change and cultural movements have their associated resources for the exchange of information, ideas, stories, and art. Particularly in the women’s movement, the effort to create newsletters, journals, and other forms of information dissemination was a proactive step taken to assert women’s stories and to locate the power of the press within women-run communities. These periodicals, both large and small in scale, reveal the ways women connected to each other and to larger spiritual and cultural concepts. Local artist, activist, and feminist Jay Goldspinner was engaged with many of these communities, particularly those characterizing the spiritual elements of the women’s liberation and feminist movements, and collected and saved their periodicals. Her collection includes journals focusing on feminist linguistics, goddess myths and spirituality, Wiccan and witch traditions, progressive politics, and women’s spirituality and community in local and international settings. Each is a unique window into discourses of women’s history, feminist movements, and social change work.

The Jay Goldspinner Periodicals Collection consists of issues of feminist and progressive periodicals, journals, and newsletters from four decades. The titles represented include Always in Season, Goddessing, The Lonesome Node, The People’s Voice of Franklin County, Themis/Thesmophoria, Wicked Word, and an almost complete run, including the two indexes, of the seminal magazine of feminist spirituality, WomenSpirit.


  • Feminism--Periodicals
  • Franklin County (Mass.) --Periodicals
  • Goddess religion--Periodicals
  • Neopaganism--Periodicals
  • Spiritual feminism--Periodicals
  • Wicca--Periodicals
  • Witchcraft--Periodicals
  • Women and spiritualism--Periodicals
  • Women's rights and spiritualism--Periodicals

Types of material

  • Periodicals

Beth Hapgood Papers, 1789-2005

67 boxes (35 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 434
Beth Hapgood and members of the Brotherhood, ca.1969
Beth Hapgood and members of the Brotherhood, ca.1969

Daughter of a writer and diplomat, and graduate of Wellesley College, Beth Hapgood has been a spiritual seeker for much of her life. Her interests have led her to become an expert in graphology, a student in the Arcane School, an instructor at Greenfield Community College, and a lecturer on a variety of topics in spiritual growth. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hapgood befriended Michael Metelica, the central figure in the Brotherhood of the Spirit (the largest commune in the eastern states during the early 1970s) as well as Elwood Babbitt, a trance medium, and remained close to both until their deaths.

The Hapgood Papers contain a wealth of material relating to the Brotherhood of the Spirit and the Renaissance Community, Metelica, Babbitt, and other of Hapgood’s varied interests, as well as 4.25 linear feet of material relating to the Hapgood family.


  • Brotherhood of the Spirit
  • Channeling (Spiritualism)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Graphology
  • Hapgood family--Correspondence
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
  • Mediums--Massachusetts
  • Nineteen sixties--Social aspects
  • Occultism--Social aspects
  • Popular culture--History--20th century
  • Renaissance Community
  • Rock music--1971-1980
  • Warwick (Mass.)--History


  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Boyce, Neith, 1872-1951
  • Hapgood, Beth--Correspondence
  • Hapgood, Charles H
  • Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds
  • Hapgood, Hutchins, 1869-1944
  • Hapgood, Norman, 1868-1937
  • Metelica, Michael
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