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Blake Slonecker Collection, 2008

4 items (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 795

An historian of twentieth century social movements, Blake Slonecker received his doctorate at the University of North Carolina in 2009 and joined the history faculty at Waldorf College soon thereafter. In a dissertation examining the utopian impulses of the New Left (published in 2012 as A new dawn for the New Left: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the long sixties), Slonecker explored how the political and cultural activism of the 1960s helped reshape American political culture in the decade following.

In June 2008, Slonecker conducted oral historical interviews with four individuals who were part of the extended community centered on the Montague Farm and Packer Corners communes during the late 1960s: Tom Fels, Charles Light, Sam Lovejoy, and Richard Wizansky. In wide-ranging interviews, the former communards discuss topics ranging from the fraught politics of the era, political and cultural activism, gender roles and sexuality, and daily life on the communes.

Subjects
  • Amherst College
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Clamshell Alliance
  • Green Mountain Post Films
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Musicians United for Safe Energy
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Contributors
  • Fels, Thomas Weston
  • Light, Charles
  • Lovejoy, Sam
  • Wizansky, Richard
Types of material
  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories (document genres)

José A. Soler Papers, 1972-2014

20 boxes (26.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 864
José A. Soler Papers image
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.

Subjects
  • 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

Daniel M. J. and Joyce Stokes Papers, 1984-1996

3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 661

From 1987 through early 1988, Daniel and Joyce Stokes published Into the Night, “a newsletter for freedom for political prisoners held in the United States.” Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this simply-produced publication offered updates and commentary on Americans imprisoned for politically-motivated acts. Reflecting both the legacy of 1960s radicalism and the resurgent activism associated with U.S. imperialism in Central America, Into the Night offered news on the Ohio 7 sedition trial, the MOVE organization, and the fate of Plowshares war resisters.

The Stokes collection contains correspondence from subscribers and supporters of Into the Night, fleshing out their political philosophy and the conditions of imprisonment. Drawn from groups including the MOVE organization, the United Freedom Front, Black Liberation Army, and Plowshares, the correspondents include Ramona Africa, Alberto Aranda, Philip Berrigan, Marilyn Buck, Carl Kabat, Ray Luc Levasseur, Ruchell Cinque Magee, and Carol Manning. The collection also includes copies of other radical publications and a complete run of Into the Night itself.

Subjects
  • African American prisoners
  • African American radicals
  • Anti-imperialist movements
  • Communists
  • Into the Night
  • MOVE (Group)
  • Ohio 7
  • Plowshares
  • Political prisoners
  • Prisoners
  • Radicals
  • Revolutionaries
  • United Freedom Front
Contributors
  • Africa, Ramona
  • Aranda, Alberto
  • Berrigan, Philip
  • Buck, Marilyn
  • Gelabert, Ana Lucia
  • Hernandez, Alvaro L
  • Kabat, Carl
  • Levasseur, Ray Luc
  • Magee, Ruchell Cinque
  • Stokes, Daniel M. J.
  • Stokes, Joyce
Types of material
  • Newsletters

William Wheeler Papers, 1876-1930

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 002/3 W54
William Wheeler Papers image
William Wheeler, ca.1876

The civil engineer William Wheeler was a member of the first graduating class of Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1871, and was one of its most prominent alumni of the nineteenth century. In 1876, Wheeler joined MAC President William Smith Clark and two other alumni of the college in helping to found the Sapporo Agricultural College in Japan (now Hokkaido University), succeeding Clark as president of SAP from 1877 to 1879. In later life, he was a successful hydraulic engineer and long-time trustee of MAC (1887-1929).

A small, tightly focused collection, the Wheeler Papers consist largely of letters written home by Wheeler while working at the Sapporo Agricultural College, 1876-1880. Typically long and descriptive, the letters include excellent accounts of travel in Japan and Wheeler’s impressions of Japanese culture, but they provide detailed insight as well into the work involved in establishing Sapporo Agricultural College.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Japan
  • Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
  • Hokkaido (Japan)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Hokkaido Daigaku
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College
  • Penhallow, D. P. (David Pearce), 1854-1910
  • Sapporo (Japan)--Description and travel--19th century
Contributors
  • Hudson, Woodward
  • Wheeler, William, 1851-1932
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers, 1970-1987 (Bulk: 1945-1980)

24 boxes (33 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 881
Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers image
Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957

As a student at Mount Hermon School in the late 1920s, Gifford Hoag Towle met Marjorie Ripley Blossom, a young woman at the Northfield School for Girls. When Giff went on to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (BS 1932) and Marjorie to a midwestern Bible College for a year (before being called home due to a family crisis), they remained connected and after Giff’s graduation in 1932, they married. By the time that Giff graduated from Hartford Seminary, he had left his Quaker upbringing to enter the Congregationalist ministry, and he and Marjorie filled three pulpits near Pelham, Mass. In 1939, however, they were called by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve as missionaries in the American Marathi Mission in Maharashtra State, central India. Following two years of intensive study of the Marathi language in Ahmednagar, they settled in Vadala, a rural village on the semi-arid plains, where they worked for thirty-four years, counting furloughs. In 1946 on furlough in the U.S., Giff earned a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Cornell while pastoring a small church in the suburbs of Ithaca. In his agricultural work in India, Giff used the mission farm to demonstrate crop diversity and farm animal improvement; created co-operatives to enable poor farmers to use appropriate modern tools and machinery for pennies; taught good irrigation and soil conservation; and later built a Mechanical Unit and trained local Indians as mechanics to repair machinery and drill wells. Giff also invented a pump for which he never filed a patent, wanting instead to make it as widely available as possible. He built networks with relatives, churches, and non-profits to fund these efforts and get supplies.

The Towle Collection contains a wealth of information for research in three distinct areas: missions and religious matters; agriculture in “developing” countries; and the cultural and socio-economic context of social change in rural India. The Towles’ voluminous correspondence and reports offer a particularly rich view into mission life in India, including American participation through churches, relations between Hindus and Christians or between Christians, and the viability of these efforts. Marjorie’s letters are particularly vivid, adding significantly to our understanding of mission lives and experiences. The collection is equally rich in revealing the impact of the Towles’ agricultural work and for study of the efficacy of government agencies and non-profits seeking to understand cross-cultural issues.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--India
  • India--Description and travel
  • Maharasthra (India)--Economic conditions
  • Missionaries--India
Contributors
  • Towle, Marjorie Blossom, 1907-1994
Types of material
  • Photographs

William Gould Vinal Papers, 1931-1963

3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 138
William Gould Vinal Papers image
Cap'n Bill Vinal

William “Cap’n Bill” Vinal was the first instructor in nature education at Massachusetts State College and a pioneer in the field. A graduate of Bridgewater State (1904), Harvard (MA 1907) and Brown (PhD, 1922), Vinal worked for several years as a camp director on his native Cape Cod and held a variety of university appointments in nature education before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College as Professor of Nature Education in the Nature Guide School in 1937. Spontaneous in the classroom and field, enthusiastic, and highly popular with his students, Vinal taught courses in conservation, outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation, and nature guiding, and was an important figure in the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the American Camping Association, the Camp Directors Association, and several conservation groups. After retiring from UMass in 1951, Vinal returned to his home in Norwell, Mass., remaining active as a nature writer and teacher until his death in 1973.

A valuable glimpse into the early growth of nature and conservation education, the Vinal collection includes dozens of scarce publications by the exceptionally prolific Cap’n Bill, along with a small quantity of correspondence, talks, and reports. As a collection, these document the origin and growth of the Nature Guide School and the program in nature recreation at MSC and UMass, and more generally the growth of nature, recreation, and conservation education in New England. Of local interest is an extensive report for the town of Amherst Recreation Survey Committee (1948) regarding recreational opportunities for youth. Nearly half of the collection consists of an extensive run of Vinal’s quirky, self-published Nature Guide Newsletter (1935-1951).

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Conservation of natural resources--Study and teaching
  • Nature Guide Newsletter
  • Outdoor education--Massachusetts
  • Recreation--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nature Guide School
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Nature Recreation
Contributors
  • Vinal, William Gould, 1881-

Clement Company Records, 1881-1934

61 boxes, 103 ledgers (43 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 099

In mid-nineteenth century, the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts emerged as a center of cutlery manufacture in the United States. In 1866, a group of manufacturers in Northampton including William Clement, previously a foreman at Lamson and Goodnow, founded Clement, Hawke, and Co. in Florence to produce both hardware and cutlery, and after several reorganizations, the firm spawned both the Northampton Cutlery Co. (1871) and the Clement Manufacturing Co. (1882, formerly International Screw). Clement produced high quality table cutlery and was an early adopter of stainless steel. The company ceased operations in about 1970.

The Clement Company’s records include extensive correspondence files (1881-1934), along with journals and ledgers, payroll accounts, employee information, and other records. The records provide excellent documentation of wages, working conditions, the labor forces, and technological change in the industry, as well as the efforts of local workers to unionize.

Subjects
  • Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Clement Company (Northampton, Mass.)

North Center School District Records, 1818-1833

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 442

The North Center School District in Hatfield, Massachusetts, was established in 1812, when the town divided into three school districts.

The collection consists of seventeen handwritten documents including financial records, a report and recipes relating to the North Center School District in Hatfield, Massachusetts, representing the period from 1818 to 1833. While not a comprehensive collection, the items nonetheless offer insight into education at the turn of the century, especially the sorts of expenses accrued in maintaining a small town schoolhouse.

Subjects
  • Education--Massachusetts--Hatfield
  • Hatfield (Mass.)--History
  • Massachusetts--History--1775-1865
  • Recipes--Massachusetts
  • School records--Massachusetts
  • Schools--Records and Correspondence
Contributors
  • Allis, Dexter
  • Bardwell, Elijah
  • Bardwell, Remembrance
  • Dickinson, Solomon
  • Morton, Chester
  • Morton, Jeremy
  • North Center School District (Hatfield, Mass.)
  • Porter, Theodore
  • Waite, Daniel
  • Waite, Justin
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.

Learn more:

Sunderland Town Records, 1620-1912

4 reels (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 409 mf

Although the Connecticut River Valley town of Swampfield was set off from Hadley in 1673, European settlement there was decimated by King Phillip’s War and with continued turmoil in the region, the town was not resettled by Europeans until after the turn of the eighteenth century. Officially incorporated as the town of Sunderland on Nov. 12, 1718, the town’s economy has been rooted in agriculture, taking advantage of the valley’s rich soils.

The five reels of microfilm of Sunderland’s records include vital records and information on town meetings, militia, and town finances.

Subjects
  • Sunderland (Mass.)--History
Types of material
  • Microfilm
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