The American Revolution Documentary Collection, ca.1968-2010.
On March 15, 1968, a failing classical music station, WBCN-FM, was reinvented as Boston’s first voice in radical underground radio, and its influence quickly spread nationally. Its characteristic blend of cultural chaos, including rock, folk, blues, and jazz, interspersed with news, radical politics, and community programming, provided a soundtrack for a generation fighting to remake its world. WBCN earned its nickname, “The American Revolution.” The station’s eclectic and unpredictable broadcasts included music from little-known performers who would emerge into the biggest acts of the day; regularly scheduled live musical performances from local clubs; trenchant political analysis and newscasts of the major events of the day; interviews with legendary cultural figures; and innovative new shows including one of the first women’s programs and the Lavender Hour, the nation’s first regularly broadcast LGBT radio show. Music, politics, culture, and community were intensely interconnected through WBCN, while its “listener line,” which took calls and answered questions on any subject, helped make it a virtual two-way hub for countercultural Boston.
While producing a documentary film about WBCN, and the music, politics, and social change during the period 1968-1974, former WBCN newscaster and announcer Bill Lichtenstein recognized the importance of archiving the wealth of primary materials that told the story of WBCN, its community and the dramatic changes of the era. The American Revolution Documentary Collection is the product of Lichtenstein’s energy, serving as an umbrella for a suite of interrelated collections focused on the impact of underground media in the Boston area and the profound social, political, and cultural changes of that time. These collections include the work of photographers, journalists, and writers who would go on to prominence, as well as activists, artists, and everyday people who witnessed and took part in an extended public conversation on the direction of our nation during the period of profound social, political, and cultural upheaval and who used media to help change it.
TAR collections include:
- Alternative radio broadcasting--Massachusetts
- Boston (Mass.)--History--20th century
- Cambridge (Mass.)--History--20th century
- Nineteen sixties
- Rock music
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
- WBCN (Radio station : Boston, Mass.)
Types of material
- Sound recordings
Common Reader Bookshop Collection, 1978-1997.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 472
Co-owned by Dorothy Johnson and Doris Abramson, the Common Reader Bookshop in New Salem, Massachusetts specialized in women’s studies materials, or in their words, “books by, for, and about women.” A couple for almost 40 years and married in 2004, Johnson and Abramson, a professor in the theater department at UMass, opened the store in 1977. After nearly twenty-five years in operation, the book shop closed its doors for business in 2000. Comprised mostly of photographs, the collection highlights not only the shop as a place, but also the the community it fostered.
- Booksellers and Bookselling--Massachusetts
- New Salem (Mass.)--History
- Abramson, Doris
- Common Reader Bookshop (New Salem, Mass.)
- Johnson, Dorothy
Steve Diamond Papers, 1968-2005.
13 boxes (6 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 542
An author and activist, Steve Diamond worked for the newly formed Liberation News Service in 1968 covering stories like the student strike at Columbia University. After more than a year of internal strife resulting from ideological differences, the alternative news service split into two factions, with Marshall Bloom and Raymond Mungo leading a new division of LNS in rural New England. Diamond, among those who left for New England, settled into life in a commune on old Ripley Farm in Montague, Massachusetts. His experiences during the first year on the farm are recorded in his book, What the Trees Said. Diamond later worked as a writer and consultant for Green Mountain Post Films, editor of the Valley Advocate and Boston Phoenix, and as a contributor for The Atlantic Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice.
This collection consists chiefly of Diamond’s correspondence and writing, including drafts of his book chapters, stories, and articles; research notes; and diary entries. The collection also contains printed articles by and about Diamond, digital images, and audio recordings.
- Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
- Liberation News Service (New York, N.Y.)
- Mungo, Raymond, 1946-
Frank Grace Papers, 1976-1985.
1 box (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 863
A radical political organizer, Frank “Parky” Grace was a founding member of the New Bedford chapter of the Black Panther Party. Radicalized during his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967, Grace became involved in the antiwar movement upon his return and organized the local branch of the Black Panthers shortly before the New Bedford Rebellion of 1970. In 1972, he and his brother Ross were charged with the murder, receiving life sentences. Parky Grace contended all along that he had been framed by the police for his political activity and in 1982, Ross admitted that he had been responsible for the murder, backing up his brother’s contention that he was not present at the time. Parky Grace was released from prison in 1984 and lived subsequently in New Bedford and Boston. He died in Boston in October 2001.
The Grace Papers consist of a powerful series of letters written to Gloria Xifaras Clark while Grace was confined in Walpole State Penitentiary. Informed by his revolutionary politics, the letters offer insight into the conditions of imprisonment, his treatment by guards, and his relationships with fellow prisoners.
- Black Panther Party
- New Bedford (Mass.)--History
- Walpole State Prison
- Clark, Gloria Xifaras, 1942-
Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann Papers, 1967-2007.
22 boxes (11 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 657
Revolutionary organizers, writers, and theorists, Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann have been active in the struggle for civil rights for decades. The son of Jewish Socialist and labor organizer from New York, Mann came of age during the early phases of the Civil Rights movement and after graduating from Cornell (1964), he became field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality. Increasingly radicalized through exposure to Black revolutionary nationalists, Mann took part in the Newark Community Union Project and became a leader in anti-imperialist opposition to the war in Vietnam as a New England regional coordinator for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later with the Revolutionary Youth Movement I — the Weatherman above-ground tendency of SDS. Following a militant demonstration at the Harvard Center for International Affairs late in 1969, Mann was convicted of assault on the basis of perjured testimony and sentenced to two years in prison. An organizer of his fellow prisoners even behind bars, he was “shipped out” often in the middle of the night, from prison to prison, spending the last year at Concord State Prison. After being released early in July 1971, he continued his prison activism through the Red Prison Movement. At the same time, as a writer, he earned a national audience for his book Comrade George: an account of the life, politics, and assassination of Soledad Brother George Jackson. Feeling himself at a low point in his radical career, Mann met Lian Hurst while vacationing in Mexico during the summer 1974. Hurst, a leader in the Berkeley Oakland Women’s Union, architect, and a strong Socialist Feminist, soon became his partner in life and politics, and Mann left Massachusetts to join with her in Berkeley. Hurst lead a group of women from BOWU who formed a “Thursday night group” and left the organization with the polemic, “socialist feminism is bourgeois feminism” all of whom moved towards integrating women’s liberation and Marxism-Leninism. At her urging, the two took part in Marxist Leninist party building, becoming union organizers with the United Auto Workers, and eventually moving to Los Angeles. Hurst was elected shop steward by her fellow workers as a known revolutionary. There, Mann led a campaign to keep the Van Nuys assembly plant open (1982-1992) — captured in his book, Taking on General Motors. They joined the August 29th Movement and its successor, the League of Revolutionary Struggle. They left LRS in 1984. In 1989, Mann and veterans of the GM Van Nuys Campaign formed the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which has been a primary focal points for their work ever since, helping to build consciousness, leadership, and organization within communities of color. Hurst became editor of AhoraNow, an innovative bilingual left publication that featured articles by Black and Latino working class leaders and helped initiate the center’s National School for Strategic Organizing. In 2003 Hurst wrote, “Socialist Feminism: Thoughts After 30 Years” for AhoraNow, a critical re-engagement of those important debates from an historical perspective after a 30 year reunion of BOWU’s key leaders. Mann’s latest book is Playbook For Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer. Hurst and Mann continue to write and agitate in the cause of revolutionary change, particularly for oppressed communities of color.
The Mann-Hurst collection contains the records of two lives intertwined with one another with the cause of liberation of Black and Latino communities, women, and an internationalist pro-socialist anti-imperialism. Containing a nearly complete set of publications, the collection also contains early materials on Lian Hurst’s work with BOWU and the both Eric and Lian’s time as organizers for the UAW and their participation in the August 29th Movement and League of Revolutionary Struggle. Of particular interest are a series of letters home written by Eric during his imprisonment. The collection contains comparatively little on Hurst and Manns’ more recent work with the Labor/Strategy Strategy Center or Bus Riders Union
- August 29th Movement
- Berkeley Oakland Women's Union
- International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
- Labor unions--California
- League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L)
- Red Prison Movements
- Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Alida Perreault Papers, 1906-1957 (Bulk: 1928-1933).
2 boxes (1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 808
Alida Capistrant was the eleventh of twelve children in a large French-Canadian family in South Hadley, Massachusetts born on July 24,1914. Her parents both immigrated from Quebec in 1885. On September 30, 1895 they were married in South Hadley. The Capistrant family rented their home until 1912 when they purchased their first house in South Hadley. Alida had an active social life as a teenager and considered attending college or university, but did not pursue any further education until about 1943, when she studied at the Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Two years later she married James Perreault and the couple had two children, a daughter, Marcia (Perreault) Matthieu and a son, David James Perreault. They lived in South Hadley until 2003, when they moved to Chandler, Arizona to be near their daughter. Alida Perreault died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on April 7, 2006, and James died in 2008. Both are buried in Saint Rose Cemetery in South Hadley next to Alida’s family.
Alida’s correspondence during her high school years (1928-1932) reveal a young woman with a substantial network of friends and family. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from several friends, including two potential romantic interests. Letters document daily activities, family happenings, and later Alida’s interest in a career as a nurse and her leadership role in the South Hadley Women’s Club.
- Capistrant family--Correspondence
- High school students--Massachusetts
- South Hadley (Mass.)--History
- Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, Mass.)
- Fogg, Esther
- McEwan, William
- Mitkiewitcz, Freddie A.
Types of material
- Greeting cards
Ferd Wulkan Collection, 1968-1985.
9 boxes (12.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 841
A 1968 graduate in mathematics from MIT, Ferd Wulkan has been a fixture in activist circles for many years. A member of SDS in college, Wulkan became a key union organizer after moving to Amherst in the 1980s and a strong supporter for public higher education. After serving for several years as a field representative of Local 509 and 888 of the SEIU, working with non-faculty professional personnel at UMass Amherst, he has been a representative (1989- ) and organizer (2004- ) for the Massachusetts Society of Professors. In 2007, Wulkan became organizing director for the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM), a grassroots advocacy organization for affordable and accessible public higher education.
The Wulkan Collection consists of a fascinating array of material from Leftist and radical political movements during the late 1960s and early 1980s, with an emphasis on the Cambridge-Somerville area. In addition to a rich assemblage of formally published pamphlets and magazines, the collection includes a large number of fliers, handouts, informally published works, and underground newspapers on Socialist, Feminist, and anarchist topics and relating to the war in Vietnam, the labor movement, civil rights, and Black Power.
- Cambridge (Mass.)--History
- Somerville (Mass.)--History
- Underground press publications
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
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.
- Massachusetts--Economic conditions
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Social justice--Massachusetts
- American Friends Service Committee. Western Massachusetts
Massachusetts AFL-CIO Directly Affiliated Local Unions Records, 1930-1980.
1 box (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 044
This small collection provides background on labor unions in Massachusetts that, lacking a national scope, join the AFL-CIO as Directly Affiliated Local Unions (DALUs). Taken together, these records provide some basic information on the names and descriptions of companies that have agreements with DALUs, the numbers of union members involved, the occupations represented, and jurisdiction.
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test Records, 1953-1959.
1 box (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 082
Established to conduct poultry tests and research, the Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc. was located adjacent to the UMass campus in order to take advantage of the professional skills of the staff and students in the Poultry Department. Scientific data were collected for a number of variables including rate of growth, rate of feathering, age of maturity, and egg production and hatchability.
Records consist of minutes, financial documents, correspondence, and test results.
- Poultry industry--Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc