Peter Benes might be called the father of the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS). In 1976, he organized a meeting in Dublin, New Hampshire, of people interested in colonial gravestones, naming the group the Dublin Seminar. Following a committee meeting in December 1976, the group met again in the summer 1977 to organize as the AGS. Benes served as Treasurer in 1977 and Archives Officer in 1978. He received the Forbes Award of the AGS in 1979 for his role in founding the organization and in recognition of the contributions made to gravestone studies by his first book, The Masks of Orthodoxy: Folk Gravestone Carving in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, 1689-1805 (1977). He is currently (2009) Director of the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife at Boston University.
The Benes Collection contains 2,826 black and white photographic prints documenting a majority of the eighteenth century grave markers in southeastern Massachusetts, taken for his book The Masks of Orthodoxy. The images were taken in Plymouth and surrounding counties.
A native of Rockland, Maine, Alton H. “Blackie” Blackington (1893-1963) was a writer, photojournalist, and radio personality associated with New England “lore and legend.” After returning from naval service in the First World War, Blackington joined the staff of the Boston Herald, covering a range of current events, but becoming well known for his human interest features on New England people and customs. He was succesful enough by the mid-1920s to establish his own photo service, and although his work remained centered on New England and was based in Boston, he photographed and handled images from across the country. Capitalizing on the trove of New England stories he accumulated as a photojournalist, Blackington became a popular lecturer and from 1933-1953, a radio and later television host on the NBC network, Yankee Yarns, which yielded the books Yankee Yarns (1954) and More Yankee Yarns (1956).
This collection of Blackington’s glass plate negatives was purchased by Robb Sagendorf of Yankee Publishing around the time of Blackington’s death. Reflecting Blackington’s photojournalistic interests, the collection covers a terrain stretching from news of public officials and civic events to local personalities, but the heart of the collection is the dozens of images of typically eccentric New England characters and human interest stories. Most of the images were taken by Blackington on 4×5″ dry plate negatives, however many of the later images are made on flexible acetate stock and the collection includes several images by other (unidentified) photographers distributed by the Blackington News Service.
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933--Photographs
Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937--Photographs
Maine--Social life and customs--Photographs
Massachusetts--Social life and customs--Photographs
New England--Social life and customs--Photographs
New Hampshire--Social life and customs--Photographs
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945--Photographs
A teacher at the New York State School for the Deaf since the 1970s, Frank Calidonna is a professional photographer based in Rome, N.Y. A long-time member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, Calidonna has a long standing interest in Victorian cemeteries and, among other projects, made a photographic study of the Victorian Mount Cemetery in Rochester, N.Y., in 1991.
The Calidonna Collection contains 55 black and white prints (5×7″) taken of monuments and gravestones in Mount Hope Cemetery, ca.May 1991, documenting the stylistic variation, ranging from high Victorian to relatively recent. The collection also includes two brochures for Mount Hope.
In May 1985, a group of activists in Western Massachusetts opposed to the interventionist U.S. foreign policy of the Reagan era formed a construction brigade to assist with basic human needs and express solidarity with the people of Central America. Modeled on the Venceremos Brigade, Construyamos Juntos, Building Peace of Nicaragua, raised over $20,000 for construction supplies in addition to funds for individual travel. Between January and March 1986, the 17 activists joined a smaller brigade from West Virginia in constructing the Carlos Armin Gonzales elementary school in San Pedro de Lovago. During their first month in Nicaragua, they witnessed a Contra assault on the town that left one assailant dead and two residents of the town wounded.
This exhibit includes 55 mounted images and 99 35mm slides taken during the brigade’s time in Nicaragua, documenting the brigade’s construction work and providing a valuable visual record of life in Nicaragua during the Contra war. Used in public talks about Contruyamos Juntos, the collection includes exhibit labels that explain the purpose and activity of the brigade, the history of Nicaragua, and the Contra attack in January 1986.
In the early 1970s, the documentary filmmaker Bruce Geisler dropped out of Pomona College one semester short of graduation, drove across country, and joined the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune, then the largest commune in the eastern United States. During his four years living with the Brotherhood, later renamed the Renaissance Community, Geisler learned the craft of filmmaking, before returning west to earn an MFA at the film school of the University of Southern California. Geisler has received a number of awards as a screenwriter and filmmaker including the Grand Prize for Best Screenplay from Worldfest Houston and the Dominique Dunne Memorial Prize for Filmmaking, and, in 2007, he released his feature-length documentary, Free Spirits, about the Brotherhood of the Spirit/Renaissance Community and its ill-fated founder, Michael Metelica Rapunzel. Geisler is currently a Senior Lecturer in the UMass Amherst Department of Communication.
A collection collection documenting everyday life in the commune and performances by the commune band (Spirit in Flesh and Rapunzel), the Geisler collection was assembled largely during the making of Free Spirits. In addition to many hours of raw and edited footage taken by members of the Brotherhood of the Spirit and Renaissance Community, the collection includes approximately 1.5 feet each of ephemera and newspaper clippings relating to the commune.
Recognized for her coverage of historic events and personalities, the photographer Diana Mara Henry took the first steps toward her career in 1967 when she became photo editor for the Harvard Crimson. After winning the Ferguson History Prize and graduating from Harvard with a degree in government in 1969, Henry returned to New York to work as a researcher with NBC News and as a general assignment reporter for the Staten Island Advance, but in 1971 she began to work as a freelance photographer. Among many projects, she covered the Democratic conventions of 1972 and 1976 and was selected as official photographer for both the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year and the First National Women’s Conference in 1977, and while teaching at the International Center for Photography from 1974-1979, she developed the community workshop program and was a leader in a campaign to save the Alice Austin House. Her body of work ranges widely from the fashion scene in 1970s New York and personal assignments for the family of Malcolm Forbes and other socialites to political demonstrations, cultural events, and photoessays on one room schoolhouses in Vermont and everyday life in Brooklyn, France, Nepal, and Bali. Widely published and exhibited, her work is part of permanent collections at institutions including the Schlesinger Library, the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, and the National Archives.
The Henry collection is a rich evocation of four decades of political, social, and cultural change in America beginning in the late 1960s as seen through the life of one photojournalist. This diverse body of work is particularly rich in documenting the women’s movement, second wave feminism, and the political scene in the 1970s. Henry left a remarkable record of women in politics, with dozens of images of Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Holtzman, Shirley Chisholm, Liz Carpenter, Betty Friedan, Jane Fonda, and Gloria Steinem. The collection includes images of politicians at all levels of government, celebrities, writers, and scholars, and coverage of important events including demonstrations by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the Women’s Pentagon Action, and marches for the ERA. The many hundreds of exhibition and working prints in the collection are accompanied by the complete body of Henry’s photographic negatives and slides, along with an array of ephemera, correspondence, and other materials relating to her career. Copyright for Henry’s images are retained by her until 2037.
A landscape painter and photographer, Alonzo “Lon” Klaw was born in 1885 to Antoinette Morris and Marc Klaw, the attorney, theatrical impresario, and partner in the powerful Broadway production partnership of Klaw and Erlanger. Lon and his wife Alma (Ash) lived on a farm, Almalon, near Carmel, New York, but spent large parts of each year at their home in Santa Barbara, California, traveling frequently to Europe, particularly after his father’s retirement in 1927.
The several hundred photographic prints from Lon Klaw reflect his interests in landscape and travel and the influence on his work of the Photo Secession on his aesthetic. Approximately half of the collection consists of American views, primarily from southern California, depicting bucolic scenery, grazing cattle, and trees, but there are occasional portraits and views of the built environment in California and street scenes from New York. Taken during a European trip in 1929 or 1930, the remainder of the collection includes images of Cannes and Paris. Klaw typically printed each image several times to produce different visual effects.
A feminist, filmmaker, photographer, performance artist, writer, and New Yorker, Susan Kleckner helped to define the Feminist Art Movement. Born in 1941, Kleckner was instrumental in uniting Women Artists in Revolution (WAR) with Feminists in the Arts in 1969, and in 1970 she became a founder of the Women’s Interart Center, which still fosters women artists in the performing, visual, and media arts. A talented and prolific visual artist, she produced several important video documentaries during her career, beginning with Three Lives (made in collaboration with Kate Millet in 1970), which is considered the first all-women produced feature documentary. Her work often reflected a feminist commitment to the cause of peace: she participated in and photographed the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in England during the mid-1980s and in 1987, she curated a major year-long installation on Broadway called WindowPeace. A brilliant teacher, Kleckner was the first woman to teach photography at the Pratt Institute and she worked at the International Center for Photography in New York from 1982 until her death in July 2010.
A wide ranging and highly diverse collection, the Kleckner Papers document a life in art and activism. The diaries, letters, notes, and essays in the collection are augmented by hundreds of photographic prints and artwork in a variety of media.
Born to Japanese parents in Tacoma, Washington, in 1909, John Maki was adopted as an infant by a white couple and raised on their farm. After receiving both his bachelors (1932) and masters (1936) in English literature at the University of Washington, Maki was persuaded to switch fields to the study of Japan. Following a fellowship from the Japanese government to study in Tokyo in the late 1930s, the war interrupted his plans. After being ordered to internment, he served with the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service of the Federal Communications Commission and in psychological warfare planning with the Office of War Information, and after the war, he took a position with the occupation authority, assisting in the drafting of the Japanese Constitution. Returning stateside, he resumed his academic career, earning his doctorate in political science at Harvard in 1948. After eighteen years on the faculty at the University of Washington, Maki moved to UMass in 1966, where he served as chair of the Asian Studies Program and in administrative posts, including as vice dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In recognition of his efforts to promote relations between the U.S. and Japan, he was awarded the Third Class Order of the Sacred Treasure by the emperor of Japan in 1983. Although he retired from the faculty in 1980, Maki remained active as a scholar until the time of his death in Amherst in December 2006.
The Maki Papers reflect a long career in the study of contemporary Japanese politics and culture. Beginning with his earliest academic work on Japan in the 1930s, the collection documents the range of Maki’s interests, from the origins of Japanese militarism and nationalism to the development of the post-war Constitution and his later studies of William Smith Clark and the long history of Japanese-American relations. The collection includes valuable documents from the early period of the Allied Occupation, including the extensive correspondence with his wife Mary (1946).
Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
Japan--History--Allied occupation, 1945-1952
Japan--Politics and government--20th century
University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Political Science
To celebrate its tercentenary in 1930, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts organized over two thousand events in 253 communities, drawing over eleven million visitors. One of the most elaborate of these events was the Exposition of Governmental Activities held at the Commonwealth Armory in Boston between September 29 and October 11. A celebration more of contemporary governmental activity than the historical precedents, the exposition featured displays representing nearly every branch of government, from the Department of Education to the state police, mental and public health, public welfare, transportation, agriculture, labor, and industry.
P.E. (Paul) Genereux (1892-1977), a commercial photographer from East Lynn, was hired to document the exhibits and displays in the Exposition of Governmental Activities, producing commemorative albums containing silver gelatin prints, carefully numbered and backed on linen. This disbound album includes 88 of the original 175 prints, including interior and exterior shots, with an additional image by Hildebrand.