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Social change

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.

Stamper, G. Clifford

Finding aid

G. Clifford Stamper Papers, 1943-1955.

2 boxes (0.75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 463

George Clifford Stamper was a movie projectionist in the 4th Special Services during World War II. Born and raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 1, 1943 and participated in the European Theater from April 6, 1944 until December 12, 1945, when he was sent home and then honorably discharged in January 1946.

The papers of G. Clifford Stamper consist primarily of his incoming and outgoing letters during his training and service from 1943-1945. Correspondence is mostly with his family, but also includes his letters with neighbors, as well as friends that were serving. The collection contains, too, Stamper’s post-war letters received from 1946-1955. In addition, the outgoing letters of James C. Doyle, Jr. during his service in the U.S. Marines from 1958-1959 are a part of this collection. Doyle’s connection to Stamper is unclear.

Subjects

  • United States. Army Service Forces. Special Services Division
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Czechoslovakia
  • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--France

Contributors

  • Doyle, James C
  • Stamper, G. Clifford (George Clifford), 1912-2005

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)

Stetson, William B.

Finding aid

William B. Stetson Account book, 1856-1870.

1 vol. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 348 bd

As a young man in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, William B. Stetson (b. ca.1836) earned a living by performing manual labor for local residents. Most of his work, and increasingly so, was found in the range of tasks associated with lumbering: chopping wood, sawing boards, making shingles and fence boards. By 1870, Stetson was listed in the federal census as a lumberman in the adjacent town of Leverett.

Stetson’s rough-hewn book of accounts provides detail on the work and expenditures of a young man from Shutesbury, Massachusetts, in the years just prior to the Civil War. Carefully kept, but idiosyncratic, they document a working class mans efforts to earn a living by whatever means possible, largely in lumber-related tasks. His accounts list a number of familiar local names, including Albert Pratt, Sylvanus Pratt, Charles Pratt, Charles Nutting, E. Cushman, John Haskins, and J. Stockwell. Set into the front of the volume are a set of work records dated in Leverett in 1870, by which time Stetson had apparently focused his full energies on lumbering.

Subjects

  • Leverett (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Lumber trade--Massachusetts--Leverett
  • Lumber trade--Massachusetts--Shutesbury
  • Shutesbury (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century

Contributors

  • Stetson, William B.

Types of material

  • Account books

Stocking, George, 1784-1864

Finding aid

George Stocking Account Book, 1815-1850.

1 vol. (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 486 bd

The shoemaker George Stocking was born on May 23, 1784, on his family’s farm in Ashfield, Mass., the second son of Abraham and Abigail (Nabby) Stocking. At 25, George married Ann Toby (1790-1835) from nearby Conway, with whom he had nine children, followed by two more children with his second wife, the widow Mary Jackson Shippey, whom he married on Dec. 16, 1840. George succeeded Amos Stocking, his uncle, in the tanning and shoemaking business at Pittsfield, Mass., where he died on Christmas day 1864.

George Stocking’s double column account book documents almost 35 years of the economic activity of a shoemaker in antebellum Ashfield, Massachusetts. Although the entries are typically very brief, recording making, mending, tapping, capping, or heeling shoes and boots, among other things, they provide a dense and fairly continuous record of his work. They also reveal the degree to which Stocking occasionally engaged in other activities to earn a living, including mending harnesses and other leatherwork to performing agricultural labor. The book includes accounts with Charles Knowlton, the local physician was was famous as a freethinker and atheist and author of Fruits of Philosophy, his book on contraception that earned him conviction on charges of obscenity and a sentence of three months at hard labor.

Subjects

  • Ashfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Knowlton, Charles, 1800-1850
  • Shoemakers--Massachusetts--Ashfield

Contributors

  • Stocking, George, 1784-1864

Types of material

  • Account books

Stokes, Daniel M. J.

Finding aid

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

Stone, John

John Stone Account Book, 1836-1842.

1 vol. (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 247 bd

John Stone appears to have been a storekeeper in North Dennis, Massachusetts in the 1830s and 1840s. He also dealt in lumber, wood products, and building materials.

This volume represents a number of miscellaneous accounts, and because there are no page numbers, the exact nature of the book is difficult to discern and information is difficult to extract. Starting at the front, a more or less complete list of the accounts includes: cost of loads of lumber, 1837-1840; accounts with individuals, 1837-1840; invoice of goods, 1839; bills not paid, 1840-1841.

Subjects

  • Lumber trade--Massachusetts--North Dennis
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--North Dennis
  • North Dennis (Mass.)--History

Types of material

  • Account books

Strong, Noah Lyman, 1807-1893

Finding aid

Noah Lyman Strong Account Book, 1849-1893.

1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 187

Operator of a sawmill and gristmill in Southampton, Massachusetts, later an owner of tenements and other real estate in Westfield, Massachusetts. Includes lists of gristmill and sawmill products, the method and form of payment (cash, barter for goods, or services such as sawing or hauling), real estate records, and miscellaneous personal records (school, clothing, board, and travel expenses for his niece and nephew; accounts for the care and funeral of his father-in-law and the dispensation of his estate; a Strong family genealogy; town of Westfield agreements and expenses; a list of U.S. bonds that Strong bought; and money lent and borrowed, among others).

Subjects

  • Barter--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
  • Boardinghouses--Massachusetts--Westfield--History--19th century
  • Clapp, Anson--Estate
  • Fowler, Henry
  • Grist mills--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
  • Guardian and ward--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • House construction--Massachusetts--Westfield--History--19th century
  • Millers--Massachusetts--Southampton--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Railroad companies--United States--History--19th century
  • Sawmills--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
  • Southampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Strong family
  • Strong, Noah Lyman, 1807-1893--Finance, Personal
  • Westfield (Mass.)--History--19th century
  • Westfield (Mass.)--Social conditions--19th century

Contributors

  • Strong, Noah Lyman

Sunderland (Mass.)

Finding aid

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

Support SCUA

Archer
Donations that hit the mark

Collection growth is the heart of any archive, and as an active, growing archive, SCUA welcomes donations of personal papers, organizational records, photographs, diaries and journals, books and pamphlets, and other materials relating to our major collecting interests. With the support of our friends and colleagues, SCUA has built substantial depth in documenting:

  • The history and experience of social change in America
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • The social, cultural, intellectual, and political history of New England
  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst, its faculty, staff, students, and alumni

SCUA offers secure, permanent housing for collections, excellent access for researchers, and a stimulating intellectual environment. Please help us preserve our history for the future.

For further information, please contact the Head of Special Collections.

Donate to the University Archives

Phyllis Louise Nelson
Phyllis Louise Nelson

The University Archives welcomes assistance in preserving the memory of UMass Amherst, our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. We document all aspects of the University and its unique intellectual climate and history, with a particular interest in:

  • Personal, professional, or family papers
  • Correspondence from students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni
  • Diaries, journals, or reminiscences
  • Memorabilia from UMass Amherst, Mass. Agricultural College, and Mass. State College
  • Histories of departments, centers, institutes, and programs
  • Syllabi, selected lectures, and lecture notes
  • Records of committees, university organizations, or events
  • Unique research materials, such as field notes
  • Photographs and artwork.

To discuss archiving your papers with the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, please contact the Head of Special Collections.

Taylor, Levi E. (Levi Ely), 1795-1858

Finding aid

Levi E. Taylor Daybook, 1836-1843.

1 vol. (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 483 bd

The wheelwright Levi Ely Taylor was born in Longmeadow, Mass., on Nov. 17, 1795, the son of Nathaniel and Jerusha Taylor. Marrying a woman from Rocky Hill, Conn., Laura Peirce, he settled in Longmeadow and built a prosperous life for himself in his trade. His eldest son, Newton, followed him into the business.

Taylor’s daybook contains careful records of a wheelwright from Longmeadow, Mass., documenting his varied work in the repair of carriages. The transactions that appear in the volume range from making whiffletrees to shortening wheels, making and fitting out carriage seats, and painting and varnishing vehicles, with occasional forays into selling goods such as wheelbarrows and straw cutters.

Subjects

  • Carriage industry--History--Massachusetts--Longmeadow
  • Longmeadow (Mass.)--History
  • Wheelwrights--Massachusetts--Longmeadow

Types of material

  • Daybooks
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