David Levering Lewis Papers, ca.1955-2012.
54 boxes (81 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 827
The historian David Levering Lewis is the author of eight remarkably diverse monographs. Raised in an academic family, his father was president of Morris Brown College, Lewis enrolled at Fisk University at the age of 15 and was only 26 when he was awarded a doctorate in modern European history from the London School of Economics (1962). Through an academic career that has included numerous stops, including Morgan State, Notre Dame, Howard, the University of the District of Columbia (1970-1980), and Rutgers (1985-2003), Lewis remained consistently productive. Author of the first academic biography of Martin Luther King (1970) and a history of the Dreyfus Affair (1974), he wrote an influential study of the Harlem renaissance (1981) and important works on colonialism in Africa (1987) and Islamic Spain (2008), but he is best known for his two monumental biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois (1993, 2000), each of which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. One of the most lauded African American historians of his generation, Lewis was recipient of the Bancroft Prize, the Francis Parkman Prizes, the 2009 National Humanities Medal, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and he was elected as a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Lewis was Julius Silver University Professor in History at New York University from 2003 until his retirement.
The papers of David Levering Lewis document a long and productive career as an academic historian and scholar of African American history and culture. Beginning with his years in college and graduate school, the collection offers a rich perspective on the evolution of his career. Lewis’s essential biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois are particularly well documented, however the collection includes abundant materials for each of his earlier projects, including correspondence, research notes, and drafts.
- African Americans--History
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
- Harlem Renaissance
- Historians--United States
- King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
- United States--History--20th century
Types of material
August Meier Collection, 1837-1984.
3 boxes, 329 titles (34.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 844
A pioneer in African American history, August Meier was a model of an engaged academic, a prolific writer, active participant in the civil rights struggle, and staunch member of the NAACP, SNCC, and CORE. While pursuing graduate work at Columbia under Henry Steele Commager, Meier taught at a succession of Historical Black Colleges, including Tougaloo (1945-1949), Fisk (1953-1956), and Morgan State (1957-1964). His dissertation, completed in 1957, became the first of eleven books he wrote or edited, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915 (1963), with much of later work conducted in collaboration with Elliott Rudwick and John Bracey. Meier joined the faculty at Kent State University in 1967 and remained there until his retirement in 1993. His much-anticipated monograph on the history of the NAACP had not been completed at the time of death in 2003.
Organized in two discrete parts, the Meier collection bookends a long career in the study of African American history. The first part of the collection is centered on Meier’s association with the Pioneer Youth summer camp in Rifton, N.Y., and his growing consciousness of the fundamental problems of race and class in American society, with some materials from his wartime years as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. The second part of the collection includes books collected by Meier during his academic career, mostly on African American history and culture. Titles range from works on the Civil Rights movement to literature and poetry of the late nineteenth century and Harlem Renaissance, works on slavery and antislavery, race theory, the South, and African American education and religion.
- African Americans--History
- Antislavery movements
- Camps--New York (State)
- Civil rights movements
- Communists--United States
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt),1868-1963
- Oberlin College--Students
- Pioneer Youth of America
- Race relations
- World War, 1939-1945
Types of material
Roxbury Action Program Collection, 1944-1975 (Bulk: 1966-1974).
2 boxes (1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 765
The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.
Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.
- African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
- Black Panther Party
- Black power
- Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
- Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History
Types of material
Christina Ryan Collection, ca.1978-1995.
15 boxes (8 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 523
The collection includes publications, ephemera, periodicals, and other communications from a range of radical groups. Much of the collection relates to the sedition trial of Raymond Luc Levasseur and the Ohio Seven, but ranges into related topics, including political prisoners, Communist and revolutionary action, Puerto Rican independence, African liberation movements, and anti-Klan and antiracist activity. It is organized into six series: Ohio Seven (3 boxes), Political Prisoners (2 boxes), John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (1 box), Subject Files (5 boxes), and Radical Periodicals (4 boxes).
- African Americans--Civil rights
- Anti-imperialist movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Black Power
- Communism--United States--History
- Levasseur, Raymond Luc
- Political activists--Massachusetts
- Political prisoners--United States
- Radicalism--United States
- Revolutionaries--Puerto Rico
Frederick Tillis Papers, 1970-2010.
10 boxes (8 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 156
A composer, performer, poet, educator, and arts administrator, Fred Tillis was one of the major influences on the cultural life at UMass Amherst for forty years. Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1930, Tillis began playing jazz trumpet and saxophone even before his teens. A product of segregated schools, he graduated from Wiley College at the age of 19, and received his MA and PhD in music at the University of Iowa. As a performer and composer of unusual breadth, his work spans both the jazz and European traditions, and he has written for piano and voice, orchestra, choral pieces, chamber music, and in the African American spiritual tradition, drawing upon a wide range of cultural references. After teaching at Wiley, Grambling, and Kentucky State in the 1960s, Tillis was recruited to UMass in 1970 by his former adviser at Iowa, Philip Bezanson, to teach music composition and theory. Earning promotion to Professor in 1973, Tillis was appointed Director of the Fine Arts Center in 1978, helping to jump start some of the most successful arts initiatives the university has seen, including the the Afro American Music and Jazz program, the New World Theater, Augusta Savage Gallery, Asian Arts and Culture Program, and Jazz in July. Upon retirement from UMass in 1997, he was appointed Emeritus Director of the Fine Arts and remains active as a musician and poet.
The Tillis papers document an extraordinary career in the arts, focused on Fred Tillis’s work as a composer. Consisting primarily of musical scores along with an assortment of professional correspondence relating to his publishing and miscellaneous notes, the collection offers insight into the evolution of Tillis’s musical vision from the 1970s into the new millennium.
- African American composers
- African American musicians
- Fine Arts Center (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance
Types of material
Trent Family Papers, 1850-1996.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 373
Five generations of an African-American family that achieved commercial success and wealth through the restaurant and catering business as well as extensive real estate investments at the turn of the 20th century in New York City, Brooklyn, and Sea Cliff, Long Island, New York. Includes letters, public and church records, news clippings, ephemera, a videotape, and 87 photographs.
- African American capitalists and financiers--New York (State)--Biography
- African American families--New York (State)--History
- African Americans--Genealogy--Handbooks, manuals, etc
- African Americans--New York (State)--Biography
- African Americans--New York (State)--Social life and customs
- Burleigh, H. T. (Harry Thacker), 1866-1949
- Capitalists and financiers--New York (State)--Biography
- Fuller, Meta Warrick, 1877-1968
- Landowners--New York (State)--Biography
- Restauranteurs--New York (State)--Biography
- Smith family
- Smith, William H. (William Henry), 1836-1923
- Trent family
Types of material
- Baptismal certificates
- Vital statistics records
UMass Amherst. Dean of Students, 1948-1987. 27 boxes (13.25 linear feet).
The Office of the Dean of Students at UMass Amherst was established by President John Lederle in 1961 to replace the separately structured offices of the Dean of Men and Dean of Women, and to provide more effective, more flexible support for a growing and changing student body. In the 1960s, the Dean of Students had responsibility for almost all operational units related to student life, including Admissions, Records, Residence Halls, Dining Halls, Student Union, Student Activities, Placement, and Financial Aid. As the University became a statewide administrative unit with the opening of UMass Boston and the Medical School, there was an increasing conflict between the Office of the Dean of Students on the Amherst campus and the growing demands for a responsive administrative hierarchy. In 1970, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs was therefore created to provide an appropriate level of supervision for the various Student Affairs divisions with regard to budget, personnel and administration. The Office of the Dean of Students then became a student contact-based office, which cooperated and collaborated with the other divisions. The first Dean of Students, William Field came to UMass in 1951 as a guidance counselor and assistant professor of psychology. His tenure coincided with the massive expansion of campus and the turbulent years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, during which he played an important mediating role. The recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal in 1983, Field retired from office in 1988.
An important series of records documenting student life on the UMass Amherst campus, with an emphasis on the 1960s and 1970s. Among these are an extensive series of bylaws and charters for residence halls and registerred student organizations (RSOs) at UMass, as well as subject files on campus protests and demonstrations, students of color, and student groups of various sorts.
- African American students–Massachusetts.
- Field, William.
- Student movements–Massachusetts.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dean of Students.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst–Students.
Call no.: RG 30/2
Urban League of Springfield Records, 1972-1975.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 150
A community development and service agency founded in 1914, the Urban League of Springfield works to secure equal opportunity for minority groups in such fields as employment, education, housing, health, and personal welfare.
This small collection for is tightly focused on the period of the school busing (desegregation) crisis in Springfield, 1974-1975, and the League’s efforts to analyze and respond to the underlying issues in race relations and political engagement. The contents include surveys on racial attitudes and voting behavior in the city along with a selection of publications from the League and a set of board minutes and handouts.
- School integration--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Springfield (Mass.)--History--20the century
- Springfield (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Springfield (Mass.)--Race relations
Cambodian Americans in Amherst Exhibition Collection, 1986.
1 box (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 114
Organized by UMass anthropology professor Joel Halpern, the images in this collection were put on display during the Cambodian New Year celebration in 1986. As part of the celebration, members of the large community of Cambodian refugees who have resettled in Amherst were recognized.
Types of material
Edward H. Abbe Papers, 1828-2004.
22 boxes (28.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 736
Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1915 and raised largely in Hampton, Va., Edward Abbe seemed destined to be an engineer. The great nephew of Elihu Thomson, an inventor and founding partner in General Electric, and grandson of Edward Folger Peck, an early employee of a precursor of that firm, Abbe came from a family with a deep involvement in electrification and the development of street railways. After prepping at the Rectory and Kent Schools, Abbe studied engineering at the Sheffield School at Yale, and after graduation in 1938, accepted a position with GE. For 36 years, he worked in the Industrial Control Division in New York and Virginia, spending summers at the family home on Martha’s Vineyard. After retirement in 1975, he and his wife Gladys traveled frequently, cruising both the Atlantic and Pacific.
Ranging from an extensive correspondence from his high school and college days to materials relating to his family’s involvement in engineering, the Abbe collection offers an in depth perspective on an educated family. An avid traveler and inveterate keeper, Ed Abbe gathered a diverse assemblage of letters, diaries, and memorabilia relating to the history of the Abbe, Peck, Booth, Gifford, and Boardman families. The collection is particularly rich in visual materials, including albums and photographs, depicting homes, travel, and family life over nearly a century.
- Abbe family
- Boardman family
- Booth family
- Electrical engineers
- General Electric
- Gifford family
- Kent School--Students
- Peck family
- Rectory School--Students
- Yale University--Students
- Abbe, Edward H
- Abbe, Gladys Howard
- Abbe, William Parker
- Peck, Edward F
- Peck, Mary Booth
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)