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What we collect

Frank Waugh's doves
Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all’; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951

In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.

Our approach to collecting

Graphic showing SCUA major collecting areas

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).

  • African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
  • Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
  • Arts management and arts administration:
    In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
  • Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
  • Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
  • Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
  • Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

New England history and culture

The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.

  • Cookery and culinary history
    SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
  • Literature and the arts
    Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
  • Politics and political culture
    SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

Alternative Energy Coalition

Alternative Energy Coalition

ca.1975-1985
9 boxes 13.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 586

A product of the vibrant and progressive political culture of western Massachusetts during the early 1970s, the Alternative Energy Coalition played a key role in the growth of antinuclear activism. In 1974, the AEC helped mobilize support for Sam Lovejoy after he sabotaged a weather tower erected by Northeast Utilities in Montague, Mass., in preparation for a proposed nuclear power plant, and they helped organize the drive for a referendum opposing not only the proposed plant in Montague, but existing plants in Rowe, Mass., and Vernon, Vt. Forming extensive connections with other antinuclear organizations, the AEC also became one of the organizations that united in 1976 to form the Clamshell Alliance, which made an art of mass civil disobedience.

The AEC Records provide insight into grassroots activism of the 1970s and 1980s, galvanized by the seemingly unrestrained growth of the nuclear power industry. The records, emanating from the Hampshire County branch, contain both research materials used by the AEC and organizational and promotional materials produced by them, including publications, minutes of meetings, correspondence, and materials used during protests. Of particular interest are a thick suite of organizational and other information pertaining to the occupation of the Seabrook (N.H.) nuclear power plant in 1979 and minutes, notes, and other materials relating to the founding and early days of the Clamshell Alliance. The collection is closely related to the Antinuclear Collection (MS 547).

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Hampshire County (Mass.)--History
  • Nonviolence--Massachusetts
  • Nuclear energy--Massachusetts
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Political activists--Massachusetts
  • Renewable energy source
  • Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant (N.H.)
  • Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station

Contributors

  • Alternative Energy Coalition
  • Clamshell Alliance

Types of material

  • Realia
Banks, Katherine Bell

Katherine Bell Banks Papers

1926-1960
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 429

Collection of letters from Du Bois to various members of the Bell family, the earliest written in September 1926 to Katherine Bell and the latest written in December 1960 to Thomasina Bell Fitzroy. These letters offer a unique perspective of Du Bois’s personal life.

Subjects

  • African Americans--History--1877-1964

Contributors

  • Banks, Katherine Bell
  • Bell, Thomas, d.1946
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs
Barkin, Solomon, 1907-

Solomon Barkin Papers

1930-1988
11 linear feet
Call no.: FS 100

Born in 1902, Solomon Barkin was an economist, education director for the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA ), and from 1968 to 1978 a professor at the University of Massachusetts and research associate at the Labor Center.

The bulk of the Barkin collection, over 10.5 linear feet, consists of bound notebooks containing speeches, typescripts, and printed versions of articles, book reviews, congressional testimony, forewords, and introductions — nearly 600 in all — written by Barkin. One box (0.5 linear foot) contains correspondence, bibliographies, tributes and awards, and a biography. Generally, the collection illustrates Barkin’s life as both a union organizer and an economist. His writings reflect his attempts to create “a system of trade union economics” as a counterpoise to standard “enterprise economics,” as well as his belief that labor should not be viewed as a commodity.

Subjects

  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Textile Workers Union of America
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Labor Relations and Research Center

Contributors

  • Barkin, Solomon, 1907-
Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991

Silvio O. Conte Papers

1950-1991
389 boxes 583.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 371

Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts’s First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.

Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.

Subjects

  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • Massachusetts. Senate
  • United States--Politics and government--20th century
  • United States. Congress. House

Contributors

  • Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings
Delevingne, Lionel

Lionel Delevingne Photograph Collection

ca.1975-1995
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: PH 047
Image of Joan of Seabrook
Joan of Seabrook

Born and raised in France, the photojournalist Lionel Delevingne studied education at l’Ecole Normale in Paris, but settled permanently in the United States in 1975. Based at first in Northampton, Mass., he became a prolific photographer of American social movements while working for the Valley Advocate and other publications, covering the early years of the Clamshell Alliance and the antinuclear movement in considerable depth. His work has been exhibited frequently and published widely in the mainstream and alternative press, including the New York Times, Le Figaro Magazine, Die Zeit, Newsweek, Washington Post Magazine, Mother Jones, and Vanity Fair.

The Delevingne collection includes remarkable visual documentation of the antinuclear movement of the 1970s and beyond, including some of the its most iconic images. Beginning with coverage of the Seabrook occupation, Delevingne covered the movement as it spread throughout the northeastern U.S. and internationally. The collection includes exhibition prints, prints for publication, and digitized images ranging in date from the mid-1970s through 1990s. Copyright in the images has been retained by Delevingne.

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movement--United States
  • Clamshell Alliance
  • Photojournalists
  • Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant (N.H.)

Contributors

  • Delevingne, Lionel

Types of material

  • Photographs
Fischer, Britta

Britta Fischer, U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association Photograph Collection

1978
449 items 1 linear feet
Call no.: PH 054

Founded in 1974, the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association was among the first American organizations devoted to fostering people-to-people diplomacy between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. The vision of veteran civil rights activist Unita Blackwell, the USCPFA sponsored speakers, seminars, and cultural exchanges, and in the 1970s, was among the first groups to organize tours from the United States to the People’s Republic.

The 449 color slides (35 mm.) that comprise the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association collection document one of the group’s early tours, undertaken at the height of the agitation over the Gang of Four. Beyond simple touristic scenes, the collection depicts a state-sponsored version of everyday life in China during the early post-Mao era.

Gift of Britta Fischer via Sigrid Schmalzer, 2010

Subjects

  • Beijing (China)--Photographs
  • Children--China--Photographs
  • China--Photographs
  • Factories--China--Photographs
  • Great Wall of China (China)--Photographs
  • Jinan (China)--Photographs
  • Shanghai (China)--Photographs
  • Tian'an Men (Beijing, China)--Photographs
  • Yangzhou (China)--Photographs

Types of material

  • Photographs
Gwin, Lucy

Lucy Gwin Papers

1982-2005
8 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 822

Born in Indiana, the writer Lucy Gwin (1943-2014) lived “a lot of lives,” in her own words, working in advertising, as a dairy farmer, civil rights activist, and deckhand on ships servicing oil rigs, all before the age of 40. While living in Rochester, N.Y., in 1989, however, her life took a sudden turn. After a head-on collision with a drunk driver left her with traumatic brain injury, Gwin was remanded for care to the New Medico Brain Rehabilitation Center, where she witnessed a world of isolation, patient abuse, and powerlessness. Never one to shrink from a challenge, she escaped from the Center and used her skills as an organizer and writer to expose conditions at New Medico and shut the facility down. Through her experiences, Gwin emerged as a powerful, often acerbic voice in all-disability rights advocacy, becoming the founder, designer, and editor of the influential Mouth Magazine in 1990.

Lucy Gwin’s papers document the advocacy of an important figure in the disability rights movement. The rich documentation for Mouth Magazine includes comprehensive editorial files arranged issue by issue, some correspondence with authors and supporters, and copies of the published issue. The balance of the collection contains Gwin’s other work as a writer, personal correspondence, and materials relating to her experiences with and campaign against New Medico.

Subjects

  • Disabled--Civil rights
  • Mouth Magazine
Hefner, William K.

William K. Hefner Papers

1962-1978
6 boxes 9 linear feet
Call no.: MS 129
Image of Bill Hefner for Congress
Bill Hefner for Congress

In 1960, William K. Hefner (1915-1993) became one of the first of new breed of radical pacifists to run for elective office, when he ran as a peace candidate for Congress in the 1st district of Massachusetts. An accountant from Greenfield, Hefner was involved at a national level with movements for peace and civil rights. An early member of SANE, a founder of Political Action for Peace in 1959 (now CPPAX) and the Greenfield Peace Center (1963), and an active member of the American Friends Service Committee, War Resisters League, Turn Toward Peace, and the World Without War Conference, Hefner was an energetic force in the movements for peace and disarmament, civil rights, and a more just economic system. He ran unsuccessfully for office in three elections between 1960 and 1964, and supported peace candidate H. Stuart Hughes in his bid for election to the U.S. Senate in 1962.

The Hefner papers offer a remarkable record of politically-engaged activism for peace and social justice in the early 1960s. With an intensely local focus, Hefner was tied in to the larger movements at the state and national level, corresponding with major figures such as A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Spock, and Arthur Springer. The collection includes particularly rich documentation of the early years of Political Action for Peace, which Hefner helped found, with correspondence, minutes of meetings, and publications, as well as equally rich materials on Hefner’s bids for congress in 1960 and 1962.

Subjects

  • American Friends Service Committee Western Massachusetts
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Civil Rights movements--Massachusetts
  • Greenfield Community Peace Center
  • Massachusetts Political Action for Peace
  • Nonviolence
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Platform for Peace (Organization)
  • Political Action for Peace
  • SANE, Inc
  • Turn Toward Peace (Organization)
  • United States. Congress--Elections, 1960
  • United States. Congress--Elections, 1962
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements

Contributors

  • Boardman, Elizabeth F
  • Hefner, William K.
  • Hughes, H. Stuart (Henry Stuart), 1916-1999
  • Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967
  • Rustin, Bayard, 1912-1987
  • Springer, Arthur

Types of material

  • Minutes
Holland, W. L. (William Lancelot), 1907-

W. L. Holland Papers

1922-2008
4 boxes 5.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 782
Image of W.L. Holland, 1938
W.L. Holland, 1938

Born in New Zealand in 1907, Bill Holland first traveled to Japan at the age of 21 to take part in the conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations, beginning over thirty years of association with the organization. During his time at IPR, Holland held a number of leadership positions, including Research Secretary (1933-1944), Secretary-General (1946-1960), and editor of its periodicals Far Eastern Survey and Pacific Affairs. He took leave from the IPR twice: to study for a MA in economics under John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge (1934) and, during the Second World War, to become acting director of the Office of War Information in Chungking, China. Founded on an internationalist philosophy as a forum to discuss relations between Pacific nations, the IPR was targeted under the McCarthy-era McCarran act during the 1950s, accused of Communist sympathies. After political pressure led the IPR to disband in 1960, Holland accepted a position on faculty with the newly created Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia (1961-1972), helping to lead that department to international prominence. He remained in BC until the death of his wife Doreen in 1990, after which he settled in Amherst to live with his only child, Patricia G. Holland. Holland died in Amherst in May 2008.

The Holland Papers are a dense assemblage of correspondence of Bill Holland, his wife Doreen, and their family, from his first trip abroad in the 1920s through the time of his death. Although largely personal in nature, the letters offer important insight into Holland’s travel in pre-war Asia, his work with the IPR, the war, and the of the 1950s. The collection also includes a wealth of photographs, including two albums documenting trips to Japan, China, and elsewhere 1929-1933.

Subjects

  • China--Description and travel
  • Japan--Description and travel
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Holland, Doreen P.
  • Institute of Pacific Relations

Types of material

  • Photographs