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An educator, farmer’s wife, and resident of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, Bertha Strong Cooley was an ardent Socialist who published regularly in local newspapers on topics ranging from anti-imperialism, democracy, capitalism, Communism, Russia, World War II, and civil rights.
The Cooley scrapbooks reflect the views of a teacher and farmer’s wife who used the newspapers to express her passion for social justice. Cooley ranged widely in responding to the news of the day, espousing Socialism and opposing racial injustice, war, imperialism, economic oppression, and Capitalism. One scrapbook contains writings by Cooley, the other clippings of articles dealing with topics of interest.
With a law degree from Yale in hand in 1968, Peter d’Errico began work as a staff attorney with Dinebeiina Nahiilna Be Agaditahe Navajo Legal Services in Shiprock, Arizona, representing American Indian interests in the US courts. Stemming from his frustrations with a stilted legal system, however, he evolved into an “anti-lawyer,” and in 1970 returned to academia. Joining the faculty at UMass, d’Errico focused his research and writing on the legal issues affecting indigenous peoples and he regularly taught courses on Indian law and the role of the law in imposing state systems on non-state societies. His impact was instrumental in establishing the Department of Legal Studies. Both before and after his retirment in 2002, d’Errico also remained active as a practitioner in Indian law.
The d’Errico collection contains a significant record of d’Errico’s high profile legal work in Indian law, including his work with Western Shoshone land rights and on the case Randall Trapp, et al. v. Commissioner DuBois, et al. In Trapp, a long-running, but ultimately successful First Amendement case, he and Robert Doyle represented prisoners in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections seeking to establish a sweat lodge.
The scholar of book history Otto F. Ege disassembled works from his personal collection of medieval manuscripts to create forty portfolios of fifty leaves each, offering these sets for sale to individuals and institutions under the title “Fifty Original Leaves From Medieval Manuscripts.” Marketing his portfolios as a resource for study of the history of the book, book illustration, and paleography, Ege justified his biblioclastic enterprise as a means of sharing the beauties of Medieval books with a wider audience.
The majority of the texts scavenged for Otto Ege’s “Fifty Original Leaves From Medieval Manuscripts” (all but one in Latin) are liturgical in origin — Bibles, psalters, missals, breviaries, and Books of Hours — however Ege also included a few less common works such as the 15th-century manuscript of Livy’s History of Rome and a version of Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. The leaves range in date from the late twelfth to the early sixteenth century and represent a number of distinctive regional styles in paleography and illumination from throughout western Europe, including Italy, France, Germany, the Low Countries, Switzerland, and England. The UMass Amherst set is number six of 40.
Situated at the confluence of the east and west branches of the Swift River in western Massachusetts, Enfield was the largest and southernmost of the four towns inundated in 1939 to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Incorporated as a town in 1816, Enfield was relatively prosperous in the nineteenth century on an economy based on agriculture and small-scale manufacturing, reaching a population of just over 1,000 by 1837. After thirty years of seeking a suitably large and reliable water supply for Boston, the state designated the Swift River Valley as the site for a new reservoir and with its population relocated, Enfield was officially disincorporated on April 28, 1938.
The records of the town of Enfield, Mass., document nearly the entire history of the largest of four towns inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of the collection consists of records of town meetings and of the activities of the town Selectmen, 1804-1938, but there are substantial records for the Enfield Congregational Church. The School Committee, Overseers of the Poor, the town Library Association, and groups such as the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Bethel Masonic Lodge.
A worker in the struggle against poverty and racism for five decades, David Entin was raised in Queens, N.Y., but moved to Jacksonville, Florida, with his family in 1953. As a student at the University of North Carolina in 1964, Entin took part in antipoverty work with the North Carolina Volunteers, parlaying that experience into a position with the Durham County Welfare Department and then with antipoverty groups in Jacksonville. His new career, however, was interrupted by Vietnam War service with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Stationed in Quang Ngai Province, a Vietcong stronghold, and Da Nang between 1966 and 1968, Entin oversaw redevelopment projects and while not caught up in the fight itself, he was charged with assessing damage in Region One following the Tet Offensive. After returning home to Florida, Entin resumed his antipoverty work.
The collection centers around 51 detailed letters describing the two years that David Entin spent in Vietnam working with USAID; these letters serve as a diary recording Entin’s daily activities and observations and accompany several hundred slides and photographs. Also included in the collection are a series of short autobiographical essays that detail his childhood, early career, and service in Vietnam.
Ann Ferguson began her tenure at UMass as an Instructor in 1964 as she completed the last year of her doctoral work at Brown under supervision of R.M. Chisolm. With academic interests in ethics, aesthetics, women’s studies, and social and political philosophy, Ferguson has been politically engaged in human rights and social justice initiatives since the 1960s, supporting organizations such as Feminist Aid to Central America, Marxist Activist Philosophers, and the Radical Philosopher’s Association. In 1995, Ferguson accepted a three-year term as Director of Women’s Studies, describing the program as one with the “roots in political activism to fight social injustice.” Despite her 2008 retirement, Ferguson continues to teach in both Philosophy and Women’s Studies.
The Ferguson Papers document Ann Ferguson’s academic career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as well as her commitment to political activism and social change. The papers include material relating to campus politics, the women’s movement and other social movements, Philosophy Department files (1971-1997) from Ferguson’s tenure as Head of the Philosophy Department, and course materials from both Women’s Studies and Philosophy. Also included among the papers are professional correspondence, feminist pamphlets (1970s-1980s), and several posters from Ferguson’s office.
For the better part of four decades, Nancy E. Foster was active in the struggle for social justice, peace, and political reform. From early work in civil rights through her engagement in political reform in Amherst, Mass., Foster was recognized for her work in the movements opposing war, nuclear power, and the assault on civil liberties after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Locally, she worked with her fellow members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst and with interfaith coalitions to address problems of hunger and homelessness.
Centered in western Massachusetts and concentrated in the last decade of her life (2000-2010), the Nancy Foster Papers includes a record of one woman’s grassroots activism for peace, civil liberties, and social justice. The issues reflected in the collection range from the assault on civil liberties after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to immigration, hunger and poverty, the Iraq Wars, and the conflict in Central America during the 1980s, and much of the material documents Nancy’s involvement with local organizations such as the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. The collection also contains a valuable record of Nancy’s participation in local politics in Amherst, beginning with the records of the 1972 committee which was charged with reviewing the Town Meeting.
Barbara Gittings and her life partner Kay Tobin Lahusen were pioneers in the gay rights movement. After coming out during her freshman year at Northwestern University, Gittings became keenly aware of the difficulty of finding material to help her understand her gay identity. An inveterate organizer, she helped found the New York chapter of the early Lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) in 1957, and she became well known in the 1960s for organizing the first gay rights demonstrations at the White House and Independence Hall. Gittings later worked with organizations from the American Library Association to the American Psychiatric Association to address systematic forms of anti-gay discrimination.
The Gittings-Lahusen Gay Book Collection contains nearly 1,000 books on the gay experience in America collected by Gittings and Lahusen throughout their career. The contents range from a long run of The Ladder, the DOB magazine co-edited by the couple, to works on the psychology and sociology of homosexuality, works on religious and political issues, novels and histories by gay authors, and examples of the pulp fiction of the 1950s and 1960s.
All social change and cultural movements have their associated resources for the exchange of information, ideas, stories, and art. Particularly in the women’s movement, the effort to create newsletters, journals, and other forms of information dissemination was a proactive step taken to assert women’s stories and to locate the power of the press within women-run communities. These periodicals, both large and small in scale, reveal the ways women connected to each other and to larger spiritual and cultural concepts. Local artist, activist, and feminist Jay Goldspinner was engaged with many of these communities, particularly those characterizing the spiritual elements of the women’s liberation and feminist movements, and collected and saved their periodicals. Her collection includes journals focusing on feminist linguistics, goddess myths and spirituality, Wiccan and witch traditions, progressive politics, and women’s spirituality and community in local and international settings. Each is a unique window into discourses of women’s history, feminist movements, and social change work.
The Jay Goldspinner Periodicals Collection consists of issues of feminist and progressive periodicals, journals, and newsletters from four decades. The titles represented include Always in Season, Goddessing, The Lonesome Node, The People’s Voice of Franklin County, Themis/Thesmophoria, Wicked Word, and an almost complete run, including the two indexes, of the seminal magazine of feminist spirituality, WomenSpirit.