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Chalfen family

Chalfen Family Papers
ca.1890-2011
51 boxes (76.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 770

Born into a Jewish family in Khotyn, Bessarabia (now Ukraine), in 1888, Benjamin Chalfen emigrated to United States as a young man, arriving in New York City in 1910 before making his way to Boston. Taking work as a clerk with the Roxbury Crossing Steamship Agency, he married a fellow Russian immigrant, Annie Berg in 1914 and, after their divorce a few years later, married a second time. Benjamin and Annie’s son, Melvin (1918-2007), studied Forestry at Massachusetts State College (BA 1940) and Yale (MF 1942) before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in Aug. 1942. Moved to active duty in 1943 as a communications specialist, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. After he returned home, Mel met and married a recent Smith College graduate, Judith Resnick (1925-2011), with whom he raised three sons. The couple settled into a comfortable life in the Boston suburbs, where Mel carved out a successful career as a home inspector and educator while Judith became well known as a supporter of the arts and as one of the founders of Action For Children’s Television (1968), an important force in promoting quality television programing for children.

A massive archive documenting three generations of a Jewish family from Boston, the Chalfen family papers contain a rich body of photographs and letters, centered largely on the lives of Melvin and Judith Chalfen. The Chalfens were prolific correspondents and the collection includes hundreds of letters written home while Mal and Judy were in college and while Mel was serving in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War — most of these in Yiddish. The thousands of photographs cover a broader span of family history, beginning prior to emigration from Bessarabia into the 1960s. Among many other items of note are rough drafts of a New Deal sociological study of juvenile delinquency and the impact of boys’ clubs in the late 1930s prepared by Abraham Resnick (a Socialist community organizer and Judith’s father); materials from the progressive Everyman’s Theater (early 1960s); and nearly three feet of material documenting Judy Chalfen’s work with Action for Children’s Television.

Gift of the Chalfen family, 2011.
Language(s): Yiddish
Subjects
  • Action for Children's Television
  • Jews--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Massachusetts State College--Students
  • Smith College--Students
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Chalfen, Benjamin
  • Chalfen, Judith, 1925-2011
  • Chalfen, Melvin H. (Melvin Howard), 1918-2007
Types of material
  • Photographs

Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, programs, and exhibitions to promote free inquiry; the production, exchange, and preservation of knowledge; and joy in learning.

Department history

African dancers
African dancers
From the Horace Mann Bond Papers

In 1931, nearly half a century after Librarian Henry Hill Goodell first authorized the permanent retention of the official records of Massachusetts Agricultural College, the Library established a College History Collection. Containing official records of the university’s administrators and faculty and reflecting the life of its students, the College History Collection grew steadily until in 1953, the Library dedicated a room named in honor of Dean William L. Machmer to serve as the first true home of the University Archives.

Goodell’s foresight in assembling the College archives coincided roughly with the university’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. As early as 1868 — just one year after the arrival of the first students — the college accepted the donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist (and state Adjutant General) Henry K. Oliver. By the time the college issued its first library catalog in 1875, rare books were a small, but notable part of the collections, closely focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. Included among the Library’s earliest acquisitions were the first London edition of William Bartram’s Travels Through North and South Carolina (1792), François Augier de Marigny’s The History of the Arabians (London, 1758), and early bee manuals by John Keys, The Practical Bee-Master (London, 1780) and The Antient Bee-Master’s Farewell (London, 1796) — both courtesy of Oliver. Each of these volumes remains part of the collections today.

David Axelrod, Class of 1965
David B. Axelrod, ca.1980, Class of 1965, poet, author of The Man who Fell in Love with His Chicken (1980)

From these beginnings, the collection of rare books and manuscripts has co-evolved with the university and its academic programs. In 1973, the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski marked an expansion of scope beyond into personal papers and organizational records of historical significance beyond the narrow confines of the university, and the arrival of the papers on W.E.B. Du Bois in that same year marked a turning point. The rare book and manuscript collections were merged with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

SCUA’s initial foray online came with a simple page on the library’s website in 1997, and by 2007, it had evolved into the UMarmot project, one of the earliest efforts to use freely-available software to create a comprehensive online archival catalog. SCUA launched its online digital repository, Credo in 2011, with the generous support of the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Available free to all researchers, Credo is now a robust and heavily used presence on the internet, containing hundreds of thousands of pages of content and dozens of complete collections, including every item in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond.

Mile markers

Each of the library’s million-volume milestones has been celebrated by the addition of a special volume to SCUA’s collections:

One millionth volume:
Jonathan Edwards, A careful and strict enquiry into the modern prevailing notions of that freedom of will; which is supposed to be essential to moral agency, vertue and vice, reward and punishment, praise and blame. Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754.
SCUA’s copy of this classic theological work on Free Will from the New Light minister from Northampton belonged to Rev. John Cleaveland of Ipswich, Mass., one of the subscribers. It is signed and dated by Cleaveland in several locations.
Two millionth volume:
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. London: A. Bell, 1773.
A classic of American literature written by a young woman enslaved in Boston, and the first book published by an African-American woman. Gift of Randolph W. Bromery.
Three millionth volume:
James Baldwin, Gypsy and other poems, with etched portraits by Leonard Baskin. Northampton, Mass.: Gehenna Press, 1989.
When Baldwin, a former faculty member at UMass Amherst, died unexpectedly, he was working with the great printer Leonard Baskin on a special volume of unpublished poems. Celebrating SCUA’s strengths in African American history literature and reflecting the fine-printing heritage in Massachusetts, SCUA’s copy includes a signed portfolio of etchings of Baldwin by Baskin, each signed. It is one of fifty copies bound specially by Daniel Gehnrich in leather and paste paper, made by Babette Gehnrich, over boards, and laid into a cloth traycase. Also laid in are Baskin’s proof, 1989, and touched proof, 1989, of two of the portraits. Gift of Lisa Baskin.
Four millionth volume:
The proclamation of emancipation of the President of the United States, to take effect January 1st, 1863. Boston: John Murray Forbes, 1862.
The first separate printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this volume was printed in miniature so that Union army troops in the south could more easily distribute it.

Learn more:

Slonecker, Blake, 1981-

Blake Slonecker Collection
2008
4 items (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 795

An historian of twentieth century social movements, Blake Slonecker received his doctorate at the University of North Carolina in 2009 and joined the history faculty at Waldorf College soon thereafter. In a dissertation examining the utopian impulses of the New Left (published in 2012 as A new dawn for the New Left: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the long sixties), Slonecker explored how the political and cultural activism of the 1960s helped reshape American political culture in the decade following.

In June 2008, Slonecker conducted oral historical interviews with four individuals who were part of the extended community centered on the Montague Farm and Packer Corners communes during the late 1960s: Tom Fels, Charles Light, Sam Lovejoy, and Richard Wizansky. In wide-ranging interviews, the former communards discuss topics ranging from the fraught politics of the era, political and cultural activism, gender roles and sexuality, and daily life on the communes.

Gift of Blake Slonecker, Aug. 2013
Subjects
  • Amherst College
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Clamshell Alliance
  • Green Mountain Post Films
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Musicians United for Safe Energy
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Contributors
  • Fels, Thomas Weston
  • Light, Charles
  • Lovejoy, Sam
  • Wizansky, Richard
Types of material
  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories (document genres)

Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter

Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter Records
1947-1973
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 303

Minutes and correspondence of the Executive Committee, correspondence and general files of chairmen Philip Eddy, David E. Matz, and Donn Kesselheim, as well as correspondence, briefs, and clippings related to legal cases and inquiries undertaken by the chapter.

Subjects
  • Civil rights--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter
  • Eddy, Philip
  • Kesselheim, Donn
  • Matz, David E

Connecticut Valley Breeders Association

Connecticut Valley Breeders Association Records
1908-1947 (Bulk: 1908-1930)
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 425

Established in Northampton, Mass., in May 1908, the Connecticut Valley Breeders Association was part of the burgeoning Progressive-era movement to apply scientific principles to improve agriculture. In its charter, the CVBA announced the ambitious goal of promoting “the live stock development of the Connecticut Valley and as far as possible the entire New England states in every way as affecting its educational, economic, legislative, health or other influences.” Led by Oren C. Burt of Easthampton, and George E. Taylor of Shelburne (its first President), it sponsored lectures and other information sessions that attracted as many as 500 attendees at its peak of popularity. Although the organization appears to have waned in the period of the First World War, it was revived in 1925 and four years later, the new Hampshire Herd Improvement Association assumed many of its functions.

This slender ledger records the minutes of the Connecticut Valley Breeders Association from its founding in 1908 through about 1930. In addition to the constitution and by-laws of both the CVBA and HHIA, the ledger includes minutes of the organizations’ meetings from 1908-1930, with a gap from 1916-1925. The collection is accompanied by a U.S. Department of Agriculture pamphlet, Cow Testers Handbook (1924).

Subjects
  • Cattle--Breeding
Contributors
  • Burt, Oren C.
  • Connecticut Valley Breeders Association
  • Hampshire Herd Improvement Association
  • Taylor, George E.
Types of material
  • Minute books

Massachusetts AFL-CIO

Massachusetts AFL-CIO Records
1902-1995
72 boxes (64 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 369

Formed in 1887 as the Massachusetts branch of the American Federation of Labor, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO currently represents the interests of over 400,000 working people in the Commonwealth. Like its parent organization, the national AFL-CIO, the Mass. AFL-CIO is an umbrella organization, a union of unions, and engages in political education, legislative action, organizing, and education and training.

The official records of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO provide insight into the aims and administrative workings of the organization. These includes a nearly complete run of proceedings and reports from its conventions since 1902, except for a five year gap 1919-1923, minutes and agendas for the meetings of the Executive Council, and the President’s files (1982- ). The collection is particularly strong in the period since about 1980.

Subjects
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • AFL-CIO
  • Massachusetts AFL-CIO

Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs

Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Posters Collection
1852-1860
19 items
Call no.: MS 169

With one of the first agricultural fairs in the country taking place in Massachusetts in 1807, the state has a special place in the history of agricultural fairs in the United States. Twenty antebellum posters promoting agricultural fairs in western Massachusetts, primarily from agricultural societies in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties.

Subjects
  • Agricultural exhibitions--Massachusetts--Posters
  • Agricultural exhibitions--Rhode Island--Providence--Posters
  • Agriculture--Social aspects--Massachusetts--History
  • Agriculture--Social aspects--Rhode Island--History
Types of material
  • Posters

Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists

Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists Records
1930-1990
5 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 346
Image of Holiday Inn greets the MAEHE, 1967
Holiday Inn greets the MAEHE, 1967

An outgrowth of the extension movement in Massachusetts aimed at assisting rural women in domestic work, the Massachusetts Home Demonstration Agents’ Association (later the Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists) was formed in 1930. Offering an opportunity for the sharing of resources, approaches, and information, the organization provided encouragement for its members to improve their skills as home economists and adult educators.

The MAEHE collection includes award applications, minutes, correspondence, newsletters, and membership files.

Subjects
  • Home economics extension work--Massachusetts
  • Home economics--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Massachusetts Home Demonstration Agents Association
  • National Association of Extension Home Economists
Types of material
  • Photographs

Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc.

Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test Records
1953-1959
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 082
Image of Terry B. Kinney at groundbreaking, July 1954
Terry B. Kinney at groundbreaking, July 1954

An early example of cooperative research between industry and academia, the Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc. was founded in 1954 to conduct tests to improve poultry productivity. Taking advantage of the professional skills of the staff and students in the Poultry Science Department at UMass Amherst, the Test facility was located adjacent to campus and over its five year course of operations, gathered scientific data on a number of variables, including rate of growth, rate of feathering, age of maturity, and egg production and hatchability.

The records of the Broiler Test consist of minutes, financial documents, correspondence, and test results.

Gift of Thomas W. Fox, 1987
Subjects
  • Chickens--Breeding
  • Poultry industry--Massachusetts
  • Turkeys--Breeding
Contributors
  • Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc
Types of material
  • Photographs

Massachusetts Governmental Activities Exposition

Massachusetts Governmental Activities Exposition Photograph Album
1930
88 images (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 043
Image of Library exhibit
Library exhibit

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.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts Governmental Activities Exposition--Photographs
  • Massachusetts--Centennial celebrations, etc.
Contributors
  • Genereux, P. E.
Types of material
  • Photographs
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