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Perreault, Alida

Alida Perreault Papers

1906-1957 Bulk: 1928-1933
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 808
Image of

Alida Capistrant was the eleventh of twelve children in a large French-Canadian family in South Hadley, Massachusetts, born on July 24, 1914. Her parents both immigrated from Quebec in 1885. On September 30, 1895, they were married in South Hadley. The Capistrant family rented their home until 1912 when they purchased their first house in South Hadley. Alida had an active social life as a teenager and considered attending college or university, but did not pursue any further education until about 1943, when she studied at the Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Two years later she married James Perreault and the couple had two children, a daughter, Marcia (Perreault) Matthieu, and a son, David James Perreault. They lived in South Hadley until 2003, when they moved to Chandler, Arizona, to be near their daughter. Alida Perreault died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on April 7, 2006, and James died in 2008. Both are buried in Saint Rose Cemetery in South Hadley next to Alida’s family.

Alida’s correspondence during her high school years (1928-1932) reveal a young woman with a substantial network of friends and family. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from several friends, including two potential romantic interests. Letters document daily activities, family happenings, and later Alida’s interest in a career as a nurse and her leadership role in the South Hadley Women’s Club.

Gift of Danielle Kovacs, 2014
  • Capistrant family--Correspondence
  • Family--Massachusetts--History
  • High school students--Massachusetts
  • South Hadley (Mass.)--History
  • Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, Mass.)
  • Fogg, Esther
  • McEwan, William
  • Mitkiewitcz, Freddie A.
Types of material
  • Correspondence
  • Greeting cards
  • Invitations

Quabbin Broadsides

Quabbin Broadside Collection

2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 022

During the 1920s and 1930s, the populations of four towns in the Swift River Valley, Mass., were relocated to make way for completion of the Quabbin Reservoir. Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott were formally disincorporated in 1938, marking an end to over a century of small town government in the region.

The Quabbin Broadside Collection contains as assortment of printed and posted notices issued in three of the four Massachusetts towns that were flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir. These include announcements for dances (including the Enfield Fire Department Farewell Ball in 1938), for plays performed by the North Dana Dramatic Club, and notification of voter registration and tax assessment.

  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Elections--Massachusetts--Enfield
  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--History
  • New Salem (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Theater--Massachusetts--Dana
Types of material
  • Broadsides
  • Maps
  • Playbills

Radical Student Union (RSU)

Radical Student Union Records

1905-2006 Bulk: 1978-2005
22 boxes 14.5 linear feet
Call no.: RG 045/80 R1

Founded by Charles Bagli in 1976, the Revolutionary Student Brigade at UMass Amherst (later the Radical Student Union) has been a focal point for organization by politically radical students. RSU members have responded to issues of social justice, addressing both local, regional, and national concerns ranging from militarism to the environment, racism and sexism to globalization.

The RSU records document the history of a particularly long-lived organization of left-leaning student activists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beginning in the mid-1970s, as students were searching for ways to build upon the legacy of the previous decade, the RSU has been a constant presence on campus, weathering the Reagan years, tough budgetary times, and dramatic changes in the political culture at the national and state levels. The RSU reached its peak during the 1980s with protests against American involvement in Central America, CIA recruitment on campus, American support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and government-funded weapons research, but in later years, the organization has continued to adapt, organizing against globalization, sweatshops, the Iraq War, and a host of other issues.

  • Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • College students--Political activity
  • Communism
  • El Salvador--History--1979-1992
  • Guatemala--History--1945-1982
  • Iraq War, 2003-
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Persian Gulf War, 1991
  • Political activists--Massachusetts--History
  • Racism
  • Socialism
  • Student movements
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • United States. Central Intelligence Agency
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Progressive Student Network
  • Radical Student Union
  • Revolutionary Student Brigade
Types of material
  • Banners

Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection

Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection

48 items 3 linear feet
Call no.: RB 012
Image of John Metcalf
John Metcalf

Although printing requires a substantial capital investment in equipment before any hope of profitability can be entertained, there have been numerous attempts over the years to set up printing houses in communities with astonishingly small population bases. In even the most remote Massachusetts towns, people like John Metcalf (Wendell), Ezekiel Terry (Palmer), and John and Solomon Howe (Enfield and Greenwich) operated as printers during the nineteenth century, specializing in a quotidian array of broadsides, song sheets, almanacs, toy books, and printed forms, hoping to supplement, or provide, a decent living.

This small, but growing collection consists of materials printed prior to the twentieth century in small Massachusetts towns, defined as towns with populations less than about 2,500. Although few of these houses survived for long, they were important sources for rural communities. Typically simple in typography, design, and binding, even crude, the output of such printers provides an important gauge of the interests and tastes of New England’s smallest and often poorest communities.

  • Children's books--Massachusetts
  • Printers--Massachusetts
  • Howe, John, 1783-1845
  • Howe, Solomon, 1750-1835
  • Metcalf, John, 1788-1864
  • Terry, Ezekiel, 1775-1829
Types of material
  • Almanacs
  • Broadsides

Solander, Arvo A.

Arvo A. Solander Papers

8 boxes 4 linear feet
Call no.: MS 587

Graduating from Harvard in the thick of the Great Depression, Arvo A. Solander worked as a civil and sanitary engineer for a variety of state and federal agencies, including the Civil Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the 1930s, as opportunity arose, he filled positions as a road engineer, in the design and construction of water and sewage plants, in pollution control, as a safety engineer in the shellfish industry, and in mosquito control, taking jobs throughout Massachusetts and as far away as Tennessee. After using his talents as an officer in the Sanitary Corps during the Second World War, based primarily in Arkansas, Solander returned home to Massachusetts and opened a private engineering office in South Hadley. He worked as a civil engineer and surveyor until his death in January 1976.

The Arvo Solander Papers consists of twenty-four bound volumes documenting thirty years of varied work as an engineer, including his contributions to the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. Within the bound volumes are a wide range of reports, typescripts, sketches and diagrams, graphs, contracts and design specifications, photographs, and postcards.

  • Civil engineers
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
  • Depressions--1929
  • Fisheries--Massachusetts
  • Mosquitoes--Control
  • Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)
  • Roads--Design and construction
  • Sanitary engineers
  • Sewage disposal plants--Design and construction
  • United States. Federal Civil Works Administration
  • Water--Pollution--Tennessee
  • Water-supply--Massachusetts
  • Westfield State Sanatorium
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Wrentham State School
  • Solander, Arvo A
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Soler, José A.

José A. Soler Papers

20 boxes 26.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 864
Image of José Soler (center) at District 65 rally
José Soler (center) at District 65 rally

A scholar of labor studies and activist, José Soler was born in New York City to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father and has been an activist in the cause of Puerto Rican independence and human rights since the 1970s. While a student at the University of New Mexico (BA 1972), Soler emerged as a leader in the Chicano rights organization, the Brown Berets, and while living in Puerto Rico in the late 1970s, he joined the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Soler has subsequently worked in the labor movement as a shop steward, union organizer with UAW District 65, and labor journalist. As a committed Marxist and prolific writer and editor, he has taken part in causes ranging from anti-imperialist work in the Caribbean and Central America to the anti-apartheid struggle, and he has served on the Executive Board of the US Peace Council. From 1993 until his retirement in 2015, Soler worked as Director of the Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center at UMass Dartmouth where he has continued to work on behalf of public education and human rights and national self-determination.

The Soler Papers chronicle over forty years of a life-long activist’s interests and participation in left-wing political, labor, and social justice movements. There is a particular focus on topics relating to socialism and the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico, anti-imperialist movements in South and Central America and Africa, and issues affecting Puerto Rican and Hispanic workers in the United States, New England, and the New York City area. Published and promotional materials such as periodicals, magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets make up the bulk of the collection, with extensive coverage of the concerns of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño, PSP), the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), as well as New Jersey chapters of the unions Communications Workers of America (CWA) and District 65, which eventually joined the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). An additional seven boxes were added to the collection in June 2016, which remain unprocessed. The new materials offer additional documentation from the Dubin Labor Education Center and Soler’s work and interests in education (testing, privatization, and unions), labor, Marxist-Leninism, and various events in the United States and Latin America.

Gift of Jose Soler, 2015, 2016
  • Communications Workers of America
  • Labor unions--New York (State)--New York
  • Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño
  • United Automobile, Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America. District 65
Types of material
  • Photographs

Thacher-Channing families

Thacher-Channing Family Papers

3 boxes, books 22.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1005
Image of Stephen Thacher, ca.1853
Stephen Thacher, ca.1853

A graduate of Yale, failed schoolmaster, and politically-connected customs collector in eastern Maine during the antebellum period, Stephen Thacher raised a large family with grand intellectual ambitions. Thacher’s sons made the most of their collegiate educations in their careers in law and the ministry, his eldest daughter Mary married Thomas Wentworth Higginson, while a granddaughter Alice Thacher married the Harvard historian Edward Channing, son of William Ellery Channing and nephew of Margaret Fuller.

These relics of a prominent New England family contain nearly 150 letters, dozens of photographs and other visual materials, and a large assortment of books from three generations of Thachers and Channings. The letters are a rich resource for understanding the life of Stephen Thacher from the uncertainty of youth in Connecticut to political and financial success in the ports of eastern Maine. Assembled by Stephen’s son Peter, the collection includes a number of noteworthy items, including an excellent letter from Timothy Goodwin in July 1775, describing his experiences during the failed expedition on Quebec and the retreat to Crown Point, and a series of letters from Congressman Martin Kinsley on the major issues of the day, including the extension of slavery to the territories and formation of the state of Maine.

Gift of Ben Forbes and Fran Soto, 2017
  • Channing family
  • Maine--Politics and government--19th century
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--19th century
  • Thacher family
Types of material
  • Ambrotypes
  • Daguerreotypes
  • Photographs
  • Silhouettes

Travel Brochures

Travel Brochures Collection

1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 490

Long a favored destination for travelers due to its scenic coastline and rural landscapes, New England’s tourist industry evolved in parallel with transportation technologies. Rail lines opened summering opportunities in the interior of the region in the nineteenth century, and the expansion of roadways and the automobile after the First World War drove the industry further, leading to a proliferation of summer camps, inns, and tourist sites, even in remote locales, serving shorter-term vacationers from the working class through the moneyed elite.

This small collection of travel brochures gathered by Faith Brainard and her husband Homer W. Brainard in the 1920s and 1930s, documents camps, inns, hotels, and touristic sites throughout New England. Most of the brochures advertise accommodations or attractions in a natural setting, including room rentals at farms, hiking in the White Mountains, and the rivers and mountains of Vermont. The target audience for many of the brochures was women traveling alone, featuring the promise of clean accommodations and wholesome activities.

Gift of Sharon Domier, 2004
  • Hotels, motels, etc.--New England
  • Summer resorts--New England
  • Taverns (Inns)--New England
  • Tourism--United States
Types of material
  • Brochures
  • Pamphlets
  • Postcards

Valley Women’s History Collaborative

Valley Women's History Collaborative Records

15 boxes 10 linear feet
Call no.: MS 531

During the early phases of second wave feminism (1968-1978), the Pioneer Valley served as a center for lesbian and feminist activity in western Massachusetts, and was home to over 400 hundred, often ad hoc, groups, such as the Abortion and Birth Control (ABC) Committee, ISIS Women’s Center, the Mudpie Childcare Cooperative, and the Springfield Women’s Center.

The records of the Valley Women’s History Collaborative document the activities of these groups as well as the efforts of the founders of the Women Studies program and department at UMass Amherst to preserve this history. Of particular value are the many oral histories conducted by the collaborative that record the history of women’s activism in the Pioneer Valley, especially as it relates to reproductive rights.

Gift of Susan Tracy, 2006, 2009
  • Abortion--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
  • Birth control--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
  • Feminism--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
  • Feminists--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
  • Mary Vazquez Women's Softball League
  • Women--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
  • Valley Women's History Collaborative
Types of material
  • Oral histories

Wilder, Robert W.

Robert W. Wilder Papers

2 boxes 2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 884

Born in the Quabbin town of Enfield, Mass., Bob Wilder (1933-2015) rose from a life of poverty to a successful career in the Marine Corps and the aerospace industry. Becoming an avid local historian in his retirement, he drew upon his rural childhood while working later as an interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village and became a popular lecturer on topics in regional history.

This small collection consists of materials relating to Wilder’s family and his research into the history of the Swift River Valley and the Quabbin Reservoir. In addition to some Wilder family photographs, the collection includes hand-drawn maps, newspaper clippings, town reports, magazine articles, oral histories, and poems about the towns of the Swift River Valley. Of particular note are several video recordings of Wilder’s lectures and an extensive series of oral histories with Wilder recorded by Marc Peloquin.

Gift of Robert W. Wilder, Nov. 2015
  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)--History
  • Swift River Valley (Mass.)--History
  • Peloquin, Marc
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs