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Social change

Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.

Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.

View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).

 

Significant collecting areas

  • Antinuclear movement
    • New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
  • Antiracism and civil rights
    • The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
  • Community organizations and charities
    • SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
  • Environmentalism
    • Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the history of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
  • Intentional Communities
    • Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
  • Labor activism
  • Peace Collections
    • Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
  • Political activism
    • As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
  • Social Justice
    • Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.

Learn more:

Constitutionalism in American Life Conference

Constitutionalism in American Life Conference Collection, 1986
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 140

A conference hosted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst on November 7-9, 1986, that examined the impact of the Constitution on politics and government, foreign policy, race relations, and the economy, and also discussed the impact on the constitution of popular struggles and the emergence of “rights consciousness.” Includes papers presented at the conference that were to be subsequently published in a special bicentennial issue of the Journal of American History.

Subjects
  • Constitutional history--United States--Congresses
  • Constitutional law--United States--Congresses
  • Journal of American history
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--History

Social Change Periodicals

Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006
14 boxes (21 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 306
Image of Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980
Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980

Assembled to bring together short and broken runs of periodicals produced by activists and movements for social justice, the Social Change Periodicals Collection touches on a wide variety of topics. Much of the original collection came from subscriptions held by the Everywoman’s Center at UMass Amherst, however the collection has grown to include materials supplied by many other donors. The bulk of periodicals come from the period 1965-1990 and the subjects covered range from feminism to gay rights, and political radicalism, to peace, prison, labor, antiracism, and the counterculture more generally. The collection has been organized thematically into 19 series.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Suffrage--Periodicals
  • Central America--Politics and government--Periodicals
  • Disarmament--Periodicals
  • Feminism--Periodicals
  • Gay liberation movement--Periodicals
  • Labor--United States--Periodicals
  • Lesbians--Periodicals
  • Nonviolence--Periodicals
  • Peace--Periodicals
  • Prisons--United States--Periodicals
  • Radicalism--United States--Periodicals
  • Socialism--Periodical
  • Women--Periodical
Types of material
  • Periodicals

Thresholds to Life

Thresholds to Life Records, 1983-1986
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 156

Thresholds to Life is a program developed by psychiatrist Milton Burglass for training prison inmates and offenders on probation about decision making, problem solving, and life planning. It is operated by volunteers in 30 locations in the United States.

The Thresholds to Life collection includes records of the program in Greenfield, Mass., and contains newsletters, minutes, by-laws, treasurer’s reports, correspondence, news clippings, brochures, and lists of volunteers, board members, and staff.

Subjects
  • Prisoners--Massachusetts--Greenfield
  • Prisoners--Rehabilitation--Massachusetts--Greenfield

Barghoorn, Elso S. (Elso Sterrenberg), 1915-1984

Elso S. Barghoorn Journals, 1944-1984
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 820
Image of Hoba West meterorite, Nov. 1971, 12 miles west of Grootfontein, South West Africa
Hoba West meterorite, Nov. 1971, 12 miles west of Grootfontein, South West Africa

The paleobotanist Elso Barghoorn exerted an enormous influence on the scientific understanding of the early evolution of life on earth. After receiving his doctorate at Harvard in 1941, Barghoorn taught briefly at Amherst College before returning to Havard five years later, eventually becoming the Richard A. Fisher Professor of Natural History. A pioneer in paleopalynology, he he and two colleagues announced the startling discovery of a well-preserved Archaean fossil flora in 1954, including the first solid record of fossil bacteria and cyanobacteria from the Gunflint chert of Ontario. Culminating in a landmark 1965 publication (with Stanley Tyler), his work demonstrated conclusively the existence of unicellular fossils and helped to revolutionize study of deep evolutionary time.

The Barghoorn collection consists of seven bound journals containing notes from trips to Panama (1944), Europe (1957-58); Ghana, South Africa, and Tonga (1971-1972); Europe (1972); Hawaii, the South Pacific, and Africa (1975); Greenland (1977); South Africa and Australia (1978); and Australia and the South Pacific (1981). Comprehensive typescripts are available for each journal.

Subjects
  • Harvard University--Faculty
  • Paleobotany
  • Palynology
  • Panama--Description and travel
Contributors
  • Margulis, Lynn, 1938-2011
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Photographs

Barton, George W.

George W. Barton Papers, 1889-1984 (Bulk: 1914-1920)
(4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 050 B37

George W. Barton was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1896. After attending Concord High School in Concord, Barton began his studies in horticulture and agriculture at Massachusetts Agricultural College.

The Barton collection includes diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, announcements, and his herbarium, and relates primarily to his career at the Massachusetts Agricultural College where he studied horticulture and agriculture from 1914-1918.

Subjects
  • Botany--Study and teaching
  • Horticulture--Study and teaching
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
Contributors
  • Barton, George W
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Herbaria
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Berke, David M.

David M. Berke Collection of Nuremberg Trials Depositions, 1944-1945
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 804

During the latter months of the Second World War, Edmund F. Franz served with the U.S. Army’s War Crimes Branch in Wiesbaden, Germany. Part of the team involved in war crimes investigation, Franz processed hundreds of pages of first-hand accounts by perpetrators, eye witnesses, concentration camp survivors, political prisoners, and prisoners of war that ultimately served the prosecution during the Nuremberg trials. At the war’s end, he returned home to Aurora, Ohio, eventually bequeathing a collection of depositions from his wartime work to a friend, David M. Berke.

The Berke Collection contains copies of approximately 300 pages of material gathered by U.S. Army investigators in preparation for the Nuremberg trials. The depositions, affidavits, and reports that comprise the collection are varied in scope, but most center on German maltreatment of prisoners — both political prisoners and prisoners of war — with a handful of items relating to larger issues in intelligence and counter intelligence. Gathered originally by the Office of Strategic Services, the Counter Intelligence Corps, and other Army units, the materials offer chilling insight into the brutality of the concentration camp system, “labor reform” prisons, and police prisons, and the sheer scale of wartime inhumanity.

Gift of Cathy Abrams
Subjects
  • Buchenwald (Concentration camp)
  • Dachau(Concentration camp)
  • Flossenburg (Concentration camp)
  • Innsbruck-Reichenau (Labor reform camp)
  • Ravensbruck (Concentration camp)
  • Sachsenhausen (Concentration camp)
  • World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities
  • World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons
Contributors
  • Franz, Edmund F.
  • United States. Army. Counter Intelligence Corps
  • United States. Army. Office of Special Services
Types of material
  • Depositions

Blackington, Alton H.

Alton H. Blackington Photograph Collection, 1898-1943
15 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 061
Image of Fortune teller, ca.1930
Fortune teller, ca.1930

A native of Rockland, Maine, Alton H. “Blackie” Blackington (1893-1963) was a writer, photojournalist, and radio personality associated with New England “lore and legend.” After returning from naval service in the First World War, Blackington joined the staff of the Boston Herald, covering a range of current events, but becoming well known for his human interest features on New England people and customs. He was successful enough by the mid-1920s to establish his own photo service, and although his work remained centered on New England and was based in Boston, he photographed and handled images from across the country. Capitalizing on the trove of New England stories he accumulated as a photojournalist, Blackington became a popular lecturer and from 1933-1953, a radio and later television host on the NBC network, Yankee Yarns, which yielded the books Yankee Yarns (1954) and More Yankee Yarns (1956).

This collection of glass plate negatives was purchased by Robb Sagendorf of Yankee Publishing around the time of Blackington’s death. Reflecting Blackington’s photojournalistic interests, the collection covers a terrain stretching from news of public officials and civic events to local personalities, but the heart of the collection is the dozens of images of typically eccentric New England characters and human interest stories. Most of the images were taken by Blackington on 4×5″ dry plate negatives, however many of the later images are made on flexible acetate stock and the collection includes several images by other (unidentified) photographers distributed by the Blackington News Service.

Gift of Yankee Publishing, Mar. 2012
Subjects
  • Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933--Photographs
  • Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937--Photographs
  • Maine--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • New England--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • New Hampshire--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945--Photographs
  • Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921--Photographs
Types of material
  • Photographs

Bleyman, Lea K.

Lea K. Bleyman Papers, 1958-2004
2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 548

The protistologist Lea Bleyman has conducted research into the genetics, mating systems, and life cycles of ciliates. A former student of Tracy Sonneborn, Bleyman has served as past Secretary and President (2001-2002) of the Society of Protozoologists, and spent many years on the faculty of the Department of Natural Sciences at Baruch College.

The Bleyman Papers contain lab and research notes, abstracts of talks and conference materials, along with some correspondence and annual progress reports from Baruch College. The earliest materials in the collection relate to her years as a student in Sonneborn’s lab; other Bleyman material is located in the records of the International Society of Protistologists at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Library.

Subjects
  • Baruch College--Faculty
  • Paramecium--Genetics
  • Protozoans--Composition
  • Protozoans--Genetics
  • Protozoology--Conference
  • Society of Protozoologists
  • Tetrahymena--Genetics
Contributors
  • Bleyman, Lea K
  • Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-
  • Sonneborn, Tracy Morton, 1905-1981
Types of material
  • Laboratory notes

Double Edge Theater

Double Edge Theatre Records, 1970-2002
28 boxes (15.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 455
Image of Bold Stroke for a Wife
Bold Stroke for a Wife

Since its founding, Double Edge Theatre has embraced a two-fold mission: to develop and promote the highest quality of original theatre performance, and to create a permanent center of performance, practice, training research, and cultural exchange.

The collection documents the Theatre’s focus on research, international collaboration, and the elevation of artistic performance above and beyond stage work into the realm of cultural exchange.

Subjects
  • Experimental theater
  • Theater and society
  • Theatrical companies--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Arnoult, Philip
  • Double Edge Theatre
  • Durand, Carroll
  • Klein, Stacy
  • Odin teatret
  • Staniewski, Wlodzimierz
  • Stowarzyszenie Teatralne "Gardzienice"
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Posters
  • Programs
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