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Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968

Norman Thomas Autobiography, 1946-1958
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 186

An ardent Socialist and pacifist, Norman Thomas ran six times as a democratic socialist candidate for president of the United States. Born in 1884 in Marion, Ohio, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Thomas became a leading voice of the non-Communist left, taking up the causes of civil rights, peace, and social justice.

Thomas’s memoir traces the major events of his life from his boyhood and education at Bucknell and Princeton, to his experiences during both world wars, and from his acceptance of Socialism to his reflections on religion.

Subjects
  • Pacifists--United States
  • Socialists--United States
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968
Types of material
  • Autobiographies

Traprock Peace Center

Traprock Peace Center Records, 1979-2008
ca.50 boxes (75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 080

The Traprock Peace Center is a grassroots organization based in Deerfield, Massachusetts, that trains and educates people locally and globally in matters relating to disarmament and nonviolence. In 1980, the Center organized the first successful attempt in the United States to get a nuclear weapons moratorium referendum on the ballot, and the Center has served as a focal point for organizing on a wide array of issues in peace and social and environmental justice.

The records of Traprock Peace Center include correspondence, campaign materials (resolutions, organizing committee records, legislative packets), program reports, newsletters, newsclippings, and posters relating to the nuclear freeze campaign and many subsequent initiatives. Recent additions to the collection document the group’s work to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; these later additions are open for research, but are not processed.

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Deerfield (Mass.)--Social conditions--Sources
  • Nonviolence--Massachusetts--History--Sources
  • Nuclear disarmament--History--Sources
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Political activists--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Traprock Peace Center
Restrictions: unprocessed materials in this collection have been temporarily moved offsite; these boxes are closed to research. Contact SCUA for more information.

Vega, Carlos

Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995
148 volumes, 1 box, (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 800
Carlos Vega Collection image
Carlos Vega ca. 1990

An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995.  He survived until April 2012.

The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.

Subjects
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Civil Rights movements--Africa
  • Civil Rights movements--Central America
  • Civil Rights movements--Chile
  • Civil Rights movements--United States
  • Civil Rights movements-Asia
  • Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
  • Latin America--Periodicals
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Radicalism--United States
  • Revolutionary literature
  • Socialism
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • Venceremos Brigade

Weinberg, Meyer, 1920-2002

Meyer Weinberg Papers, 1947-1992
26 boxes (39 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 177

Born in New York City in 1920 on the day his Russian immigrant parents first set foot in the United States, Meyer Weinberg was a political radical, civil rights activist, and a distinguished scholar of desegregation in education. Working his way through the University of Chicago, receiving both a BA (1942) and MA (1945), Weinberg began his career at Wright Junior College, where he harnessed his zeal for social justice to the problem of integration in Chicago’s schools. Active in the civil rights movement, he became a key figure in providing data for desegregation efforts nationally, serving as Chair of the Education Committee of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) from 1963 to 1967, and as an expert witness in numerous desegregation cases. After moving to City College in Chicago (1971) and then Northwestern (1972-1978), he accepted a faculty appointment at UMass Amherst in the School of Education (and later in Afro-American Studies), also working as Director of the Horace Mann Bond Center for Equal Education (1978-1992). Weinberg’s eighteenth book, A Short History of American Capitalism, appeared just before his death on Feb. 28, 2002.

A large and varied collection, the Weinberg Papers document both the academic and political commitments of Meyer Weinberg from the late 1940s until his retirement from UMass. The focus throughout is his interest in school desegregation, particularly in his native Chicago, but the collection extends to other areas in civil rights activism.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Education
  • Chicago (Ill.)--History
  • Segregation in education

Hampshire Community United Way

Hampshire Community United Way Records, 1969-1985
8 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 047

Nonprofit organization with representatives from sixteen Western Massachusetts towns that raised funds for and distributed funds to local and national social service organizations in their communities. Records include minutes of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, financial and other standing committees; annual reports, correspondence, ledgers, budget worksheets, agency reports, campaign materials, including solicitation lists and letters, campaign studies and reports; brochures and surveys; and printed materials and photographs.

Subjects
  • Charities--Massachusetts--Easthampton--History--Sources
  • Federations, Financial (Social service)--History--Sources
  • Hampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions--Sources
  • Human services--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History--Sources
  • United States. Combined Federal Campaign
  • United States. Combined Federal Campaign--Correspondence
Contributors
  • Hampshire Community United Way (Hampshire County, Mass.)--Archives
  • Hampshire United Fund (Hampshire County, Mass.)--Archives
  • United Way of America
Types of material
  • Photographs

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:

United Auto Workers. District 65 Boston University Local

UAW District 65 Collection, ca.1985
1 folder (0.2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 320

The decision of clerical and technical workers at Boston University to organize with District 65 of the UAW was as rooted in the labor movement as it was in the womens movement. By the early 1970s, office workers at B.U. were dissatsified with working conditions that included — among other grievances — sexual harassment and a classification system that did not value “women’s work.” In 1979 after an intense struggle with the administration, B.U. finally recognized the union and signed their first contract.

The collection includes a printed history and videotape documenting unionization activities at Boston University’s Medical Campus.

Subjects
  • Boston University. Medical Campus
  • Collective bargaining--Professions--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Collective labor agreements--Medical personnel --Massachusetts--Boston--History
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • United Automobile, Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America. District 65
Types of material
  • Videotapes

United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union

United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union Local 4 Records, 1945-1995
10 boxes (15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 415

The United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union (UHCMW) was formed in 1934 by the merger of the United Hatters of North America and the Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union, settling deep rifts between the competing unions. For five decades, the UHCMW organized the declining hat and millinery trade in the United States until it merged into the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) in 1983, which merged in 1995 into the International Ladies Garment Workers Union to form UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees).

The collection documents UHCMW Local 4, representing workers in Boston and Framingham, from 1945 through the time of its merger into the ACTWU. The series of ledgers and documents in the collection include documents concerning health and retirement benefits for union members, bargaining agreements, and financial records for the local, as well as a small assortment of correspondence, memoranda, and minutes of meetings.

Subjects
  • Hat trade--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • United Hatters, Cap, and Millinery Workers International Union

Social Change Collection

Social Change Collection, 1945-2007
5 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 457
Social Change Collection image
Join the SMC, 1970

The term social change is used in SCUA to refer to individuals and organizations who actively seek to better the world around them, as well as to individuals experiencing shifts in economic, cultural, and social life. Few movements for change exist in isolation. Following W.E.B. Du Bois, we recognize that seemingly disparate issues in social justice are often intrinsically and deeply interconnected, so that to create change in one area requires close attention to others. It is the flow of ideas, people, and organizations that constitutes the warp and weft of social change in the twentieth century.

Created to collocate small groups of manuscripts, documents, letters, and other unpublished materials relating to the history and experience of social change, the Social Change Collection is focused largely on movements of the 1960s and after. While entirely miscellaneous, the collection includes interesting material relating to the peace and antiwar movements during the 1960s, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the conflict in Vietnam, antiimperialist movements in Central and South America, and a small number of items relating to sexuality, gender, and feminism.

Acquired variously.
Subjects
  • Anti-imperialist movements
  • Communism
  • Feminism
  • Peace movements
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Contributors
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)

Social Change Periodicals

Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006
14 boxes (21 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 306
Social Change Periodicals Collection image
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
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