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What we collect

Frank Waugh's doves
Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all’; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951

In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.

Our approach to collecting

Graphic showing SCUA major collecting areas

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).

  • African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
  • Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
  • Arts management and arts administration:
    In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
  • Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
  • Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
  • Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
  • Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

New England history and culture

The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.

  • Cookery and culinary history
    SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
  • Literature and the arts
    Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
  • Politics and political culture
    SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

American Friends Service Committee. Western Massachusetts

American Friends Service Committee Records

1975-2005
24 boxes 36 linear feet
Call no.: MS 459

Established in 1968 in response to the war in Vietnam, the AFSC office in western Massachusetts did not limit its focus to draft and military counseling, instead the organization broadened its focus over time to include educational and outreach programs for a variety of peace and socal justice issues. Today the chapter focuses on economic justice, campaigns against U.S. military intervention, and actions to combat racism and classism. With an emphasis on serving the community of western Massachusetts, the program is equally committed to calling attention to issues of both national and local importance. Recent campaigns range from ending the war in Iraq and supporting peace in Columbia to preventing the construction of a new jail in Chicopee.

The collection consists chiefly of subject files that together provide a picture of the various issues in which the western Massachusetts AFSC was involved. Topics range from the organization’s earliest focus, the Vietnam War, to the first Gulf War, landlord/tenant relations, immigration, and landmines. The collection also includes materials relating to public figures, some of whom traveled to the region to speak.

Subjects

  • Activists--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Social justice--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • American Friends Service Committee. Western Massachusetts
Civilian Public Service Camps

Civilian Public Service Camp Newsletter Collection

1941-1944
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 537

Born out of a unique collaboration between the United States government and the historic peace churches, the first Civilian Public Service Camps were established in 1941 to provide conscientious objectors the option to perform alternative service under civilian command. Nearly 12,000 COs served in the 152 CPS camps in projects ranging from soil conservation, agriculture, and forestry to mental health. While the work was supposed to be of national importance, many of the men later complained that the labor was menial and not as important as they had hoped. Furthermore with no ability to earn wages and with their churches and families responsible for financing the camps, many COs, their wives and children found themselves impoverished both during and after the war.

During their time off, many of the men in the CPS camps published newsletters discussing education programs, which frequently involved religious study, work projects, and news about individuals sent to family and friends back home. This collections consists of newsletters created in camps in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Indiana, Maryland, and Colorado.

Acquired from Eugene Povirk, 2009

Subjects

  • Civilian Public Service--Periodicals
  • Conscientious objectors--United States
  • Pacifists--United States
  • World War, 1939-1945--Conscientious objectors--United States

Types of material

  • Newsletters
Goldspinner, Jay

Jay Goldspinner Periodicals Collection

1974-2012
1 box 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 909

1977 Spring Equinox cover of WomenSpirit

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.

Subjects

  • Feminism--Periodicals
  • Franklin County (Mass.) --Periodicals
  • Goddess religion--Periodicals
  • Neopaganism--Periodicals
  • Spiritual feminism--Periodicals
  • Wicca--Periodicals
  • Witchcraft--Periodicals
  • Women and spiritualism--Periodicals
  • Women's rights and spiritualism--Periodicals

Types of material

  • Periodicals
Hapgood, Beth

Beth Hapgood Papers

1789-2005
67 boxes 35 linear feet
Call no.: MS 434
Image of Beth Hapgood and members of the Brotherhood, ca.1969
Beth Hapgood and members of the Brotherhood, ca.1969

Daughter of a writer and diplomat, and graduate of Wellesley College, Beth Hapgood has been a spiritual seeker for much of her life. Her interests have led her to become an expert in graphology, a student in the Arcane School, an instructor at Greenfield Community College, and a lecturer on a variety of topics in spiritual growth. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hapgood befriended Michael Metelica, the central figure in the Brotherhood of the Spirit (the largest commune in the eastern states during the early 1970s) as well as Elwood Babbitt, a trance medium, and remained close to both until their deaths.

The Hapgood Papers contain a wealth of material relating to the Brotherhood of the Spirit and the Renaissance Community, Metelica, Babbitt, and other of Hapgood’s varied interests, as well as 4.25 linear feet of material relating to the Hapgood family.

Subjects

  • Brotherhood of the Spirit
  • Channeling (Spiritualism)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Graphology
  • Hapgood family--Correspondence
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
  • Mediums--Massachusetts
  • Nineteen sixties--Social aspects
  • Occultism--Social aspects
  • Popular culture--History--20th century
  • Renaissance Community
  • Rock music--1971-1980
  • Warwick (Mass.)--History

Contributors

  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Boyce, Neith, 1872-1951
  • Hapgood, Beth--Correspondence
  • Hapgood, Charles H
  • Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds
  • Hapgood, Hutchins, 1869-1944
  • Hapgood, Norman, 1868-1937
  • Metelica, Michael
Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage

Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage Records

1998-1999
8 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 758
Image of Landing at Havana, Cuba, Nov. 24, 1998
Landing at Havana, Cuba, Nov. 24, 1998

Organized at the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Mass., the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage was a twelve-month walk through the eastern United States, the Caribbean, Brazil, West Africa, and South Africa in 1998-1999, reversing the direction of the Middle Passage symbolically and geographically. A “living prayer of the heart, mind, and body for the sons and daughters of the African Diaspora,” the Pilgrimage was intended by the participants to contribute to a process of healing the wounds inflicted by hundreds of years of slavery and racial oppression. Along the way, participants visited sites associated with the history of slavery, from slaves quarters in Virginia to stations on the Underground Railroad and villages that had been raided in Africa, offering prayers for those who had suffered under slavery and commemorating the dignity of those held in bondage and those who resisted.

Chronicling the course of the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage from conception to conclusion, this collection contains a rich textual and visual record of a spiritual approach to addressing the legacy of slavery in the Americas. The collection includes the range of materials collected by participants during the Pilgrimage, including lists of reading materials, information on the sites visited, a handful of mementoes and souvenirs, some correspondence, and notes and photographs taken along the way.

Subjects

  • Pilgrims and pilgrimages
  • Slavery--History

Types of material

  • Photographs
Josephs, Stephen

Stephen Josephs Photograph Collection

1972-1978
13 images
Call no.: PH 013
Image of Stephen Josephs
Stephen Josephs

The Guru Ram Das Ashram was founded in Montague, Massachusetts, in 1972 by Steve Josephs under the inspiration of Yogi Bhajan. Affiliated with the 3HO (Healthy Happy Holy Organization) and the Sikh Dharma Brotherhood, the ashram provided instruction in Kundalini Yoga and Tantric meditation, and at one point, there were as many as 21 residents of the house. Yogi Bhajan married Josephs and his wife Alice in an arranged marriage in 1972, and the couple (then called Gurushabd Singh and Gurushabd Kaur) left the ashram in 1983.

The Josephs Collection includes 13 digital images depicting the Montague ashram and its residents. The collection includes images of Yogi Bhajan and the Josephs.

Subjects

  • Ashrams--Massachusetts
  • Guru Ramdas Ashram (Montague, Mass.)
  • Josephs, Stephen
  • Montague (Mass.)--Photographs

Types of material

  • Photographs
Kehler, Randy

Randy Kehler Papers

1978-1997
21 boxes 13 linear feet
Call no.: MS 396

A veteran of the peace movement and founder of the Traprock Peace Center (1979), Randy Kehler was active in the National Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, the Peace Development Fund, and the Working Group on Electoral Democracy. Beginning in 1977, he and his wife became war tax resisters, withholding federal income tax to protest U.S. military expenditures, donating it instead to charity. As a consequence, their home was seized by the IRS in 1989, setting up a protracted legal struggle that resulted in Kehler’s arrest and imprisonment and the sale of the house. They remain tax resisters.

The Kehler Papers document the five year struggle (1989-1994) against the seizure and sale of the Kehlers’ home by the IRS. The collection includes meeting minutes, notes, correspondence, newspaper clippings; letters to the editor, essays, articles, plans and strategy documents for the vigil set outside the Kehler home; support committee information and actions; correspondence with government officials, the IRS, and the Justice Department; letters of support; documents from the legal proceedings; and political literature addressing the Kehlers’ situation.

Subjects

  • Activists--Massachusetts
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Argo, Ed
  • Colrain (Mass.)
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Political activists--Massachusetts
  • Tax collection--Massachusetts--Colrain
  • Tax evasion--Massachusetts--Colrain
  • Tax-sales--Massachusetts--Colrain
  • Taxation--Law and Legislation
  • Traprock Peace Center
  • Valley Community Land Trust
  • War tax resitance--Massachusetts--Colrain
  • Withholding tax--Law and legislation
  • Withholding tax--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Corner, Betsy
  • Kehler, Randy
  • Link, Mary
  • Mosely, Don
  • Nelson, Juanita

Types of material

  • Court records
  • Diaries
  • Legal documents
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Scrapbooks
Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies (LAOS)

Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies Records

1956-1976
22 boxes 11.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 020

An oecumenical ministry based in Amherst, Massachusetts, that sought to inspire local citizens to act upon their religious faith in their daily lives and occupations, and to reinvigorate religious dialogue between denominations.

Includes by-laws, minutes, membership records, news clippings, press releases, treasurer’s reports, letters to and from David S. King, correspondence between religious leaders and local administrators, and printed materials documenting programs and organizations in which the Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies (L.A.O.S.) participated or initiated, especially Faith and Life Meetings. Also contains questionnaires, announcements, bulletins, and photographs.

Subjects

  • Christian union--Massachusetts--History
  • Interdenominational cooperation--Massachusetts--History

Contributors

  • King, David S., 1927-
  • Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies (Amherst, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Photographs
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records

1654-2016
384.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 902

In 1661, less than a decade after the first Friends arrived in British North America, the precursor to the New England Yearly Meeting was organized as the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting. As one of approximately two dozen yearly meetings in the United States, the NEYM currently comprises eight quarterly meetings and approximately 85 monthlies, which are the basic unit of organization for the Society. Like many Yearly meetings, the NEYM has been diverse in spiritual practice, reflected in a history of separations and reunions. Most famously, Orthodox Friends in New England divided in the 1840s into the increasingly evangelically-oriented Gurneyites, who went by the name Yearly Meeting of Friends for New England (joining Friends United Meeting in 1902), and the Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends. In 1945, the disparate branches formally reunited.

Consolidated beginning in the 1960s, the NEYM collection contains the official records of the New England Yearly Meeting from its founding in the seventeenth century to the present, along with records of most of its constituent Quarterly, Monthly, and Preparative Meetings and records of Quaker schools and trusts. As varied as the Quaker practice they document, these records include minutes of meetings for business; committee records; newsletters, financial records; some personal papers; printed books and serials; and an assortment of photographs, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and electronic records. Of particular note are the vital statistics recorded by the Monthly Meetings, including general information on births, deaths, marriages, membership, and obituaries, and specifically-Quaker information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties suffered by Quakers for following testimonies). The Archives Committee of the NEYM is a partner in records management and on-going documentation of the Meeting and its constituent bodies. The collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and several individual monthly meetings. The records of most monthly meetings in Maine are held at the Maine Historical Society, while important bodies of records are held at the Newport Historical Society (some Nantucket and Rhode Island Meetings) or at individual Monthly Meetings.

An overview of the NEYM collections and a comprehensive inventory and finding aid prepared by Richard Stattler in 1997 at the Rhode Island Historical Society are available online. Stattler’s inventory includes materials in the NEYM Collection at UMass, as well as NEYM materials held at other institutions. SCUA’s updated inventory will follow in 2017.

Subjects

  • Quakers--New England
  • Society of Friends--New England--History