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Perske, Robert

Robert and Martha Perske Papers

1964-2005
13 boxes 19.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 772
Image of Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004
Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004

While serving with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II, the teenaged Bob Perske became aware of the vulnerable and disabled in society and turned his life toward advocacy on their behalf. Studying for the ministry after returning to civilian life, Perske was appointed chaplain at the Kansas Neurological Institute, serving children with intellectual disabilities for 11 years, after which he became a full-time street, court, and prison worker — a citizen advocate — laboring in the cause of deinstitutionalization and civil rights of persons with disabilities, particularly those caught in the legal system. After Bob married his wife Martha in 1971, the two became partners in work, with Martha often illustrating Bob’s numerous books and articles. In 2002, Perske was recognized by the American Bar Association as the only non-lawyer to ever receive the Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities.

The Perske Papers contains a fifty year record of published and unpublished writings by Bob Perske on issues surrounding persons with disabilities, along with correspondence, photographs, and other materials relating to the Perskes’ activism. The correspondence includes a particularly rich set of letters with a fellow advocate for persons with disabilities, Robert R. Williams.

Gift of Robert and Martha Perske, 2013

Subjects

  • Mental retardation--Social aspects
  • People with disabilities--Deinstitutionalization
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.

Contributors

  • Perske, Martha
  • Williams, Robert R.

Types of material

  • Photographs
Picoult, Jodi, 1966-

Jodi Picoult Papers

1986-2013
53 boxes 40 linear feet
Call no.: MS 791
Image of Jodi Picoult in Botswana, January 2013
Jodi Picoult in Botswana, January 2013

Novelist Jodi Picoult is known for taking on compelling social and ethical issues and weaving them into the works of fiction that have won her a devoted readership. From her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), to her recent bestseller The Storyteller (2013), Picoult has grappled with a range of topics: fractured families, eugenics, school violence, teen suicide, spouse abuse, a child’s legal rights, childhood cancer, gay rights, the death penalty, war criminals, vengeance, justice, faith, the value of life. To Picoult, a passionate researcher, no issue is simple. Through her characters and her stories she engages the complications, considering provocative questions from different angles. Born in 1966, Picoult graduated from Princeton, where she majored in creative writing, and Harvard, where she earned her M.Ed. She and her husband have three grown children and live in Hanover, N.H.

The Jodi Picoult Papers, richly documenting the author’s work process, include research files for Picoult’s novels—correspondence, notes, manuscript pages, and other background material—as well as some drafts, editorial correspondence, clippings, publicity material, early stories, and student material. Also in Special Collections is a comprehensive collection of Picoult’s publications, including the novels in American and foreign-language editions.

Subjects

  • Fiction and reality
  • Fiction--20th century--Stories, plots, etc
  • Fiction--21st century--Stories, plots, etc

Contributors

  • Picoult, Jodi, 1966-
Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (Washington, D.C.)

Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) Records

1972-1981
12 boxes 17 linear feet
Call no.: MS 479
Image of PATCO representatives
PATCO representatives

Established in 1968, PATCO was certified as the exclusive representative for all FAA air traffic controllers. A little more than a decade later, union members went on strike demanding better working conditions despite the fact that doing so was in violation of a law banning strikes by government unions. In response to the strike, the Reagan administration fired the strikers, more than 11,000, and decertified the union. Over time the union was eventually reformed, first in 1996 as an affiliate with the Federation of Physicians and Dentists union, and later as an independent, national union in 2004.

Correspondence, financial records, notes and memos documenting the activities of the Boston area branch of PATCO. Letters, announcements, and planning documents leading up to the 1981 strike shed light on the union’s position.

Subjects

  • Air traffic controlers--Labor unions
  • Collective bargaining--Aeronautics--United States
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (Washington, D.C.)
Roxbury Action Program

Roxbury Action Program Collection

1944-1975 Bulk: 1966-1974
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 765
Image of Ernest Hamilton, <em>Black Power: What is it?</em> (1966)
Ernest Hamilton, Black Power: What is it? (1966)

The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.

Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.

Gift of Ken Gloss, Jan. 2013

Subjects

  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Black Panther Party
  • Black power
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History

Contributors

  • Morrison, George

Types of material

  • Newspapers
  • Photographs
Solander, Arvo A.

Arvo A. Solander Papers

1930-1958
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.

Subjects

  • 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

Contributors

  • Solander, Arvo A

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
Thacher-Channing families

Thacher-Channing Family Papers

1757-1930
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

Subjects

  • Channing family
  • Maine--Politics and government--19th century
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--19th century
  • Thacher family

Types of material

  • Ambrotypes
  • Daguerreotypes
  • Photographs
  • Silhouettes
UMass Peacemakers

UMass Peacemakers Records

1965-1990 Bulk: 1983-1990
10 boxes 20 linear feet
Call no.: MS 309
Image of Peacemakers contingent at the Four Days in April protests, 1984
Peacemakers contingent at the Four Days in April protests, 1984

Although the precise origins of UMass Peacemakers are murky, by 1982, the group was an active presence on the UMass Amherst campus organizing opposition to militarism and the nuclear arms race and providing support for the nuclear freeze movement. Organizing vigils, demonstrations, informational workshops, and providing civil disobedience training, the Peacemakers were the most visible pacifist group on the UMass Amherst campus in the 1980s.

The UMass Peacemakers Records focus on the activities of the student group between 1983 and 1990, documenting their role in confronting the aggressive international expansionism of the Reagan administration and its “Star Wars” program, while also engaging at the local and national level by organizing rallies, lectures, poetry readings, and film screenings. At UMass, Peacemakers was part of the larger Progressive Student Network, and worked alongside other student organizations including the Radical Student Union.

Gift of Peacemakers through Peter Sakura, May 1991

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Disarmament--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Student movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • American Friends Service Committee
  • UMass Peacemakers

Types of material

  • Brochures
  • Photographs
Vega, Carlos

Carlos Vega Collection

ca.1966-1995
148 volumes, 1 box, 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 800
Image of Carlos Vega ca. 1990
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.

Gift of Jesse Vega-Fry, Apr. 2012

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
New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

Learn more:

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: