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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

Unzicker, Rae

Rae Unzicker Papers

1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 818
Image of Rae Unzicker
Rae Unzicker

Rae Unzicker’s exposure to the psychiatric system began at a young age. Growing up in an abusive home, her parents sent her to psychiatrists off and on for years before she was involuntarily committed. While there, she was quickly introduced to the chaotic and damaging atmosphere of a psychiatric institution, exposing her to mandatory drugs, seclusion rooms, forced feeding, and work “therapy” that required her to wash dishes six hours a day. Once she was release, Unzicker’s road to recovery was long, but after several suicide attempts and stays at other treatment facilities, she ultimately counted herself–along with her friend Judi Chamberlin, an early leader in the movement–a psychiatric survivor. Like Chamberlin, Unzicker embraced her role as an advocate of patient’s rights and for the radical transformation of the mental-health system. In 1995, President Clinton appointed her to the National Council on Disability; two years later she was elected president of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). Unzicker was widely known for her public appearances, conferences and speeches, and her writings, including numerous articles and contributions to the book Beyond Bedlam: Contemporary Women Psychiatric Survivors Speak Out. A survivor of cancer of the jaw and breast, Rae Unzicker died at her home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 22, 2001 at the age of 52.

Although a small collection, Rae Unzicker’s papers document her activities as a leading advocate for the rights of mental health patients, including transcripts of speeches and videotaped appearances, correspondence and feedback related to workshops and conferences, press kits, and newspaper clippings. The most important materials, however, are her writings. It is through her poems and her full-length memoir, You Never Gave Me M & M’s, that Unzicker’s story and voice are preserved.

  • Antipsychiatry
  • Ex-mental patients
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
  • Psychiatric survivors movement
  • Unzicker, Rae
Types of material
  • Memoirs
  • Videotapes

Valley Peace Center (Amherst, Mass.)

Valley Peace Center Records

28 boxes 13.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 301

In the summer of 1967, members of University of Massachusetts Amherst campus groups, such as the Faculty Group on War and Peace and the Students for Political Action, joined with individuals from other area colleges and from the community at large to form the Valley Peace Center of Amherst for the purposes of opposing the Vietnam War, providing draft counseling, eliciting pledges from the government to avoid first use of nuclear and biological weapons, and reduction of the power of the “military-industrial complex”. The Center was active for more than five and a half years, drawing its financial support largely from the community and its human resources from student and community volunteers.

Correspondence, minutes, volunteer and membership lists, financial records, newsletters, questionnaires, notes, petitions, clippings, posters, circulars, pamphlets, periodicals, other printed matter, and memorabilia. Includes material relating to alternative service, boycotts, war tax resistance, prison reform, environmental quality, and political candidates.

Gift of Nonny Burack and Dean A. Allen, 1974
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
  • Draft--United States--History
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Social movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)--History--20th century
  • Valley Peace Center (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Ephemera
  • Pamphlets

Vega, Carlos

Carlos Vega Collection

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
  • 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

Allen, Frances and Mary

Frances and Mary Allen Collection of Deerfield Photographs

1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: PH 001
Image of Deerfield, Mass.
Deerfield, Mass.

Influenced by the arts and crafts movement, Frances and Mary Allen began taking photographs of their native Deerfield, Mass., in the mid-1880s. Displaying a finely honed pictorialist aesthetic, the sisters specialized in views of Deerfield and surrounding towns, posed genre scenes of life in colonial times, and the local scenery, earning a reputation as among the best women photographers of the period.

The Allen sisters photograph album contains ten gelatin developing out prints of street scenes in Deerfield, ca.1900-1910. Among these are two shots of the house they inherited from their aunt Kate in 1895, which thereafter became their home and studio.

  • Deerfield (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Women photographers--Massachusetts
  • Allen, Frances
  • Allen, Mary E. (Mary Electa), 1858-1941
Types of material
  • Photographs

Barfield, Vivian M.

Vivian M. Barfield Papers

3 boxes 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: FS 098
Image of Vivian Barfield
Vivian Barfield

Vivian Barfield was the first female Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dedicated to the advancement of women’s athletics, Barfield began her tenure at UMass in January 1975. Charged with upgrading the women’s’ athletic program and contributing to the decision-making process in men’s athletics, Barfield made strides to bring UMass into compliance with Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1972. Barfield was ultimately unsuccessful in her efforts after a disagreement with Athletic Director Frank McInerney about her job description led to her resignation. After leaving UMass, Barfield became the Director of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (established 1975) at the University of Minnesota.

Although Barfield’s tenure at UMass was relatively brief, her papers are representative of a specific time in the country and at the University. With materials relating to Title IX, affirmative action, and perhaps most importantly, Barfield’s class action complaint against the University, the Barfield Papers speak to issues of second-wave feminism, women in sports, and discrimination at UMass in the mid-1970s.

  • Sex discrimination in sports--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Athletics
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Women
  • Women physical education teachers
  • Barfield, Vivian M

Chalfen family

Chalfen Family Papers

51 boxes 76.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 770

Born into a Jewish family in Khotyn, Bessarabia (now Ukraine), in 1888, Benjamin Chalfen emigrated to United States as a young man, arriving in New York City in 1910 before making his way to Boston. Taking work as a clerk with the Roxbury Crossing Steamship Agency, he married a fellow Russian immigrant, Annie Berg in 1914 and, after their divorce a few years later, married a second time. Benjamin and Annie’s son, Melvin (1918-2007), studied Forestry at Massachusetts State College (BA 1940) and Yale (MF 1942) before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in Aug. 1942. Moved to active duty in 1943 as a communications specialist, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. After he returned home, Mel met and married a recent Smith College graduate, Judith Resnick (1925-2011), with whom he raised three sons. The couple settled into a comfortable life in the Boston suburbs, where Mel carved out a successful career as a home inspector and educator while Judith became well known as a supporter of the arts and as one of the founders of Action For Children’s Television (1968), an important force in promoting quality television programing for children.

A massive archive documenting three generations of a Jewish family from Boston, the Chalfen family papers contain a rich body of photographs and letters, centered largely on the lives of Melvin and Judith Chalfen. The Chalfens were prolific correspondents and the collection includes hundreds of letters written home while Mal and Judy were in college and while Mel was serving in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War — most of these in Yiddish. The thousands of photographs cover a broader span of family history, beginning prior to emigration from Bessarabia into the 1960s. Among many other items of note are rough drafts of a New Deal sociological study of juvenile delinquency and the impact of boys’ clubs in the late 1930s prepared by Abraham Resnick (a Socialist community organizer and Judith’s father); materials from the progressive Everyman’s Theater (early 1960s); and nearly three feet of material documenting Judy Chalfen’s work with Action for Children’s Television.

Gift of the Chalfen family, 2011.
Language(s): Yiddish
  • Action for Children's Television
  • Jews--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Massachusetts State College--Students
  • Smith College--Students
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Chalfen, Benjamin
  • Chalfen, Judith, 1925-2011
  • Chalfen, Melvin H. (Melvin Howard), 1918-2007
Types of material
  • Photographs

Chapin, Irene A.

Irene A. Chapin Diaries

4 vols. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 585
Image of Irene Chapin and friends
Irene Chapin and friends

In March 1926, Irene A. Chapin (1901-1987) left La Crescenta, Calif., having lost her job in the office of Certain-Teed Corp., and returned home to Chicopee, Mass. Resuming work at the Fisk Tire Co., where she had begun at age 18, Chapin led an active social life, playing bridge and tennis, going to the theatre, and dining with friends. In 1927, she and a fellow stenographer at Fisk, Marion E. Warner (1904-1989), developed an intense friendship that blossomed into a same sex relationship.

Irene Chapin’s pocket-sized diaries include a brief, but densely written record of daily life, from the weather to work and the ebb and flow of a young woman’s social relations. Concerned about her ability to make a success of her job and personal life, Chapin remained sociable and possessed of a wide circle of friends, mostly women. Her diary records a long succession of bridge parties, hikes in the hills, vacations, hockey games, and Chapin alludes frequently to her increasingly intimate intimacy with Marion. Several passages written in shorthand provide additional details on the developing relationship. A photograph laid into the diary for 1927 depicts three women standing in front of a house, one of whom is presumably Chapin.

  • Chicopee (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Lesbians--Massachusetts
  • Women--Diaries
  • Chapin, Irene A
  • Warner, Marion E
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Photographs

Common Reader Bookshop (New Salem, Mass.)

Common Reader Bookshop Collection

1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 472

Co-owned by Dorothy Johnson and Doris Abramson, the Common Reader Bookshop in New Salem, Massachusetts, specialized in women’s studies materials, or in their words, “books by, for, and about women.” A couple for almost 40 years and married in 2004, Johnson and Abramson, a professor in the theater department at UMass, opened the store in 1977. After nearly twenty-five years in operation, the book shop closed its doors for business in 2000. Comprised mostly of photographs, the collection highlights not only the shop as a place, but also the community it fostered.

  • Booksellers and Bookselling--Massachusetts
  • New Salem (Mass.)--History
  • Women--Massachusetts
  • Abramson, Doris
  • Common Reader Bookshop (New Salem, Mass.)
  • Johnson, Dorothy

Forman, Sylvia Helen, 1944 or 1945-1992

Sylvia Forman Collection

1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 341

Shortly after receiving her doctorate from the University of California Berkeley in 1972, the anthropologist Sylvia Helen Forman joined the faculty at UMass Amherst. A staunch feminist and activist, Forman was known for her commitment to her students and to the political life at the university, and for her engagement in the community. She died of cancer in 1992, just 48 years old.

The nine papers in this collection were the products of studies by students enrolled in Forman’s Anthropology 497 class at UMass Amherst. All are intensive analyses of issues of race, gender, and social justice in local communities, including disability, teenage pregnancy, child care, Cambodian refugees, and attitudes toward community living and community change.

Gift of Sylvia Forman, 1989.
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Anthropology--Massachusetts
  • Cambodians--Massachusetts
  • Child care--Massachusetts
  • Community and college--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Deerfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Hadley (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Leverett (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Pelham (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Teenage pregnancy--Massachusetts--Holyoke