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.
- 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
- For more detailed information, see our research guide on Labor, work, and industry
- 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.
Social Change Collection, 1953-1980.
Call no.: MS 457
Miscellaneous manuscripts and documents relating to the history and experience of social change in America. Among other things, the collection includes material relating to the peace and antiwar movements during the 1960s, the conflict in Vietnam, and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
- Anti-imperialist movements
- Peace movements
- Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts
Each fall, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives sponsors a colloquium focusing on a topic in social change. Like SCUA’s collections, these colloquia cover a broad terrain, touching on a variety of issues in social justice, equality, and democracy.
Colloquia are free and open to the public.
April 8, 2016, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Room 163, UMass Campus Center
Punk, one of the last major youth sub-cultures during the pre-Internet era, was also a decentralized national and international community linked mostly by recordings, zines and the touring of bands. Individual scenes developed across the country in major urban areas, suburban communities and small towns. While each had its own personality and bands, they were linked by a shared distrust of establishment institutions and commercialized popular culture.
In recent years, punk archives have been established at academic repositories and as a result, scholars and the broader public have access to stories that have before only been shared within the punk community. Efforts have also been made to chronicle the history of the movement through the making of films, books and oral histories. The colloquium aims to open a conversation about the documentation of punk. The panel will explore questions including: How can the anti-establishment, anti-institutional, do-it-yourself ethos of punk be reconciled with the desire to collect, preserve and academically study the movement? How can the needs of community access be balanced with the demands of proper conservation? Can the ways scholars, archivists and librarians document a community be reconciled with the ways the movement documents itself?
Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Stewart Foley is the author of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and Front Porch Politics, The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s. Foley is a professor of American Political Culture and Political Theory at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is also a founding editor of The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture.
Event speakers also include Ramdasha Bikceem, Byron Coley, Lisa Darms, Michael T. Fournier, Deward MacLeod, Sara Marcus and Tanya Pearson. For full speaker bios, visit: www.punkhistory.org.
The colloquium is free and open to the public. RSVP at: http://bit.ly/punksignup The event is co-sponsored by the UMass Amherst Libraries, UMass Amherst Department of History, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and Social Thought & Political Economy (STPEC).
Sroka Family Papers, 1842-1960.
Call no.: MS 216
Polish family who emigrated to the United States in 1912-1913 and settled in Chicopee, Massachusetts, working in meat packing firms and textile factories, and also as seamstresses and farmers.
Includes birth and wedding certificates, military and employment documentation, residential and passport applications, photographs, and lists of baptisms, weddings, and deaths. Also contains a family history written by Gary Sroka, correspondence, payment book for the Society of St. Joseph (Chicopee, Massachusetts), and a news clipping. All materials exist as photocopies and are written primarily in Polish, German, and Hungarian, though some are in English, Ukrainian, and Russian.
- Chicopee (Mass.)--History
- Polish Americans--Massachusetts
G. Clifford Stamper Papers, 1943-1955.
Call no.: MS 463
George Clifford Stamper was a movie projectionist in the 4th Special Services during World War II. Born and raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 1, 1943 and participated in the European Theater from April 6, 1944 until December 12, 1945, when he was sent home and then honorably discharged in January 1946.
The papers of G. Clifford Stamper consist primarily of his incoming and outgoing letters during his training and service from 1943-1945. Correspondence is mostly with his family, but also includes his letters with neighbors, as well as friends that were serving. The collection contains, too, Stamper’s post-war letters received from 1946-1955. In addition, the outgoing letters of James C. Doyle, Jr. during his service in the U.S. Marines from 1958-1959 are a part of this collection. Doyle’s connection to Stamper is unclear.
- United States. Army Service Forces. Special Services Division
- World War, 1939-1945
- World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Czechoslovakia
- World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--France
- Doyle, James C
- Stamper, G. Clifford (George Clifford), 1912-2005
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
William B. Stetson Account book, 1856-1870.
Call no.: MS 348 bd
As a young man in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, William B. Stetson (b. ca.1836) earned a living by performing manual labor for local residents. Most of his work, and increasingly so, was found in the range of tasks associated with lumbering: chopping wood, sawing boards, making shingles and fence boards. By 1870, Stetson was listed in the federal census as a lumberman in the adjacent town of Leverett.
Stetson’s rough-hewn book of accounts provides detail on the work and expenditures of a young man from Shutesbury, Massachusetts, in the years just prior to the Civil War. Carefully kept, but idiosyncratic, they document a working class mans efforts to earn a living by whatever means possible, largely in lumber-related tasks. His accounts list a number of familiar local names, including Albert Pratt, Sylvanus Pratt, Charles Pratt, Charles Nutting, E. Cushman, John Haskins, and J. Stockwell. Set into the front of the volume are a set of work records dated in Leverett in 1870, by which time Stetson had apparently focused his full energies on lumbering.
- Leverett (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Lumber trade--Massachusetts--Leverett
- Lumber trade--Massachusetts--Shutesbury
- Shutesbury (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Stetson, William B.
Types of material
- Account books
Mary B. Stinson Collection, 1974-1981.
Call no.: MS 824
Throughout the 1970s, Mary B. Stinson (formerly Lindblom) was an active member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in California and served as a delegate to the First National Women’s Conference in Houston.
The collection includes several ephemeral objects reflecting Stinson’s activism including IWY pendant necklaces and an ERA license plate frame, along with published reports and articles relating to the IWY and a 1979 NOW conference in California.
- Equal rights amendments
- Feminism--United States
- International Women's Year Conference
- National Organization for Women
- Women's rights--United States
- Stinson, Mary B.
Woody Stoddard Papers, ca.1970-2007.
Call no.: MS 826
A visionary of modern wind power, Forrest “Woody” Stoddard was a graduate in aeronautics from MIT (BS, 1966; MS 1968) and an early member of the UMass Amherst “wind power mafia.” After service with the Air Force, Stoddard returned home to Amherst, Mass., in 1972 to pursue a doctorate in Ocean Engineering and to take part in the emerging field of alternate energy. Joining the vibrant, interdisciplinary group at UMass gathered around William Heronemus, he began a dissertation in wind turbine dynamic analysis (1979), earning selection as lead developer of the famed 25kW Wind Furnace 1 (WF-1) turbine. To carry research into practice, Heronemus, Stoddard, and other UMass graduates joined US Windpower (later Kenetech), the country’s first producer of large wind turbines and promoter of early wind farms. A tireless advocate for wind power and alternative energy, Stoddard was highly regarded as a researcher but also as a teacher and mentor of a generation of engineers who populate the industry. Nearly coincident with his untimely death on Jan. 25, 2007, the American Wind Energy Association awarded Stoddard its Lifetime Achievement Award.
As a participant in the early years of the wind power group at UMass, Stoddard’s papers offer insight into an engineer’s experiences in the fitful growth of the wind power industry. The collection is rich in engineering data on turbine dynamics and other aspects of wind power and the extension of academic research into the nascent wind power industry, and it includes an interesting array of both personal and professional photographs and correspondence.
- U.S. Wind Power Associates
- University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Department of Mechanical Engineering
- Wind Energy Center (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
- Wind Furnace 1
- Wind power
- Wind turbines--Aerodynamics
- Heronemus, William E.
Types of material
Stonewall Center Records, 1962-2005.
Call no.: RG 030/2/6
Following a series of homophobic incidents on the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1985, the Program for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Concerns was established as an administrative center in the Office of Student Affairs. Later renamed after the notorious riots in New York, the Stonewall Center has provided the campus and surrounding community with cultural and educational programming through speakers, films, video and book library, Speakers Bureau on LGBTQ issues, referrals and support, advocacy and community outreach.
The records of the Stonewall Center include documentation of day to day operations, including phone logs, memos, and budget information, as well as posters and press releases for events, publications, campus and external reports, training manuals, surveys, newspaper clippings, and ephemera such as banners, tee-shirts, and buttons.
- Gay college students--Massachusetts
- Gays--Services for
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns
- Stonewall Center
- Yeskel, Felice
John D. Strong Papers, 1938-1986.
Call no.: FS 019
John D. Strong was a professor of Physics and Astronomy from 1967 to 1975 and served as the head of the laboratory of astrophysics and physical meteorology. Strong, one of the world’s foremost optical scientists, was known for being the first to detect water vapor in the atmosphere of Venus and for developing a number of innovations in optical devices, ranging from improved telescope mirrors to anti-reflective coatings for optical elements and diffraction gratings. Born in Riverdale, Kansas in 1905, Strong received degrees from the University of Kansas (BA 1926) and the University of Michigan (M.S., 1928, Ph.D., 1930). After twelve years at CalTech and wartime research at Harvard on infrared systems, Strong became professor and director of the Astrophysical and Physical Meteorology Laboratories at Johns Hopkins University in 1946, where, among many other projects, he conducted research on balloon astronomy for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Strong published hundreds of papers throughout his career and was author of Procedures of Experimental Physics, a standard physics textbook for many years. Strong served as president of the American Optical Association in 1959 and patented numerous inventions for optics in spectroscopy as well as golf (see US Patent no. 3720467). Strong passed away in 1992.
The Strong Papers contain forty years of research notebooks in experimental physics (1930-1970) centered on Strong’s years at Johns Hopkins (1946-1967), along with correspondence, printed publications by Strong for the ONR, and manuscripts for several textbooks (though lacking material on Procedures of Experimental Physics). Strong’s balloon work is documented by diagrams in his lab books and photographs of the Stratolab at John’s Hopkins, and an oral history of his life was made by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in 1985, a transcript of which is included in the collection.
- Institute for Man and the Environment
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
- Strong, John D