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Labor, work, and industry

Picket line, New Bedford

Picket line, New Bedford, 195
“Teamsters crossed the Hathaway picket line”

Western Massachusetts was an early and important center of both industrialization and the development of organized labor, and in recent years, it has experienced many of traumatic effects of de-industrialization and economic transformation. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives seeks to document the history of organized labor, the experience of work, and business and industry in New England.

At the heart of the SCUA holdings is a suite of collections documenting the organized labor movement in New England. The official records of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, a large and important collection, is joined by records for trades ranging from clothing and textile workers to carpenters, electrical workers, and granite cutters.

Of particular note is the John W. Bennett Labor History Collection, a large assemblage of labor-related realia and ephemera, including hundreds of badges, pins, watch fobs, lighters, and other artifacts distributed to union members at annual conventions and other union events. The collection is a unique resource for study of the iconography of organized labor and includes items from representative unions and locals ranging from the Knights of Labor in the 1870s to the present. While centered on New England, the Bennett Collection extends nationally.

Notable collections

  • Organized Labor
    • From the records of the Massachusetts State AFL-CIO to the papers of union locals and labor leaders.
  • See all Business and industry
    • Manufacturing
      • The industrial heritage of New England is represented in collections ranging from the records of the Clement Co., Lamson and Goodnow, and the Northampton Cutlery Company (manufacturers of cutlery), the American Writing Paper Company, the Rodney Hunt Co. (a manufacturer of textile machinery and waterwheels), and Smith and Wesson. The most recent collection is the papers of Sidney Topol, CEO of Scientific-Atlanta, a corporation at the forefront of the growth of cable television in the United States.
    • Merchants and commerce
      • Account books and other business records for a number of New England merchants dating back to the eighteenth century, ranging from small scale traders to keepers of rural general stores to shipping merchants trading in the Atlantic economy.

Learn more:

Lamson and Goodnow

Lamson and Goodnow Records
1837-1911
23 boxes, 14 vols. (38 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 662
Image of Lamson and Goodnow
Lamson and Goodnow

In 1834, Silas Lamson devised a curved snath that greatly improved the efficiency of the scythe, and riding the commercial success of his invention, Lamson, his sons Ebenezer and Nathaniel, and partner Abel Goodnow, founded the manufacturing firm of Lamson and Goodnow in Shelburne Falls, Mass., in 1837. Early in its history, Lamson and Goodnow recruited skilled workers from cutlery centers in England and Germany and began manufacturing the high quality knives and tableware that have remained the center of their production ever since. The firm was a major contributor to the region’s transformation from a primarily agricultural to an industrial economy, and by the time of the Civil War, they helped establish the Connecticut River Valley had emerged as the center of American cutlery production. At vartious points during their history, Lamson and Goodnow have been involved in the manufacture of arms (e.g. the Springfield Rifle), sewing machines, agricultural implements, and other tools. They remain active in the production of cutlery, trade tools, and kitchenware.

The Lamson and Goodnow records contain relatively dense documentation of a major manufacturer of cutlery and agricultural implements from roughly the time of its founding in 1837 through shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. In addition to account books, records of orders, sales, and production, and a dizzying array of canceled checks, receipts, and trade cards, the collection includes correspondence from field agents and customers that document the growth of the company during the first 75 years of its operation.

Subjects
  • Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
  • Shelburne Falls (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Lamson and Goodnow
Types of material
  • Account books

Lauman, Mary W.

Mary W. Lauman Papers
1944-1945
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 534

Mary W. Lauman, a 1937 graduate of Cornell University, served in the United States Marine Corps from March 1944 through December 1945. During her 10 months of active duty, Mary wrote numerous letters to her mother detailing her everyday life from boot camp in Lejeune, North Carolina, to her work with the United States Army Personnel Department.

The Lauman letters contain interesting insights into the life of a woman Marine during World War II, including behavior, dress, and social interactions.

Subjects
  • Camp Lejeune (N.C.)
  • Women marines
  • World War, 1939-1945--Women
Contributors
  • Lauman, Mary W

Lavallee, Winston

Winston Lavallee Collection
1937-2005
1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 796
Image of CCC camp
CCC camp

A native New Englander, Winston Lavallee grew up in the Berkshires and attended UMass Amherst where he received his Ph.D. in entomology. He served as a professor for more than 35 years at Holyoke Community College and as a life-long advocate for the stewardship of natural resources and ecological sustainability. Lavallee is the author of several short stories and two novels: Tempest in the Wilderness and Dancing in the Dark, a novel about the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The collection consists of research notes, publications, photographs, and the recollections of men who Lavallee interviewed about their service in the Civilian Conservation Corps. These materials were first accumulated to record the conservation and plant pest control techniques employed in New England during the 1930s-1940s, but were later used during the preparation and writing of Dancing in the Dark. Altogether they offer rich historical background on the CCC and the men who were employed in the various jobs, such as road building, fire hazard reduction, and the development of recreational space, which constituted the program.

Subjects
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)--New England--History
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)--Photographs
  • New Deal, 1933-1939--New England--History
Contributors
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
  • Lavallee, Winston
Types of material
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs

Le, Van Khoa

Le Van Khoa Photograph Collection
Undated
7 items (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 170
Image of Going home
Going home

The composer, photographer, and educator, Le Van Khoa arrived in the United States as a war refugee from Vietnam in May 1975. Largely self-taught as a photographer, he was co-founder of the Artistic Photography Association of Vietnam and has published three books of his work. He holds the distinction of being the first Vietnamese photographer to mount an exhibition at the U.S. Congress building.

The seven photographs in the Le Van Khoa collection are artistic reflections of life in Vietnam, including four taken in the imperial city, Hue.

Subjects
  • Vietnam--Photographs
Types of material
  • Photographs

Lederer, Regina Berger, 1895-1988

Regina Lederer Oral History
1984
1 envelope (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 358 bd

Regina Berger Lederer was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1895 into the family of a successful manufacturing chemist. Her singing career was promising, but never fully realized. With the rise of the Nazi Party and increase in oppression of Jews, she and her husband escaped by leaving for Italy and the United States in 1939. Settling in New York, she worked as a skilled sweater repairer for many years. She died in Maryland in 1988, where she had gone to live near her son Paul.

Transcript of an oral history of Lederer.

Subjects
  • Jewish women--United States--Interviews
  • Jews, Austrian--United States--Interviews
  • Jews--Austria--History--20th century--Sources
  • Knit goods--Repairing--New York (State)--New York
  • Refugees, Jewish--United States--Interviews
  • Sweater industry--New York (State)--New York--Employees--Interviews
Contributors
  • Lederer, Regina Berger, 1895-1988
Types of material
  • Oral histories

Leland, James

James Leland Daybook
1854-1855
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 094

Owner of a general store in Enfield, Massachusetts. Includes notations for the sale of a wide variety of goods (notably Know Nothing hats), names of customers (both individuals, particularly Irish, and businesses), and types of payment (cash, barter, and services).

Subjects
  • Barter--Massachusetts--Enfield--History--19th century
  • Consumers--Massachusetts--Enfield--History--19th century
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Ethnic relations--19th century
  • General stores--Massachusetts--Enfield
  • Irish American Catholics--Massachusetts--Enfield--History--19th century
  • J.M. Crosby (Firm)
  • Leonard Woods (Firm)
  • Minot Manufacturing Company
  • Nativism--History--19th century
  • Shopping--Massachusetts--Enfield--History--19th century
  • Swift River Company
Contributors
  • Leland and Smith Co.
  • Leland, James
Types of material
  • Daybooks

Leonard, Samuel B., b. 1807

Samuel B. Leonard Account Book
1833-1845
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 206 bd

Blacksmith from Foxborough, Massachusetts. Documents the various kinds of work performed, such as mending chain links, shoeing horses, bolting and riveting wagons, repairing stoves, and the prices charged for such work. Includes customers arranged by surname and notations of the settlement of long-standing debts (without mention of the methods of payment).

Subjects
  • Blacksmithing--Massachusetts--Foxborough--History--19th century
  • Blacksmiths--Massachusetts--Foxborough--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Foxborough (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Foxborough (Mass.)--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Leonard, Samuel B., 1807-
Types of material
  • Account books

Levasseur, Raymond Luc

Raymond Luc Levasseur Trial transcripts
1989
(12 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 334

For over a decade, the radical United Freedom Front waged a concerted revolutionary campaign, confronting U.S. imperialism in Central America, apartheid, and other issues. Led by Raymond Luc Levasseur (b. 1940), the UFF carried out a string of bank robberies and bombings in the northeast, usually providing forewarning to avoid casualties. On November 4, 1984, following an intense nationwide manhunt, the FBI succeeded in apprehending Levasseur and his wife Patricia Gros near Deerfield, Ohio, and within a year, most of the remaining members of the UFF were under arrest. Levasseur and six of his comrades were eventually sentenced to long terms for the robberies and bombings and (two of them) for the death of a New Jersey state trooper. The government’s attempt in 1989 to bring charges of seditious conspiracy and violations of the RICO act, however, ended in an acquittal on most charges and a hung jury on the rest. Having served nearly half of his 45 year sentence, Levasseur was released from prison in November 2004.

The Levasseur Collection consists of the complete transcripts of the 1989 sedition trial of the “Ohio Seven” (US v. Levasseur).

Subjects
  • Political prisoners--United States
  • Sedition
  • United Freedom Front
Contributors
  • Levasseur, Ray Luc

Levasseur, Raymond Luc

Raymond Luc Levasseur Papers
1966-2017
10 boxes (12 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 971

Raymond Luc Levasseur went underground with a revolutionary Marxist organization in 1974 and spent a decade in armed resistance against the American state. Radicalized by his experiences in Vietnam and by a stint in a Tennessee prison for the alleged sale of marijuana, Levasseur became convinced that revolutionary action was a “necessary step in defeating the enemy — monopoly Capitalism and its Imperialism expression.” As leader of the Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson Unit, later called the United Freedom Front, he took part in a string of bombings and bank robberies targeting symbols of the state including government and military buildings and corporate offices. All active members of the UFF were arrested in 1984 and 1985 and sentenced to long prison terms, although the government’s effort to prosecute them (the Ohio 7) on separate charges of seditious conspiracy ultimately failed. Levasseur spent over twenty years of a 45 year sentence in supermax prisons, much of the time in solitary confinement, before being released on parole in 2004. He continues to write and speak out for prisoners’ rights.

The Levasseur papers are an important record of a committed revolutionary and political prisoner. Beginning with his work in the early 1970s with the Statewide Correctional Alliance for Reform (SCAR), a prisoners’ rights organization, the collection includes communiques and other materials from revolutionary groups including the UFF, Armed Clandestine Movement, and the Black Liberation Army; Levasseur’s political and autobiographical writings; numerous interviews; selected correspondence; and a range of material on political prisoners and mass incarceration. Consisting in part of material seized by the FBI following Levasseur’s arrest or recovered through the Freedom of Information Act, and supplemented by newsclippings and video from media coverage, the collection has particularly rich content for the criminal trials of UFF members and the Ohio 7 seditious conspiracy case, as well as Levasseur’s years in prison and his work on behalf of political prisoners

Gift of Raymond Luc Levasseur, 2017
Subjects
  • Anti-imperialist movements--United States
  • Political prisoners--United States
  • Prisons--United States
  • Revolutionaries
Contributors
  • Armed Clandestine Movement
  • Black Liberation Army
  • Manning, Tom
  • Ohio 7
  • Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson Unit
  • Statewide Correctional Alliance for Reform
  • United Freedom Front
  • Williams, Raymond C.
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Trials
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