Paul S. Kahn Papers, 1964-2009.
10 boxes (17 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 786
An artist, writer, and activist for the disabled, Paul S. Kahn was born on Nov. 6, 1945, into a second-generation family of Jewish immigrants in Auburndale, Mass. Early in life, Kahn rebelled against the perceived “powerlessness” of the neuromuscular disorder with which he was born, pursuing an artistic, academic, and activist life. While studying drawing, painting, and sculpture at Boston University and earning a MA in counseling at Northeastern (1982), Kahn became an activist in the independent living movement and a pioneer in advocating for personal care assistance. Living independently from 1979, he worked as staff therapist at the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, as leader of a support group for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and as a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Advisory Commission on Disability Policy. In 1980, Kahn met Ruth Stern, who would become his frequent collaborator and wife of 21 years. As Kahn’s physical condition weakened after 1987 and he became dependent upon a ventilator, his creative focus shifted increasingly from art to writing and editing. The last two decades of his life were remarkably productive, resulting in over twenty plays and dozens of published essays and poems, and he was the long-time editor of the newsletter Disability Issues. Kahn died on Jan. 1, 2010.
Paul Kahn’s papers are a reflection of the intensely creative life of a committed activist. The collection centers on Kahn’s literary work, including manuscripts of his plays, essays, and poetry, but it includes numerous examples of his artwork and a number of home movies and tape recordings from his childhood.
- People with disabilities and the arts
- People with disabilities--Civil rights
Types of material
Denise Karuth and Fred Pelka Papers, 1981-2012.
36 boxes (54 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 833
Denise Karuth and Fred Pelka are activists and historians of the disability rights movement based in Massachusetts. Both are graduates of SUNY Buffalo, while Karuth holds a masters in rehabilitation counseling from Boston State College and a masters in divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. Karuth came into activism through her church’s involvement in the civil rights movement and her own experience as a student dealing with blindness and multiple sclerosis at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After moving to Boston, her activism continued in efforts by the disability community to secure accessible and affordable mass transit in Massachusetts, and she has been involved with a broad spectrum of disability campaigns and organizations, serving as a peer counselor for people with disabilities, as Executive Director of Boston Self-Help Center, as a consultant on disability issues for the Human Genome Initiative, as a grant writer at the Stavros Center for Independent Living, and as Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Accessible Transportation under Gov. Michael Dukakis. She has also been an advocate for people who are homeless and was a principal founder of the First Church Shelter of the First Church in Cambridge. Karuth’s lifelong partner Fred Pelka, himself a person with disabilities, became involved in disability rights activism in 1983 while working at the Boston Center for Independent Living, and has made an impact as an editor and prolific author since. A 2004 Guggenheim Fellow, he has written three books on disability issues: The ABC-CLIO Companion to the Disability Rights Movement (1997), The Civil War Letters of Charles F. Johnson, Invalid Corps (2004), and What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement (2012). His fourth book, A Different Blaze, was published by Hedgerow Books in 2014, and is his first published poetry.
The Karuth and Pelka collection documents thirty years of social justice activism in Massachusetts centered on the movement for disability rights. Beginning in the1980s struggle for accessibility in transportation, the collection reflects the breadth of Karuth’s commitments and work on issues ranging from apartheid and US imperialism to homelessness and HIV/AIDS, and her work with organizations such as First Church in Cambridge, Amnesty International, Not Dead Yet, the Governor’s Council of Accessible Transportation, and the Boston Self Help Center. Pelka’s part of the collection contains extensive research and background material, notes, and drafts for each of his books, including lengthy transcripts of interviews with pioneers in disability rights.
- AIDS activists--Massachusetts
- Boston Self-Help Center
- First Church (Cambridge, Mass.)
- Local transit accessibility
- Massachusetts. Governor's Commission of Accessible Transportation
- People with disabilities--Civil rights
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
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.
- Christian union--Massachusetts--History
- Interdenominational cooperation--Massachusetts--History
- King, David S., 1927-
- Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
League of Women Voters of Amherst Records, 1939-2001.
60 boxes (33 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 296
Non-partisan political organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts that influences public policy through education and advocacy by registering voters, organizing candidate forums, publishing voting guides, and disseminating general information on the legislative process and the functioning of government on the local, state, and federal levels.
Includes minutes, annual reports, financial records, publications, extensive files on specific programs, photographs, video- and audio-tapes, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings. Also contains information on two league members who rose to national prominence: Lucy Wilson Benson (Under Secretary of State in the federal government in 1977) and Jane F. Garvey (Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1997).
- Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- Benson, Lucy Wilson
- Garvey, Jane F
- League of Women Voters of Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
- Oral histories
Sidney Lipshires Papers, 1932-2012.
7 boxes (3.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 730
Born on April 15, 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland to David and Minnie Lipshires, Sidney was raised in Northampton, Massachusetts where his father owned two shoe stores, David Boot Shop and The Bootery. He attended the Massachusetts State College for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago and was awarded a BA in economics in 1940. His years at the University of Chicago were transformative, Lipshires became politically active there and joined the Communist Party in 1939. Following graduation in 1941, he married Shirley Dvorin, a student in early childhood education; together they had two sons, Ellis and Bernard. Lipshires returned to western Massachusetts with his young family in the early 1940s, working as a labor organizer. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 working as a clerk and interpreter with a medical battalion in France for over a year. Returning home, he ran for city alderman in Springfield on the Communist Party ticket in 1947. Lipshires married his second wife, Joann Breen Klein, in 1951 and on May 29, 1956, the same day his daughter Lisa was born, he was arrested under the Smith Act for his Communist Party activities. Before his case was brought to trial, the Smith Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Disillusioned with the Communist Party, he severed his ties with it in 1957, but continued to remain active in organized labor for the rest of his life. Earning his masters in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1971, Lipshires taught history at Manchester Community College in Connecticut for thirty years. During that time he worked with other campus leaders to establish a statewide union for teachers and other community college professionals, an experience he wrote about in his book, Giving Them Hell: How a College Professor Organized and Led a Successful Statewide Union. Sidney Lipshires died on January 6, 2011 at the age of 91.
Ranging from an autobiographical account that outlines his development as an activist (prepared in anticipation of a trial for conspiracy charges under the Smith Act) to drafts and notes relating to his book Giving Them Hell, the Sidney Lipshires Papers offers an overview of his role in the Communist Party and as a labor organizer. The collection also contains his testimony in a 1955 public hearing before the Special Commission to Study and Investigate Communism and Subversive Activities, photographs, and biographical materials.
- Communism--United States--History
- Jews--Political activity--United States--History--20th century
- Labor movement--United States--History--20th century
- Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--Biography
- Lipshires, David M
- Lipshires, Joann B
- Lipshires, Sidney
Types of material
Lyman Family Papers, 1839-1942.
7 boxes (2.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 634
The descendants of Joseph Lyman (1767-1847) flourished in nineteenth century Northampton, Mass., achieving social prominence, financial success, and a degree of intellectual acclaim. Having settled in Northampton before 1654, just a generation removed from emigration, the Lymans featured prominently in the development of the Connecticut River Valley. A Yale-educated clerk of the Hampshire County courts, Joseph’s descendants included sons Joseph Lyman (an engineer and antislavery man) and Samuel Fowler Lyman (a jurist), and three Harvard-educated grandsons, Benjamin Smith Lyman (a geologist and traveler in Meiji-era Japan) and brothers Joseph and Frank Lyman (both trained in the natural sciences).
Consisting of the scattered correspondence and photographic record of three generations of an intellectually adventurous Northampton family, the Lyman collection explores the ebb and flow of family relations, collegiate education, and educational travel in Europe during the mid-nineteenth century, with important content on antislavery and the Free State movement in Kansas. Although the family’s tendency to reuse names (repeatedly) presents a challenge in distinguishing the various recipients, the focal points of the collection include the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman, his uncle Joseph (1812-1871), cousins Joseph (1851-1883) and Frank, and Frank’s son Frank Lyman, Jr. Antislavery is a major theme in the letters of Samuel F. Lyman to his son Benjamin, and in the letterbook of the Kansas Land Trust, an affiliate of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, of which the elder Joseph was Treasurer.
- Antislavery movements--Massachusetts
- Germany--Description and travel--19th century
- Harvard University--Students
- Kansas Land Trust
- New England Emigrant Aid Company
- Lawrence, Amos Adams, 1814-1886
- Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
- Lyman, Joseph B, 1812-1871
Types of material
Norman and Mary-Louise Meyer Papers, 1960-1980.
4 boxes (6 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 778
Opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies in Massachusetts swelled in the 1950s, culminating in passage of a law in 1958 mandating that towns that wished to fluoridate would first put the proposal to public referendum. The primary force advocating for this law was the Massachusetts Citizens Rights Association, an organization founded and directed by Norman and Mary-Louise (Shadman) Meyer of Wellesley and which remained the leading anti-fluoridation group in the Boston area for twenty years. Having met and married while students at Harvard (1943) and Wellesley, respectively, the Meyers were tireless supporters of civic activities ranging from educational and environmental causes to public television (through the Citizens for Public Television in Boston), and disability (Norman served as director of the Protestant Guild for the Blind in Watertown), and they were stalwart members of the Wellesley town meeting. Norman Meyer died in Tortola in 1986, with Mary-Louise following in 1999.
The Meyer collection is a rich assemblage of letters and other materials documenting the Massachusetts Citizens Rights Association and the struggle against fluoridation in Wellesley, Newton, and other communities in eastern Massachusetts. Central figures in the movement, the Meyers maintained a wide correspondence with other activists throughout the region and published and disseminated information on the dangers of flourides in the water supply.
- Antifluoridation movement--Massachusetts
- Drinking water--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
- Water--Fluoridation--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
Mount Toby Meeting of Friends Collection, 1977-1991.
1 box (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 694
The Northampton Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (later the Middle Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting) was formally established in 1939, bringing together the small community of Friends in Western Massachusetts. In 1959, the small preparative meetings in Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton, and South Hadley agreed to consolidate to create a more vital gathering. After five years without a fixed location, a Friend was moved to donate three acres of land on Long Plain Road in Leverett on which to build a proper meetinghouse. When that building opened in 1964, the meeting was renamed the Mt Toby Meeting.
Reflecting a strong history of promoting peace social justice, the Mt. Toby collection documents Friends’ involvement in a wide variety of issues ranging from war tax resistance (Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner), the “Colrain action” when the Kehler/Corner house was seized by the IRS), peace education and civil disobedience, refugee resettlement, the Sanctuary movement, and support for LGBT issues and racial equality. The collection consists largely of fliers and newsletters, ephemera, and newspaper clippings.
- Corner, Betsy
- Kehler, Randy
- Mount Toby Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Sanctuary movement
- War tax resistance--Massachusetts
Raymond Mungo Papers, 1966-2008.
6 boxes (3 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 659
Born in a “howling blizzard” in February 1946, Raymond Mungo became one of the most evocative writers of the 1960s counterculture. Through more than fifteen books and hundreds of articles, Mungo has brought a wry sense of humor and radical sensibility to explorations of the minds and experiences of the generation that came of age against a backdrop of the struggles for civil rights and economic justice, of student revolts, Black Power, resistance to war, and experimentation in communal living.
Consisting of the original typescripts and manuscripts of ten of Raymond Mungo’s books, along with corrected and uncorrected galleys and a small number of letters from publishers. Among the other materials in the collection are thirteen photographs of Mungo taken by Clif Garboden and Peter Simon during and immediately after his undergraduate years at Boston University; a DVD containing motion pictures of life at Packer Corners in 1969 and 1977; and an irate letter from a writer regarding the status of poems he had submitted to Liberation News Service.
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Communal living--Vermont
- Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
- Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
- Nineteen Sixties
- Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
- Porche, Verandah
- Garboden, Clif
- Mungo, Raymond, 1946-
- Simon, Peter, 1947-
Types of material
People for Economic Survival Records, 1974-1977.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 535
Established in October 1974, People for Economic Survival (PES) was a Socialist group based in Northampton, Massachusetts, first organized with the short-term goal of pressuring local banks to sell food stamps. The group’s vision for the longer term, however, was to stimulate change that would result in the replacement of an economy based on corporate profit with one based on people’s needs. After two and half years of community activity, including working for lower utility rates and against cutbacks in welfare, human services, and unemployment benefits, PES disbanded.
The PES collection consists of flyers, meeting minutes, and a full run of Take It, the group’s newsletter.
- Food stamps--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Northampton (Mass.)--History
- Public welfare--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
- People for Economic Survival