As a child, W.E.B. Du Bois lived for several years on a five acre parcel of land on the Egremont plain near Great Barrington, Mass. Although barely five when his family moved into town, Du Bois never lost his feeling for this property that had been in his family for six generations, and when presented with the opportunity to reacquire the site in 1928, he accepted, intending to build a house there and settle.
Walter Wilson and Edmund Gordon purchased the Du Bois homesite in 1967 with the intention of erecting a memorial to Du Bois’ life and legacy. On October 18, 1969, the site was formally dedicated as the W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Park, with civil-rights activist and future Georgia legislator Julian Bond giving the keynote address and Ossie Davis presiding as master of ceremonies. Nineteen years later, the Du Bois Memorial Foundation donated the property to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, designating the University of Massachusetts Amherst as custodian.
Narrated by Davis and including Bond’s keynote address, this documentary (originally shot on 16mm motion picture film) depicts the 1969 dedication ceremonies. For additional information, please visit the website for the Du Bois boyhood homesite.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Homes and haunts
A worker in the struggle against poverty and racism for five decades, David Entin was raised in Queens, N.Y., but moved to Jacksonville, Florida, with his family in 1953. As a student at the University of North Carolina in 1964, Entin took part in antipoverty work with the North Carolina Volunteers, parlaying that experience into a position with the Durham County Welfare Department and then with antipoverty groups in Jacksonville. His new career, however, was interrupted by Vietnam War service with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Stationed in Quang Ngai Province, a Vietcong stronghold, and Da Nang between 1966 and 1968, Entin oversaw redevelopment projects and while not caught up in the fight itself, he was charged with assessing damage in Region One following the Tet Offensive. After returning home to Florida, Entin resumed his antipoverty work.
The collection centers around 51 detailed letters describing the two years that David Entin spent in Vietnam working with USAID; these letters serve as a diary recording Entin’s daily activities and observations and accompany several hundered slides and photosgraphs. Also included in the collection are a series of short autobiographical essays that detail his childhood, early career, and service in Vietnam.
Economic assistance, American--Vietnam
Technical assistance, American--Vietnam
United States. Agency for International Development
Ann Ferguson began her tenure at UMass as an Instructor in 1964 as she completed the last year of her doctoral work at Brown under supervision of R.M. Chisolm. With academic interests in ethics, aesthetics, women’s studies, and social and political philosophy, Ferguson has been politically engaged in human rights and social justice initiatives since the 1960s, supporting organizations such as Feminist Aid to Central America, Marxist Activist Philosophers, and the Radical Philosopher’s Association. In 1995, Ferguson accepted a three-year term as Director of Women’s Studies, describing the program as one with the “roots in political activism to fight social injustice.” Despite her 2008 retirement, Ferguson continues to teach in both Philosophy and Women’s Studies.
The Ferguson Papers document Ann Ferguson’s academic career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as well as her commitment to political activism and social change. The papers include material relating to campus politics, the women’s movement and other social movements, Philosophy Department files (1971-1997) from Ferguson’s tenure as Head of the Philosophy Department, and course materials from both Women’s Studies and Philosophy. Also included among the papers are professional correspondence, feminist pamphlets (1970s-1980s), and several posters from Ferguson’s office.
University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Philosopy
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Women's Studies
Britta Fischer, U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association Photograph Collection, 1978.
449 items (1 linear feet). Call no.: PH 054
Founded in 1974, the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association was among the first American organizations devoted to fostering people-to-people diplomacy between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. The vision of veteran civil rights activist Unita Blackwell, the USCPFA sponsored speakers, seminars, and cultural exchanges, and in the 1970s, was among the first groups to organize tours from the United States to the People’s Republic.
The 449 color slides (35 mm.) that comprise the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association collection document one of the group’s early tours, undertaken at the height of the agitation over the Gang of Four. Beyond simple touristic scenes, the collection depicts a state-sponsored version of everyday life in China during the early post-Mao era.
Hampshire Community Action Commission Records, 1965-1984.
25 boxes (10.5 linear feet). Call no.: MS 056
A private, non-profit corporation founded in 1965 in Northampton, Massachusetts to finance community action programs for eliminating poverty and assisting low income people. Programs included day care centers, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Summer Head Start, a drug addiction clinic at the jail, Legal Services, and the Foster Grandparent Program.
Records comprise bylaws and organizational charts, annual reports, board of directors minutes; administrative directors’ records, including correspondence with the federal agencies and state agencies granting funds, grant applications and awards, program plans, financial and legal documents, personnel records and staff training directives; the agency newsletter County Voice, Noticero Latina; and newsclippings about welfare programs.
In February and March 1890, Smith College Professor J.H. Pillsbury organized several meetings for Northampton citizens interested in the work of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Within a month, prominent local men, including C.H. Lyman, A.L. Williston, George Washington Cable, and F.N. Kneeland, established an Executive Board and committees with representatives from all the Protestant churches to raise funds and secure a building to begin the Northampton YMCA. Incorporation shortly followed, in January 1892.
In its first decade, the YMCA established a Boy’s Department under the direction of Robert L. Williston, started a Women’s Auxiliary, and began a building fund that resulted in the purchase of property from A.L. Williston on King Street. Throughout its history, the YMCA responded to local needs during periods of crisis or transition. During World War I and II, it established recreation programs for factory workers and soldiers stationed in the area, and, from 1942-44, was heavily involved in U.S.O work. In the 1950s and 1960s the YMCA began special programs on civil rights and desegregation. Over the years, a number of prominent local figures played a role in Hampshire Regional YMCA’s history including Robert L. Williston, Oliver L. Bradley, and Errol V. Ridgewell, Executive Director from 1943 through 1969.
Records of the Hampshire Regional YMCA document the Association from its first meetings in 1891 through 1978. The collection contains minutes, constitution and by-laws, reports, board correspondence, ledgers, publications, scrapbooks, and youth, recreation, and wartime program files. Also includes material relating to building campaigns and properties. Additionally documents the long career of Errol V. Ridgwell.
The self-styled “insane architect” Aurin F. Hill (b. 1853) was a free thinking carpenter and architect in Boston who waged a concerted campaign for his vision of social reform at the turn of the twentieth century. A Spiritualist, social radical, and union man, Hill carried the torch for issues ranging from the nationalization of railroads and corporations to civil rights and women’s rights, and joined in opposition to vaccination, Comstockery and censorship, capital punishment, and lynching. A writing medium, married to the Spiritual evangelist Izetta Sears-Hill, he became President of the National Spiritual Alliance in 1915, a Spiritualist organization based in Lake Pleasant, Mass.
Esoteric, rambling, and often difficult to follow, the Hill papers provide profound insight into the eclectic mind of an important Boston Spiritualist and labor activist at the turn of the twentieth century. Whether written as a diary or scattered notes, a scrapbook, essays, or letters to the editor, Hill’s writings cover a wide range of topics, from spirit influence to labor law, from his confinements for insanity to police strikes, hypnotism, reincarnation, and housing. More than just a reflection of one man’s psychology, the collection reveals much about broader social attitudes toward gender and race, sexuality, urban life, politics, and religion, and the collection is a particularly important resource for the history of the American Spiritualist movement between 1890 and 1920.
Lake Pleasant (Mass.)--History
National Spiritual Alliance
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
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.
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.
When Lillian Hyman volunteered to work with the Democratic Party in New York City in 1948, she was sent over to the office of W.E.B. Du Bois to assist him with some secretarial work. From that beginning, she was hired as a secretary, remaining in Du Bois’s employ for several years until she, regretfully, left for higher pay. Hyman later earned her masters degree and taught in the public schools in New York, starting the first class for children diagnosed with brain injury.
The Katzman Papers contains a series of letters and postcards sent by Du Bois during the early 1950s when Hyman worked as his secretary. Friendly and informal, they concern lecture tours by Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham, out west, and arrangements for his home at Grace Court in Brooklyn. The collection also includes a handful of publications by Du Bois, newspaper clippings, and some congratulatory letters to Hyman on her marriage.
Du Bois, Shirley Graham, 1896-1977
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
Owner of the Amherst Athletic Club and columnist for the Amherst Bulletin from 1991 to 2004, Larry Kelley is deeply involved with Amherst area relations and government. He ran for both Select Board and Finance Committee, and was instrumental in raising awareness about and banning the illegal sale of martial arts weapons in Massachusetts.
Included in the Kelley papers are over 100 newspaper clippings, either his editorials, letters to the editor, or guest columns, about issues ranging from the use of town safety services by Amherst College, his objection to the Civil Rights Review Commission’s right to subpoena, his fight to fly commemorative flags in downtown Amherst both on the anniversary of September 11th and on the day Osama bin Laden is captured, to his objection over the Amherst-Pelham Regional High School’s production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.