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Foster, Nancy E.

Nancy E. Foster Papers, 1972-2010
4 boxes (6 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 753
Image of Nancy E. Foster
Nancy E. Foster

For the better part of four decades, Nancy E. Foster was active in the struggle for social justice, peace, and political reform. From early work in civil rights through her engagement in political reform in Amherst, Mass., Foster was recognized for her work in the movements opposing war, nuclear power, and the assault on civil liberties after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Locally, she worked with her fellow members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst and with interfaith coalitions to address problems of hunger and homelessness.

Centered in western Massachusetts and concentrated in the last decade of her life (2000-2010), the Nancy Foster Papers includes a record of one woman’s grassroots activism for peace, civil liberties, and social justice. The issues reflected in the collection range from the assault on civil liberties after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to immigration, hunger and poverty, the Iraq Wars, and the conflict in Central America during the 1980s, and much of the material documents Nancy’s involvement with local organizations such as the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. The collection also contains a valuable record of Nancy’s participation in local politics in Amherst, beginning with the records of the 1972 committee which was charged with reviewing the Town Meeting.

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Civil rights--Massachusetts
  • Disaster relief
  • El Salvador--History--1979-1992
  • Hunger
  • Interfaith Cot Shelter (Amherst, Mass.)
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
  • War on Terrorism, 2001-2009
Contributors
  • ACLU
  • Lay Academy for Oecumenical Studies
  • Massachusetts Voters for Clean Elections
  • Olver, John
  • Pyle, Christopher H.
  • Swift, Alice
  • Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst
Types of material
  • Photographs

Fowler, Robert

Robert Fowler Diary, 1831-1854
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 174

A native of Salisbury, Massachusetts, Robert Fowler (b.1805) was a prosperous shipbuilder and merchant with a trade extending from Nova Scotia to the Gulf South. He and his wife Susan Edwards, whom he married in 1830, had at least four children.

Kept by Robert Fowler between 1831 and 1854, the volume includes both diary entries (primarily 1841-1846) and accounts. With occasional commentary on local political matters, commerce, weather, and family matters, the diary is largely a record of Fowler’s spiritual concerns and his wrestling with doctrinal matters and the relationship of religion and daily life. An ardent temperance man, he commented on religious topics ranging from the Millerite movement to the resurrection, salvation, and the duty of prayer.

Subjects
  • Fatherhood
  • Fitch, Charles, 1805-1844
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--Salisbury
  • Millerite movement
  • Religious life--Massachusetts--Salisbury
  • Salisbury (Mass.)--History
  • Second Advent
  • Temperance
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Diaries

Geisler, Bruce

Bruce Geisler Collection, 1969-1984
14 boxes (21 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 049
Image of Renaissance Community, ca.1974
Renaissance Community, ca.1974

In the early 1970s, the documentary filmmaker Bruce Geisler dropped out of Pomona College one semester short of graduation, drove across country, and joined the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune, then the largest commune in the eastern United States. During his four years living with the Brotherhood, later renamed the Renaissance Community, Geisler learned the craft of filmmaking, before returning west to earn an MFA at the film school of the University of Southern California. Geisler has received a number of awards as a screenwriter and filmmaker including the Grand Prize for Best Screenplay from Worldfest Houston and the Dominique Dunne Memorial Prize for Filmmaking, and, in 2007, he released his feature-length documentary, Free Spirits, about the Brotherhood of the Spirit/Renaissance Community and its ill-fated founder, Michael Metelica Rapunzel. Geisler is currently a Senior Lecturer in the UMass Amherst Department of Communication.

Documenting everyday life in a Massachusetts commune and performances by the commune bands (Spirit in Flesh and Rapunzel), the Geisler collection was assembled in conjunction with the making of the film Free Spirits. In addition to many hours of both raw and edited film footage taken by members of the Brotherhood of the Brotherhood of the Spirit and Renaissance Community, the collection includes a rich assemblage of still photographs, ephemera, and newspaper clippings relating to the commune.

Subjects
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Renaissance Community (Commune)
Contributors
  • Geisler, Bruce
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Videotapes

Hefner, William K.

William K. Hefner Papers, 1962-1978
6 boxes (9 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 129
Image of Bill Hefner for Congress
Bill Hefner for Congress

In 1960, William K. Hefner (1915-1993) became one of the first of new breed of radical pacifists to run for elective office, when he ran as a peace candidate for Congress in the 1st district of Massachusetts. An accountant from Greenfield, Hefner was involved at a national level with movements for peace and civil rights. An early member of SANE, a founder of Political Action for Peace in 1959 (now CPPAX) and the Greenfield Peace Center (1963), and an active member of the American Friends Service Committee, War Resisters League, Turn Toward Peace, and the World Without War Conference, Hefner was an energetic force in the movements for peace and disarmament, civil rights, and a more just economic system. He ran unsuccessfully for office in three elections between 1960 and 1964, and supported peace candidate H. Stuart Hughes in his bid for election to the U.S. Senate in 1962.

The Hefner papers offer a remarkable record of politically-engaged activism for peace and social justice in the early 1960s. With an intensely local focus, Hefner was tied in to the larger movements at the state and national level, corresponding with major figures such as A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Spock, and Arthur Springer. The collection includes particularly rich documentation of the early years of Political Action for Peace, which Hefner helped found, with correspondence, minutes of meetings, and publications, as well as equally rich materials on Hefner’s bids for congress in 1960 and 1962.

Subjects
  • American Friends Service Committee Western Massachusetts
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Civil Rights movements--Massachusetts
  • Greenfield Community Peace Center
  • Massachusetts Political Action for Peace
  • Nonviolence
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Platform for Peace (Organization)
  • Political Action for Peace
  • SANE, Inc
  • Turn Toward Peace (Organization)
  • United States. Congress--Elections, 1960
  • United States. Congress--Elections, 1962
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Contributors
  • Boardman, Elizabeth F
  • Hefner, William K.
  • Hughes, H. Stuart (Henry Stuart), 1916-1999
  • Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967
  • Rustin, Bayard, 1912-1987
  • Springer, Arthur
Types of material
  • Minutes

Higgins, Lyman

Lyman Higgins Account Book, 1851-1886
1 vol. (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 118

A resident of South Worthington, Massachusetts, Lyman Higgins appears in the Federal Census and in town histories as also pursuing a variety of other callings: mechanic, farmer, blacksmith, sawmill proprietor, and manufacturer. Higgins eventually devoted his work life to basket making, supplying textile mills and paper companies as far away as New York City with large batches of assorted baskets tailored to their needs.

Higgins’ account book includes records of jobs performed, payment (in goods and services as well as in cash), employees and their wages, and the local companies to which he sold his custom-made basket products.

Subjects
  • Basket industry--Massachusetts--South Worthington--History--19th century
  • Basket making--Massachusetts--South Worthington--History--19th century
  • Harris Woollen Mill
  • Lawrence Duck Co.
  • Paper industry--Equipment and supplies--History--19th century
  • Sawmills--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • South Worthington (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Stark Mills
  • Sugar River Paper Co.
  • Textile industry--Equipment and supplies--History--19th century
  • Wages--Basket industry--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Wages-in-kind--Massachusetts--South Worthington--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Higgins, Lyman
Types of material
  • Account books

Kahn, Paul S.

Paul S. Kahn Papers, 1964-2009
10 boxes (17 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 786
Image of Paul Kahn
Paul Kahn

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.

Gift of Ruth Kahn, July 2013
Subjects
  • People with disabilities and the arts
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
Types of material
  • Paintings (Visual works)

Karuth, Denise

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.

Subjects
  • AIDS activists--Massachusetts
  • Boston Self-Help Center
  • First Church (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Homelessness--Massachusetts
  • Local transit accessibility
  • Massachusetts. Governor's Commission of Accessible Transportation
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
Contributors
  • Pelka, Fred

Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies (LAOS)

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.

Subjects
  • Christian union--Massachusetts--History
  • Interdenominational cooperation--Massachusetts--History
Contributors
  • King, David S., 1927-
  • Laymen's Academy for Oecumenical Studies (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Photographs

Lincoln, Abisha, 1800-1863

Abisha Lincoln Daybooks, 1861-1867
3 vols. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 233

Born in February 1800, Abisha Lincoln kept a general store in Raynham, Mass., selling groceries, hardware, dry goods, shoes, and many other items to residents of the north end of town. Successful in business, Lincoln won election to local and state office and was followed into business by each of his three sons.

These daybooks from Abisha Lincoln record customer names, goods sold (such as groceries, hardware, dry goods, and shoes) and the form of payment: principally cash, with some local trade of agricultural commodities.

Subjects
  • Barter--Massachusetts--Raynham--History--19th century
  • Consumer goods--Prices--Massachusetts--Raynham--History--19th century
  • Consumers--Massachusetts--Raynham--History--19th century
  • General stores--Massachusetts--Raynham
  • Raynham (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Raynham (Mass.)--History--19th century--Biography
  • Shopping--Massachusetts--Raynham--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Lincoln, Abisha, 1800-1863
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Daybooks

Lipshires, Sidney

Sidney Lipshires Papers, 1932-2012
7 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 730
Image of Sidney Lipshires
Sidney Lipshires

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.

Subjects
  • Communism--United States--History
  • Communists--Massachusetts
  • Jews--Massachusetts--Northampton--History
  • Jews--Political activity--United States--History--20th century
  • Labor movement--United States--History--20th century
  • Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--Biography
Contributors
  • Lipshires, David M
  • Lipshires, Joann B
  • Lipshires, Sidney
Types of material
  • Autobiographies
  • Photographs
  • Testimonies

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