Radical Student Union Records, 1905-2006 (Bulk: 1978-2005).
22 boxes (14.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 045/80 R1
Founded by Charles Bagli in 1976, the Revolutionary Student Brigade at UMass Amherst (later the Radical Student Union) has been a focal point for organization by politically radical students. RSU members have responded to issues of social justice, addressing both local, regional, and national concerns ranging from militarism to the environment, racism and sexism to globalization.
The RSU records document the history of a particularly long-lived organization of left-leaning student activists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beginning in the mid-1970s, as students were searching for ways to build upon the legacy of the previous decade, the RSU has been a constant presence on campus, weathering the Reagan years, tough budgetary times, and dramatic changes in the political culture at the national and state levels. The RSU reached its peak during the 1980s with protests against American involvement in Central America, CIA recruitment on campus, American support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and government-funded weapons research, but in later years, the organization has continued to adapt, organizing against globalization, sweatshops, the Iraq War, and a host of other issues.
- Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- College students--Political activity
- El Salvador--History--1979-1992
- Iraq War, 2003-
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Persian Gulf War, 1991
- Political activists--Massachusetts--History
- Student movements
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- United States. Central Intelligence Agency
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Progressive Student Network
- Radical Student Union
- Revolutionary Student Brigade
Types of material
John P. Roche Collection, 1886-1965.
Call no.: RB 008
A political scientist, writer, and government consultant, John P. Roche was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 7, 1923, the son of a salesman. A liberal Social Democrat and fervent anti-Communist, Roche spent his academic career at Haverford College and Brandeis and Tufts Universities, writing extensively on American foreign policy, constitutional law, and the history of political thought in America, and maintaining a strong interest in the history of the American left. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he served as an adviser to the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.
The Roche Collection consists of over 300 publications pertaining to the political left in the United States, with a smaller number of works from the radical right and from European Socialists and Communists. Concentrated in the years spanning the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the McCarthy hearings, many of the works were produced by formal political parties in response to particular political campaigns, current events, or social issues, with other works geared primarily toward consciousness raising and general political education on trade unionism, fascism, war and peace, American foreign policy, and freedom of speech and the press.
- United States--Foreign policy--20th century
- World War, 1939-1945
- Coughlin, Charles E. (Charles Edward), 1891-1979
- Roche, John P.
Laura M. Ross Papers, 1945-2003 (Bulk: 1967-1990).
13 boxes (6.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 515
Born in the coal mining town of Blossburg, Pa., in 1913, Laura Ross (nee Kaplowitz) grew up in poverty as one of seven children of Lithuanian immigrants. In about 1932, Ross married Harry Naddell, a wine merchant, and settled into a comfortable life Brooklyn, N.Y., raising a son and daughter. During the Second World War, however, she became intensely politicized through her work with Russian War Relief, joining the Communist Party and eventually divorcing her les radical husband. Moving to the Boston area, she married Max Ross in 1963, an attorney for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and became a noted presence in a wide range of political activities, working for civil rights, the antiwar movement, and for many years, helping to run the Center for Marxist Education in Central Square , Cambridge. Perhaps most notably, between 1974 and 1984, Ross ran for Congress three times on the Communist Party ticket, taking on the powerful incumbent Tip O’Neill and winning almost a quarter of the vote. An activist to the end, Ross died in Cambridge on August 5, 2007.
The Ross papers are the legacy of a highly visible activist, organizer, educator, and member of the Communist Party USA. Heavily concentrated in the period 1967-1990, the collection includes material relating to her affiliation with CPUSA and her work with the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Mass., including information on party membership, platforms, and conventions, minutes from various district committee meetings, material relating to the People’s Daily World, and course information and syllabi. Scattered throughout the collection are materials pertaining to contemporary political issues and elections, particularly the policies associated with Ronald Reagan. Ross was a vocal and persistent opponent of Reaganomics and the nuclear arms race that Reagan accelerated.
- Center for Marxist Education (Cambridge, Mass.)
- Communist Party of the United States of America
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- People’s Daily World
- United States--Politics and government--1981-1989
Roxbury Action Program Collection, 1944-1975 (Bulk: 1966-1974).
2 boxes (1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 765
The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.
Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.
- African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
- Black Panther Party
- Black power
- Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
- Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History
Types of material
Science for the People Records, ca.1969-2014.
10 boxes (6.35 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 859
At the height of the antiwar struggle in the late 1960s, a group of scientists and engineers based in Cambridge, Mass., began to turn a critical eye on the role of their fields in the larger political culture. Calling themselves Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action (SESPA), the group took the slogan “Science for the People,” which in turn became the name of their organization. With a collective membership that spread nation-wide, Science for the People was a voice for racial science and an active presence framing several of the scientific debates of the day. Through its vigorous publications, SftP explored issues ranging from the impact of military and corporate control of research to scientific rationalziation of racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality; and they contributed to the discussions of recombinant DNA, sociobiology, IQ and biological determinism, women’s health care, nuclear power, and the rise of biotechnology. Many members were engaged in supporting anti-imperialist resistance in Central America and Asia during the 1980s. The organization gradually waned in the 1980s and published the last issue of its magazine in 1989.
Donated by several members of the organization, the Science for the People collection provides a window into the organization and operation of a collective devoted to radical science. In addition to meeting minutes and notes, and some correspondence, the collection includes a nearly complete run of the Science for the People magazine, and a substantial representation of the national and Nicaragua newsletters and topical publications.
- Science--Social aspects
- Technology--Social aspects
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Blake Slonecker Collection, 2008.
4 items (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 795
An historian of twentieth century social movements, Blake Slonecker received his doctorate at the University of North Carolina in 2009 and joined the history faculty at Waldorf College soon thereafter. In a dissertation examining the utopian impulses of the New Left (published in 2012 as A new dawn for the New Left: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the long sixties), Slonecker explored how the political and cultural activism of the 1960s helped reshape American political culture in the decade following.
In June 2008, Slonecker conducted oral historical interviews with four individuals who were part of the extended community centered on the Montague Farm and Packer Corners communes during the late 1960s: Tom Fels, Charles Light, Sam Lovejoy, and Richard Wizansky. In wide-ranging interviews, the former communards discuss topics ranging from the fraught politics of the era, political and cultural activism, gender roles and sexuality, and daily life on the communes.
- Amherst College
- Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
- Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
- Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
- Clamshell Alliance
- Green Mountain Post Films
- Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
- Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
- Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
- Musicians United for Safe Energy
- Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
- Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
- Fels, Thomas Weston
- Light, Charles
- Lovejoy, Sam
- Wizansky, Richard
Types of material
- Oral histories (document genres)
Arvo A. Solander Papers, 1930-1958.
8 boxes (4 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 587
Graduating from Harvard in the thick of the Great Depression, Arvo A. Solander worked as a civil and sanitary engineer for a variety of state and federal agencies, including the Civil Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the 1930s, as opportunity arose, he filled positions as a road engineer, in the design and construction of water and sewage plants, in pollution control, as a safety engineer in the shellfish industry, and in mosquito control, taking jobs throughout Massachusetts and as far away as Tennessee. After using his talents as an officer in the Sanitary Corps during the Second World War, based primarily in Arkansas, Solander returned home to Massachusetts and opened a private engineering office in South Hadley. He worked as a civil engineer and surveyor until his death in January 1976.
The Arvo Solander Papers consists of twenty-four bound volumes documenting thirty years of varied work as an engineer, including his contributions to the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. Within the bound volumes are a wide range of reports, typescripts, sketches and diagrams, graphs, contracts and design specifications, photographs, and postcards.
- Civil engineers
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
- Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)
- Roads--Design and construction
- Sanitary engineers
- Sewage disposal plants--Design and construction
- United States. Federal Civil Works Administration
- Westfield State Sanatorium
- World War, 1939-1945
- Wrentham State School
Types of material
Southeast Asia Collection, 1925-1986.
Call no.: MS 407
The Southeast Asia Collection highlights the regional wars from the 1970s to the 1980s, including a series on Southeast Asian refugees in America, along with materials on regional economic development, especially in the Mekong River Basin. The collection contains hundreds of reports on agricultural and industrial projects in the region, examining everything from the impact of electrification on village life in Thailand to a description of a Soviet-built hospital in Cambodia in 1961, to an assessment of herbicide in Vietnam in 1971.
Collected primarily by Joel Halpern and James Hafner, the collection includes background, field, and situation reports by U.S. Operations Missions and U.S. Agency for International Development; reports, publications, statistics, and background information from other U.S. government agencies, governments of Laos and Thailand, and the United Nations; correspondence, reports, and reference materials of nongovernmental organizations; reports and essays by individuals about Southeast Asia; news releases and newspapers; published and unpublished bibliographies; and interviews with U.S. military personnel. Most material comes from governmental and organizational sources, but there are papers by, and debriefs of, numerous individuals.
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975
- Hafner, James
- Halpern, Joel Martin
Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers, 1970-1987 (Bulk: 1945-1980).
24 boxes (33 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 881
As a student at Mount Hermon School in the late 1920s, Gifford Hoag Towle met Marjorie Ripley Blossom, a young woman at the Northfield School for Girls. When Giff went on to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (BS 1932) and Marjorie to a midwestern Bible College for a year (before being called home due to a family crisis), they remained connected and after Giff’s graduation in 1932, they married. By the time that Giff graduated from Hartford Seminary, he had left his Quaker upbringing to enter the Congregationalist ministry, and he and Marjorie filled three pulpits near Pelham, Mass. In 1939, however, they were called by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve as missionaries in the American Marathi Mission in Maharashtra State, central India. Following two years of intensive study of the Marathi language in Ahmednagar, they settled in Vadala, a rural village on the semi-arid plains, where they worked for thirty-four years, counting furloughs. In 1946 on furlough in the U.S., Giff earned a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Cornell while pastoring a small church in the suburbs of Ithaca. In his agricultural work in India, Giff used the mission farm to demonstrate crop diversity and farm animal improvement; created co-operatives to enable poor farmers to use appropriate modern tools and machinery for pennies; taught good irrigation and soil conservation; and later built a Mechanical Unit and trained local Indians as mechanics to repair machinery and drill wells. Giff also invented a pump for which he never filed a patent, wanting instead to make it as widely available as possible. He built networks with relatives, churches, and non-profits to fund these efforts and get supplies.
The Towle Collection contains a wealth of information for research in three distinct areas: missions and religious matters; agriculture in “developing” countries; and the cultural and socio-economic context of social change in rural India. The Towles’ voluminous correspondence and reports offer a particularly rich view into mission life in India, including American participation through churches, relations between Hindus and Christians or between Christians, and the viability of these efforts. Marjorie’s letters are particularly vivid, adding significantly to our understanding of mission lives and experiences. The collection is equally rich in revealing the impact of the Towles’ agricultural work and for study of the efficacy of government agencies and non-profits seeking to understand cross-cultural issues.
- India--Description and travel
- Maharasthra (India)--Economic conditions
- Towle, Marjorie Blossom, 1907-1994
Types of material
Traprock Peace Center Records, 1979-2008.
ca.50 boxes (75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 080
The Traprock Peace Center is a grassroots organization based in Deerfield, Massachusetts, that trains and educates people locally and globally in matters relating to disarmament and nonviolence. In 1980, the Center organized the first successful attempt in the United States to get a nuclear weapons moratorium referendum on the ballot, and the Center has served as a focal point for organizing on a wide array of issues in peace and social and environmental justice.
The records of Traprock Peace Center include correspondence, campaign materials (resolutions, organizing committee records, legislative packets), program reports, newsletters, newsclippings, and posters relating to the nuclear freeze campaign and many subsequent initiatives. Recent additions to the collection document the group’s work to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; these later additions are open for research, but are not processed.
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Deerfield (Mass.)--Social conditions--Sources
- Nuclear disarmament--History--Sources
- Political activists--Massachusetts