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
Phileman L. Tyler Daybooks, 1841-1852.
2 vols. (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 236 bd
The shoemaker, Philemon L. Tyler, was born in Massachusetts in 1812. He and his wife Tersilla, also a native of Massachusetts, settled in New York some time before the birth of their first child in 1838. By 1850, after at least a decade in the village of Springville in the agricultural town of Concord, New York, Tyler had three children, and real estate valued at $4,400.
Daybooks include a record of the prices of boots and shoes, and the method and form of payment (rarely cash, sometimes labor, but often apples, potatoes, chicken, wheat, mutton, pork, beef, hay, and other farm products such as cow hides and calf skins).
- Barter--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
- Boots--Prices--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
- Debtor and creditor--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
- Erie County (N.Y.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Erie County (N.Y.)--Rural conditions--19th century
- Hides and skins--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
- Shoemakers--New York--Erie County--Economic conditions--19th century
- Shoes--Prices--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
- Springville (Erie County, N.Y.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Springville (Erie County, N.Y.)--Rural conditions--19th century
- Tyler, Phileman L., 1812-
Types of material
University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Engineering, 1938-2007.
(17 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 014
As early as 1867, Massachusetts Agricultural College offered engineering courses in surveying and the construction of roads and bridges — practical skills that would be valuable to farmers. After the establishment of a separate Department of Agricultural Engineering in 1914, and merger with the Department of Mathematics and Civil Engineering in 1938, UMass began to offer broader education in engineering. The Division of Engineering was created in 1945 to coordinate the expected post-war expansion. Since 1985, the College of Engineering has been organized in four academic departments: Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
This record group documents the varied efforts to provide an applied technical education to students at UMass and its predecessors. In addition to the College’s annual reports and records of the Executive Council and Engineering Research Council; curriculum and program materials; reports and publications; the record group includes materials from the first four deans of the College of Engineering.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Engineering
University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment, 1882-2007.
(53.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 015
During its first seventy five years, the mission of Massachusetts Agricultural College gradually expanded from its original focus on teaching the science of agriculture and horticulture. Coping with the changing demands of research and teaching in a disparate array of fields, responsibilities for the administration of University units were reorganized at several points, culminating in the formation of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment in 1993.
This record group consists of Dean’s annual reports, organizational charts, personnel lists, committee minutes, lecture materials, data sheets, maps and census statistics, conference proceedings, course catalogs, directories, publications, handbooks, records of the Agricultural Experiment Station, photographs and audio-visual materials, and other related materials.
Access restrictions: Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require advance notification for retrieval.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Agricultural Experiment Station
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Stockbridge School of Agriculture
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Public Affairs, 1866-2007.
(73.75 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 005
Public relations efforts at UMass have shifted over the years from an early emphasis on education in agriculture and home economics to contemporary efforts to manage the torrent of information generated by a research university. The first news editor at UMass was not appointed until 1948, and as late as 1961, the entire central Public Relations staff consisted only of a news and publications editor, although the College of Agriculture hosted a separate staff of five. Since the 1960s, however, the public relations efforts have expanded as rapidly as the University as a whole. The position of Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Development was created in 1983, (called Vice Chancellor for University Advancement after 1993) to oversee public affairs, alumni relations, and development activities.
This record group consists of materials from the several offices concerned with the production of University publications and publicity. The records include press releases, brochures, guidebooks, newsclippings, newsletters, bulletins, weekly newspapers, semi-monthly feature publications, special publications and photographic negatives. Also included in this group are the following publications: Chancellor’s Monthly Press Briefings, Chancellor’s Annual Review of NewsClips, Commonwealth Research Reports, Campus Guidebooks, University Newsletter, Weekly Bulletin, Executive Bulletin, University Bulletin, brochures, Contact, UMass, Science Journal, University Notebook, Tips, News Summary, and the Commonwealth Journal.
- Public relations--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Office of Public Affairs
Valley Peace Center Records, 1965-1973.
28 boxes (13.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 301
In the summer of 1967, members of University of Massachusetts Amherst campus groups, such as the Faculty Group on War and Peace and the Students for Political Action, joined with individuals from other area colleges and from the community at large to form the Valley Peace Center of Amherst for the purposes of opposing the Vietnam War, providing draft counseling, eliciting pledges from the government to avoid first use of nuclear and biological weapons, and reduction of the power of the “military-industrial complex”. The Center was active for more than five and a half years, drawing its financial support largely from the community and its human resources from student and community volunteers.
Correspondence, minutes, volunteer and membership lists, financial records, newsletters, questionnaires, notes, petitions, clippings, posters, circulars, pamphlets, periodicals, other printed matter, and memorabilia. Includes material relating to alternative service, boycotts, war tax resistance, prison reform, environmental quality, and political candidates.
- Amherst (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
- Draft--United States--History
- Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Social movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)--History--20th century
- Valley Peace Center (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
Valley Women's History Collaborative Records, 1971-2008.
15 boxes (10 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 531
During the early phases of second wave feminism (1968-1978), the Pioneer Valley served as a center for lesbian and feminist activity in western Massachusetts, and was home to over 400 hundred, often ad hoc, groups, such as the Abortion and Birth Control (ABC) Committee, ISIS Women’s Center, the Mudpie Childcare Cooperative, and the Springfield Women’s Center.
The records of the Valley Women’s History Collaborative document the activities of these groups as well as the efforts of the founders of the Women Studies program and department at UMass Amherst to preserve this history. Of particular value are the many oral histories conducted by the collaborative that record the history of women’s activism in the Pioneer Valley, especially as it relates to reproductive rights.
- Abortion--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
- Birth control--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
- Feminism--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
- Feminists--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
- Mary Vazquez Women's Softball League
- Women--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
- Valley Women's History Collaborative
Types of material
Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995.
148 volumes, 1 box, (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 800
An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995. He survived until April 2012.
The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- Civil Rights movements--Africa
- Civil Rights movements--Central America
- Civil Rights movements--Chile
- Civil Rights movements--United States
- Civil Rights movements-Asia
- Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
- Latin America--Periodicals
- Radicalism--United States
- Revolutionary literature
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- Venceremos Brigade
William Gould Vinal Papers, 1931-1963.
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 138
William “Cap’n Bill” Vinal was the first instructor in nature education at Massachusetts State College and a pioneer in the field. A graduate of Bridgewater State (1904), Harvard (MA 1907) and Brown (PhD, 1922), Vinal worked for several years as a camp director on his native Cape Cod and held a variety of university appointments in nature education before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College as Professor of Nature Education in the Nature Guide School in 1937. Spontaneous in the classroom and field, enthusiastic, and highly popular with his students, Vinal taught courses in conservation, outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation, and nature guiding, and was an important figure in the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the American Camping Association, the Camp Directors Association, and several conservation groups. After retiring from UMass in 1951, Vinal returned to his home in Norwell, Mass., remaining active as a nature writer and teacher until his death in 1973.
A valuable glimpse into the early growth of nature and conservation education, the Vinal collection includes dozens of scarce publications by the exceptionally prolific Cap’n Bill, along with a small quantity of correspondence, talks, and reports. As a collection, these document the origin and growth of the Nature Guide School and the program in nature recreation at MSC and UMass, and more generally the growth of nature, recreation, and conservation education in New England. Of local interest is an extensive report for the town of Amherst Recreation Survey Committee (1948) regarding recreational opportunities for youth. Nearly half of the collection consists of an extensive run of Vinal’s quirky, self-published Nature Guide Newsletter (1935-1951).
- Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Conservation of natural resources--Study and teaching
- Nature Guide Newsletter
- Outdoor education--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nature Guide School
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Nature Recreation
- Vinal, William Gould, 1881-
Steve Lerner Papers, 1994-2011.
15 boxes (22.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 673
For decades, the writer Steve Lerner has been a significant contributor to public awareness of the issues surrounding environmental justice. Immersed in the environmental movement through his work as research director at Commonweal, a health and environment research institute founded with his brother Michael in 1976, Lerner earned wide recognition for his first book, Eco-Pioneers (1998), about “practical visionaries” who developed pragmatic solutions to environmental problems. In two subsequent books, Lerner turned to an examination of the impact of environmental toxins and industrial pollutants on low-income communities and people of color and the rise of grassroots opposition within those communities. In Diamond (2006), Lerner explored the impact of a Shell Chemical plant in Louisiana as a microcosm of the broader environmental-justice movement, and more recently, Sacrifice Zones (2010) traced the organization and resistance against industrial and chemical pollutants in a dozen communities in the eastern United States. In 2007, Lerner left his position at Commonweal, but continues his research and writing on environmental issues.
The research notes, interviews, photographs and other documentation comprising the Lerner collection form the basis for Lerner’s three major books.
- Environmental justice
Types of material