John Olver Papers, ca.1990-2012.
57 boxes (85.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 748
John Olver served as representive from the 1st Congressional District in Massachusetts for over two decades. Born in Honesdale, Pa., on Sept. 3, 1936, Olver began an academic career at UMass Amherst shortly after earning his doctorate in chemistry at MIT in 1961. In 1969, however, he resigned his position to pursue a career in politics. Winning election to the Massachusetts House in 1969 as a Democratic representative from Hampshire County, Olver went on to the state Senate in 1973, and finally to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991, where he followed 17-term Republican Congessman Silvio O. Conte. Olver was a progressive voice for a district stretching from the Berkshire Hills through northern Worcester and Middlesex Counties, enjoying consistently strong support from his constituents for his support for issues ranging from national health care to immigration reform, regional economic development, human rights, and opposition to the wars in Iraq. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he held seats on the Appropriations Committee and subcommittees on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, Energy and Water Development, and Homeland Security. With the redistricting process in Massachusetts in 2011, Olver announced that he would not seek reelection in 2012.
The Olver papers contain thorough documentation of the congressman’s career in Washington, including records of his policy positions, committee work, communications with the public, and the initiatives he supported in transportation, economic development, the environment, energy policy, and human rights. Material in the collection was drawn from each of Olver’s three district offices (Holyoke, Pittsfield, and Fitchburg), as well his central office in Washington.
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- United States--Politics and government--1989-
- United States--Politics and government--2001-2009
- United States. Congress. House
Peacemakers Records, 1983-1990.
10 boxes (20 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 309
Established in the early 1980s, the UMass Peacemakers brought together students on the Amherst campus who were advocates for peace, in particular nuclear disarmament. Through education combined with action, such as rallies and civil disobedience, the Peacemakers hoped to build a community of people aware if their own ability to reverse the arms race and to decrease militarism in society and education.
- Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
Cynthia Shepard Perry Papers, 1946-2010.
7 boxes (10.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 842
An educator, diplomat, and expert on Africa, Cynthia Shepard Perry was the first recipient of a PhD from of the Program in International Education at UMass Amherst (1972). Born in Burnett, Indiana, in 1928, Perry was raising a family when she set a twenty-five year goal of earning doctorate and entering international service. One year after earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University in 1967, she arranged for her first trip to Africa, leading a secretarial training project at the University of Nairobi, and over succeeding decades, her connections to the continent deepened dramatically. On faculty at Texas Southern University (1971-1982), Perry served as Associate Director of the university’s Peace Corps Program, which resulted in her leading educational projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya. In demand for the expertise she had gained, she worked as a consultant to the US Information Service in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia and as Staff Development Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Having become a full professor and Dean of International Affairs, she left TSU in 1982 to take her first diplomatic post as an officer of the Africa Bureau of the US Agency for International Development, followed by successive appointments as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1986-1989) and Burundi (1989-1993), as Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, and finally an appointment as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank (1996-2001). Although officially retired, Perry remains active in supporting education and development in Africa from her home in Houston. Among many other awards she has received, Perry was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from UMass for her international work and was recognized by the Salute to Service Award.
A record of a life in international service in Africa, the Perry papers includes materials from Perry’s time as head of the African Development Bank and her two ambassadorial appointments, including speeches, some correspondence, and a handful of publications. The collection also includes a series of awards and plaques, some family photographs, and memorabilia.
- Africa--Foreign relations--United States
- Sierra Leone--United States
- United States--Foreign relations--Africa
Types of material
Robert and Martha Perske Papers, 1964-2005.
13 boxes (19.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 772
While serving with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II, the teenaged Bob Perske became aware of the vulnerable and disabled in society and turned his life toward advocacy on their behalf. Studying for the ministry after returning to civilian life, Perske was appointed chaplain at the Kansas Neurological Institute, serving children with intellectual disabilities for 11 years, after which he became a full-time street, court, and prison worker — a citizen advocate — laboring in the cause of deinstitutionalization and civil rights of persons with disabilities, particularly those caught in the legal system. After Bob married his wife Martha in 1971, the two became partners in work, with Martha often illustrating Bob’s numerous books and articles. In 2002, Perske was recognized by the American Bar Association as the only non-lawyer to ever receive the Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities.
The Perske Papers contains a fifty year record of published and unpublished writings by Bob Perske on issues surrounding persons with disabilities, along with correspondence, photographs, and other materials relating to the Perskes’ activism. The correspondence includes a particularly rich set of letters with a fellow advocate for persons with disabilities, Robert R. Williams.
- Mental retardation--Social aspects
- People with disabilities--Deinstitutionalization
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
- Perske, Martha
- Williams, Robert R.
Types of material
Yann de Pierrefeu Diaries, 1927-1938.
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 815
Marie Alphonse Leopold Jehan Tudor Dedons “Yann” de Pierrefeu was born in 1905, the eldest of four children born into a distinguished family and heir to a French marquisate. After attending the Groton School and Harvard, Pierrefeu settled in Cape Ann, marrying Ellen Hemenway Taintor in 1930.
A dedicated, if idiosyncratic diarist, Pierrefeu left a large number of dense and often impenetrable volumes that can be part dream book, part imagination, and part quixotic engagement with the turbulent events of the 1930s. Laden with references to the Oz novels and replete with nicknames and apparently coded language, the diaries offer glimpses into Pierrefeu’s social life and marriage, and his reactions to the Great Depression, national politics, history, and the growing crises in Europe and Asia.
- Pierrefeu, Ellen Taintor
Types of material
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
Phyllis Rodin Papers, 1950-2014.
ca.50 boxes (75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 894
Born into a Jewish Lithuanian family in Williamsburg., N.Y., on May 10, 1914, Phyllis Rodin was drawn to the struggle for peace and social justice from early in life. Her widowed mother set an example as an antiwar activist and advocate for women’s rights, and after marrying at age 18, Phyllis and her husband ran a dairy farm that they reorganized on cooperative principles in the 1930s. A watershed in her life came after witnessing the suffering of war first hand while engaged as a psychiatric aid worker for the Red Cross during the Second World War. From that point, Rodin was an unrelenting activist for peace, traveling internationally and remaining vocal through the McCarthy era and Vietnam War and diving headlong into the second wave of the feminist movement. Returning to school late in life, she completed an undergraduate degree at Wisconsin before moving to Amherst in 1980 to study for a doctorate in Future Studies through the UMass Department of Education. Her activism barely skipped a beat as she worked closely with Quaker groups and stalwart activists such as her friend Frances Crowe to oppose nuclear weapons and violence in all forms. Rodin died in Amherst on Jan. 2015.
The Rodin Papers are the product of a long life of a woman devoted to the struggle for peace, feminism, and social justice. Richer in documenting Rodin’s latter decades and the philosophy of world peace she honed, the collection contains an abundance of correspondence, ephemera, and audiovisual materials related to international work in peacebuilding.
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
Seneca Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice Collection, 1979-1992.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 839
Concerned women in upstate New York joined together in the summer 1983 to form the Seneca Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, occupying a site near the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, N.Y., where nuclear weaponry was stored. Taking a radical stance against militarism, violence, and oppression and modeling their approach after the women’s encampment at Greenham Common in England, the Seneca Encampment drew participants from a large number of women’s peace groups. In 1994, the Encampment transitioned into the Women’s Peace Land, remaining an active center of resistance to militarism and nuclear power for several years.
Maintained by attorney Alaine T. Espenscheid, the collection consists primarily of legal records relating to the Seneca Encampament, including filings documenting health and saftey, sanitation, water, and finances and materials relating to the arrest of several women for civil disobedience in 1985. Also included is a folder of ephemera and clippings on the Encampment from local media.
- Antinuclear movements--New York (State)
- Peace movements--New York (State)
Wayne G. Sharpe Papers, 1943-1944.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 462
Wayne G. Sharpe was a secretary for Company A in the 1874th Engineers Aviation Battalion of the Army Air Corps and a middle-class family man from Belmont, Massachusetts. Enlisted in February of 1943 at the age of twenty-seven, Wayne left his wife and infant son for a year’s training at home before his Battalion was dispatched to New Guinea in late December. Flown to a hospital on the island in late April 1944, he returned to the United States in August.
The papers of Wayne G. Sharpe, Sr. are primarily made up of his letters and V-mails home during his training and service abroad, but also include his wife’s letters to him from April 1943-August 1944.
- Sharpe, Wayne G., 1915-1991