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Social change

Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

Anti-war sit-in, Whitmore Hall, ca.1971

Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.

Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.

View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).

 

Significant collecting areas

  • Antinuclear movement
    • New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
  • Antiracism and civil rights
    • The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
  • Community organizations and charities
    • SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
  • Environmentalism
    • Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the history of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
  • Intentional Communities
    • Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
  • Labor activism
  • Peace Collections
    • Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
  • Political activism
    • As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
  • Social Justice
    • Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.

Learn more:

Stanze Monument Company

Stanze Monument Company Records, ca. 1921-1970
7 boxes, 13 drawers
Call no.: MS 734
Stanze Monument Company Records image
Stanze Monument Co. drawing

Established in 1921 in St. Louis Missouri, the Stanze Monument Company was family-owned and operated until it was sold in the mid-1980s. The company custom-cut gravestones for more than sixty years and was one of the last monument companies to cut gravestones by hand.

The collection consists of gravestone, monument, and mausoleum technical and architectural drawings. Most of the tracings and drawings of headstone patterns were used to make glass molds for sand-blasting granite headstones, while the rubbings represent reproductions of designs and font sizes and styles. Some of the architectural drawings depict conceptual plans for a typical forty-acre cemetery. The drawings were transferred from the Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum in Illinois; a small portion of the materials were identified as being part of the “Gustafson Collection.”

Subjects
  • Sepulchral monuments--Design
Contributors
  • Stanze Monument Company
Types of material
  • Architectural drawings (Visual works)
  • Technical drawings

Stinson, Mary B.

Mary B. Stinson Collection, 1974-1981
2 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 824
Mary B. Stinson Collection image

Throughout the 1970s, Mary B. Stinson (formerly Lindblom) was an active member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in California and served as a delegate to the First National Women’s Conference in Houston.

The collection includes several ephemeral objects reflecting Stinson’s activism including IWY pendant necklaces and an ERA license plate frame, along with published reports and articles relating to the IWY and a 1979 NOW conference in California.

Subjects
  • Equal rights amendments
  • Feminism--United States
  • International Women's Year Conference
  • National Organization for Women
  • Women's rights--United States
Contributors
  • Stinson, Mary B.

Stokes, Daniel M. J.

Daniel M. J. and Joyce Stokes Papers, 1984-1996
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 661

From 1987 through early 1988, Daniel and Joyce Stokes published Into the Night, “a newsletter for freedom for political prisoners held in the United States.” Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this simply-produced publication offered updates and commentary on Americans imprisoned for politically-motivated acts. Reflecting both the legacy of 1960s radicalism and the resurgent activism associated with U.S. imperialism in Central America, Into the Night offered news on the Ohio 7 sedition trial, the MOVE organization, and the fate of Plowshares war resisters.

The Stokes collection contains correspondence from subscribers and supporters of Into the Night, fleshing out their political philosophy and the conditions of imprisonment. Drawn from groups including the MOVE organization, the United Freedom Front, Black Liberation Army, and Plowshares, the correspondents include Ramona Africa, Alberto Aranda, Philip Berrigan, Marilyn Buck, Carl Kabat, Ray Luc Levasseur, Ruchell Cinque Magee, and Carol Manning. The collection also includes copies of other radical publications and a complete run of Into the Night itself.

Subjects
  • African American prisoners
  • African American radicals
  • Anti-imperialist movements
  • Communists
  • Into the Night
  • MOVE (Group)
  • Ohio 7
  • Plowshares
  • Political prisoners
  • Prisoners
  • Radicals
  • Revolutionaries
  • United Freedom Front
Contributors
  • Africa, Ramona
  • Aranda, Alberto
  • Berrigan, Philip
  • Buck, Marilyn
  • Gelabert, Ana Lucia
  • Hernandez, Alvaro L
  • Kabat, Carl
  • Levasseur, Ray Luc
  • Magee, Ruchell Cinque
  • Stokes, Daniel M. J.
  • Stokes, Joyce
Types of material
  • Newsletters

Sutton, Gordon Francis, 1930-

Gordon Francis Sutton Papers, 1970-2004
56 boxes (84 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 111

Gordon Francis Sutton (1928-2012) began his tenure at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. Sutton was later appointed to serve as the Director of the Population and Ecology Studies Program. With an interest in social policy, Sutton’s work focused on evaluating statistical classification systems of metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. His dissertation on travel patterns in urban communities earned him a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 1959. In 1997 Sutton’s son Matthew created the Gordon and Dolores Sutton Scholarship Fund at UMass Amherst to promote ethnic diversity and economic opportunity.

The Sutton Papers contain a wealth of material relating to Sutton’s research in urban sociology, social statistics, and demography.

Subjects
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Sociology
Contributors
  • Sutton, Gordon Francis, 1930-

Thrasher, Sue

Sue Thrasher Poster Collection, ca.1975-2010
50 posters, 1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 861

The activist, writer, and educator, Sue Thrasher became involved in the civil rights movement while a student at Scarritt College in 1961. A native of rural West Tennessee, Thrasher was drawn to the local chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee shortly after arriving on campus, and in 1964, she helped found the Southern Students Organizing Committee, serving as its first executive director and taking part in the “white folks project” during Mississippi Summer. As a stalwart of the freedom movement and its historian, she joined the staff at the Highlander Center in 1978, helping to organize their archives and conducting oral histories. After more than twenty years of social activism in the South, Thrasher came to UMass Amherst to earn a doctorate in Educational Policy and Research, and from 1997 until her retirement in 2013, she worked as Partnership Coordinator at Five Colleges Incorporated, linking faculty with public school districts in western Massachusetts. Among her several works on the civil rights movement is the collaborative volume Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (2000).

A visual record of Sue Thrasher’s involvement in movements for social justice, the collection includes dozens of posters reflecting international liberation movements (Mozambique, Palestine, Central America), Cuba, the antiwar movement, campaigns for literacy in Nicaragua, the International Council on Adult Education (Chile and Bangladesh), and activities at the Highlander Center (benefit concerts by Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Sweet Honey in the Rock). The collection also includes two Nicaraguan masks collected by Thrasher.

Types of material
  • Masks
  • Posters

Thresholds to Life

Thresholds to Life Records, 1983-1986
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 156

Thresholds to Life is a training program for decision making, problem solving, and life planning taught by volunteers to prison inmates and offenders on probation in 30 locations in the United States. The records in this collection are those of the Thresholds program in Greenfield, Massachusetts, a United Way agency.

Subjects
  • Prisoners--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Thresholds to Life

Thurber, George, 1821-1890

Thurber-Woolson Botanical Manuscripts Collection, 1803-1918
4 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 065 bd

Largely self-educated, George Thurber (1821-1890) began a career as a pharmacist before signing on as botanist to the U.S. Boundary Commission from 1850-1854. After completing a masters degree at Brown University, he emerged as a important horticultural writer and editor of American Agriculturist from 1863 to 1885.

Letters, photographs, engravings, and clippings compiled primarily by George Thurber and bequeathed to George Clark Woolson (MAC class of 1871) who added to it and donated it as a memorial to his class, the first to graduate from the College. The collection includes 993 letters written by 336 correspondents, and 35 photographs and engravings, primarily botanists and other scientists, including Asa Gray, Louis Agassiz, John Torrey, Frederick Law Olmsted, John James Audubon, Henry Ward Beecher, Jefferson Davis, Edward Payson Roe, Donald G. Mitchell, and George Brown Goode.

Subjects
  • Botany--History
  • Horticulture--History
Contributors
  • Thurber, George, 1821-1890
  • Woolson, George Clark
Types of material
  • Photographs

Tippo, Oswald

Oswald Tippo Papers, ca.1930-1990
20 boxes (30 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 106
Oswald Tippo Papers image
Oswald Tippo

A 1932 graduate of Massachusetts State College (later University of Massachusetts Amherst), Oswald Tippo earned his doctorate in botany from Harvard in 1937. A respected plant anatomist, Tippo’s career was divided relatively evenly between the laboratory and higher administrative offices. Joining the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1937, he was eventually tabbed to become Dean of the Graduate School. After moving to Yale as Eaton Professor of Botany (1955-1960), he served as Provost at the University of Colorado and Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences at New York University (1963), before returning to UMass Amherst in 1964. As Provost under President John W. Lederle, Tippo oversaw a period of rapid expansion at the University, and in 1970, he was appointed as the first Chancellor of the Amherst campus. One year later, he was named Commonwealth Professor of Botany, remaining in that position until his retirement in June 1982. After his retirement, Tippo was often seen “holding court” at his regular table at the University Club. He remained in Amherst with his wife Emmie until his death in 1999.

The Tippo Papers are a robust collection of professional and administrative correspondence, speeches, research notes, notes from Tippo’s student years, photographs, and several of his publications. The collection documents Tippo’s unique relationship with UMass as both Provost and Chancellor as well as his tenure as a Professor of Botany.

Subjects
  • Botany
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Alumni and alumnae
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Botany Department
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Chancellor
Contributors
  • Tippo, Oswald

Toppan, C. S.

C.S. Toppan Account Book, 1845-1861
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 084

A wealthy merchant from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Includes details of his ventures in ship owning and his investments in manufacturing companies and real estate. Also contains total assets of his “property in possession” as of January 1845, and lists of debtors, including men, women, businesses, religious groups, and political groups.

Subjects
  • Debtor and creditor--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--History--19th century
  • Inventories of decedents' estates--New Hampshire--Portsmouth
  • Merchants--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Portsmouth (N.H.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Shipowners--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Toppan, C. S. (Christopher S.)--Estate
Contributors
  • Toppan, C. S. (Christopher S.)
Types of material
  • Account books
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