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Student holding academic gown adorned with Black Power symbol, 1970

Each fall, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives sponsors a colloquium focusing on a topic in social change. Like SCUA’s collections, these colloquia cover a broad terrain, touching on a variety of issues in social justice, equality, and democracy.

Colloquia are free and open to the public.

Colloquium 2015, (Friday, April 8, 2016)
Documenting Punk: Writing, preserving, watching and listening to the history of an American cultural movement
Documenting punk

April 8, 2016, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Room 163, UMass Campus Center

Punk, one of the last major youth sub-cultures during the pre-Internet era, was also a decentralized national and international community linked mostly by recordings, zines and the touring of bands. Individual scenes developed across the country in major urban areas, suburban communities and small towns. While each had its own personality and bands, they were linked by a shared distrust of establishment institutions and commercialized popular culture.

In recent years, punk archives have been established at academic repositories and as a result, scholars and the broader public have access to stories that have before only been shared within the punk community. Efforts have also been made to chronicle the history of the movement through the making of films, books and oral histories. The colloquium aims to open a conversation about the documentation of punk. The panel will explore questions including: How can the anti-establishment, anti-institutional, do-it-yourself ethos of punk be reconciled with the desire to collect, preserve and academically study the movement? How can the needs of community access be balanced with the demands of proper conservation? Can the ways scholars, archivists and librarians document a community be reconciled with the ways the movement documents itself?

Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Stewart Foley is the author of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and Front Porch Politics, The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s. Foley is a professor of American Political Culture and Political Theory at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is also a founding editor of The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture.

Event speakers also include Ramdasha Bikceem, Byron Coley, Lisa Darms, Michael T. Fournier, Deward MacLeod, Sara Marcus and Tanya Pearson. For full speaker bios, visit: www.punkhistory.org.

The colloquium is free and open to the public. RSVP at: http://bit.ly/punksignup The event is co-sponsored by the UMass Amherst Libraries, UMass Amherst Department of History, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and Social Thought & Political Economy (STPEC).

John Spragens Cambodian Photograph Collection, 1983

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 116

Washington based photojournalist John Spragens, Jr. lived in Asia for more than seven years. He spent a total of three years in Vietnam between 1966 and 1974, and traveled in several other countries in Southeast Asia., including Cambodia.

Spragens’ photographs document Cambodia under the rule of the Communist-Vietnamese dominated government that came to power in January 1979, after the defeat of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese army.


  • Cambodia--Photographs


  • Spragens, John

Types of material

  • Photographs

Mary B. Stinson Collection, 1974-1981

2 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 824

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.


  • Equal rights amendments
  • Feminism--United States
  • International Women's Year Conference
  • National Organization for Women
  • Women's rights--United States


  • Stinson, Mary B.

George Edward Stone Papers, 1890-1957

14 boxes (6.75 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 085

Professor of Botany, Massachusetts Agricultural College.

Correspondence, lecture notes, reports, notes on experiments, drawings depicting original apparatus, scrapbooks of printed botanical illustrations, student papers, genealogies, memorabilia, and photographs; together with papers reflecting administrative and official duties; correspondence, notes, and news clippings on psychic phenomena; and autobiographical notes, including reflections on Massachusetts Agricultural College and on Emily Dickinson.


  • Botany--Massachusetts
  • Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886
  • Horticulture--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Botany Department
  • Plant physiology--Massachusetts


  • Barlow, Waldo
  • Stone, George E. (George Edward), 1860-1941

Types of material

  • Herbaria
  • Photographs
Donations that hit the mark

Collection growth is the heart of any archive, and as an active, growing archive, SCUA welcomes donations of personal papers, organizational records, photographs, diaries and journals, books and pamphlets, and other materials relating to our major collecting interests. With the support of our friends and colleagues, SCUA has built substantial depth in documenting:

  • The history and experience of social change in America
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • The social, cultural, intellectual, and political history of New England
  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst, its faculty, staff, students, and alumni

SCUA offers secure, permanent housing for collections, excellent access for researchers, and a stimulating intellectual environment. Please help us preserve our history for the future.

For further information, please contact the Head of Special Collections.

Donate to the University Archives

Phyllis Louise Nelson
Phyllis Louise Nelson

The University Archives welcomes assistance in preserving the memory of UMass Amherst, our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. We document all aspects of the University and its unique intellectual climate and history, with a particular interest in:

  • Personal, professional, or family papers
  • Correspondence from students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni
  • Diaries, journals, or reminiscences
  • Memorabilia from UMass Amherst, Mass. Agricultural College, and Mass. State College
  • Histories of departments, centers, institutes, and programs
  • Syllabi, selected lectures, and lecture notes
  • Records of committees, university organizations, or events
  • Unique research materials, such as field notes
  • Photographs and artwork.

To discuss archiving your papers with the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, please contact the Head of Special Collections.

Learn more:

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.


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Sociology


  • Sutton, Gordon Francis, 1930-

Brainerd Taylor Family Papers, 1871-1964

3 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 733

A member of a distinguished family of New England educators and clergymen, Brainerd Taylor played an key role in assisting the U.S. Army takes its first steps into modern mechanized warfare. Born in Newtonville, Massachusetts, in 1877, Taylor entered Harvard with the class of 1899, but during the rush of enthusiasm accompanying the start of the Spanish American War, he left before completing his degree to join the military. Serving with the Coast Artillery for several years, he became the Chief Motor Transport Officer for the Advance Section of the Service of Supply for the American Expeditionary Force during the First World War, earning promotion to Colonel, a Distinguished Service Medal, and the Legion of Honor from France for his efforts. Taylor married twice, first to Vesta Richardson, who died in 1919, and then to Helen Cady. Taylor died in 1955.

The Taylor family collection contains over 1,000 letters documenting the military career and personal life of Brainerd Taylor, with particularly thick coverage of the period of the First World War when he was stationed in France, building the Motor Transport Corps virtually from scratch. These letters are exceptionally well written and rich in description, both about his duties and his travels in France and Germany. The collection also includes Taylor’s extensive correspondence to his father, James Brainerd Taylor (1845-1929), and correspondence relating to Taylor’s wives, children, and grandchildren.


  • France--Description and travel
  • Germany--Description and travel
  • World War, 1914-1918


  • Taylor, Brainerd, 1877-
  • Taylor, Helen M.
  • Taylor, James Brainerd
  • Taylor, Vesta R.

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 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.


  • Prisoners--Massachusetts


  • Thresholds to Life

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.


  • Botany--History
  • Horticulture--History


  • Thurber, George, 1821-1890
  • Woolson, George Clark

Types of material

  • Photographs
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