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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:

Social Change Collection

Social Change Collection, 1953-1980
4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 457

Miscellaneous manuscripts and documents relating to the history and experience of social change in America. Among other things, the collection includes material relating to the peace and antiwar movements during the 1960s, the conflict in Vietnam, and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

Subjects
  • Anti-imperialist movements
  • Peace movements
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts

Stern, Robert, 1934-

Robert Stern Collection, 1975-1981
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 024
Robert Stern Collection image
Robert Stern

The composer Robert Stern was Professor of Theory and Composition in the Department of Music at UMass Amherst from 1964 until his retirement in 2006. A native of Paterson, N.J., Stern studied at the University of Rochester and the Eastman School of Music before arriving in Amherst. Noted for his use of Jewish themes and subjects, he has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.

The Stern collection includes six reel to reel audiotapes of performances of Stern’s work at UMass Amherst. These include music of Blood and Milk Songs (1975), music of Burrill Phillips (1975), the New Music Ensemble (1976), and the Pro Musica Moderna concerts (1979, 1980, and 1981).

Subjects
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance
Types of material
  • Audiotapes

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

Stuart, Alastair M.

Alastair M. Stuart papers, ca.1960-2004
9 boxes (12.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 147

A leading researcher on communication and social behavior in termites, Alastair MacDonald Stuart (1931-2009) was born in Glasgow, Scotland in Jan. 4, 1931. After study at Glasgow University and the University of Auckland, he entered Harvard to study entomology under E.O. Wilson, completing his dissertation, Experimental Studies on Communication in Termites, in 1960. Among the early students of the role of pheromones in termite communication, Stuart held appointments at North Carolina State and Chicago before joining the faculty of the Department of Biology in 1970, where he remained until his retirement in 2004.

The Stuart Papers document the career of the entomologist, Alastair Stuart, from his days as a graduate student at Harvard through his long tenure at UMass Amherst. The collection includes a full range of correspondence, manuscripts, and research notes, with some documentation of his teaching responsibilities.

Subjects
  • Entomology
  • Termites--Behavior
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Biology Department
Contributors
  • Stuart, Alastair M.
Types of material
  • Laboratory notes
  • Photographs

Sufi Order International

Abode of the Message Collection, 1975-2012
1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 780

Founded in 1975 by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, The Abode of the Message is the headquarters for members of the Sufi Order International. Sitting on 430 acres, formerly the site of a Shaker Village in New Lebanon, New York, the Abode was settled by 75 adults and 20 children coming from all over the United States. The Sufi Order initiates spent the first several months preparing for the arrival of winter, a task that required much effort since buildings were in need of repair, there was no central heating system or updated electrical wiring, and few bathrooms. Within a year, the community prospered with the establishment of woodworking, stained glass, and sewing shops, a bakery, and a small school. Today, the community is smaller in number, but their mission remains the same: to collectively embody spiritual awakening.

The collection consists chiefly of publications produced by the Abode, including two newsletters Connections and The Messenger dating from the 1970s to the present. Also represented are other Sufi Order publications, such as Heart & Wing and Mureed’s Newsletter.

Subjects
  • Sufi Order International

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-

Taylor, Brainerd, 1877-

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.

Subjects
  • France--Description and travel
  • Germany--Description and travel
  • World War, 1914-1918
Contributors
  • Taylor, Brainerd, 1877-
  • Taylor, Helen M.
  • Taylor, James Brainerd
  • Taylor, Vesta R.

Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921

John Thomson Photograph Collection, 1863
8 items (0.2 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 002
John Thomson Photograph Collection image
Caledonia Sugar Mill

The Scotsman John Thomson is considered one of the fathers of social documentary photography and a pioneer in the photography of southeast Asia. Between 1861 and 1872, he traveled extensively in Asia, documenting the scenery and people of modern day Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and China.

The collection includes eight albumen prints from wet-plate collodion negatives taken early in Thomson’s photographic career. The images of Penang, Malaysia, are all signed by John Thomson, with five dated November 1863. Subjects include Malay people, a native infantry regiment, sugar mill, temple, and Thomson’s widely reproduced image of tree ferns.

Subjects
  • George Town (Pinang)--Photographs
  • Kedah--Photographs
  • Malaysia--Photographs
Contributors
  • Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921
Types of material
  • Albumen prints
  • Photographs
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