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Agnes Smedley Photograph Collection, Undated

1 flat box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 053

With an international reputation for being active on behalf of numerous issues, Agnes Smedley is most often associated with women’s rights, birth control, Indian independence, and China’s Communist revolution.

These black and white mounted prints, many taken by Agnes Smedley with her captions and accompanying narratives, were reproduced from the Smedley Collection at Arizona State University. Most are of China, but the collection also include scenes of the American West and students at the Tempe Normal School. The images were assembled for exhibition, most likely by the Women’s Studies Program at UMass Amherst.

Subjects
  • China--Photographs
  • Tempe Normal School--Photographs
Contributors
  • Smedley, Agnes
Types of material
  • Photographs
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:

Student holding academic gown adorned with Black Power symbol, 1970
Barn

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).

Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006

14 boxes (21 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 306
Social Change Periodicals Collection image
Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980

Assembled to bring together short and broken runs of periodicals produced by activists and movements for social justice, the Social Change Periodicals Collection touches on a wide variety of topics. Much of the original collection came from subscriptions held by the Everywoman’s Center at UMass Amherst, however the collection has grown to include materials supplied by many other donors. The bulk of periodicals come from the period 1965-1990 and the subjects covered range from feminism to gay rights, and political radicalism, to peace, prison, labor, antiracism, and the counterculture more generally. The collection has been organized thematically into 19 series.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Suffrage--Periodicals
  • Central America--Politics and government--Periodicals
  • Disarmament--Periodicals
  • Feminism--Periodicals
  • Gay liberation movement--Periodicals
  • Labor--United States--Periodicals
  • Lesbians--Periodicals
  • Nonviolence--Periodicals
  • Peace--Periodicals
  • Prisons--United States--Periodicals
  • Radicalism--United States--Periodicals
  • Socialism--Periodical
  • Women--Periodical
Types of material
  • Periodicals

Otto Stein Papers, 1969-1991

7 boxes (10 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 113

The research interests of Professor of Botany Otto Stein lay primary in the morphogenesis of higher plants, the effects of chemicals on cell deformation, and the development of apical meristems. After receiving his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1954, Stein accepted a position at the University of Missouri, before coming to UMass in 1964, eventually becoming chair of the department. He left Amherst briefly to pursue a NATO Senior Research Fellowship at Imperial College in London, England (1971-1972), and remained active in the field until his retirement in 1990.

The bulk of the Stein collection is comprised of lecture notes on plant anatomy and reprints of Stein’s articles.

Subjects
  • Plant anatomy--Study and teaching
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Botany Department
Contributors
  • Stein, Otto

Arthur I. Stern Papers, 1963-1997

4 boxes (6 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 143

Noted for his research in photosynthesis and the redox activity associated with the plasma membrane of plant cells, the plant physiologist Arthur I. Stern served in the Botany and Biology Departments at UMass Amherst for over thirty years. Receiving his doctorate at Brandeis University for a dissertation under Jerome A. Schiff on chloroplast development in Euglena (1962), Stern spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the NIH before joining the Botany faculty at UMass. Teaching courses in plant metabolism, he continued his research on chloroplasts and photosynthesis in Euglena and Phaseolus, among other topics. In 1982, Stern helped develop the biology track for the Honors Program and new Commonwealth College. Stern transferred to the Biology Department in 1988 and retired in December 1997.

The Stern Papers contain a range of materials documenting Stern’s research on photosynethsis, particularly in Euglena, notes for research and teaching, and a small assortment of professional correspondence. Also of note are some reminiscences contributed by Stern following Jerome Schiff’s death in 1995.

Subjects
  • Euglena
  • Photosynthesis
  • Schiff, Jerome A
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Biology Department
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Botany Department
Contributors
  • Stern, Arthur I

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

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

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.

Curtis B. Thorne Papers, ca.1976-1989

2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 153

Before joining the faculty of the microbial genetics department at UMass Amherst in 1966, Curtis B. Thorne worked as the branch chief at the biolabs in Fort Detrick from 1948-1961 and 1963-1966 where his research focused on Bacillus anthracis, the microbe that causes anthrax. During his tenure at UMass, Curtis applied for and received numerous grants for his continued research on the bacterium, including funding from the U.S. Department of Defense. While his research was centered on the genetics and physiology of the anthrax bacillus, with an emphasis on developing a vaccine, it garnered the unwanted attention of local peace activists in 1989. Protestors, who feared Thorne’s research was linked to germ warfare, picketed outside of his laboratory and demanded that the university reject Pentagon funding. Even though the university and the town of Amherst refused to limit Thorne’s research, he decided not to seek an extension of his contract with the Army in 1990, a decision he regretted having to make. Four years later, Thorne retired from UMass and was honored by his former students with a symposium and dinner. Thorne died in 1988 at the age of 86.

Thorne’s papers consist of lab notebooks and materials relating to the classes he taught at UMass Amherst. Many of the notebooks are related to his research on Bacillus anthracis as well as other microbes including Bacills thuringiensis. His papers do not contain any information related to the funding of his research or the controversy that later surrounded it.

Subjects
  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Biological weapons
  • Geneticists--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Microbiology
Contributors
  • Thorne, Curtis B
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