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Chalfen family

Chalfen Family Papers

ca.1890-2011
51 boxes 76.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 770

Born into a Jewish family in Khotyn, Bessarabia (now Ukraine), in 1888, Benjamin Chalfen emigrated to United States as a young man, arriving in New York City in 1910 before making his way to Boston. Taking work as a clerk with the Roxbury Crossing Steamship Agency, he married a fellow Russian immigrant, Annie Berg in 1914 and, after their divorce a few years later, married a second time. Benjamin and Annie’s son, Melvin (1918-2007), studied Forestry at Massachusetts State College (BA 1940) and Yale (MF 1942) before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in Aug. 1942. Moved to active duty in 1943 as a communications specialist, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. After he returned home, Mel met and married a recent Smith College graduate, Judith Resnick (1925-2011), with whom he raised three sons. The couple settled into a comfortable life in the Boston suburbs, where Mel carved out a successful career as a home inspector and educator while Judith became well known as a supporter of the arts and as one of the founders of Action For Children’s Television (1968), an important force in promoting quality television programing for children.

A massive archive documenting three generations of a Jewish family from Boston, the Chalfen family papers contain a rich body of photographs and letters, centered largely on the lives of Melvin and Judith Chalfen. The Chalfens were prolific correspondents and the collection includes hundreds of letters written home while Mal and Judy were in college and while Mel was serving in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War — most of these in Yiddish. The thousands of photographs cover a broader span of family history, beginning prior to emigration from Bessarabia into the 1960s. Among many other items of note are rough drafts of a New Deal sociological study of juvenile delinquency and the impact of boys’ clubs in the late 1930s prepared by Abraham Resnick (a Socialist community organizer and Judith’s father); materials from the progressive Everyman’s Theater (early 1960s); and nearly three feet of material documenting Judy Chalfen’s work with Action for Children’s Television.

Gift of the Chalfen family, 2011.
Language(s): Yiddish

Subjects

  • Action for Children's Television
  • Jews--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Massachusetts State College--Students
  • Smith College--Students
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Chalfen, Benjamin
  • Chalfen, Judith, 1925-2011
  • Chalfen, Melvin H. (Melvin Howard), 1918-2007

Types of material

  • Photographs
Citizens Awareness Network

Citizens Awareness Network Records

ca.1992-2005
58 boxes 87 linear feet
Call no.: MS 437

In 1992 after lightening struck the Yankee Rowe reactor in western Massachusetts, concerned citizens organized with the goal of educating themselves and their communities about the potential dangers of nuclear energy. Citizens Awareness Network (CAN) worked to reveal the hidden costs of nuclear power on the health and safety of communites surrounding a reactor, and as a result of their efforts Yankee Rowe was pressured into closing down in 1993. When CAN learned that much of the nuclear waste removed from the site was shipped to a town in South Carolina, the group was outraged that the waste which hurt their community would now be imposed on another community. Once again they were moved into action, this time transforming from a small local group into a regional group with multiple chapters. Today, with seven chapters in five states, CAN continues to uncover the hazards of nuclear energy, proposing instead the use of clean energy produced locally.

This large collection documents every facet of the group, and includes publications, financial records, research files, correspondence, and realia such as t-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons.

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Antinuclear movement--United States
  • Nuclear energy--Law and legislation--New England
  • Nuclear energy--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Citizens Awareness Network
Clapp, Lyman

Lyman Clapp Diary

1825 August 8-25
1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 709 bd

When Lyman Clapp and Lucia Cowls agreed to marry in 1825, they took a celebratory tour of western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. Over nine days, they traveled from Mt. Pleasant, Mass. (possibly in Worcester County) through Brimfield to Stafford, Tolland, Vernon, Hartford, and Litchfield, Connecticut, before returning home by way of Springfield and Northampton. The Clapp’s party consisted of the engaged couple chaperoned by Lucia’s parents, and they were joined by a relative, Edward, near Hartford.

Filled with interesting vignettes of travel in western New England during the 1820s, Clapp’s diary includes fine descriptions of the various taverns and inns they visited en route and the range of natural and cultural sites, from rolling hills to modern milling technology. Among other sights that caught Clapp’s eye were the the Charter Oak, a hermit living in the hills near Avon, the Walcott Factories at Torrington, Northampton, and the extraordinary view from the top of Mount Holyoke.

Acquired from Michael Brown, April 2011

Subjects

  • African Americans--Connecticut
  • Brookfield (Mass.)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Connecticut--Description and travel--19th century
  • Ferries--Massachusetts
  • Hartford (Conn.)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Hermits--Connecticut
  • Litchfield (Conn.)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Massachusetts--Description and travel--19th century
  • Mount Holyoke (Mass.)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Springfield (Mass.)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Stafford (Conn.)--Description and travel--19th century
  • Taverns (Inns)--Connecticut
  • Vernon (Conn.)--Description and travel--19th century

Contributors

  • Clapp, Lyman

Types of material

  • Diaries
Clement Company (Northampton, Mass.)

Clement Company Records

1881-1934
61 boxes, 103 ledgers 43 linear feet
Call no.: MS 099

In mid-nineteenth century, the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts emerged as a center of cutlery manufacture in the United States. In 1866, a group of manufacturers in Northampton including William Clement, previously a foreman at Lamson and Goodnow, founded Clement, Hawke, and Co. in Florence to produce both hardware and cutlery, and after several reorganizations, the firm spawned both the Northampton Cutlery Co. (1871) and the Clement Manufacturing Co. (1882, formerly International Screw). Clement produced high quality table cutlery and was an early adopter of stainless steel. The company ceased operations in about 1970.

The Clement Company’s records include extensive correspondence files (1881-1934), along with journals and ledgers, payroll accounts, employee information, and other records. The records provide excellent documentation of wages, working conditions, the labor forces, and technological change in the industry, as well as the efforts of local workers to unionize.

Subjects

  • Cutlery trade--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Clement Company (Northampton, Mass.)
Coburn, Andrew

Andrew Coburn Papers

ca.1950-2015
16 boxes 24 linear feet
Call no.: MS 936

In taut and haunting prose, Andrew Coburn left a memorable impression as both novelist and journalist. Born in Exeter, N.H., on May 1, 1932, Coburn became serious about writing while fulfilling his military duty in Germany and earning a degree at Suffolk University. After landing a position with the local newspaper, the Lawrence Eagle, he put his talents to good use. Building his career as a journalist covering organized crime during the day, he managed to spend nearly every night writing fiction until dawn. His successes on the beat earned him steady promotions all the way to editor, and he eventually founded two newspapers of his own, though fiction would be his future. Winning a Eugene Saxton Fellowship in 1965, Coburn drew upon his experiences on the streets of Lawrence to publish his first novel, The Trespassers in 1974, followed by The Babysitter in 1979, and eventually eleven other novels, a novella, and a host of short stories and essays. A master at language and dialog grounded in a strong sense of place, Coburn won both a wide readership and praise from other writers. His work has garnered nominations for the Edgar Allan Poe Award and Pushcart Prize, has been translated into 14 languages, and three of his novels have been made into films. He is married to Bernadine Casey Coburn, a former journalist and public relations expert, with whom he has one son and four daughters.

The Coburn Papers contain working drafts of Andrew Coburn’s novels and short stories, along with selected correspondence, and dozens of journals, scrapbooks, and notebooks used in his fiction. In many cases, the completeness of the collection makes it possible to follow a work from its earliest inception, often recorded as a sketch (literal or in prose), through its final iteration.

Gift of Andrew Coburn, 2016

Subjects

  • Journalists--Massachusetts
  • Novelists--Massachusetts

Types of material

  • Journals
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
Construyamos Juntos

Construyamos Juntos Collection

1986
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: PH 052
Image of Parrot in Nicaragua
Parrot in Nicaragua

In May 1985, a group of activists in Western Massachusetts opposed to the interventionist U.S. foreign policy of the Reagan era formed a construction brigade to assist with basic human needs and express solidarity with the people of Central America. Modeled on the Venceremos Brigade, Construyamos Juntos, Building Peace of Nicaragua, raised over $20,000 for construction supplies in addition to funds for individual travel. Between January and March 1986, the 17 activists joined a smaller brigade from West Virginia in constructing the Carlos Armin Gonzales elementary school in San Pedro de Lovago. During their first month in Nicaragua, they witnessed a Contra assault on the town that left one assailant dead and two residents of the town wounded.

This exhibit includes 55 mounted images and 99 35mm slides taken during the brigade’s time in Nicaragua, documenting the brigade’s construction work and providing a valuable visual record of life in Nicaragua during the Contra war. Used in public talks about Contruyamos Juntos, the collection includes exhibit labels that explain the purpose and activity of the brigade, the history of Nicaragua, and the Contra attack in January 1986.

Subjects

  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990

Types of material

  • Photographs
Council for Fair School Finance

Council for Fair School Finance Records

1977-2005
8 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 784

The Council for Fair School Finance began its fight in 1978 when it filed a lawsuit (McDuffy v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Education) to require Massachusetts to meet its constitutional obligation to provide a quality education for all schoolchildren. The suit was quickly suspended due to recently enacted school reform legislation. Within five years, the Council took up the suit once more, and again further reform legislation was enacted that prevented the suit from going to trial. Finally in 1993, the case was heard and decided in favor of the plaintiffs; three days later the governor signed the Education Reform Act of 1993. By the end of the decade, the promise of the McDuffy decision had not yet been fully realized and the Council filed a second suit (Hancock v. Commissioner of Education). In April 2004, Superior Judge Margot Botsford issued a report that found the state’s efforts to fix the problems identified in the previous case were insufficient and that the plaintiffs were entitled to remedial relief. The Supreme Judicial Court, however, did not uphold the recommendation and the motion for relief was denied.

The collection consists of administrative records, including documents created early in the Council’s history, minutes of Council meetings, media reports, research materials, and financial records.

Subjects

  • Education--Finance--Massachusetts
  • Educational change--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Council for Fair School Finance
Dana (Mass.)

Dana (Mass.) Collection

1801-1938
21 vols. 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 012

Situated in the northeastern reaches of the Swift River Valley in western Massachusetts, Dana was one of four towns inundated in the 1930s to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Rural and relatively sparsely populated, Dana’s economy centered on agriculture, leavened with manufacturing wood products and soapstone quarrying.

The Dana Collections include a comprehensive records of town meetings from incorporation through disincorporation (1801-1938), plus rich records for the Congregational Church and its affiliate organizations, the Ladies Aid Society, the Orthodox Congregational Society, and the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. Most of the materials listed in this finding aid are held at the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass., and were part of a cooperative digitization project centered on the records of the Quabbin towns.

Gift of Donald Howe, 1960

Subjects

  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Dana--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Dana (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Dana (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Poor-Massachusetts--Dana
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Women--Massachusetts--Dana
  • Women--Societies and clubs

Contributors

  • Dana (Mass. : Town)
  • Dana (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
  • First Universalist Church (North Dana, Mass.)
  • Ladies' Aid Society (Dana, Mass.)
  • Orthodox Congregational Church (Dana, Mass.)
  • Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor

Types of material

  • Church records
Dawson, Alexandra

Alexandra Dawson Papers

Bulk: 1965-2015
20 boxes 30 linear feet
Call no.: MS 905

An attorney from Hadley, Mass., Alexandra D. Dawson was known throughout New England for her work in conservation law and environmental activism. Born in Maryland in 1931, Dawson married shortly after graduating from Barnard College and after raising a family of three, she resumed her education, earning a law degree from Harvard in 1966. Early in her legal career, she took up the cause of protecting “wildlife, wetlands, and woodlands.” She was among the earliest employees of the Conservation Law Foundation and later served as general counsel for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The author of a string of influential works in environmental law, including Environmental Law (1978), Land-Use Planning and the Law (1982), and the Environmental Handbook for Massachusetts Conservation Commissioners (1978-2006), she was also an educator, teaching at Antioch College (where she launched the environmental studies program), Tufts, the Kennedy School of Government, and Rhode Island School of Design. Among other commitments, Dawson was a key figure in the Kestrel Trust and served long stints on the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) and the Hadley Conservation Commission. Dawson died of complication from emphysema on Dec. 30, 2011.

The product of a forty year commitment to conservationism, Dawson’s papers provide valuable documentation of land preservation efforts in New England, with a focus on the evolution of the legal context. Dawson was a formidable figure in efforts to protect wetlands, agricultural land, and open space, and her papers offer insight into land use planning, her teaching, writing, and speaking.

Gift of Rachel Spring, Apr. 2016

Subjects

  • Conservationists--Massachusetts
  • Environmentalists--Massachusetts
  • Land use--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
  • Wetlands--Law and legislation--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Kestrel Trust
Dean, Stephen A.

Stephen A. Dean Collection

1983-2016 Bulk: 2013-2016
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 979

Since the 1960s, the chiropractor Stephen Dean has been one of the leading activists in Massachusetts opposing fluoridation of the water supply. Based in Springfield, he has been an effective organizer in antifluoridation campaigns in communities around the state, arguing against fluoridation both as a medical hazard and a violation of individual choice. In 2005, he led the successful effort to strike down a state mandate to fluoridate all civic water supplies.

This small collection contains a handful of articles and clippings collected by the activist Stephen A. Dean regarding fluoride and the fluoridation of water supplies, and a note offering his expert perspective to journalists writing about the controversy.

Gift of Stephen A. Dean, Feb. 2017

Subjects

  • Antifluoridation movement--Massachusetts