University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Wendell (Mass.). Treasurer

Wendell (Mass.). Treasurer Account book
1794-1864
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 090

A sparsely populated rural community in eastern Franklin County, Massachusetts, the town of Wendell was incorporated in 1781 after it was separated from the adjacent towns of Shutesbury and Erving. Primarily a farming community to the present day with only light manufacturing (particularly the manufacture of palm-leaf hats), Wendell remains one of the state’s least populous communities.

A standard double column account book, the Treasurer’s ledger from the town of Wendell was reviewed, settled, and approved annually by the selectmen. The transactions are the typical stuff of small town life in New England, recording taxes, payments for expenses relating to schools and maintenance of the poor, and during the Civil War, payments of bounty money for volunteers. Among the signatories are locally prominent figures such as Judge Joshua Green and the Treasurers Samuel Brewer, George W. Fleming, and Franklin Howe (and other members of the Howe family).

Subjects
  • Green, Joshua
  • Wendell (Mass.)--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Brewer, Samuel
  • Fleming, George W
  • Howe, Franklin
  • Wendell (Mass.). Treasurer
Types of material
  • Account books

Western Massachusetts Library Club

Western Massachusetts Library Club Records
1898-2006
7 boxes (3.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 492
Image of Deerfield Public Library
Deerfield Public Library

Situated in a region known for its progressive spirit, the Western Massachusetts Library Club was established in 1898 to respond to the unique needs of librarians overseeing small or rural libraries, and to foster camaraderie among local colleagues. Almost immediately, however, the club expanded its focus, taking positions on issues ranging from modern library practices to national legislation and leading the way in the expansion of services for public libraries, all while maintaining its identity as an advocate for local libraries and librarians.

The collection is richest in records that document the early history of the club including detailed meeting minutes, news clippings, programs, and circulars. Beginning in the late 1960s, the club’s activities are captured primarily through membership lists and meeting notices and programs. Taken together, the records trace the growth of the WMLC for more than a century from its establishment to the present.

Subjects
  • Cutter, Charles A. (Charles Ammi), 1937-1903
  • Libraries--Massachusetts--History
Contributors
  • Western Massachusetts Library Club

Western New England Poetry Collection

Western New England Poetry Collection
1977-2008
4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 561
Image of Silkworm, 2007
Silkworm, 2007

Since 2004, the Florence Poets Society has been a hub of the poetry communities in Western Massachusetts, promoting the sharing, reading, and publication of works by its members. The group has sponsored outdoor poetry festivals, poetry slams, and readings and it has encouraged publication of poetry through its annual review, The Silkworm, and through chapbooks of its members

Established in partnership with Rich Puchalsky and the Florence Poets Society, the Western New England Poetry Collection constitutes an effort to document the vibrant poetry communities in Western New England. The collection includes all forms of poetry, from the written to the spoken word, in all formats, but with a particular emphasis upon locally produced and often difficult to find chapbooks, small press books, unpublished works, and limited run periodicals. The collection is not limited to members of the Florence Poets Society, and additions from poets in Western New England are eagerly welcomed.

Subjects
  • Poetry--New England
Contributors
  • Florence Poets Society
  • Puchalsky, Rich

What we collect

Frank Waugh's doves
Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all’; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951

In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.

Our approach to collecting

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).

  • African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
  • Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
  • Arts management and arts administration:
    In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
  • Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
  • Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
  • Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
  • Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

New England history and culture

The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.

  • Cookery and culinary history
    SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
  • Literature and the arts
    Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
  • Politics and political culture
    SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

Wood, Josiah

Josiah Wood Papers
1854-1874
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 363

A veteran of the Civil War and one time resident of the Hopedale community, Josiah Wood tried his hand at several lines of work during his life, including tin-peddler, farmer, and carpenter.

The Josiah Wood Papers consist primarily of letters between Wood, living in Hopedale and New Bedford, Massachusetts, and his relatives in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the northeastern and western parts of the country. While some of the correspondence contains references to larger-scale historical events, such as the Civil War or westward expansion, the majority concerns events and routines of everyday family life. The letters illustrate the considerable effort made to keep in touch with and informed about distant family members and friends.

Subjects
  • Spiritualism--United States--History--19th century
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • West (U.S.)--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Wood, Josiah
  • Wood, Lurana P

Work on Waste USA, Inc.

Work on Waste USA, Inc. Records
ca.1980-2000
62 boxes (93.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 767

In the early 1980s, Paul Connett, a chemist at St. Lawrence University, his wife Ellen, and other environmental activists in upstate New York formed Work on Waste USA to oppose the incineration of solid waste materials. Arguing that incineration was a major source of air pollution, pumping dioxin, mercury, cadmium, and lead into the atmosphere and leaving behind toxic ash and other residues, Work on Waste consulted nationally on issues surrounding incineration, coordinating with dozens of local organizations, and it became an ardent proponent of recycling as an alternative. From 1988-2000, WOW published a pro-recycling, anti-incineration newsletter, Waste Not.

The records of Work on Waste document the national struggle against the incineration of solid waste. With materials from dozens of groups opposing incineration in their communities, the collection provides insight into community activism and grassroots legal and media campaigns. The collection also includes materials relating to Work on Waste’s support for recycling and extensive data on the environmental impact of dioxin and other chemicals, medical waste, and ash landfills, and on the operation of incinerators.

Subjects
  • Incinerators
  • Medical wastes
Contributors
  • Connett, P. H. (Paul H.)

Avakian, Arlene Voski

Arlene Voski Avakian Papers
1974-2010
14 boxes (21 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 150
Image of Arlene Avakian
Arlene Avakian

Arlene Avakian arrived at UMass in 1972 as a graduate student working on the social history of American women, but quickly became a key figure in the creation of the university’s new program in Women’s Studies. As she completed her MA in History (1975) and EdD (1985), she helped in the early organization of the program, later joining the faculty as professor and program director. Through her research and teaching, she contributed to an engaging departmental culture in which the intersection of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality were placed at the center, building the program over the course of 35 years into the nationally-recognized Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Avakian has written and taught on topics ranging from the lives and experiences of Armenian American and African American women to culinary history and the construction of whiteness. She retired in May 2011.

Documenting the growth and development of Women’s Studies at UMass Amherst, the collection includes valuable material on the creation of the department (and Women’s Studies more generally), second- and third-wave feminism, and Avakian’s teaching and research. The collection includes a range of correspondence, memoranda, notes, and drafts of articles, along with several dozen oral historical interviews with Armenian American women. Also noteworthy is the extensive documentation of ABODES, the Amherst Based Organization to Develop Equitable Shelter, which established the Pomeroy Lane Cooperative Housing Community in South Amherst in 1994.

Subjects
  • ABODES
  • Armenian American women
  • Cornell University. Program in Female Studies
  • Feminism
  • Housing, Cooperative
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Zoryan Institute
Contributors
  • Avakian, Arlene Voski
Types of material
  • Audio recordings

Baker, James

James Baker Free Spirit Press Collection
1969-2005 (Bulk: 1969-1974)
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 834
Image of Spirit in Flesh tour bus
Spirit in Flesh tour bus

James Baker was a member of the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune (later the Renaissance Community) in the early 1970s, and a key contributor to the Free Spirit Press, the commune’s publishing operation. Part promotion, information, and entertainment, the Free Spirit Press magazine ran for four issues in the winter and spring 1972-1973.

The Baker collection consists of the surviving materials from the production of Free Spirit Press concentrated heavily in the period between winter 1972 and summer 1974. Accumulated mostly while preparing a brochure for the commune, the manuscript material contains copies of the commune’s by-laws and membership rolls, comments from community members on how they wished to be represented, and a story board for the brochure and series of quotes from community members to be included. The second half of the collection contains hundreds of images, mostly 35mm negatives, taken of or by the commune and its residents. The images depict the production and distribution of Free Spirit Press and the commune band (Spirit in Flesh, later called Rapunzel), but they also include several rolls of film taken by commune members of major rock and roll acts of the era, including the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, Santana, Chuck Berry, Hot Tuna, and Fleetwood Mac.

Subjects
  • Berry, Chuck
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Grateful Dead (Musical group)
  • Grateful Dead (Musical group)--Photographs
  • Metelica, Michael
  • Renaissance Community (Commune)
  • Rock music--1971-1980--Photographs
  • Taj Mahal (Musician)
  • Taj Mahal (Musician)--Photographs
Contributors
  • Geisler, Bruce
Types of material
  • Photographs

Brotherhood of the Spirit

Brotherhood of the Spirit Documentary
ca.1973
15.24 minutes
Call no.: Video

Beginning in a treehouse in Leyden, Mass., during the summer of 1968, the Brotherhood of the Spirit (later the Renaissance Community) grew to become the largest commune in the eastern United States. Founded by Michael Metelica and six friends, and infused with the spiritual teachings of Elwood Babbitt, the commune relocated several times during its first half decade, setting down at different points in Heath, Charlemont, Warwick, Turners Falls, and Gill, Mass., as well as Guilford, Vt.

Produced at UMass Amherst, this video (digitized from a 16mm motion picture original) provides a largely laudatory glimpse of commune life during the boom years of the Brotherhood of the Spirit, probably around 1973. Sound quality in the video is highly uneven, often poor, particularly in the first two minutes.

Subjects
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Metelica, Michael
Types of material
  • Motion pictures (Visual works)

Brown, Daniel A.

Daniel A. Brown Photograph Collection
1968-2003
ca.450 items
Call no.: PH 011
Image of Meditation on Blueberry Hill, 1971. Photo by Gary Cohen
Meditation on Blueberry Hill, 1971. Photo by Gary Cohen

Having joined the the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune in 1973, Dan Brown remained a member for a decade as it evolved first into Metelica’s Aquarian Concept and then into the Renaissance Community. Throughout his time as a member, he photographed his fellow communards as they moved through a variety of localities, including Turner’s Falls, Gill, and Warwick, Mass. Since leaving the community in 1983, he has written and lectured regularly on its history for audiences throughout the region.

One of the principle photographers of the Brotherhood and Renaissance Community during the period 1973-1983, Brown preserved an archive of approximately 450 photographs documenting the commune from its founding in 1968 through the time of Michael Metelica’s death in 2003. In addition to his own work, he collected and preserved images of many other photographers, most notably Gary Cohen.

Subjects
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Metelica, Michael
  • Renaissance Community (Commune)
Contributors
  • Brown, Daniel A
  • Cohen, Gary
Types of material
  • Photographs

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