Ralph Galen, the Mass. Bicycle Coalition, and the Charles River Wheelmen: Explore the history of bicycling in these newly-processed collections

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that a number of our collections related to the history of bicycling have been processed and are now available for research. This is the second of several planned posts on Open Archives News that will highlight collections related to the history of bicycling.

Documents from the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) records, 1971-2010, bulk 1976-1998

Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) records, 1971-2010, bulk 1976-1998: These records document the activities of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike), as well as the preceding organization, the Boston Area Bicycle Coalition (the name changed in 1994). Materials consist of files kept by Doug Mink and regular staff and include board agendas and minutes, reports, correspondence, by-laws, articles, newsletters, flyers, clippings, and maps. View the finding aid for this collection here.

WheelPeople published by the Charles River Wheelmen, volume 7, number 7, 1981 July

Michael Hanauer: Charles River Wheelmen collection 1980-2012, bulk 1980-1990: This collection documents the activities of the Charles River Wheelmen Board of Directors during the 1980s, as well as the activities of Mike Hanauer, who acted as secretary, vice president, president, and LAW/CRW Area Rep for the Charles River Wheelmen. Materials include board minutes, correspondence, notes, by-laws, reports, and brochures, including an incomplete run of WheelPeople, a monthly newsletter of the Charles River Wheelmen from 1982 through 2012. Electronic copies after 2012 are available from the Charles River Wheelmen. This collection also contains personal materials, including the articles Hanauer wrote for WheelPeople and other publications, brochures of various bicycle tours, various newsletters of other bicycle clubs, and ephemera. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Ralph Galen papers, 1959-2012: Dr. Ralph W. Galen, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, resided for many years in Lexington and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Galen completed his graduate work in orthodontics at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1954 and practiced orthodontia in Cambridge for around forty years.

21 June 1969. The parade at Rockport, MA. Dr. Ralph Galen in front. Dr. Paul Dudley White behind.

In 1967, Galen co-founded the Charles River Wheelmen bicycle club with his friend Fred Chafee, and later became president of the League of American Wheelmen, a national bicycling organization established in 1880. Learn more about the records of the League of American Wheelmen here. In his early years with these organizations, Galen rode to Expo 67, part of Canada’s Centennial celebration in 1967, and across the United States. Later, he rode through thirteen countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and authored a book about his journey entitled 2 Wheels 2 Years & 3 Continents: A Bicyclist’s Dream Fulfilled. Over the course of his lifetime he rode “boneshakers,” “high wheelers,” tandems, fixed gear, and road bicycles. He amassed a collection of antique bicycles, which he later donated to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts. Galen received two patents along with fellow inventor John Vanderpoel, one for a bicycle safety flag apparatus, in 1997, and another for a bicycle rack, in 1976. He also invented a side mirror, which clamps onto the front fork next to the front wheel of the bicycle. He applied for a patent but it is unclear if it was granted. Galen passed away on July 27, 2013, at the age of 88 at his home in Woburn, Massachusetts. (paraphrased from Galen obituary)

This collection documents the activities of Ralph Galen as co-founder of the Charles River Wheelmen, including the activities of the Charles River Wheelmen Board of Directors dating from the early 1970s. Formats include minutes, notes, and agendas. The collection also contains personal materials, including records of Galen’s inventions for bicycles, correspondence with friends and family, and Galen’s notes and writings pertaining to articles and his book, as well as photographs and slides of Galen’s bicycle trips with friends. Included in the collection is an incomplete run of Charles River Wheelmen newsletters, which later became known as WheelPeople. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Read more about the various bicycling-related collections in University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston here, and learn more about researching the history of bicycling here.

For questions about these collections or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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