Bicycling tours, AIDS rides, and scrapbooks: Explore the history of bicycling in these newly-processed collections

The Wheelmen (first issue), volume 1, number 1, summer 1970

The Wheelmen (first issue cover), volume 1, number 1, summer 1970.

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 first of several planned posts on Open Archives News that will highlight some of the recently-processed collections in University Archives & Special Collections related to the history of bicycling.

One recently-processed collection is related to The Wheelmen, an organization founded in 1967 at Hoopes Reservoir in Wilmington, Delaware. The organization’s mission is to promote the restoration and riding of antique bicycles produced before 1918 and encourage bicycling. Members receive a subscription to the biannual magazine The Wheelmen as part of their dues. The Wheelmen publication includes research articles, stories, book reviews, and pictures from the past and present. The back cover of the publication contains a list of The Wheelmen National Officers and Captains at the time of that issue’s publication. University Archives & Special Collections holds a full run of The Wheelman from 1970 through 2015. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Read more about the generous donation of The Wheelmen and view a video of the magazine’s Publications Chair, Stephen Hartson, riding a replica of a late nineteenth-century high wheeler on the UMass Boston campus in our April 2016 story “High Wheelin’ around the UMass Boston campus.”

Sharon's Bicentennial Bicycle Tour: Re-enactment of the Historic "Wheel Around the Hub," flyer, 1965

Sharon’s Bicentennial Bicycle Tour: Re-enactment of the Historic “Wheel Around the Hub” flyer, 1965.

The Stuart Bradford Nova Scotia Bicycling Tour collection documents the Nova Scotia bicycling tour that followed the League of American Wheelmen Round-up event in Rockport, Massachusetts, in 1969. The Rockport Rally was led by Dr. Paul Dudley White and included trick bicycle riders, unicyclists, and high wheelers. The day after the rally, cyclists participating in the Nova Scotia Tour continued on to Bar Harbor, Maine, where they took a ferry to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for a week of cycling. Cyclists came from as far as Chicago, ranged in age from 11 to 61, and included members of the League of American Wheelmen, the Charles River Wheelmen of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Cyclists Touring Club. Materials in this collection include the National League of American Wheelmen Bulletin, maps, and information on the Nova Scotia post-roundup tour in 1969. View the finding aid for this collection here.

The Charles River Wheelmen, Post-Roundup tours of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, 1969

The Charles River Wheelmen, Post-Roundup tours of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, 1969.

The Chet Johnson bicycling collection documents the October 12, 1965, re-enactment of the annual bicycle tour “Wheel Around the Hub” by the Boston Bicycle Club in 1879, as described in a February 1880 issue of the popular magazine Scribner’s Monthly. The original tour traveled one hundred miles around Greater Boston, with bicyclists from a number of bicycling clubs riding high wheelers. The re-enactment in 1965 followed the original route, which included Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Brook Farm, First Canal, Fairbanks House, Dedham, Readville, Blue Hill, Ponkapoag, Canton, and Sharon’s Cobb Tavern. Materials in the Chet Johnson collection include newspaper clippings, a flyer, Chet Johnson’s Safety League Membership Card, a decal, and a pamphlet from the Bicycle Institute of America. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Daily Ride Guide, Massachusetts Red Ribbon Ride, 2005.

The Andi Genser AIDS bicycle rides collection (2005 to 2010) documents Genser’s participation in AIDS rides, including the Red Ribbon Ride of 2005. The Red Ribbon Ride raises funds and awareness to support AIDS organizations. Genser was a manager at the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts from 2006 to 2010 and organizer of the Red Ribbon Ride since the 1990s. Materials in this collection consist of a Red Ribbon Ride binder, which includes a pamphlet, photocopied photographs, Daily Ride Guide, and flyers. View the finding aid for the collection here.

“A Tramp on Wheels” “Kid” St. Onge, 1898.

The Fred St. Onge scrapbooks, circa 1896-1922, outline St. Onge’s multiple careers as a Boston bicycle racer during the 1890s, an international vaudeville trick rider from 1900 to 1915, and a traveling salesman and cycling extravaganza man (circa 1915-1930). The bulk of the scrapbooks consist of newspaper clippings. Other items include correspondence, notes, pamphlets, flyers, newsletters, and photographs. View the finding aid for the 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 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

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