Digital collection now available: Stephen Lewis poster collection

This gallery contains 3 photos.

University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that more than 500 activist posters from the Stephen Lewis poster collection, circa 1921-2017 are digitized and available online. UASC has been working with Stephen Lewis to digitize more than 3,000 posters through […]

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Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show materials available online now

Author: Kayla Allen, Graduate Assistant

The photographs, stories, and videos gathered at the Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

Halloween at Fotomat, 1970. ‘In college, I worked at Fotomat, a drive-through film developing store. In this picture, Connie who worked in the morning is dressed as Minnie Mouse and I am a pirate for Halloween. Pictured: Connie Tucker and Paula Jones.’ Contributor: Paula Jones.

 

Hosted by the Brockton Public Library on Saturday, May 18, 2019, the event was organized by the library in partnership with the Brockton Historical Society, the Brockton Area Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Haitian American Citizens Aid, and the Brockton City Council. More than two dozen local volunteers joined a team of UMass Boston staff members, graduate students in public history and archives, and “Roadies” to welcome nearly 100 adults and children with connections to the large city located south of Boston.

Participants shared memories of important personal and family moments, including experiences immigrating to Brockton from places all over the world such as Haiti, Cape Verde, and Greece. The stories that they shared were full of love, loss, success, and hardship.

High school days, 1980. ‘My Brockton High School graduation photo from 1980. “Mo” was easier to pronounce than Moises. I emigrated from Cape Verde and had to assimilate into a massive high school. My first challenge was to learn English. It was a scary time for immigrants as there were not many services to help with blending into American culture. I didn’t even know what a prom was. 1200 students graduated in my class that year. I was the first in my family to graduate from high school. Pictured: Moises Rodrigues.’

 

Many individuals contributed stories about participation in activities at local schools such as Brockton High School, Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, and Massasoit Community College. They shared senior and graduation photos, team photos, biographies, and images of technical projects.

Flute section of Brockton High marching band

Flute section of Brockton High marching band, 2018. Contributor: Francesca DiMare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several contributors brought in images of the city’s civic, fraternal, and community organizations such as the local lodge for the Order of the Sons of Italy, the Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association, the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association, and the Brockton Public Library.

Nursing visits on Winthrop Street

Nursing visits on Winthrop Street, 1920. ‘The Brockton Visiting Nurse Association (BVNA) nurses are being transported by sleds to make their visits. Photo taken in front of the family home of our State Senator Thomas Kennedy.’ Contributor: Margaret Mane.

 

Additional photographs and stories document the deep involvement that many Brockton residents have in their religious communities. Some of the many houses of worship that were documented during the event include the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the Messiah Baptist Church, Our Lady of Ostrobrama, St. Theresa’s Maranite Catholic Church, and Central United Methodist Church.


Construction of the new sanctuary of Messiah Baptist, 1984. ‘Messiah is building a new church that will be connected to the old church that was built in 1897. Pictured: Reverend Michael Walker and Paulette Walker. Location: Downtown.’ Contributor: Miles Jackson.

 

Browse the Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 12,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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World Bicycle Day 2020: A reflection on bicycling history, community archives, and the COVID-19 pandemic through a historical scrapbook

Drawing of a man on a high-wheeler bicycle under a heading that reads Hub Cycle and Radio Co. 45th Anniversary 1897-1942

The title page of the Hub Cycle and Radio Company 4th Anniversary scrapbook, published in Boston in 1942.

Author: Shay Park, Archives Assistant

June 3 was World Bicycle Day! In preparation to write this post, I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on the Friends of the Bicycling History Collections’ quarterly meeting in May 2020. While officially it was to do a little recon for this post, it was a delight to witness some of the “behind the scenes” of their unique archiving project. University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) at UMass Boston holds a substantial amount of information for bicycling research and aspires to expand upon these collections and to become a national resource on bicycling history. This work is done with the invaluable guidance of the Friends of the Bicycling History Collections, who advise UMass Boston archivists on collecting activities and generate ideas and plans for outreach, fundraising, and other community-engaged activities related to the Bicycling History Collections.

Black and white photograph of woman on bicycle under a heading that reads 1942 Wartime Model

A photo of the 1942 Victory bicycle, a special model of bicycle made during World War II, designed to use as few materials as possible.

Though I have worked at UASC for a year, our Bicycling History Collections consistently surprise me with their breadth and depth—across time and space, representing a wide variety of materials and covering a expansive range of topics and individuals. The collections hold artifacts such as pins and patches, as well as paper documents such as the records of the Bicycle Exchange, a beloved bicycle shop that operated in Harvard Square for over sixty years, the records of the Committee for Safe Bicycling, a citizen-run organization that existed from 1957 to 1974, and the papers of Cathy Buckley, a Central Transportation Planning Staff employee who assisted with the planning, design, and construction of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway.

Newspaper article that includes a number of black and white photographs of people on different kinds of bicycles.

This clipping of an article from 1939 commemorates one hundred years since the first pedal bicycle was built by Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillian.

It was wonderful to attend the Friends’ meeting and hear about their continued efforts to archive bicycling history locally, regionally, and nationally, even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. They discussed their most recent attempts to solicit new materials and brainstormed new avenues to explore. The meeting was the first one they held over Zoom, and the consensus, to my surprise, was that everyone enjoyed (and some even preferred) the remote format. They were particularly excited by the prospect of inviting bicycling history experts from outside of Boston to attend the next meeting—something actually feasible with an online meeting platform. It was both comforting and inspiring to know they are committed to their project even under the most uncertain circumstances.

Features different black and white drawings of people on tandem bicycles under the heading When Men Wore Handlebar Mustaches and Bicycles were Built for Two.

This page features images of tandem bicycles, with a reference to the chorus of the 1892 popular song “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)”: “It won’t be a stylish marriage / I can’t afford the carriage / But you look sweet upon the seat / On a bicycle built for two.”

I’d like this blog post to function in a few different ways: as a celebration of World Bicycle Day; as a spotlight for our digital holdings, which feels particularly important during a time when archives are remote-only; and as a way not just to spread the word about our Bicycling History Collections, but to acknowledge the Friends who make them possible.

This post features selected digitized pages from the Hub Cycle and Radio Co. 45th Anniversary scrapbook, donated to UASC by Lorenz “Larry” Finison on behalf of William Herve Vandal. The scrapbook was published in 1942 by the now defunct Hub Cycle and Radio Company to mark the occasion of the company’s forty-fifth year. More than a commemoration of the Hub Cycle Company however, it is an ode to bicycling itself. In the foreword to the scrapbook, the author hails the bicycle as “fundamental”: 

Six different black and white photographs of people on bicycles under the heading Bicycle Vacation Touring on Our Main Highways!

Photos of bicycle tours on America’s early highways, circa 1940.

In this year, 1942, when Wartime models in bicycles are the pronouncement of the government, when gasoline and tire rationing are the orders of the day, the bicycle has come into prominence. … The Hub Cycle Company’s almost five decades of association with the bicycle is illustrated by the pictures and notes we have saved. They are the reflection of experience and evidence of a business that means much to you… that means much to us at Hub Cycle, who have lived a lifetime with the bicycle.

Two black and white photographs of women and children on bicycles.

Photos of women and children on bicycles from American Bicyclist, a magazine published by the League of American Bicyclists since 1880. The League’s records (SC-0200) are held in University Archives and Special Collections.

The bulk of the scrapbook contains clippings of articles and photographs that document the cultural impact of bicycles in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Some are quite strange or amusing in 2020—such as the page that reminiscences about a time “when men wore handlebar mustaches and bicycles were built for two” (a reference to the song “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)”) or the photos of the “Beauty and Bikes on Atlantic City Boardwalk.” Some, while temporally distant, take on a new relevance during a time of quarantine and closure; most allude to, explicitly or implicitly, to the shortages and rations during World War II that led to the bicycle’s prominence—a reminder of other times Americans have been called to sacrifice any comfort or convenience for the greater good. I also look at photos like those of the cycling tours, when highways were dominated by bicycles rather than cars, and marvel at how often, how greatly, and how inevitably our world changes, again and again, even the parts that seem immutable.

Four black and white photographs of people right bicycles under the heading Cycling in Hollywood.

Photos circa 1935 featuring famous actors of the day on bicycles, such as Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Clark Gable, and Mickey Rooney.

Special thanks to Andrew Elder, Interim University Archivist and Curator of Special Collections, and Larry Finison, author, historian, and member of the Friends of the Bicycling History Collections. If you’d like to view more of the Bicycling History Collections or learn how to submit materials, check out the links below. 

Black and White photograph of women on bicycles under the heading Patriotic Gas Savers.

This photograph promotes the bicycle as a patriotic, prudent, and “healthful” alternative to the automobile, during a time when gasoline and tire shortages restricted Americans’ transportation options. According to the caption, cycling also had the added “essential” benefit of keeping women’s figures “trim.”

One black and white photograph of two women next to a "Bone Shaker" bicycle and one black and white photograph of a man on a "Lamp Lighter" bicycle.

These photos show two early models of bicycles. The bone shaker, popular in the 1860s in France, was named for the uncomfortable, bumpy ride. The lamp lighter, or tall bike, was used in the 1890s to make lighting gas lamps faster and easier. Its seat was so tall that it usually required a ladder to mount it.

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Healey Library Statement on Violence against Black People

Healey Library mourns the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all Black Americans who have been killed during our country’s more than four-hundred-year history of deeply-rooted systemic racist violence. We condemn in the strongest terms white supremacy, police brutality, and racism in all of its forms. We stand in solidarity with and send our support to our Black students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members. The Black community is our community, and we unequivocally and unconditionally state that Black lives matter.

Read the Healey Library’s full statement.

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“To take the burden off of my soul”: Oral history collection documents Japanese American university students during World War II internment

Gordon Sato on left with interviewer Dr. Paul Watanabe.

Gordon Sato (left) with interviewer Dr. Paul Watanabe, 2011. Gordon was incarcerated at the Manzanar War Relocation Center and attended Central College in Pella, Iowa.

Author: Shay Park, Archives Assistant

You know, we studied civics in high school and when I realized that the government was interning these American citizens and putting them behind barbed wire, I just could not believe it. It was not American, not the United States that I knew. —Esther Nishio, former Pasadena College student and former prisoner at the Granada War Relocation Center

During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal of anyone living in vaguely defined “military areas.” These areas were largely located on the West Coast, where Japanese immigrants had settled and developed thriving communities since the turn of the twentieth century. These residents were regarded with suspicion by government officials and other Americans as potential threats to the United States solely on the basis of their national origin. Thus, by declaring the West Coast a “military area,” these Japanese and Japanese American residents were deliberately targeted, though not explicitly named, in FDR’s Executive Order (1).

The policy of removal and relocation to internment camps lasted from 1942 to 1945 and imprisoned nearly 120,000 people. The majority of those incarcerated were American citizens and were held without evidence or due process. The evacuations began on March 24, 1942, and internment continued until a 1945 Supreme Court decision ruled the practice unconstitutional. The last camp closed in March 1946 (2).

Alice Takemoto, 2011. Alice was incarcerated at the Santa Anita Assembly Center and Jerome War Relocation Center and attended Oberlin College in Ohio.

The holdings in University Archives and Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston includes the digital collection “From Confinement to College: Video Oral Histories of Japanese American Students in World War II.” The collection contains video interviews, transcriptions of those interviews, and photographs of the eighteen participants interviewed for the oral history project. All eighteen are Japanese Americans who were relocated to internment camps. The project was carried out by the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMass Boston and the interviews were conducted by Dr. Paul Watanabe in 2010-2011.

The interview subjects describe the living conditions at sites that typically consisted of buildings not intended for human habitation, most often horse stalls in large barns, that offered little privacy or comfort. Unsurprisingly, many of the interviewees describe a “block” or “blank” in their recollections of that time, but some are able and willing to recount aspects of their daily lives, such as the jobs they worked in the camp’s cafeteria or as maintenance workers, or the games and activities they participated in with their families and friends in the camp to pass the time. 

What is remarkable about these former prisoners’ experiences is that they attended college during the period of Japanese internment. They were all roughly aged 16 to 20 at the time of evacuation, and soon after arriving at the camp, it was arranged to have them attend university. This was typically accomplished by several people working together, such as their parents, other acquaintances in the camp, and/or individuals and advocacy groups outside the camp. Several of the interviewees described themselves or their families as having a natural expectation that they would still go to school, despite the unnatural circumstances in which they found themselves.

In order to cover the costs of living and tuition, most of the interviewees became live-in maids or nannies for local families near their new university. These arrangements were also facilitated by others on their behalf. Several of the interviewees cite Quaker groups or organizations like the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council or Friends of the American Way as providing instrumental help through the process of applying, moving, and locating a place to live and work.

Frank Inami, 2011. Frank was incarcerated at the Fresno Assembly Center, Jerome War Relocation Center, and Rohwer War Relocation Center, and attended the University of California, Berkeley.

There were instances when community members learned that an interned Japanese American person would be attending a nearby university and held protests in response. The most notorious incident happened to Esther Nishio, one of the interviewees and the first Japanese American student to attend a California university after internment. Her arrival at Pasadena Junior College was met with harassment and in some cases violence. Esther says in her interview with Dr. Watanabe that she was mostly insulated from the “furor,” but Pasadena community members harassed Esther as well as school officials (3). Other students were forced to change universities before they even arrived because of the uproar their admission caused, or the school rejected their application outright. And even when they were able to attend, in some instances the locals treated them with hostility. 

However, even in cases like Esther’s, many of the interviewees describe a welcoming environment from classmates, teachers, and administrators within the university itself. Esther described her fellow students as “very friendly”: “[T]hey were all so wonderful to me… I met soldiers who had returned from the South Pacific who were attending college and… they couldn’t be nicer. It was just these other people that were causing so much problems.” Most said they were one of very few Japanese American students at their university, but despite that, they felt accepted and even enjoyed their time. “I had no trouble fitting in, really,” said Chiye Tomihiro. “You know, I went to a school in the first place in Portland where, you know, I was a minority to begin with so… it wasn’t something new for me.” Similarly, Francis Fukuhara called his transition into the student population “seamless” and Theodore Ono described the reception as “very kind and warm.”

The interview subjects majored in a variety of fields, ranging from math and science to art and music, and studied at universities throughout the country, such as Oberlin College, the University of Denver, and the University of Missouri. Following the war and their time in school, they went on to live interesting lives as teachers, scientists, artists, and more. Some of the notable figures interviewed for the project are George Matsumoto (1922-2016), a Modernist architect, Gordon H. Sato (1927-2017), a prominent cellular biologist, and Setsuko Nishi (1921-2012), an activist, sociologist, and professor who taught the first Asian American studies courses at City University of New York (CUNY). 


Setsuko Nishi, 2011. Setsuko was incarcerated at the Santa Anita Assembly Center and attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

In what is already a strange and contradictory tale—Japanese American students who left imprisonment to attend school in a country that considered them and their families potential enemies of the state—there are more twists: some of interviewees were drafted to fight in the war during their internment, and a few even went on to work in national security. Participant Robert Naka recounts the surprise he felt when he was granted clearance to work on a government contract that involved working on radar detection of bombs. He then went on to become deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office (a part of the United States Department of Defense) in 1969. Robert remembers a conversation he had with a colleague later about these experiences:

We talked about [my time in the internment camp] and then he said, “Gee, Bob, you went from being a distrusted American to one of the most trusted we have. You ran the National Reconnaissance Office. That was a tightly, tightly held secret of the United States government. And you signed papers to the White House with all these tightly held code word classifications on the letter and it’s truly remarkable.” And he said, “Only in America could such a transition possibly be allowed.” He thought it was incredible and so did I.

“Only in America”—it is a sobering remark on what Robert and the tens of thousands of other prisoners experienced during World War II under the policy of the US government. But Robert, like several of the other interview subjects, chooses to view what he went through with a hopeful lens. When asked by Dr. Watanabe what lessons he would want other to take away from this history, he replies:

Well I can only continue with this notion of “Only in America.” …It’s an amazing arrangement of a democracy where a person has considerable individual freedom and roadblocks occur… but the society is permissive so that you can actually work your way around and through these difficult periods and make contributions to our society.

This hope Robert and others feel based on their ability to persist is joined by a hope rooted in the ability to share their stories. “I don’t know [what] else we can do except tell our stories. …[M]aybe leave a legacy, for the others to follow,” says Rose Yamauchi. She continues, describing about her efforts to write about her experiences in a writing group:

I was unable to talk about it for years. I don’t know why, just, we didn’t talk about it.… Of course we were busy working and trying to build careers and things, but still, it was an experience that maybe we wanted to forget, I don’t know. Anyway, we might still have held a grudge for a long time, I know, because when I started to write the stories, that is the first time I was able to put it on paper or able to talk about it and my friends in the writing group realized that too, that when I first started writing, I couldn’t get up and read the story even. But gradually it’s gotten easier… 

“You know you can tell by the way that a person responds what kind of person they are. It’s amazing,” Rose concludes. “They respond well to it and I, in turn, I am able to take the burden off of my soul and tell the story of my internment and my life.”

The oral histories document a broad range of experiences of internment based on gender, geography, class, and more. To view the video interviews or read the transcripts, visit the collection here. To learn more about Japanese American college students who experienced internment during World War II, see below.


References

1. “FDR orders Japanese Americans into internment camps.” History, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-signs-executive-order-9066.

2. “Japanese Internment Camps,” History, https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation.

3. Mozingo, Joe. “She was a test case for resettling detainees of Japanese descent—and unaware of the risk.” LA Times, 30 November 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-11-30/column-one-she-was-a-test-case-for-resettling-detainees-of-japanese-descent-and-unaware-of-the-risk.

Further reading

Articles:

Austin, Allan W. “National Japanese American Student Relocation Council.” Densho Encyclopedia, http://encyclopedia.densho.org/National_Japanese_American_Student_Relocation_Council.

—. “American Friends Service Committee.” Densho Encyclopedia, http://encyclopedia.densho.org/American_Friends_Service_Committee.

Bigalke, Zach. “World War II and the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council.” Blog post. Unbound. The University of Oregon, Special Collections and University Archives, 23 January, 2015, https://blogs.uoregon.edu/scua/2015/01/23/world-war-ii-and-the-national-japanese-american-student-relocation-council.

“Courage and Compassion: Student Biographies.” Oberlin College and Conservatory, https://www.oberlin.edu/courage-and-compassion-student-biographies.

Erlandson, Devin. “The Relocation of Japanese American Students to Wayne University during World War II.” Blog post. Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University, 11 July 2014, http://reuther.wayne.edu/node/11936.

Books:

Austin, Allan W. From Concentration Camp to Campus. University of Illinois Press, 2004. https://umbrella.lib.umb.edu/permalink/f/1951nkk/01MA_UMB_ALMA51217089110003746.

Okihiro, Gary. Storied Lives: Japanese American Students and World War II. University of Washington Press, 1999. https://umbrella.lib.umb.edu/permalink/f/1951nkk/01MA_UMB_ALMA51158086030003746.

Takemoto, Paul Howard. Nisei Memories: My Parents Talk about the War Years. University of Washington Press, 2012.

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