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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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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AFSC Vietnam Curriculum Project: Children’s drawings depict life in 1960s Vietnam

Author: Alyssa Tkach, Archives Assistant

Children's drawing: two men shake hands with soldiers and a plane in the background

“Tong Thong Di Honolulu (The President Goes to Honolulu),” created by Le hoang Cuong in 1966 in Cholon, Vietnam, 12 x 16 in.

University Archives and Special Collections holds a collection of eighteen children’s drawings that document life in Vietnam in the 1960s. The drawings were made possible by various world peace organizations and activists, including the American Friends Service Committee, the Committee of Responsibility, and Le van Khoa. 

Child's drawing of Batman standing on grass with a building in the background

“Batman,” created by Vo Phuc Hai in 1966 in Cholon, Vietnam, 12 x 16 in.

These drawings were created by Vietnamese children around 1966 as resource materials for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The AFSC is a Quaker organization that was formed in 1917 by the Religious Society of Friends in order to aid civilians who were affected by World War I. In the 1960s, they helped build anti-war coalitions to challenge U.S. policy in Vietnam (1). Today, they continue to work to improve racial relations around the globe, advocating for social justice and peace. 

Child's drawing: a house with clouds and a tree

“Canh Nha Que (Country Scene),” created by Nguyen Huu Cuong in 1966 in Thi Nghe, Vietnam, 12 x 16 in.

Le van Khoa is a music composer, photographer, and educator who arrived in the United States from Vietnam in May 1975 as a war refugee (2). He was born to a working-class family on June 10, 1933, in Can-Tho, a city in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. As a child, Le van Khoa taught himself how to read and play music, which ultimately led him to win an award at age nineteen for two songs he had composed and submitted to a national music contest (2).

Child's drawing: a woman standing and a person rowing a boat

“Chinh Phu (Soldier’s Wife),” created by Vu thi Bich Tram in 1966 in Gia Dinh, Vietnam, 12 x 16 in.

Le van Khoa’s success earned him a job as a host for a children’s television show, World of Children (2). In addition to his passion for music, Le van Khoa is a renowned photographer who co-founded the Artistic Photography Association of Vietnam and published three books (3). The Special Collections and University Archives department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is home to a small collection of his photographs, which focus on life in Vietnam (3). The drawings were submitted to a contest that Le van Khoa sponsored in connection with World of Children, and he later donated the drawings to the Committee of Responsibility in an effort to help raise funds for Vietnam (4). 

Child's drawing: a smiling cat holding an umbrella in the rain

“Con Meo Xach O (Cat With Umbrella),” created by Ta thai Duong in 1966 in Cholon, Vietnam, 12 x 16 in.

The Committee of Responsibility (COR) was formed in 1966 by medical personnel, scientists, religious leaders, and other conscious citizens to assist Vietnamese children under the age of sixteen. The Committee provided medical assistance by bringing children to the United States for various treatments and rehabilitation. Around 100 children were treated by this program, and after completing their treatment, nearly all of them returned to Vietnam (5).

These images range from lighthearted cartoon characters and nature scenes to emotional depictions of soldiers and war. The drawings contextualize the impact of the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese perspective; researchers who study the residual effects of war on civilians and children will find this collection to be particularly valuable.


References and further reading

1. “Vietnam Summer,” American Friends Service Committee, accessed April 23, 2020, https://www.afsc.org/vietnamsummer.

2. “Le Van Khoa Collection,” UMass Amherst Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, accessed April 23, 2020, http://findingaids.library.umass.edu/ead/mums170.

3. “Le Van Khoa Photograph Collection,” UMass Amherst Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, accessed April 23, 2020, http://scua.library.umass.edu/umarmot/vietnam/.

4. “American Friends Service Committee, Vietnam Curriculum Project: children’s drawings and resource materials, 1954-1977, bulk 1963-1976,” UMass Boston Digital Collections, Joseph P. Healey Library, accessed April 23, 2020, https://openarchives.umb.edu/digital/collection/p15774coll8/id/135/rec/1.

5. “Committee of Responsibility Records, 1966-1978,” Swarthmore College Peace Collection, last modified February 9, 2018, https://www.swarthmore.edu/library/peace/DG151-175/DG173COR.htm.

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Collections document history of the Vietnam War, local activism, and community groups

University Archives & Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that six collections of previously unavailable archival material are now open for research. This is the fifth of a series of posts to announce newly available collections, toward the goal of making all of UASC’s collections, both processed and unprocessed, open for research. Collections that have not been processed, or that are minimally processed, will be made available upon request to researchers in approximately two to three weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the collection. Contact library.archives@umb.edu for more information.

To learn more about the collections that were made available this week, click the collection title in the list below.

  • Voice of Women records, 1962-1993: The Voice of Women organization was founded in 1960 to protest the Vietnam War and continued afterwards to advocate for disarmament. The organization collected materials related to other peace organizations in Massachusetts, and members conducted teach-ins, sit-ins, and protests in Newton and Boston. Peak activity was in the 1960s-1970s with women also running the Peace Boutique, a craft and gift shop of peace-related items that also served as a meeting place. These records document the interests and activities of the Voice of Women. Materials consist of reports, correspondence, notes, pamphlets, flyers, newsletters, correspondence, magazines, publications, clippings, and articles. Topics include Vietnam and other countries in conflict, such as Cambodia, as well as disarmament, peace movements, children and women in conflict zones, and American civilian and government official reactions.
  • Karen Turner Ho Chi Minh Trail papers, circa 1959-1999: Karen Turner is a historian at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her research interest developed during her time in college in the 1970s and focuses on the study of gender and its intersections with violence, particularly in the Vietnam War and published on topics relating to East Asia, and on gender in relation to law and politics.
    Two black and white photographs depicting Vietnamese women soldiers, date unknown

    Photographs from the Karen Turner Ho Chi Minh Trail papers, circa 1959-1999

    Karen Turner has made multiple trips to Vietnam and has conducted oral histories with women soldiers from the Vietnam War. These papers collected by Turner document the Ho Chi Minh Trail experience during the Vietnam War. Materials consist of translated manuscripts, photographs, and printouts. The images depict Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War, and the text describes the experiences of people there.

  • Coalition for Community Control of Development, 1986-2015: The Coalition for Community Control of Development (CCCD) was a local activist organization in the 1980s and 1990s with the goal of helping communities in Boston create ways to control the development of their neighborhoods. Some of the issues they helped address included tenant advocacy, strategies for helping communities organize, and environmental concerns within neighborhoods. One area of importance in which the CCCD helped communities strategize was how to advocate for or against real estate development. Materials consist of meeting records, articles, correspondence, notes, pamphlets, flyers, clippings, photographs, contact sheets, negatives, and questionnaires on topics relating to the organization, its activities, and the tenants and neighborhoods in Boston.
  • Dorchester Day ephemera, 1976-1988: Dorchester Day, also known as Dot Day, has been held since 1904 to celebrate the founding of the town of Dorchester in 1630. Typically held at the end of May through the first week of June, the event includes a parade, reenactment, banquet, road races, a doll carriage and bicycle contest, open house and flea market at Dorchester Historical Society, essay contest, soap box derby, and other events, along with vendors and speakers. The parade route typically begins on Dorchester Avenue at Pierce Square (Lower Mills) and ends at St. Margaret’s Church on Columbia Road and Dorchester Avenue.
    Two flyers advertising Dorchester Day, 1978

    Dorchester Day flyers, 1978

    These records document the Dorchester Day event’s programming and marketing activities. Materials consist of flyers, clippings and articles, programs, and rosters.

  • Monday Evening Club ledgers, 1906-1913: The Monday Evening Club met in Boston, Massachusetts, in the early twentieth century for the purpose of dinners with discussions on topics of interest, usually scientific, approved of by members. Materials consist of two ledgers kept by the secretary, including meeting minutes, both on club business and educational talks, and club information, such as voting in new members, costs of meetings, and officer ballots and voting.
  • Peace Action records, circa 1983-1993: Peace Action is a national grassroots organization composed of state and local groups, chapters, and affiliates. Massachusetts Peace Action began in the 1980s as Massachusetts FREEZE, and joined the Boston branch of SANE in 1987 at the same time as the national organization. The Boston chapter participated both on the local and national level in peace campaigns within Massachusetts and national political action towards disarmament and demilitarization under the direction of the organization’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Materials consist of meeting minutes, correspondence, publications, flyers, articles, clippings, and other supplementary materials relating to topics relevant to the organization, including nuclear war, military and political policies, demilitarization, disarmament, and other contemporary issues related to their peace-making campaigns.

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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Six archival collections now available for research

Open flat box with stack of newspapers

Jamaica Plain Arts News: volume 1, number 1, September 12, 1984

University Archives & Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that six collections of previously unavailable archival material are now open for research. This is the first of a series of posts to announce newly available collections, toward the goal of making all of UASC’s collections, both processed and unprocessed, open for research. Collections that have not been processed, or that are minimally processed, will be made available upon request to researchers in approximately two to three weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the collection. Contact library.archives@umb.edu for more information.

To learn more about the collections that were made available this week, click the collection title in the list below.

  • A New Place: A Narrative Photograph Exhibit of the Southeast Asian Refugee/Immigrant Experience, 1993: “A New Place: A Narrative Photograph Exhibit of the Southeast Asian Refugee/Immigrant Experience” was donated to University Archives and Special Collections in 1994 by Richard Lee Sheehan. Materials consist of photographs, personal narrative, and poems documenting the experience of five University of Massachusetts Boston students and one staff member, all Southeast Asian refugees or immigrants.
  • Jamaica Plain Art News collection, 1984-2000, bulk 1984-1999: The Jamaica Plain Art News collection was donated to University Archives and Special Collections in 2000 by Helen Hummel. The collection includes a full run of Jamaica Plain Art News and the records of the organization, as well as records related to the Jamaica Plain Art Council and the Footlight Club.
  • West family of Nantucket collection, 1860-1964: The West family of Nantucket collection was donated to University Archives and Special Collections in 2006 by Adele H. Ames, a descendant of the West family. The collection contains historic photographs (including nineteenth-century daguerreotypes) of African American residents of Nantucket. Additional items are West family photographs and newspaper clippings, collected historical items, and several personal and business-related items.
  • Roland Geist scrapbooks, circa 1930-1950: The Roland Geist scrapbooks were donated to University Archives and Special Collections in 2015 by Lorenz Finison. Roland Geist was a bicycle historian and collector during the 1930s and 1950s who compiled the scrapbooks in this collection. Geist, originally from New York, was active in cycling organizations and bicycle events.
  • Schlesinger Library peace movement newsletters collection, 1892-1997: The collection of peace movement newsletters were donated to University Archives and Special Collections in 1998 by the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, a research library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. These collection documents the publication output of various peace movement committees and organizations, mainly in the Boston area.
  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Vietnam Movement ephemera, 1969-1971: The Vietnam Movement ephemera of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) was donated to University Archives and Special Collections in 2019 by Sean M. Fisher, DCR Archivist. The items in this collection were found by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in a review of the files of a former (and deceased) staff photographer who had a life-long personal passion for New England coastal defense military history, and personally collected in this subject area. This collection documents part of the anti-Vietnam War movement in the Boston area in the 1960s and 1970s.

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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