Because I am interested in prison literacy and the intersection of social justice and writing programs, I searched the SCUA server under the area “Prison Issues.” A few archives that I found particularly interesting are as follows: Frank Grace Papers, 1976-1985 (MS 863 and http://scua.library.umass.edu/ead/mums863.html); Norfolk Prison Colony Collection, 1932-1934 (MS 074 and http://scua.library.umass.edu/ead/mums074.html); Thresholds to Life Records, 1983-1986 (MS 156 and http://scua.library.umass.edu/ead/mums156.html).
Based on historical context, the Frank Grace Papers would be interesting to study because of their connections to both anti-war protesting in the Vietnam era and his treatment within the prison system. These letters shed light on a marginalized man becoming even further marginalized by society in the Walpole State Penitentiary; thus, one can assume that they expose the power structures and prejudice found within the prison.
The Norfolk Prison Colony Collection details plans for a “model community prison” that would focus heavily on rehabilitation and further crime prevention. While delving into this archive, I could compare some of my own interactions with College Guild’s incarcerated students such as when one man wrote about how a few simple freedoms could drastically improve his daily life without turning the experience into a sort of “funishment.”
Focusing on the Thresholds to Life program could prove interesting because I can apply a critical lens to their initial construction of the program and their methods for rehabilitation. This archive will give me insight toward psychology in the 1960s and, hopefully, how their program develops over time to better aid prisoners.