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Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX) : Records, 1962-1992


37 cartons, 1 oversized scrapbook


The Citizens for Participation in Political Action records were donated to the University of Massachusetts Boston Archives and Special Collections Department of the Healey Library in May 1993 by CPPAX. Most of the records came directly from the CPPAX office; some came via Louis DiNatalie (UMass Boston McCormack Instititute fellow) and Paul Watanabe (Political Science Department).


Massachusetts Political Action for Peace (Mass PAX) was founded in November 1962 out of the Stuart Hughes for U.S. Senate campaign. A Harvard professor, Hughes ran as an independent on a platform of peace and unilateral disarmament and received 2.3% of the vote (for more information about the campaign and its effect, see the booklet "The Hughes Campaign: 25 Years Later, 1962-1987" in carton 29). Rather than dissolve the campaign structure and lose its network of people dedicated to advancing peace through the political process, the campaign's organizers founded Mass PAX after the election. Mass PAX encouraged letter writing and other methods of lobbying elected officials, attempted to maintain membership in every state congressional district, sponsored educational events, campaigned for pro-peace candidates, among other activities. Although its central goals were peace and disarmament accompanied by changes in U.S. foreign policy, Mass PAX supported civil rights and an economic system that would meet all basic human needs. It argued that discontinuing the arms race and solving international disputes peacefully would free the funds necessary to create a more humane society.

Citizens for Participation Politics (CPP) was founded in 1968 by people who had worked on Eugene McCarthy's presidential campaign in Massachusetts. CPP was dedicated to making the government and politics more responsive to all people by increasing citizen participation in politics and policy making. It was against the Vietnam War and sought "a massive re-orientation of attitudes, policies, and resources for the elimination of poverty, racism, and other forms of injustice" (Charter, Nov. 17, 1968). This meant supporting electoral reform that enabled more people to be politically active (e.g. absentee ballots) and legislation establishing citizen review boards, as well as working against militarization and for issues of concern to its members. With chapters in a number of cities and towns throughout the state, CPP held semi-annual conventions where workshop participants debated specific issues; their vote on those issues established CPP's platform. Throughout its short and financially strapped existence, CPP endorsed and campaigned for candidates, sponsored rallies, published a newsletter, lobbied for "progressive" legislation, and often worked with Mass PAX.

In December 1972, CPP and Mass PAX merged to form Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX). CPPAX and its local chapters promote peace and social and economic justice in the United States and in U.S. foreign policy by evaluating and endorsing local, state, and national candidates, and publicizing elected officials' voting records. Specifically, issues of concern to CPPAX include disarmament, opposition to U.S. military intervention abroad, fair housing policies, and economic and civil rights. CPPAX monitors and endorses legislation, corresponds with elected officials, and encourages its members to do so as well. The organization distributes information about candidates and issues, and about how to effect change through the political process (e.g. how to use petitions, lobby legislators). CPPAX also works with other grassroots organizations; for example, in the 1980s CPPAX was one of the spokesgroups belonging to the Boston Pledge of Resistance (for Boston POR records, see Collection 42).

CPPAX holds annual conventions to elect CPPAX officers and endorse candidates (see Scope and Content, series II). Among its publications are the CPPAX Newsletter (series III), updates about bills and voting records (series IV), bulletins such as "Central America Alert," and the results of its candidates' questionnaires (see Electoral work series, and perhaps Elections series). For additional information about the organization's structure and activities, consult the Scope and Content, and the records in series I-IV.

There are some CPPAX records and the records of its affiliate, Brookline PAX, in the Ethel Machanic Alper Papers (Collection 37).

Scope and Content

Seven series of these records have been arranged, and described. The bulk of the collection remains unprocessed, although a preliminary inventory has been prepared. The processed series are arranged as follows:

  • I. Executive Board minutes, 1972-1988
  • II. Conventions, 1972-1988
  • III. Newsletters, 1973-1985
  • IV. Chronological activity files, 1973-1987
  • V. Massachusetts Political Action for Peace records, 1962-1977 (bulk, 1962-1972)
  • VI. Citizens for Participation Politics records, 1968-1972
  • VII. Election reform activities, 1964-1987

These first seven series are boxed together. For a complete series list, see the CPPAX : series list file.

These records document CPPAX and its predecessor organizations, Mass PAX and CPP, from 1962 through 1992, although the records after the merger that formed CPPAX are much more thorough. There is information about CPPAX's internal activities, as well as about its relationship with candidates, elected officials, legislative bodies, and other grassroots political organizations. The collection provides a legislative history of Massachusetts (through CPPAX's interpretive lens) and a record of the stated stance of and votes by elected officials and candidates on a variety of issues. It is an excellent source of information about specific elections and candidates on the local and state levels, as well as the Massachusetts portion of national elections. There is ample documentation of the 1968 Eugene McCarthy presidential campaign in Massachusetts. The collection also provides material about the issues with which CPPAX has been concerned, such as peace, disarmament, U.S. intervention in Central America, civil rights, and economic justice.

This collection does not include CPPAX financial documents, nor, for the most part, membership records.

In addition to the abbreviations CPP, Mass PAX, and CPPAX, the following have been used

  • CD: Congressional district
  • DNC: Democratic National Committee (or Convention)
  • DSC: Democratic State Committee
  • PAC: Political Action Committee

SERIES I: Executive Board minutes, 1972-1988,

contains minutes, agenda, and some correspondence with the board. This series is arranged chronologically. One set (#1-6) was numbered by CPPAX. There are other board records and duplicate minutes in series III. For minutes to Mass PAX and CPP board meetings, see the chronological activity files subseries of series V (#4-41) and VI (#18-68).

SERIES II: CPPAX conventions, 1972-88,

is divided into two distinct subseries: annual conventions and endorsement conventions. Additional convention records may be found in series III, usually filed in the month during which the convention occurred.

The annual conventions focused on the internal or structural aspects of CPPAX, including voting on charter amendments and platform and issue resolutions, and electing members of the Executive Board. The first annual convention was the merger convention in December 1972; they were usually held in December or January each year until 1985. It is not entirely clear what took place in 1986 through 1988; annual conventions may have merged with the endorsement conventions to form one convention held in the spring. For this reason, several files are listed separately at the end of the series under "annual/endorsement conventions" (#37-39).

The annual conventions files (#1-16) contain the following kinds of information: minutes and agenda, rules of the convention, proposals for platform resolutions and charter amendments, and results of the election of Executive Board members. In some cases actual ballots and copies of revised charters are included.

The endorsement conventions were held annually by CPPAX to endorse statewide candidates for office, and in Presidential election years, national candidates. All CPPAX members were eligible to attend and vote. The candidates themselves often attended to speak and answer questions. Usually held in either March or April, some conventions were also formed on an ad hoc basis. Two instances of this are found in the files labeled "Convention, July 1975. Presidential Election Process" and "Convention-- November 21, 1981 (Governor Endorsement)." Included in this subseries (by virtue of being the same activity) are those files labeled Mass Caucus from the years 1972, 1974 and 1976. It should be noted, however, that these conventions were not sponsored by CPPAX alone, but in conjunction with other organizations. For more information on the caucuses, see the "Caucus Background Statement" in file number 16 of this series.

Included in the endorsement convention files (#17-36) are the following: minutes and agenda, rules of the convention, candidates' questionnaire responses (originals or in summary format), sample ballots to endorse candidates, and financial information.

SERIES III: Newsletters, 1973-1985,

is comprised of issues of the CPPAX Newsletter, which usually came out monthly. Some copies of the Newsletter were mailed with other material, such as membership brochures or lists of key votes by congresspeople. The attachments remain in this series. The newsletters are arranged by year rather than by volume number.

SERIES IV: Chronological activity files, 1973-1987,

consists of files that CPPAX kept monthly. Three folders not marked by year and month were found in this series. They have been kept separate and retained in their original order, one each after the months of December 1972, February 1973, and July 1973.

This series includes a variety of material that documents the activities and governance of CPPAX, as well as the issues for which it worked, such as peace, disarmament, housing, and civil rights. In addition to providing the history of CPPAX, the series contains information about how a grass roots political organization operates. While not consistent for each month, the files contain the following: newsletters, flyers, mass mailings, telephone scripts, financial information, Executive Board and committee meeting agenda, correspondence with and information about elected officials, fact sheets, newspaper articles, results of candidate questionnaires, news releases, a few campaign bumper stickers, and some information about CPPAX conventions.

SERIES V: Massachusetts Political Action for Peace records, 1962- 1977 (bulk, 1962-1972),

is largely comprised of chronological activity files created by the processor out of loose material and folders marked by year. The chronological files (#4-41) include board and committee minutes, correspondence, and flyers. These files document Mass PAX's initial goals and its activities and concerns during its ten year history. The 1962-63 chronological files are sparse. The series also includes a few Mass PAX newsletters, lists, correspondence about a wiretap case, and candidates' files.

Additional Mass PAX records may be found elsewhere in the collection, particularly in folders II.1-2, and in series VII.

SERIES VI: Citizens for Participation Politics, 1968-1972,

is only partially processed. The processed portion is boxed and described together. Records not yet processed that likely belong to this series are currently called Presidential Election (carton 32-33 and perhaps 34-35) and Candidates and Races (carton 36). Additional CPP material appears throughout the collection, particularly in folders II.1-2, series VII, and unprocessed series: Local CPPAX chapters; Electoral work; Media/CPPAX in the news; CPPAX activities: bills, candidates, etc.; Candidates and races; United States Congress, state, and local elections; and CPP oversize scrapbook of clippings.

This series includes CPP convention records, newsletters, and chronological activity, other activity, and candidates files. There are board and committee minutes, correspondence, flyers, notes, platforms, calendars, and an appointment book that document CPP's formation, goals, and activities during its four year life.

SERIES VII: Election reform activities, 1964-1987,

includes minutes, attendence lists, proposals, correspondence, flyers, instructions, although the bulk of the series is material CPPAX collected from other organizations and public offices. As indicated on the folder list, there are a number of files that were maintained by CPP, and one by Mass PAX. In 1970, CPP had a Electoral Affairs and Government Structure Committee, which probably became the Electoral Affairs Committee in 1972. CPPAX at times had a Task Force on Elections and Citizen Control. The records do not provide much information about the work of these committees. It is likely that the files were kept together because of their common topics rather than because of the work of a specific group of CPPAX members. The records in this series document CPPAX's long commitment to advancing popular democracy and to limiting the power of elected officials to ensure their reelection.

The series is arranged in three parts: Voters and voting, Political parties (primarily the Democratic Party), and Other issues (including redistricting and public financing). Each part is arranged chronologically.

The UNPROCESSED SERIES are boxed in cartons 10-37. Most of these series titles are the titles that were on the CPPAX filing cabinet drawers; for a list, see page 6. This is a preliminary folder list; all of the titles were copied from the organization's markings on the folders. Some may be wrong. Descriptions of loose material or unmarked folders (particularly in cartons 10-37) and some dates were added. The folder numbers on the inventory were added to aid researchers and to preserve the original order of the material, but these numbers do not appear on the folders themselves. Please take care to maintain the original order of the folders and loose material in each carton and of the material within each folder. Some loose material was not noted in this folder list.

For material about candidates, including campaign memorabilia, see: Elections; Presidential, state, and local campaigns; Presidential election; Electoral work (includes candidate questionnaires); Candidates and races; U.S. Congress, state and local elections; and This was all together. Additional material about candidates is in series IV-VI, including results compiled from candidate questionnaires that are in the chronological activity files. For information about other political organizations with which CPPAX worked, see: Social justice, housing, welfare, and economic justice; Massachusetts political organizations; Peace files; and CPPAX issues. For documentation of Eugene McCarthy's presidential bids, see: Presidential election (cartons 32-35); Memorabilia; and CPP oversize scrapbook of clippings.



With the exception of the first seven numbered series, this list reflects the order the files were in at the CPPAX office, and, for the most part, the labels on the filing cabinet drawers (maintained in the archives cartons with slips of paper). Each series title is followed by the current carton numbers. Dates are approximate. More than one series often resides in one carton. Scope and content notes for the first seven series are in the CPPAX : scope and content file. A complete folder list for the first seven series and a preliminary folder list for the rest of the collection is available in the department.

Executive Board, 1972-1988
CPPAX conventions, 1972-1988
CPPAX newsletters, 1969-1985
Chronological activity files
2: 1972-75; 3: 1975-79; 4: 1979-86; 5: 1986-87
Massachusetts Political Action for Peace (Mass PAX), 1962-1977 (bulk, 1962-1972)
Citizens for Participation Politics (CPP), 1968-1972
Electoral reform activities, 1964-1987
Legislative and Electoral Action
9: 1985-88; 12: 1985-88
12-13: 1985-86; 14-15: 1983-84
Presidential, state, and local campaigns
15: 1979-82; 10-11: 1979-82
U.S. Congress statements and correspondence
10: 1980s; 16: 1980s
Social Justice, housing, welfare, and economic justice
17-18: "1986-89" 1982-90
Presidential election
19: 1992; 32-33: 1968 (CPP); 33-34: 1972; 35: 1972?
Electoral work (includes candidate questionnaires)
18: 1976-84; 25: 1980-88; 26: 1975-86; 27: 1968-88
Massachusetts political organizations
20-21: 1978-83
Local CPPAX chapters (some CPP)
21: 1969-75; 22: 1975-79
Peace files "1985-88"
23-24: 1980-88
Pledge of Resistance
CPPAX issues
28: 1970-79
Media/CPPAX in the news
29: 1970s; 30: 1980-89
CPPAX activities: bills, candidates, etc. [electoral reform?]
31: 1969-81
Candidates and races
36: 1969 (state and local?)
U.S. Congress, state and local elections (same as elections or President, state, local?)
36: early 1970s; 37: 1968-69; 37: 1976-77
This was all together, 1979-81
CPP clippings
Oversize scrapbook, 1968-70