Thomas Nattell Papers, 1956-2002
- Nattell, Thomas Cole, 1950-2002
- The Thomas Nattell papers document the life of a mental health worker and political activist active during the 1980s and 1990s in Albany, New York. He created and participated in organizations like the Albany Peace and Energy Council (APEC) and the Three Guys From Albany poetry troupe. He also acted as promoter and event coordinator for movie showings, poetry open mics and an annual 24-hour poetry reading alongside a coinciding international postcard art event. Nattell used poetry and other arts to advance world peace, anti-nuclear power and proliferation, and environmental issues. This collection contains videos of events, photographs, scrapbooks full of art and poetry mailed from around the world to Nattell, subject files with research on topics related to his professional work as well as his activism, poetry, correspondence, and clippings.
- 12.1 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Thomas Nattell Papers, 1956-2002. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Nattell Papers).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted. Please note there is material containing adult content in Series 1.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
This collection contains videos of events, photographs, scrapbooks full of art and poetry mailed from around the world to Nattell for display during events, subject files with research on topics related to his professional work as well as his activism, poetry, correspondence with politicians, business owners and poets, resumes, magazines, promotional material, and more. While Nattell was widely known as a poet, only a few samples of his poetry are present in the collection: “Hiroshima” and the “Columbus Day fantasies”. This collection provides insight into day-to-day life of a mental health coordinator, event organization in Albany, activism and event coverage in the media, and the early “green” environmentalist movement. It features correspondence with prominent individuals such as poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, as well as Albany Mayor Thomas M Whalen III. The collection also contains information on CDANA/APEC, a small 501 (c) council with many official newsletters and press releases regarding environmental and political causes.
Please note that dates reflect date of use where possible or date of publication. Not all dates are inclusive.
- Biographical / Historical:
Thomas "Tom" Cole Nattell was born in 1950. He lived his life entirely in Albany, New York aside from a short period during his childhood. He received a B.A. in Anthropology in 1974, a M.A. in Anthropology in 1976 and a M.S.W. in 1979 all from the State University of New York at Albany. He worked as a research associate for the New York State Council on Children and Families and other positions until settling in 1988 at the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYS OMH) as a program coordinator and as a Research Scientist III until the end of his life.
Nattell was widely known as a poet and environmentalist. His activism dates back to the 1960s, when he started a sit-in at Albany High School gymnasium demanding a Black Studies program. He used poetry and protest gatherings to support issues including AIDS awareness, environmentalism, anti-nuclear proliferation, Native American rights and pacifism. He was a member of many organizations apart from his work at the NYS OMH. Nattell was a founding member of the Capital District Anti-Nuclear Alliance (CDANA) which later became the Albany Peace and Energy Council (APEC), a member of the poetry group “Three Guys from Albany,” a promoter and events coordinator for performances by the Bread and Puppet Circus. Nattell promoted other events, including readings at the New York State Writers Institute, and founded Open Mic poetry nights at the now-closed QE2 club on Central Avenue in Albany, New York. He created an annual 24-hour poetry reading and APEC fund-raiser that occurred for a decade called the “Readings Against the End of the World” (RAEW). Nattell authored many letters to the editor and was a frequent commentator on local issues in regional newspapers like the Albany Times Union and the Knickerbocker News, and eventually wrote his own column called "The Simple Life" in the alternative news weekly magazine Metroland.
Nattell died at age 52 in 2005 of throat cancer, survived by his long time friend and partner Mary Anne Winslow, a son and daughter and two brothers.
Source: Grondahl, Paul. "Rebel poet nears final stanza." Albany Times Union. 16 January 2005.
- Acquisition information:
Thomas Nattell donated the records in January of 2005.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2011 by Samuel Braden.
- Social Activists and Public Advocates
Conservation and the Environment
Albany, New York
Environmentalism--New York (State)--New York.
Cold War in popular culture.
Cold War--Press coverage--United States.
AIDS (Disease)--New York (State)--New York--Prevention.
Community Support Services.
Files by subject
- Nattell, Thomas Cole, 1950-2002.
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
Waldman, Anne, 1945- .
Whalen III, Thomas M., 1934-2002.
Atwood, Margaret, 1939- .
Sherman, Margot Lee.
Schumann, Peter, 1934- .
Bread and Puppet Theater.
Capital District Anti-Nuclear Association
Albany Peace and Energy Council
Coalition to Keep Albany's Name Nuclear Free.
New York State Writers Institute.
State University of New York at Albany.
State University of New York at Albany. School of Social Welfare.
Price Chopper Corporation.
New York (State). Office of Mental Health.
New York (State). Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.
- Albany County (N.Y.)