Dana (Mass.) Collection
1801-1938
21 vols. (1.5 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 012

Abstract

Situated in the northeastern reaches of the Swift River Valley in western Massachusetts, Dana was one of four towns inundated in the 1930s to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Rural and relatively sparsely populated, Dana's economy centered on agriculture, leavened with manufacturing wood products and soapstone quarrying.

The Dana Collections include a comprehensive records of town meetings from incorporation through disincorporation (1801-1938), plus rich records for the Congregational Church and its affiliate organizations, the Ladies Aid Society, the Orthodox Congregational Society, and the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. Most of the materials listed in this finding aid are held at the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass., and were part of a cooperative digitization project centered on the records of the Quabbin towns.

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English
Dana (Mass.) Collection
1801-1938
21 vols. (1.5 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 012

Background on Dana, Mass.

Incorporated from parts of Greenwich, Hardwick, and Petersham in 1801, the town of Dana, Massachusetts, was situated in the northeastern reaches of the Swift River Valley. A fairly sparsely populated town (695 residents in 1890), Dana benefited from a relative abundance of flat and arable land that resulted in an economy centered on farming and pasturage, but the availability of water from the Swift River promoted the development of manufactures as well. In addition to the cottage industry of weaving palm-leaf hats, particularly in North Dana, the town supported factories that produced pianos, wood products (the Swift River Box Company), sawmills, gristmills, and textiles. Quarrying of granite and especially soapstone added to the employment.

Like its neighbors in the Swift River Valley (Dana, Enfield, and Prescott), Dana's fortunes dimmed considerably after the 1890s. Confronted with a critical demand for water in the Boston metropolitan region in 1895, the Commonwealth authorized the new Metropolitan Water District to seek new supplies in the western parts of the state. Construction of the Wachusett Reservoir along the Nashua River (1897-1908) bought time, but ultimately failed to meet projected demand, and by 1922, the MWD officially signaled its intention of damming the Swift River Valley, signifying an end to habitation there. All residents were ordered removed from the valley, with homes, farms, and places of business systematically destroyed, the land cleared, and even the graves removed.

Work on the Quabbin Reservoir began four years later with construction of the Ware River Diversion, a tunnel connecting the Wachusett Reservoir with the Ware River, followed in 1936 by construction of the Goodnough Dike and Windsor Dam. Dana was officially disincorporated by the state in 1938, with the above-water portions annexed to nearby Hardwick, New Salem, Petersham, and Ware. On Aug. 14, 1939, the reservoir began to fill.

Contents of Collection

The Dana Collections include a comprehensive records of town meetings from incorporation through disincorporation (1801-1938), plus rich records for the Congregational Church and its affiliate organizations, the Ladies Aid Society, the Orthodox Congregational Society, and the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. Most of the materials listed in this finding aid are held at the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass., and were part of a cooperative digitization project centered on the records of the Quabbin towns.

Collection inventory
Dana (Mass. : Town)
1801-1938
7 vols
Contents:

Includes town meeting minutes, elections, perambulations, etc.

Location of originals:

Originals held by the Swift River Valley Historical Society, New Salem, Mass.

Dana (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
1864-1883
2 vols
Location of originals:

Originals held by the Swift River Valley Historical Society, New Salem, Mass.

Includes financial records and letters written and received concerning persons who required financial support

Ladies' Aid Society (Dana, Mass.)
1849-1935
5 vols
Contents:

Includes constitutions and bylaws, lists of members, records of meetings, financial records. North Dana Ladies braiding Circle was formed in 1849 and the Ladies Aid Society in 1856. Other names are Ladies' Aid Society of Dana Congregational Church and Community (1924; 1925); Ladies' Aid Society of the Dana Orthodox Congregational Church and Community (1926-1927); Ladies Aid Society and Sewing Club of the Orthodox Congregational Church of Dana, Mass. (1926) Orthodox Congregational Church and Community (1926-1927); Ladies Aid Society and Sewing Club of the Orthodox Congregational Church of Dana, Mass. (1926).

Location of originals:

Originals held by the Swift River Valley Historical Society, New Salem, Mass.

Orthodox Congregational Society (Dana, Mass.)
1852-1938
2 vols
Contents:

Includes minutes of meetings, lists of members, and financial records. The Orthodox Congregational Society was established in Dana, Mass. on July 12, 1852.

Location of originals:

Originals held by the Swift River Valley Historical Society, New Salem, Mass.

Includes minutes of meetings, lists of members, and financial records. The Orthodox Congregational Church at Dana Centre, a successor to the Storrsville church, was formed on September 28, 1852.

First Universalist Church (North Dana, Mass.) Vesper Service Programs
1934-1936
1 folder

Programs for the Monson-Hale Memorial Vespers, musical services held at the First Universalist Church in North Dana, Massachusetts, since 1929. Also included is a news clipping indicating the history of the North Dana Vespers.

Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor (Dana, Mass.)
1892-1917
4 vols
Contents:

Includes: Dana Y.P.S.C.E. Secretary's book (1892-1904), Dana Y.P.S.C.E. Treasurer's book (1898-1914), Dana Y.P.S.C.E. (1904-1907), Dana Christian Endeavor Society 1911 (1911-1917)

Location of originals:

Originals held by the Swift River Valley Historical Society, New Salem, Mass.

Administrative information
Location of Originals

This finding aid includes materials digitized in partnership with the Swift River Valley Historical Society in 2014, where the originals remain.

Provenance

Gift of Donald Howe, 1960; digital content made possible through a collaboration with the Swift River Valley Historical Society.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Ken Fones-Wolf, Linda Seidman, and others, 1984-2014.

Related Material

Additional material relating to the history of the four Quabbin towns is indexed in SCUA's online catalog, UMarmot, and includes the following of note:

The Swift River Valley Historical Society contains other records for the Quabbin towns that have not been digitized. Amon These include photographs of residents of the town and materials relating to town finances and taxation.

Digitized content

The official records of Dana have been largely digitized and are available both through the Internet Archive and Credo.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Dana (Mass.) Collections (MS 012). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms
Subjects
  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Dana--History
  • Dana (Mass. : Town)
  • Dana (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
  • Dana (Mass.)--Appropriations and expenditures
  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--History--19th century
  • Dana (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
  • Dana (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Dana (Mass.)--Social conditions--19th century
  • Dana (Mass.)--Social life and customs--20th century
  • Poor--Massachusetts--Dana
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs--20th century
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Surveys
  • Women--Massachusetts--Dana
  • Women--Societies and clubs
Names
  • First Universalist Church (North Dana, Mass.)
  • Ladies' Aid Society (Dana, Mass.)
  • Orthodox Congregational Church (Dana, Mass.)
  • Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor
Genre terms
  • Church records.