Abstract

The linguist Audrey R. Duckert was a pioneer in the study of American regional English. Born in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, Duckert studied dialect at the University of Wisconsin, and after completing her doctorate at Radcliffe College in 1959, she joined the faculty at UMass Amherst. During her forty year career at UMass, Duckert became a founding member of the Dictionary of American Regional English (1965) and she was the first UMass woman admitted to Phi Beta Kappa. In addition to her linguistic work, she developed an avid interest in local history and was involved with several local historical societies, including the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem.

The Duckert oral history collection consists of a series of 53 audiocassette recordings containing interviews with persons displaced when the Swift River Valley was flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir in 1939. The histories include rich recollections of life in the towns of Greenwich, Enfield, Dana, and Prescott, with village life, education, family, and the changes that accompanied the inundation of the region. The original audiocassettes are in the possession of the Swift River Valley Historical Society.

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English
Audrey R. Duckert Quabbin Valley Oral History Collection
1966-1980
51 audio recordings (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 756

Background on Audrey R. Duckert

Audrey R. DUckert

Audrey R. DUckert

The linguist Audrey R. Duckert was a pioneer in the study of American regional English. Born in the small town of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, Duckert took up the study of dialect at the University of Wisconsin during the 1940s, and after completing a doctorate in linguistics at Radcliffe College in 1959, she joined the faculty at UMass Amherst. During her forty year career at UMass, Duckert became a founding member of the Dictionary of American Regional English (1965) and she was the first UMass woman admitted to Phi Beta Kappa.

In addition to her linguistic work, Duckert harbored an avid interest in local history, working closely with several local historical societies on projects that united her interests in dialect and daily life. Her most fruitful work may have been with the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem where for two decades, she participated in an oral historical program, interviewing persons who had displaced from the Swift River Valley during the 1930s when the Quabbin Reservoir was constructed to provide drinking water for Boston. On September 6, 2007, Duckert died in Hadley, Mass., at the age of 80.

Contents of Collection

The Duckert oral history collection consists of 53 audiocassettes containing interviews with persons displaced when the Swift River Valley was flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The histories include rich recollections of life in the towns of Greenwich, Enfield, Dana, and Prescott, with village life, education, family, and the changes that accompanied the evacuation and inundation of the valley. In addition to the formal interviews, the collection also includes recordings of public presentations and genealogical programs relating to the Quabbin region offered by the Swift River Valley Historical Society, tours of Quabbin sites led by former residents, and radio broadcasts.

Series descriptions
1969-1980
13 tapes

Situated in Worcester County at the northern end of the Quabbin region, due east of Greenwich, New Salem, and Prescott, the villages of Dana Center and North Dana had barely 700 residents at the turn of the twentieth century. In addition to agriculture, Dana had a biox manufactory and was a center for production of palm-leaf hats.

1974-1979
5 tapes

Located in the southernmost portion of the Quabbin Valley, Enfield was the largest and most important of the four Quabbin towns. With over 1,000 residents at the turn of the twentieth century, its industrial base in woolen and grist mills made it the wealthiest of the four towns, and along with Greenwich, it was home to the only printers to operate in the Valley, Solomon and John Howe.

1966-1979
8 tapes

The first of the Quabbin towns to be incorporated, Greenwich was settled in 1739 along the banks of the East and Middle branches of the Swift River. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the lakes and hills of Greenwich became a popular spot for vacationing tourists.

1974-1975
5 tapes

Although the town of New Salem was not dissolved by construction of the Quabbin Reservoir, one of its villages, Millington, was inundated. With a population of just over 800 at the turn of the century -- and half that by the time of completion of the Reservoir -- New Salem grew considerably in size when it annexed the northern portion of Prescott that remained above water after the flooding.

1967-1979
12 tapes

The smallest and westernmost of the four Quabbin towns, Prescott was incorporated in 1822, having been divided out from portions of the adjacent towns of New Salem and Pelham. In 1900, its population was barely over 300 residents, about 50% lower than at its peak, with most residents engaged in agriculture, lumbering, or domestic manufactures.

1968-1979
8 tapes

Lectures, programs, and interviews pertaining to the Quabbin region generally.

Collection inventory
Dana, Mass.
1969-1980
13 tapes

Days in North Dana, lumbering.

Recollections of Dana: low-fidelity recording made during hike to the former Dana Common

"Joe Cornauskus takes Katherine Reed (Kitty) on a nostalgic trip to North Dana (Zib Pierce also)."

Recorded on a hike to Doubleday Village and North Dana; poor quality audio. Original tape held in the collections of the Swift River Valley Historical Society.

Lecture on stone structures in New England.

Recollections of early automobiles.

Oral history regarding the Goodnow Orchestra.

Recalling life in North Dana: high ambient noise level.

Recalling her life in Dana.

Recollections of life in North Dana, Mass.

Recollections of Dana: low-fidelity recording made during hike to the former Dana Common.

Recollections of Dana, Pottapaug Mountain, Bear's Den, Indian kitchen, July 4th pranks, Dana waterworks, Snow's glass coffins, and family.

Enfield, Mass.
1974-1979
5 tapes

Oral history interview with former resident of Enfield, Mass., Quabbin River Valley. Tape noted by Duckert as incomplete.

Oral history interview with former resident of Enfield, Mass, Quabbin River Valley, recalling Smiths Village and Enfield. Phillips, daughter of James Twible, was born in 1896.

Oral history interview with Mrs. Stalbird Terry, former resident of Enfield, Mass, Quabbin River Valley. The Terrys were the last couple married in the Congregational Church in Enfield.

Oral history interview with former resident of Enfield, Mass, Quabbin River Valley, and other towns. Fred Thayer, who would turn 85 in October 1975, drove horses all over the Valley.

Ward, Ruth and Eleanor Schmidt oral history with Audrey R. Duckert and Eleanor Schmidt (Hadley, Mass.)
1976 Mar. 4
Box 1
(2)

Greenwich, Mass.
1966-1979
8 tapes

Oral history interview with Billings, a resident of Anchorage, Alaska, formerly of Pittsfield, Mass., regarding his family in Greenwich, Quabbin River Valley, Mass.

Oral history interview with former residents of Greenwich, Mass., Quabbin River Valley, recorded at Greenwich Foundation Reunion in Ware; hymn singing.

Oral history interview with King and Schmidt (former residents of Greenwich, Mass.) and Moult (former resident of Millington), Quabbin River Valley. Recorded at King's home.

Oral history interview with former resident of Pelham and Greenwich, Mass., Quabbin River Valley, recorded for the Newton Public Schools.

Oral history interview with former residents of Greenwich, Mass., Quabbin River Valley, including discussion of Greenwich genealogy.

Oral history interview with former resident of Greenwich, Mass., Quabbin River Valley. Recorded outside while walking to where Parker taught school in Pelham Hill (Bobbin Hollow).

Oral history interview with former resident of Pelham and Greenwich, Mass., Quabbin River Valley, on life there in the 1920s.

Oral history interview with former resident of Enfield, Mass., Quabbin River Valley.

New Salem, Mass.
1974-1975
5 tapes

"Talking about the old days, the Ballard family, New Salem people, the New Salem Academy, old fashioned foods;" also Ballard Tavern, sugaring off, brown bread, brewis, bread coffee, bubble and squeak.

Recorded on site, entering the Quabbin Resevation at Gate 22: Puppyville, site of house, North Prescott, New Salem, Millington. Poor audio quality for first 30 of recording

Discussing growing up in New Salem when residents were self-sufficient; New Salem Academy.

Triple wedding of the Paige sisters at Hop Brook Farm, 1906, New Sale; genealogical quest for Phineas Stevens.

Mr. Newton (Fay) discussing Millington and other Quabbin towns; Mrs. Newton (Reita) discusses Ballard family of New Salem and her outdoor wedding in 1923.

Prescott, Mass.
1967-1979
12 tapes

Two interviews recorded at Berry's home near Gate 20 of the Quabbin Reservoir. The first includes a discussion of the botany of the region and folk names for the plants; second interview includes discussions of North Prescott, the Prescott Church, and New Salem.

Blakesly lived on Grout place at Prescott; tour of Prescott; Schmidt interviewed by Belchertown student; "a good bit on haying." Poor audio quality.

Regarding moving the Prescott Church to the Swift River Valley Historical Society; inventory of Prescott Historical Society Museum; memories of Prescott. Oren Jones.

Swift River Valley Historical Society walking tour to Prescott, led by Oren Jones, with contributions by Althea Daniels, Robert Johnston, and Miriam Putnam.

Oral history interview with former residents of Prescott and Greenwich, Mass., Quabbin River Valley, responding to questions posed by students of the Newton Public Schools.

Guided tour of the Whitaker-Clary House, Swift River Valley Historical Society.

Memories of Schmidt's family (the Griswolds) and Prescott; recorded at Schmidt's home on Ware Road, Belchertown.

Recorded in Julia Wendemuth's house, with Eleanor Schmidt.

Miscellaneous topics, including doctors, home remedies, schools, old times. Recorded at the Wendemuth home in North Brookfield, where the family moved after leaving Prescott.

Interview with three former residents of Prescott, Mass. "Much on picture recognizing."

Quabbin region, Mass.
1968-1979
8 tapes

Discussing Coolidge family genealogy at the Swift River Valley Historical Society.

Lecture on genealogy at the Swift River Valley Historical Society, including the Paige, Haskell, Whitaker, Tyler, and Whitney families.

Lecture is part of the geneaology series of the Swift River Valley Historical Society. "Speaks a bit about the Mormons."

Talk at the Swift River Valley Historical Society based upon her newspaper column.

Slide show and lecture delivered at the Swift River Valley Historical Society.

From typed note: "Mrs. Beatrice (Fiske) Minor of North Orange being interviewed on Radio Station, Orange. Taped from a radio receiver 10:30 AM 18 February 1976. Bun Doubleday."

Panel discussion held in the barn at the Whitaker-Clary House, Swift River Valley Historical Society. Panelists include Roy Thayer, Lester Hager, and Sally Fillebrown Parker. Also speaking from the audience: Raymond Lego, Ruth Newbury Bassingthwaite, Rieta Balland Newton, and Dorothy Fittz.

Coon hunting in Quabbin region, hunting dogs; music and the Good News orchestra; Minute Tapioca Band; dances.

Administrative information
Location of Originals

The original audiocassettes are held in the collections of the Swift River Valley Historical Society, New Salem, Mass., who generously permitted SCUA to digitize the content.

Digitized content

Digitized versions of the recordings in this collection are made available through Credo. The original audiocassettes have been returned to the Swift River Valley Historical Society.

Provenance

The original audiocassettes were donated to the Swift River Valley Historical Society by Audrey R. Duckert. In 2012, the Historical Society agreed to work collaboratively with Special Collections to digitize the cassettes

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Sept. 2013.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Audrey R. Duckert Quabbin Valley Oral History Collection (MS 756). Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries.

Search terms
Subjects
  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--History
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • New Salem (Mass.)--History
  • New Salem (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Prescott (Mass.)--History
  • Prescott (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Swift River Valley (Mass.)--History
  • Swift River Valley (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Names
  • Doubleday, Warren Nehemiah
  • Fittz, Dorothy Bullard
  • Goodnow, Clarence
  • Hemenway, Ruby
  • King, Stanwood
  • Mackie, Eunice Mitchell
  • Newton, Fay
  • Parker, Sally Fillebrown
  • Schmidt, Eleanor Griswold
  • Segur, Bill
  • Terry, Gertrude Whitney Ward
  • Wendemuth, Herman W.
  • Wendemuth, Julia
Genre terms
  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories