William L. Machmer Papers
1899-1955 (Bulk: 1924-1953)
18 boxes (9.0 linear ft.)
Call no.: RG6/1 M33

Abstract

Enjoying one of the longest tenures of any administrator in the history of the University of Massachusetts, William Lawson Machmer served under five presidents across 42 years, helping to guide the university through an economic depression, two world wars, and three name changes. During his years as Dean, Machmer witnessed the growth of the university from fewer than 500 students to almost 3,800, and helped guide its transformation from a small agricultural college into Massachusetts State College (1931) and finally into the University of Massachusetts (1947).

Machmer's papers chronicle the fitful development of the University of Massachusetts from the days of Kenyon Butterfield's innovations of the 1920s through the time of the GI Bill. The collection is particularly strong in documenting the academic experience of students and the changes affecting the various departments and programs at the University, with particular depth for the period during and after the Second World War.

Access

The collection is open for research with the exception of files containing the academic records of individual students.

Language:

English
William L. Machmer Papers
1899-1955 (Bulk: 1924-1953)
18 boxes (9.0 linear ft.)
Call no.: RG6/1 M33

Background on William L. Machmer

William L. Machmer.

William L. Machmer.

Enjoying one of the longest tenures of any administrator in the history of the University of Massachusetts, William Lawson Machmer served under five presidents across 42 years, helping to guide the university through an economic depression, two world wars, and three name changes. During his years as Dean, Machmer witnessed the growth of the university from fewer than 500 students to almost 3,800, and helped guide its transformation from a small agricultural college into Massachusetts State College (1931) and finally into the University of Massachusetts (1947).

Born in Moselem, Pa., on January 30, 1883, Machmer was trained as a teacher at Keystone State Normal School before receiving both his bachelors and masters degrees in languages (Latin and Greek) from Franklin and Marshall College. Having gained experience teaching for several years in the public school system in Pennsylvania and at the Franklin and Marshall Academy, Machmer was brought to Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1911 as instructor of mathematics, one of a small crop of younger faculty brought in to build the curriculum. Well regarded throughout the college and a favorite of the students, Machmer rose steadily up the academic ladder and in 1921, he was chosen by President Kenyon Butterfield to become Assistant Dean, followed four years later by his promotion to Dean.

For nearly thirty years, Machmer was centrally involved in the academic affairs of campus. Although many of the curricular innovations and reforms introduced by Butterfield were never fully realized, Machmer was a steadfast advocate of raising academic standards, and he was highly effective in dealing with the changes brought by the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the return of war veterans in the late 1940s and early 1950s, as well as the gradual shift in emphasis away from agricultural education toward the liberal arts and sciences. As a close advisor to the college president, he oversaw both the curriculum and the student body, writing that philosophically, he wished to emphasize the "development of the complete individual," including the mental, physical, social, and moral aspects.

As Machmer grew into the Dean's role, he took part in a number of regional and national organizations and initiatives, including the federal survey of Land Grant Colleges and Universities in 1928, the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities, the American Conference on Academic Deans, and the Eastern Association of Deans and Advisors of Men. Although his teaching load was reduced by his administrative responsibilities, he remained active as well in the Department of Mathematics, serving as Department head from 1935-1940. Outside the University, his slate was no less full. Deeply involved in the Amherst community, he took an interest generally in educational and Congregational Church matters, heading the Parent-Teachers Association and the Amherst School Committee at various times, and working with the local Democratic Party and the Masonic fraternity.

On January 24, 1953, less than a month after retiring from the University, Machmer died of a heart attack while fighting a grass fire at his summer home at Chequesett Bluff, Wellfleet, Mass. In 1956, a new classroom building was named Machmer Hall in his honor.

Contents of Collection

The papers of long-time Dean of the University William L. Machmer chronicle the fitful development of UMass Amherst from the presidency of Kenyon Butterfield just after the turn of the twentieth century until the time of the GI Bill. During his tenure, Machmer helped the university weather the effects of two World Wars and the Great Depression, and to navigate the changes as it evolved first into Massachusetts State College and then into the University of Massachusetts. Throughout, he was a humane and effective voice for high academic standards and for the life of the student.

Machmer's papers contain information on student academic achievement, educational expectations and challenges, and the efforts of the university to take part in regional and national organizations. As such, the collection offers a perspective on the evolution of thinking at the University during the transition from a narrowly defined mission as an agricultural college into a more broadly conceived liberal arts curriculum. Of particular interest is the relatively large quantity of material relating to the adjustments at the university during and after World War II and the efforts to meet the demand of returning veterans. The collection includes substantial information on the organization of courses at Fort Devens and Westover Air Force Base; statistics, letters, and other documents relating to returning veterans; and (especially in Series 2) information on the adaptation of the individual academic units at the university.

Series descriptions
1899-1955
8.0 linear feet

The bulk of the subject files in Series 1 pertains to Machmer's activities as Dean at the University of Massachusetts during the 1920s through 1953, and particularly his oversight of the changing curriculum and student academic success. From the controversy over introducing an BA degree (as opposed to the BS formerly granted to agricultural students) to the introduction of new ideas in how best to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth, the series documents the slow and sometimes agonizing reorganization of the university.

Machmer was a strong proponent of student academic standards, and his files from his work on the Scholarship Committee (reviewing the academic standing of students), his annual reports as Dean, statistical summaries of student standing, and reports from various other committees provides a sense of academic life at the university during the 1930s and 1940s. To a lesser degree, the series also documents aspects of student non-academic life.

The impact of World War II on the University can be seen throughout the series in terms of the dramatic impact on a student body mobilizing for war and the equally dramatic impact of integrating veterans back into the university following demobilization. Of particular note are a fine series of letters written by former Mass. State students in the service (filed under "Letters from soldiers") and a poignant file of requests from Japanese American students from the western states seeking to continue their education. In most cases, Machmer responded to say that while the university was willing to admit Japanese American students, the already strained facilities at Mass. State would not permit them to admit additional out of state students.

1937-1952
1.0 linear feet

Series 2 contains an effective snapshot of the state of the academic departments at UMass, concentrated in period 1950-1952, when the university was experiencing an influx of returning veterans from World War II. The files provide some insight into the efforts of each department, often with mixed success, to meet the educational demands of the post-war generation and their efforts to innovate or adapt the curriculum.

Collection inventory
Series 1. Subject files
1899-1955
8.0 linear feet
A.B. material
1936-1939
3 folders
Box 1: 1-3
A.B. degree, Trustee Committee
1937-1938

Box 1: 4
A.B. degree, Trustees' reaction to degree proposal
1937-1938

Box 1: 5
Accreditation
1947-1951

Box 1: 6
Academic credit for men in armed service
1943-1945

Box 1: 7
Academics
1934-1946

Box 1: 8
Addresses
1941-1947

Box 1: 9
Addresses and introductions
1930-1951
4 folders
Box 1: 10-13
Administrative expenses, Dean Lewis
1919-1921

Box 1: 14
Adult education
1927-1929

Box 2: 1
Agricultural controversy and committee on biography
1945

Box 2: 2
Agricultural education
1912-1924

Box 2: 3
Alumni
1921-1947

Box 2: 4
American Bankers Association
1944-1946

Box 2: 5
American Conference on Academic Deans
1947-1952

Box 2: 6
Annual Reports
1919-1948
3 folders
Box 2: 7-9
Annual Reports
1919-1929

Box 1: 7
Annual Reports
1930-1939

Box 1: 8
Annual Reports
1940-1948

Box 1: 9
Armistice Day
1945

Box 2: 10
Army Specialized Training Reserve Program
1943-1946

Box 3: 1-3
Association of American Colleges
1941-1948

Box 2: 11
Association of Institutional Business officers of New England Educational Institutions
1921

Box 2: 12
Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities
1928-1943
2 folders
Box 2: 13-14
Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities
1928-1943

Box 2: 13
Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities
1944/1946

Box 2: 14
Athletics
1935-1940

Box 3: 4
Bachelor degrees
1945

Box 3: 5
Baker, Hugh P.
1933-1947
12 folders
Box 3: 6-17
Baker, Hugh P.
1933

Box 3: 6
Baker, Hugh P.
1934-1935

Box 3: 7
Baker, Hugh P.
1936-1937

Box 3: 8
Baker, Hugh P.
1938

Box 3: 9
Baker, Hugh P.
1939

Box 3: 10
Baker, Hugh P.
1940

Box 3: 11
Baker, Hugh P.
1941

Box 3: 12
Baker, Hugh P.
1942

Box 3: 13
Baker, Hugh P.
1943-1944

Box 3: 14
Baker, Hugh P.
1945

Box 3: 15
Baker, Hugh P.
1946

Box 3: 16
Baker, Hugh P.
1947

Box 3: 17
Band
1933-1940

Box 4: 1
Boston University Institute on Post-War Problem
1944-1946

Box 4: 2
Brochures and programs
1916-1936

Box 4: 3
Budget
1909-1920

Box 4: 4
Building program
1929

Box 4: 5
Building wardens
1941

Box 4: 6
Buildings
1915, 1935

Box 4: 7
Burnham and Flint Contest
1946, 1951

Box 4: 8
Butterfield, Kenyon L.
1906-1924

Box 4: 9
B.V.A. degree
1929-1943

Box 4: 10
Campus guide
1926

Box 4: 11
Campus planning
1935, 1940

Box 4: 12
Certification out of state
1928-1934

Box 4: 13
Classroom and laboratory accommodations
Undated

Box 4: 14
College calendar
1932/1948

Box 4: 15
College colors
1947

Box 4: 16
College Entrance Examination Board
1939-1951
4 folders
Box 4: 17-20
Collegian
1934-1952

Box 5: 1
Collegian publishing board
1949-1952

Box 5: 2
Collegian Quarterly
1941-1945

Box 5: 3
Commencements
1922-1938
14 folders
Box 5-6:
Commencements
1922-1924

Box 5: 4
Commencements
1925-1929

Box 5: 5
Commencements
1930-1932

Box 5: 6
Commencements
1933-1934

Box 5: 7
Commencements
1935-1936

Box 5: 8
Commencements
1937-1938

Box 5: 9
Commencements
1939

Box 6: 1
Commencements
1940

Box 6: 2
Commencements
1941-1942

Box 6: 3
Commencements
1943-1944

Box 6: 4
Commencements
1945-1946

Box 6: 5
Commencements
1947

Box 6: 6
Commencements
1948

Box 6: 7
Commencements
1949

Box 6: 8
Connecticut Valley Scientific Conference
1931-1953

Box 6: 9
Convocations
1945-1947

Box 6: 10
Correspondence
1922-1949
2 folders
Box 7: 1-2
Correspondence
1922-1929

Box 7: 1
Correspondence
1933-1949

Box 7: 2
Correspondence course
Undated

Box 7: 3
Cost of instruction
1921

Box 7: 4
Council of Churches. Town and Country Department
1938-1944

Box : 5
Course of study
1931-1947
10 folders
Box 7-8:
Course of study
1931-1934

Box 7: 6
Course of study
1935-1936

Box 7: 7
Course of study
1937

Box 7: 8
Course of study
1938

Box 7: 9
Course of study
1939-1940

Box 7: 10
Course of study
1941

Box 7: 11
Course of study
1942

Box 7: 12
Course of study
1943-1944

Box 8: 1
Course of study
1945-1946

Box 8: 2
Course of study
1947

Box 8: 3
Curriculum study
1933-1934

Box 8: 4
Dad's Day
1936-1938

Box 8: 5
Degrees
1949

Box 8: 6
Department heads
1933-1945

Box 8: 7
Department of the Interior: Occupational guidance
1937-1942

Box 8: 8
Diamond Jubilee
1938

Box 8: 9
Discipline Committee
1928-1942

Box 8: 10
Dormitories
1932-1939

Box 8: 11
Eastern Association of College Deans and Advisors of Men
1940-1951

Box 8: 12
Eastern Colleges Science Conference
1950-1951

Box 8: 13
Eligibility rules
1921-1930

Box 8: 14
English Association
1949-1950

Box 8: 15
Enrollment statistics
1916-1946

Box 8: 16
Entrance examination: English
1943

Box 8: 17
Experiment Station
1934-1936

Box 8: 18
Faculty advisors
1947

Box 8: 19
Faculty and staff
1920-1942

Box 8: 20
Faculty Club
1935-1948

Box 8: 21
Faculty meetings
1941-1942

Box 8: 22
Faculty teaching load
1944-1949

Box 8: 23
Faculty vacancies
1951

Box 8: 24
Farewell to Bay State
Undated

Box 9: 1
Fine Arts
1933-1938

Box 9: 2
Financial aid
1934-1935

Box 9: 3
Fire wardens
1941

Box 9: 4
Food Committee
1947-1948

Box 9: 5
Fort Devens
1946-1950
11 folders
Box 9: 6-16
Fort Devens: Business administration
1947-1948

Box 9: 6
Fort Devens: Creative arts
1948-1949

Box 9: 7
Fort Devens: Curriculum
1947-1948

Box 9: 8
Fort Devens: Engineering
1947-1948

Box 9: 9
Fort Devens: Faculty
1946-1949

Box 9: 10
Fort Devens: Massachusetts State College, folder 1
1946-1949

Box 9: 11
Fort Devens: Massachusetts State College, folder 2
1946-1949

Box 9: 12
Fort Devens: News releases
1946-1948

Box 9: 13
Fort Devens: Report
1947-1949

Box 9: 14
Fort Devens: Statistics
1947-1950

Box 9: 15
Fort Devens: Transfer problems
1947-1948

Box 9: 16
4-H Camp
1951

Box 9: 17
Fraternities
1909-1947

Box 9: 18
Freshman handbook
1939-1947

Box 9: 19
Freshman scholars
1940

Box 9: 20
Freshman science requirements
1948

Box 9: 21
Freshman statistics
1936-1938

Box 10: 1
Freshman week
1947-1948

Box 10: 2
Gallant, James F.
1920-1925

Box 10: 3
Goldberg, Maxwell
1945

Box 10: 4
Grades
1943

Box 10: 5
Graduate school
1944-1952

Box 10: 6
Hillside School
1947-1952

Box 10: 7
Higher Education in the Commonwealth
1940

Box 10: 8
High School day
1935-1941

Box 10: 9
High School preparation
1937-1938

Box 10: 10
Honor system
1940-1945

Box 10: 11
Housing and sanitation
1933

Box 10: 12
Housing for women
1933

Box 10: 13
Index
1937-1941

Box 10: 14
Insignia Chapel (Awards for academic activities)
1928-1937

Box 10: 15
Interchange of students between Valley colleges
1939

Box 10: 16
Interchurch Council
1928-1931

Box 10: 17
Japanese-American students
1942-1944

Box 10: 18
Journalism
1944

Box 10: 19
Land Grant Colleges
1928-1951

Box 10: 20
Legislature
1946

Box 10: 21
Letters from students in the service
1942-1945

Box 10: 22
Lewis, Edward M.
1923-1936
3 folders
Box 11: 1-3
Lewis, Edward M. Dean of MAC
1923-1936

Box 11: 1
Lewis, Edward M. Correspondence
Undated

Box 11: 2
Lewis, Edward M. President of MAC
1924-1927

Box 11: 3
Liberal Arts, School of. Minutes of meetings
1939-1955
2 folders
Box 11: 4-5
Liberal Arts, School of. Minutes of meetings
1939-1948

Box 11: 4
Liberal Arts, School of. Minutes of meetings
1949-1955

Box 11: 5
Library
1923-1941

Box 11: 6
Lotta agricultural loans
1931-1943

Box 11: 7
Maroon Key Society
1939-1940

Box 11: 8
Mass Action
1928-1929

Box 11: 9
Mass. State College: Origin and scope
1940

Box 11: 10
Mass. State College: Departmental descriptions
1933-1945

Box 11: 11
Miscellaneous (background info, memors, reports)
1919-1945

Box 12: 1
Mountain Day
1936-1946

Box 12: 2
National Conference of College and University Presidents
1942

Box 12: 3
New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
1931-1952
2 folders
Box 12: 4-5
New England Educational Institutions: Deans Association
1939-1952

Box 12: 6
New England Educational Institutions: Council
1944-1948

Box 12: 7
News Service
1937

Box 12: 8
New York registration
1928-1947

Box 12: 9
October conference
1944-1948

Box 12: 10
Patents, Committee on
1935

Box 12: 11
Phi Kappa Phi
1930-1937

Box 12: 12
Regulations, Academic
1940

Box 13: 1
Regulations, Non-academic
1933-1947

Box 13: 2
Religious activities
1899-1937

Box 13: 3
Religious activities: Finances
1923-1952
3 folders
Box 13: 4-6
Religious activities: Finances
1923-1945

Box 13: 4
Religious activities: Finances
1941-1942

Box 13: 5
Religious activities: Finances
1943-1952

Box 13: 6
Religious Advisory Board
1937-1947

Box 13: 7
Religious denomination statistics
1926-1947

Box 13: 8
Religious Director (W. B. Easton)
1942-1946

Box 13: 9
Resident teaching
1937

Box 13: 10
ROTC
1941-1945

Box 13: 11
ROTC Regional Conference Northeast
1947

Box 13: 12
Salary standardization
1919

Box 14: 1
Scholarship Committee
1910-1947

Box 14: 2-9
Scholarship Committee
1910-1914

Box 14: 2
Scholarship Committee
1912-1915

Box 14: 3
Scholarship Committee
1916-1918

Box 14: 4
Scholarship Committee
1919-1921

Box 14: 5
Scholarship Committee
1922-1924

Box 14: 6
Scholarship Committee
1925-1933

Box 14: 7
Scholarship Committee
1934-1940

Box 14: 8
Scholarship Committee
1941-1947

Box 14: 9
Scholarship Day
1934-1939

Box 14: 10
Scholarship Day
1940-1946

Box 14: 11
Short courses
1935-1941

Box 14: 12
Skinner, Edna L.
1924-1934

Box 15: 1
Slogan contest
1923

Box 15: 2
Special Planning Committee
1947

Box 15: 3
Spring Day
1947-1949

Box 15: 4
State Relationship Report
1934

Box 15: 5
Statistics: New England Colleges
1941

Box 15: 6
Steffanides,. George F.
1933

Box 15: 7
Stone, Harlan Fiske
1941

Box 15: 8
Student Christian Association
1945-1949

Box 15: 9
Student employment statistics
1937-1941

Box 15: 10
Student government constitution
1948

Box 15: 11
Student Health Service
1946

Box 15: 12
Student life
1938-1950

Box 15: 13
Student tax
1932-1949

Box 15: 14
Swimming pool agreement
Undated

Box 15: 15
Teacher evaluations
1949

Box 15: 16
Teacher training
1927-1945

Box 15: 17
Teacher principles
1937

Box 15: 18
Tenure
1948

Box 15: 19
Thatcher Hall
1938

Box 15: 20
Tobacco Farm
1947

Box 15: 21
Torch Clubs
1942

Box 15: 22
Treasurer (Robert Hawley)
1942-1950

Box 15: 23
Tuition
1950

Box 15: 24
United Religious Council
1928-1946
3 folders
Box 15-16:
United Religious Council
1928-1937

Box 15: 25
United Religious Council
1938-1939

Box 15: 26
United Religious Council
1940-1946

Box 16: 1
University of Western Massachusetts
1944

Box 16: 2
Van Meter, Ralph A.
1947-1954

Box 16: 3
Vocational guidance
1916-1921

Box 16: 4
Waugh, Frank A.
1937-1939

Box 16: 5
Westover Air Force Base
1940-1950

Box 16: 6
Winter Carnival
1937-1938

Box 16: 7
World Aggie Night
1923

Box 16: 8
World War II: Accelerated credit
1941-1944

Box 16: 9
World War II: College War Information Service
1940-1945

Box 16: 10
World War II: Commemoration services
1945

Box 16: 11
World War II: Committee of College and Post-War Period
1944

Box 16: 12
World War II: Military credit
1944

Box 16: 13
World War II: Veterans
1937-1946

Box 16: 14
World War II: Victory Farm Volunteer Program
1944

Box 16: 15
World War II: War agricultural curricula
1945

Box 16: 16
Ynkhorne
1926

Box 16: 17
Series 2. Departments
1937-1952
1.0 linear feet
Agricultural Engineering
1945-1947

Box 17: 1
Agriculture
1946

Box 17: 2
Arts and Sciences
1952

Box 17: 3
Bacteriology
1948-1951

Box 17: 4
Botany
1945-1952

Box 17: 5
Business Administration
1947-1951

Box 17: 6
Chemical Engineering
1947

Box 17: 7
Chemistry
1946-1952

Box 17: 8
Civil Engineering
1947

Box 17: 9
Economics
1937-1952

Box 17: 10
Education
1945-1951

Box 17: 11
Electrical Engineering
1937

Box 17: 12
Engineering
1946-1950

Box 17: 13
Engineering School. Academic Standards Committee
1948-1950

Box 17: 14
English
1947-1951

Box 17: 15
Entomology
1945-1951

Box 17: 16
Extension Service
1946-1950

Box 17: 17
Fine Arts
1945-1951

Box 17: 18
Food Technology
1945

Box 17: 19
Forestry
1947-1950

Box 17: 20
Geology and Mineralogy
1941-1949

Box 17: 21
German
1951

Box 17: 22
Government
1949-1951

Box 17: 23
History
1949-1951

Box 17: 24
Home Economics
1945-1952

Box 17: 25
Horticulture
1948

Box 17: 26
Industrial Engineering
1949-1952

Box 17: 27
Journalism
1949-1952

Box 17: 28
Landscape Architecture
1947-1951

Box 18: 1
Liberal Arts
1945-1952

Box 18: 2
Mathematics
1947-1951

Box 18: 3
Mechanical Engineering
1951

Box 18: 4
Military
1947-1952

Box 18: 5
Modern Languages
1947

Box 18: 6
Nature Education
1948-1951

Box 18: 7
Philosophy
1945-1948

Box 18: 8
Physical Education
1941-1951

Box 18: 9
Physics
1947-1950

Box 18: 10
Pomology
1947

Box 18: 11
Pre-Medical
1944

Box 18: 12
Psychology
1950

Box 18: 13
Public Health
1947-1952

Box 18: 14
Recreational Leadership
1947-1952

Box 18: 15
Religion
1947-1950

Box 18: 16
Romance Languages
1947-1950

Box 18: 17
School of Science
1946-1951

Box 18: 18
Short Course
1947-1952

Box 18: 19
Sociology
1949

Box 18: 20
Wildlife Management
1949

Box 18: 21
Zoology and Physiology
1943-1952

Box 18: 22
Administrative information
Provenance

Acquired from William L. Machmer.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Katherine Emerson, Linda Seidman (1984), Mike Milewski (1988), and SCUA staff, September 2007.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection: William L. Machmer Papers (RG6/1 M33). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Search terms
Subjects
  • Agricultural education
  • World War, 1939-1945
Names
  • Baker, Hugh Potter, 1878-
  • Butterfield, Kenyon L. (Kenyon Leech), 1868-1935
  • Fort Devens (Mass.)
  • Lewis, Edward M.
  • Machmer, William L.
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College
  • Massachusetts State College
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dean
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Mathematics
  • Van Meter, Ralph Albert, 1893-
Genre terms
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Student records