Established in western Massachusetts in 1863 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a national research university and the flagship campus of the states five-campus University system. UMass, one of the founding members of the Five College Consortium established in 1965, offers reciprocal student access among the University and Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges. The University currently enrolls approximately 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and offers 87 bachelor's degree programs, 6 associate's, 73 masters, and 51 doctoral programs in 10 schools and colleges.
The Archives of the University of Massachusetts Amherst document the institutional memory of the campus and serve as the largest and most comprehensive source of information on the history and cultural heritage of the University. As the collective memory of the university, the repository contains official records and items having historical value such as records of governance, policy, operation of administrative offices, departments, research, programs, and publications. Unpublished materials in the Archives include photographs, films, memorabilia, administrative records of major university offices, and the papers of presidents, trustees, administrative officers, and members of the faculty.
Some administrative records have been restricted.
Background on Creator:
The Massachusetts Agricultural College was established in 1863 under the original Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. In 1867, four faculty members and four wooden buildings awaited the first entering class of 56 students who would study a curriculum combining modern farming, science, technical courses, and liberal arts. The first female student enrolled at the college in 1892, the same year the first graduate degrees were authorized. In order to reflect a broader curriculum, what was known as "Mass Aggie" became Massachusetts State College in 1931; "Mass State" became the University of Massachusetts in 1947.
After World War II, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst experienced rapid growth in its physical facilities, enrollment, and curriculum. A temporary campus opened at Fort Devens (1946-1949) to accommodate the influx of returning veterans. By the 1954-1955 academic year, the University had enrolled 4000 students. By 1964, undergraduate enrollment jumped to 10,500, as Baby Boomers came of age. The turbulent political environment also brought a sit-in to the newly constructed Whitmore Administration Building. By the end of the decade, the completion of Southwest Residential Complex, the Alumni Stadium and the establishment of many new academic departments gave UMass Amherst much of its modern stature.
By the 1970s continued growth gave rise to a shuttle bus service on campus as well as several important architectural additions: the Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center, with a hotel, office space, restaurant, campus store, and passageway to a multi-level parking garage; the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, named tallest library in the world upon its completion in 1973; and the Fine Arts Center, with performance space for world-class music, dance and theater.
The University's second campus was opened in Boston in 1965, and expanded into the Harbor campus in 1974. A third campus, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center at Worcester, was founded in 1962, and enrolled its first class in 1970. The same year, the President's Office was moved from Amherst to separate offices in Boston, and the Office of Chancellor was established as the chief executive position at each campus.
In 1991, Governor William F. Weld signed legislation creating a new five campus University of Massachusetts with a single president and a board of trustees. This legislation consolidated five public university campuses (the three UMass campuses, the University of Lowell, and Southeastern Massachusetts University) into a single university system with an autonomous governing board. The Board of Higher Education is the governing body of the University system.
The 1980s and 1990s saw the emergence of UMass Amherst as a major research facility with the construction of the Lederle Graduate Research Center and the Conte National Polymer Research Center. Other programs excelled as well. In 1996 UMass Basketball became Atlantic 10 Conference champs and went to the NCAA Final Four. Before the millennium, both the William D. Mullins Center, a multi-purpose sports and convocation facility, and the Paul Robsham Visitors Center bustled with activity, welcoming thousands of visitors to the campus each year.
UMass Amherst entered the 21st century as the flagship campus of the states five-campus University system, and with an enrollment of nearly 24,000 students and over 200,000 living alumni around the world. The University is also one of the founding members of the original Four College Cooperation (1956) and of the Five College Cooperative program established in 1965, offering reciprocal student access among the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges.
The Archives of the University of Massachusetts Amherst document the institutional memory of the campus and serve as the largest and most comprehensive source of information on the history and cultural heritage of the University. As the collective memory of the university, the repository contains official records and items having historical value such as records of governance, policy, operation of administrative offices, departments, research, programs, and publications. Unpublished materials in the Archives include photographs, films, memorabilia, and administrative records of university offices.
In addition to documenting the official actions, events and activities of the University, the University Archives collects faculty, student and organizational papers. These materials significantly augment the official documentation of the University to provide information on student and faculty interests, activities and involvement with the University both on and off campus, and offer insights into the culture of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Materials in the Archives range from documentation of the original Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 which established the Massachusetts Agricultural College to recent editions of the student newspaper, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and The Index (yearbook). The records of student housing and registered student organizations offer a glimpse into student activities, while University publications document University life, developments, and events.
Cite as: [Item description, RG#], UMass Amherst Records, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.