Sharing our passion and expertise in archival research and the use of primary sources is a core part of our mission, and we welcome visits, collaborations, and explorations with groups or classes at any level or affiliation.

Two students from Easthampton High School, looking at archival documents

Students from Easthampton High School, 2016

Our collections exist to be used, interrogated, and activated, and they are open to everyone! Students and visitors who engage with primary sources can tap their own knowledge and experiences while questioning and contributing to the stories of human history. Experiential and active learning with archival records, special collections, and rare books promotes critical thinking, research, and information literacy skills, along with immersion into subject-specific evidence and knowledge. If you are ready to book a class or group visit, please use our request form.

Our Offerings

SCUA staff are available to collaborate with you on learning and creative experiences that suit your group’s needs. All SCUA teaching and learning offerings are adaptable for an online environment, either synchronously or asynchronously. Some examples of our teaching and learning offerings include:

  • Hosting course- or subject-specific class visits, covering archival research, SCUA collection strengths, and emphasizing primary source literacy, via active learning activities involving primary source analysis 
  • Designing instructional materials, such as assignments, lessons, slide-decks, or syllabi using primary sources or primary source literacy learning outcomes
  • Curated sets of primary sources which can be accessed by learners independently or with guidance in our reading room, classroom, or online 
  • Extended engagements, for a semester or other period of time, in which students complete an assignment, such as a research paper, curated virtual exhibit, or digital scholarship project, using SCUA materials
  • Embedding a SCUA staff member into a course, fully or partially, as a co-teacher, guest lecturer,  or resource for students for primary source literacy and critical information literacy expertise 
  • Orientations or introductions to archival research and historical interpretation, the use of primary source materials, critical information theory, gaps in archival documentation, SCUA collection strengths, UMass Amherst history, or other areas of historical or cultural interest for student organizations, community member groups, and others
    Four students looking at the poster for the 1916 production of Du Bois's parent, The Star of Ethiopia

    Students from Berkshire Community College, 2020

Our Collaborators

Each semester we work with dozens of undergraduate and graduate classes from UMass Amherst, the Five Colleges, and community colleges, and we also support classes and projects for area K-12 schools, student organization groups, and community members.
The disciplines who come here range widely, from history and American culture to African American studies, English and comparative literature, art history, education, anthropology, sociology, politics, theater, business, plant and soil sciences, and library and information science.
We look forward to working with you!

Contact Us

If you are ready to book a visit, please use our Instruction and Group Session Request Form.

To avoid scheduling conflicts and facilitate planning, class and other group visits must be arranged ahead of time, no later than 2 to 3 weeks in advance. Staff and space are in high demand throughout the semesters, so please make requests as early as possible, especially if you are organizing a visit or online class for the first time.

If you are teaching or taking a class with an undergraduate honors thesis and want to review archived theses as examples, please see our page about this process.

If you have additional questions please do get in touch: scua@library.umass.edu