Who can use the collections?
How they danced in Enfield, a Quabbin town
Special Collections and University Archives is open at no cost to researchers, regardless of affiliation, during normal business hours. SCUA staff are happy to assist in planning or conducting research and welcome inquiries from students interested in internships in archival and library studies.
Although research appointments are not required, advance notice will help our staff to locate and retrieve research materials. First-time researchers will be asked to register and to provide name, institutional affiliation (when applicable), and current address. At registration, researchers must present a valid form of identification, including a photograph.
In the reading room
- Please sign in at the front desk each visit
- Only pencils and laptop computers may be used for taking notes. Please do not use pens.
- Smoking, food, and drink are not permitted
- Cell phones should be switched off or set to silent mode; calls may be taken in the adjacent elevator lobby
- Care and handling of materials
- Please use care in handling manuscripts and books to prevent damage
- Use only a single box of manuscript or archival material at a time; take care to preserve the existing arrangement of files
- Photographs for research purposes are permitted; check with a staff member first
- Scans and photocopies are made by staff members in keeping with our copying policies
- Upon leaving for the day, please notify the staff whether you are finished with your material or wish to place it on hold for a return visit
Instruction in SCUA
Classes are welcome to visit SCUA to make use of our collections and to learn about archival and historical research. Our staff are available to provide introductions to archival research, overviews of specific areas of historical interest, information about the collections, and discussions of the history of UMass Amherst. In recent years, the staff have hosted classes from history and American culture, African American studies, English and comparative literature, art history, education, anthropology, politics, business, and library and information science, among other disciplines.
To avoid scheduling conflicts, class visits should be arranged ahead of time. Please include the following information when contacting SCUA:
- Name of instructor or contact
- Date(s) requested, with start and finish time
- Number of students
- Subject area and research interests
- Special requests (for collections)
Learn more about:
Western Massachusetts Library Club Records, 1898-2006.
7 boxes (3.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 492
Situated in a region known for its progressive spirit, the Western Massachusetts Library Club was established in 1898 to respond to the unique needs of librarians overseeing small or rural libraries, and to foster camaraderie among local colleagues. Almost immediately, however, the club expanded its focus, taking positions on issues ranging from modern library practices to national legislation and leading the way in the expansion of services for public libraries, all while maintaining its identity as an advocate for local libraries and librarians.
The collection is richest in records that document the early history of the club including detailed meeting minutes, news clippings, programs, and circulars. Beginning in the late 1960s, the club’s activities are captured primarily through membership lists and meeting notices and programs. Taken together, the records trace the growth of the WMLC for more than a century from its establishment to the present.
- Cutter, Charles A. (Charles Ammi), 1937-1903
- Western Massachusetts Library Club
Robert Coldwell Wood Papers, 1964-1977.
43 boxes (21.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 003/3 W66
A distinguished political scientist, specialist on urban affairs, and advisor to two U.S. Presidents, Robert Coldwell Wood was named the first President of the new University of Massachusetts system. A graduate of Princeton and Harvard (PhD 1949), Wood built his academic reputation on the faculty at MIT. An advisor to John F. Kennedy on urban policy, he served in the Johnson administration as Under-Secretary, and briefly Secretary, of Housing and Urban Development before coming to UMass in 1970. His Presidency was marked by considerable turmoil as he navigated the reorganization of the university into a system of three campuses and as he struggled with discontent among students and faculty and conflict with the legislature. Wood died in April 2005 at the age of 81.
Although far from a comprehensive record, the Wood papers offer insight into the tumultuous tenure of Robert C. Wood as President of the University of Massachusetts, 1970-1977. The largest series in the collection (Series 2) consists of the central office files from Boston, including a fairly full record of outgoing correspondence, materials on staff and facilities at the various campuses, minutes of meetings and reports, and records of Wood’s numerous trips and lecture engagements while in office.
- University of Massachusetts (System). President
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of Massachusetts Boston
- University of Massachusetts Worcester
Types of material
Joseph Laurence Black History of the Book Collection, 1789-1964.
128 items (3 linear feet).
Call no.: RB 023
A scholar of early modern British literature, Joe Black received his BA and PhD from the University of Toronto and taught for several years at the University of Tennessee Knoxville before joining the English faculty at UMass Amherst in 1994. Rooted in the history of the book, his research on seventeenth-century literature has examined the intersection between writing and the material and social context of production as well as the dialogue between print and manuscript culture.
The Black collection is an eclectic assemblage of American imprints designed to assist study and instruction in the history of the book. The collection includes two long runs of pulp novels, Beadle’s Frontier Series and the American Revolution-inspired Liberty Boys of ’76, examples of almanacs, prompt books, and works form the early national period in publishers’ bindings.
- Books--History--United States
- Dime novels, American
Types of material
New Victoria Publishers Records, 1974-2007.
8 boxes (11 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 883
Founded in 1975 in Lebanon, NH by Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay (Lamperti), Katie Cahill, Nina Swaim, and Shelby Grantham, New Victoria Printers became one of two all-female print shops in New England at the time. Believing strongly that, “the power of the press belongs to those who own it,” they began to solicit work from non-profit and politically oriented groups. Like its namesake Victoria Press, an 1860’s women run print shop in London owned by Emily Faithful, an early advocate of women’s rights, New Victoria was also committed to feminist principles. The shop offered work and training in printing, machine work, and other traditionally male dominated fields; initially focused on printing materials from the women’s movement; and was organized as a collectively owned and democratically run organization. Additionally, the shop functioned as a defacto women’s center and lesbian hub for Lebanon and the surrounding area, a place of education, community, creativity, and activism, and soon publishing opportunities, as the group founded New Victoria Publishers in 1976 to publish works from their community. The print shop closed in 1985, with Dingman and McKay taking over the running of the non-profit publishing company out of their home in Norwich, VT, with an emphasis on lesbian fiction in addition to other women focused works. An early bestseller, Stoner McTavis by Sarah Dreher, put them on the map, with the company publishing over a hundred books by and about lesbians, winning three Lambda Literary Awards and several other honors.
The New Victoria Publishers Records consist of photographs, newsletters and cards put out by the collective, materials printed by the press, marketing and promotional materials, author correspondence, graphics and cover art, book reviews, financial and legal records, histories of the organization, news clippings, and an almost full run of the books published by the company. The collection is particularly rich in documenting the work and production of a women owned business within the feminist press movement as well as the lesbian publishing industry.
- Collective labor agreements – Printing industry
- Feminist literature – Publishing
- Lesbian authors
- Lesbians' writings -- Publishing
- Women printers – New England
- Women publishers – New England
- Beth Dingman
- Claudia McKay
- New Victoria Printers
- New Victoria Publishers
Barbara Parker History of the Book Collection, 1508-1905.
75 items (12 linear feet).
Call no.: RB 007
A long-time librarian at UMass Amherst and Brown University, Barbara Parker became an avid collector of rare books. Interested in the history of printing, binding, and book design, and herself a bookbinder, Parker collected widely, from early printing to the Victorian book artists of the Chiswick Press.
The Parker Collection contains an eclectic mix of books to illustrate various aspects of the history of the book through 1900. The collection includes eight volumes printed prior to 1600, a fine leaf from the Nuremberg Chronicles, and a strong collection of the work of Charles Whittingham and the Chiswick Press. In addition to fine examples of binding and illustration, the collection includes works printed by Elsevier, Gregorium de Gregoris, and Domenico Farri, five by Joseph Barbou, and two each by the Aldine Press, Simon Colin, and John Baskerville.
Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection, 1797-1897.
48 items (3 linear feet).
Call no.: RB 012
Although printing requires a substantial capital investment in equipment before any hope of profitability can be entertained, there have been numerous attempts over the years to set up printing houses in communities with astonishingly small population bases. In even the most remote Massachusetts towns, people like John Metcalf (Wendell), Ezekiel Terry (Palmer), and John and Solomon Howe (Enfield and Greenwich) operated as printers during the nineteenth century, specializing in a quotidian array of broadsides, song sheets, almanacs, toy books, and printed forms, hoping to supplement, or provide, a decent living.
This small, but growing collection consists of materials printed prior to the twentieth century in small Massachusetts towns, defined as towns with populations less than about 2,500. Although few of these houses survived for long, they were important sources for rural communities. Typically simple in typography, design, and binding, even crude, the output of such printers provides an important gauge of the interests and tastes of New England’s smallest and often poorest communities.
- Children's books--Massachusetts
- Howe, John, 1783-1845
- Howe, Solomon, 1750-1835
- Metcalf, John, 1788-1864
- Terry, Ezekiel, 1775-1829
Types of material