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Agriculture

Founded under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, UMass Amherst has long been dedicated to the study and teaching of agriculture and the natural sciences. One of two land grant institutions in the Commonwealth (along with MIT), the university has played an important role in the development of scientific agriculture in New England and has been a major factor in agricultural instruction through its classes and extension service.

SCUA’s collections contain a wealth of information on the history of agriculture and related fields, including horticulture, botany, entomology, animal husbandry, gardening, and landscape design. The strength of the collection lies in documenting the development of American agricultural sciences with an emphasis upon the northeastern states, but it is supplemented with numerous works on British, French, and German agriculture. Adding additional depth are the records of the several departments at UMass Amherst charged with instruction in the agricultural sciences and the papers of individual agricultural educators.

Currently, SCUA is particularly interested in documenting the growth of organic agriculture, heritage breeds, and the practices of sustainable living.

Notable collecting areas (view all)

  • Agricultural education
    • Papers of faculty members at Massachusetts Agricultural College and UMass Amherst, as well as educational organizations dedicated to instruction in the agricultural sciences. Among the individuals represented are the agricultural educator, Kenyon Butterfield; Levi Stockbridge, the first farm manager and long-time instructor at MAC; and William Smith Clark, William Penn Brooks, and William Wheeler, who were instrumental in the 1870s in establishing the agricultural college in Hokkaido, Japan.
    • Also printed works through the late nineteenth century on agriculture in America, Britain, and Europe, including those by John Fitzherbert, Thomas Hale, Arthur Young, “Columella,” John Smith, Gervase Markham, et al.
  • Animal husbandry
    • Books on sheep culture in the United States (Robert R. Livingston, Samuel Bard) and England (Lord Somerville, John Lawrence); dairy and beef cattle, horses, poultry science.
  • Farming and rural life
    • Correspondence, farm accounts, and other records of farming and rural life, primarily in New England, as well as materials relating to the sociology of rural life.
  • Beekeeping and entomology
    • Among the earliest rare books acquired by the Massachusetts Agricultural Library were a collections of rare books in beekeeping, including key works by Thomas Hill, John Keys, Daniel Wildman, Henry Eddy, from the late 17th through late 19th centuries. Works by Maria Sibylla Merian, John Curtis, Dru Drury, Johann Jakob Romer, Jacob l’Admiral
  • Botany, horticulture, pomology, etc.
    • Collections relating to the scientific study of botany, horticulture, forestry, and related sciences.
    • Important printed works on American botany by Frederick Pursh, Thomas Nuttall, Humphry Marshall’s Arbustrum Americanum, François André Michaux, early editions of Linnaeus, William Prince, William Coxe, William Chorlton, et al.
  • Landscape and gardening
    • The papers and photographs of the landscape designer Frank Waugh, Julius Fabos, Erwin Zube, and other collections.
    • Among many printed works on gardens and landscapes are three editions of Bernard M’Mahon’s seminal American Gardener’s Calendar, William Cobbett, Alexander Jackson Davis, Humphry Repton, and others.
  • Organic and sustainable agriculture
    • Records of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association and others involved in organic agriculture, alternate energy, and sustainability.
  • Other natural sciences
    • Including entomology and geology.

Learn more:

Allis Family

Allis Family Collection
1956-1958
1 vol. (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 269 bd

The Allis family began farming in Whately, Mass., in 1716, when John Allis came into possession of a property that would be the home to nine generations of his descendants. A typically diverse operation, the farm centered on cattle and dairying and crops such as hay and potatoes, supplemented throughout the year by sugaring, the manufacture of lye soap, bee culture, and opportunistic work ranging from slating to the construction of water systems for farms. It was sold out of the family in 1957.

This small collection contains two closely-related memoirs about the Allis family and their farm in Whately, Mass., focusing on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Written by Lucius Howes Allis, the last Allis to own the farm, when he was 72 years old, “The Allis farm and its families” contains a lengthy genealogy, transcriptions of a handful of family deeds and documents, and brief stories about Lucius’ father Irving during his trip to Kansas and on the farm. “Up on the hill” is a lively memoir written by William R. Phinney, an alumnus of Massachusetts Agricultural College and apparently a friend of the Allis family. Phinney’s account contains excellent accounts of the lives of Elliot, Irving, and Lucius Allis, about farm life in the late nineteenth century, dairying, beekeeping, and other topics.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Massachusetts--Whately
  • Allis family--Massachusetts
  • Bees--Massachusetts--Whately
  • Cattle--Massachusetts--Whately
  • Dairy farmers--Massachusetts--Whately
  • Farms--Massachusetts--Whately
  • Fires--Massachusetts--Whately
  • Hatfield (Mass.)--History
  • Indian Territory--Description and travel
  • Kansas--Description and travel
  • Maple sugar industry--Massachusetts--Whately
  • Whately (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Allis, Lucius Howes, 1886-1963
  • Phinney, William R.
Types of material
  • Genealogies (Histories)
  • Memoirs

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Boston Joint Board

ACWA Boston Joint Board Records
1926-1979
(8 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 002

The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America originated from a split in the United Garment Workers in 1914 and quickly became the dominant force for union in the men’s clothing industry, controlling shops in Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York. The Boston Joint Board formed at the beginning of the ACWA and included locals from a range of ethnic groups and trades that comprised the industry. It coordinated the activities and negotiations for ACWA Locals 1, 12, 102, 149, 171, 172, 173, 174, 181,183, 267, and 335 in the Boston area. In the 1970s the Boston Joint Board merged with others to form the New England Regional Joint Board.

Records, including minutes, contracts, price lists, and scrapbooks, document the growth and maturity of the ACWA in Boston and the eventual decline of the industry in New England. Abundant contracts and price lists show the steady improvement of conditions for workers in the men’s clothing industry. Detailed minutes reflect the political and social influence of the ACWA; the Joint Board played an important role in local and state Democratic politics and it routinely contributed to a wide range of social causes including the Home for Italian Children and the United Negro College Fund. Minutes also document the post World War II development of industrial relations in the industry and include information relating to Joint Board decisions to strike. Minutes also contain information relating to shop grievances, arbitration, shop committees, and organizing. The records largely coincide with the years of leadership of Joseph Salerno, ACWA Vice President and New England Director from 1941 to 1972.

Gift of the New England Regional Joint Board, through Edward Clark, Nov. 1984
Subjects
  • Boston (Mass.)--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Clothing trade--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts
  • Textile workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Textile workers--Massachusetts--Economic conditions--20th century
Contributors
  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Boston Joint Board
  • Salerno, Joseph, fl. 1907-1972
Types of material
  • Contracts
  • Financial records
  • Minutes
  • Scrapbooks

American Express Company. Florence (Mass.) Office

American Express Company Florence Office Records
1867-1890
3 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 298

Records of express agent Watson L. Wilcox of Simsbury, Connecticut, and Florence, Massachusetts, documenting Wilcox’s work for the American Express Company and the evolution of the company from a small shipping business to a delivery organization whose services contributed to the growth of the local and regional economy. Records consist of agent books, receipt books, and waybills listing accounts of local companies and residents for the sending, receiving, and delivery of freight, telegraph messages, express cash, goods, and packages.

Subjects
  • American Merchant's Union Express Company
  • Express service--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • Florence (Mass.)--Economic conditions
  • Florence Manufacturing Company
  • Florence Sewing Machine Company
  • Hill, Samuel L
  • Industries--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company
  • Nonotuck Silk Company
  • Parsons, I. S
  • Simsbury (Conn.)--Economic conditions
  • Williston, A. L
Contributors
  • American Express Company (Florence, Mass.)
  • Wilcox, Watson L., 1832 or 3-1896

Artwork

Artwork Collection
ca.1645-2003
ca.100 items
Call no.: MS 597
Image of Ernst Toller, portrait by Lydia Gibson Minor
Ernst Toller, portrait by Lydia Gibson Minor

Over the years, SCUA has become home to both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art pertaining to three of its key thematic collecting areas: the University of Massachusetts Amherst, New England, and social change.

The Artwork Collection is comprised of miscellaneous works visual art, realia, and decorative arts, relating primarily to figures in UMass or to leftist or proletarian artists. Among the artists represented are Michael Russo, Cook Glassgold, Lydia Gibson Minor, Laura Wheeler Waring, Daniel Chester French, and Laurence Bradshaw. For reference purposes, we have cross-listed paintings belonging to other SCUA collections.

Subjects
  • Portraits
Types of material
  • Oil paintings
  • Prints (Visual works)
  • Sculpture (Visual works)

Austin, Samuel

Samuel Austin Collection
1718-1920
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 937

An historian and educator, Samuel Austin (1816-1897) was known for his long association with the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. (later renamed the Moses Brown School). An alumnus who married an alumna, Elizabeth H. Osborn, Austin taught at the Boarding school for decades and was instrumental in gathering and preserving documents relating to the school. He wrote and lectured regularly on the history of Friends’ education and on the Boarding School, and its noted teachers and alumni.

A product of the historical work of Samuel Austin, the collection contains both essays, notes, and talks on the Friends’ Boarding School in Providence and on Moses and Obadiah Brown, and some significant original documents used by Austin in his research. Noteworthy among the original materials are a fascinating series of records from monthly and quarterly meetings in and near Rhode Island, mostly in 1787-1793; a rich series of epistles received by Smithfield Monthly Meeting from other meetings in New England (1718-1767); some key printed epistles from Yearly Meetings, including those on war (London, New England, and Philadelphia Yearly) and slavery (London and Philadelphia). Of equal note are a series of letters from Elisha Thornton (a New Bedford merchant, educator, and antislavery advocate), a lengthy letter on doctrine from John Wilbur, and a 1765 sermon from Rachel Wilson.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
  • Antislavery movements
  • Brown, Moses, 1738-1832
  • Friends Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • Peace movements--Rhode Island
  • Quaker women--Rhode Island--18th century
  • Quakers--Education--Rhode Island
  • Rhode Island--History--18th century
  • Society of Friends--History--Rhode Island
Contributors
  • Thornton, Elisha, 1748-1816
  • Wilbur, John 1774-1856
Types of material
  • Correspondence
  • Minutes (Administrative records)

Barton, George W.

George W. Barton Papers
1889-1984 (Bulk: 1914-1920)
(4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 050 B37

George W. Barton was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1896. After attending Concord High School in Concord, Barton began his studies in horticulture and agriculture at Massachusetts Agricultural College.

The Barton collection includes diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, announcements, and his herbarium, and relates primarily to his career at the Massachusetts Agricultural College where he studied horticulture and agriculture from 1914-1918.

Subjects
  • Botany--Study and teaching
  • Horticulture--Study and teaching
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
Contributors
  • Barton, George W
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Herbaria
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Binet, Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte, 1877-

Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte Binet Collection
1784-1852 (Bulk: 1794-1814)
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 738
Image of

During the revolutionary era of 1789-1848, Belgium was ensnared in power politics on a continental scale, with all the drama and turbulence entailed. From the conquest of the region by French Republican forces under Napoleon in 1794 through the dissolution of French control in 1814, modern-day Belgium was divided into nine administrative departments, including the centrally-located Département de la Dyle, which included the key cities of Brussels, Louvain, and Nivelles.

Collected by Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte Binet, this small collection of manuscripts is relatively tightly focused on the years of French Republican domination of Belgium (1794-1814), with a particular focus on the Département de la Dyle. The majority of the collection consists of letters received by the Central Administration in the Dyle, including letters to and from Napoleonic generals and French military hierarchy, civic authorities, administrators, and police. Many of the letters concern the challenges of asserting control over a subject population and the political fallout of the French Revolution, but the collection also reflects the greater tensions within a complex society changing rapidly during an age of revolution.

Language(s): French
Subjects
  • Belgium--History--1794-1814
  • Brabant (Belgium)--History
  • Dyle (Belgium)
  • France--History--1789-1815
  • France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799
  • Napoleonic Wars--1800-1815
  • Police--France--18th century
Contributors
  • Lambrechts, Charles Joseph Matthieu, 1753-1823
  • Mallarmé, François René Augustin, 1755-1831
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Blackington, Alton H.

Alton H. Blackington Photograph Collection
1898-1943
15 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 061
Image of Fortune teller, ca.1930
Fortune teller, ca.1930

A native of Rockland, Maine, Alton H. “Blackie” Blackington (1893-1963) was a writer, photojournalist, and radio personality associated with New England “lore and legend.” After returning from naval service in the First World War, Blackington joined the staff of the Boston Herald, covering a range of current events, but becoming well known for his human interest features on New England people and customs. He was successful enough by the mid-1920s to establish his own photo service, and although his work remained centered on New England and was based in Boston, he photographed and handled images from across the country. Capitalizing on the trove of New England stories he accumulated as a photojournalist, Blackington became a popular lecturer and from 1933-1953, a radio and later television host on the NBC network, Yankee Yarns, which yielded the books Yankee Yarns (1954) and More Yankee Yarns (1956).

This collection of glass plate negatives was purchased by Robb Sagendorf of Yankee Publishing around the time of Blackington’s death. Reflecting Blackington’s photojournalistic interests, the collection covers a terrain stretching from news of public officials and civic events to local personalities, but the heart of the collection is the dozens of images of typically eccentric New England characters and human interest stories. Most of the images were taken by Blackington on 4×5″ dry plate negatives, however many of the later images are made on flexible acetate stock and the collection includes several images by other (unidentified) photographers distributed by the Blackington News Service.

Gift of Yankee Publishing, Mar. 2012
Subjects
  • Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933--Photographs
  • Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937--Photographs
  • Maine--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • New England--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • New Hampshire--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945--Photographs
  • Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921--Photographs
Types of material
  • Photographs

Breck, John

John Breck Account Book
1801-1810
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 196 bd

A prominent storekeeper in Northampton, Mass., at the turn of the nineteenth century, John Breck was born on April 20, 1770. Starting in business with his father as Robert Breck and Son from their store at the corner of Main and King Streets, Breck thrived dealing in “English and Hardware Goods” and “crockery and Glass ware.” According to historian Nancy Goyne Evans, he was recorded working with blacksmith Seth Pomeroy in 1800 supplying chair makers with imported and domestic turning tools.

Labeled on the cover “Petty debts B, Iron Accounts,” this volume of accounts includes records of a substantial business in selling iron and steel at the turn of the nineteenth century. Although the owner of the book is nowhere recorded, it has very tentatively been assigned to John Breck based on his signature on p. 101 (and p. 49), settling an account with the clockmaker Nathan Storrs. Most of the entries are brief, often for petty sums and often cryptic in nature, however a significant number note the sale of iron or occasionally steel.

Subjects
  • Iron industry and trade--Massachusetts--Northampton
  • Northampton (Mass.)--History
Types of material
  • Daybooks
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