Western Massachusetts was an early and important center of both industrialization and the development of organized labor, and in recent years, it has experienced many of traumatic effects of de-industrialization and economic transformation. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives seeks to document the history of organized labor, the experience of work, and business and industry in New England.
At the heart of the SCUA holdings is a suite of collections documenting the organized labor movement in New England. The official records of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, a large and important collection, is joined by records for trades ranging from clothing and textile workers to carpenters, electrical workers, and granite cutters.
Of particular note is the John W. Bennett Labor History Collection, a large assemblage of labor-related realia and ephemera, including hundreds of badges, pins, watch fobs, lighters, and other artifacts distributed to union members at annual conventions and other union events. The collection is a unique resource for study of the iconography of organized labor and includes items from representative unions and locals ranging from the Knights of Labor in the 1870s to the present. While centered on New England, the Bennett Collection extends nationally.
View our brochure on documenting labor, work, and industry (pdf).
- Organized Labor
- From the records of the Massachusetts State AFL-CIO to the papers of union locals and labor leaders.
- See all Business and industry
- The industrial heritage of New England is represented in collections ranging from the records of the Clement Co., Lamson and Goodnow, and the Northampton Cutlery Company (manufacturers of cutlery), the American Writing Paper Company, the Rodney Hunt Co. (a manufacturer of textile machinery and waterwheels), and Smith and Wesson. The most recent collection is the papers of Sidney Topol, CEO of Scientific-Atlanta, a corporation at the forefront of the growth of cable television in the United States.
- Merchants and mercantile exchange
- Account books and other business records for a number of New England merchants dating back to the eighteenth century, ranging from small scale traders to keepers of rural general stores to shipping merchants trading in the Atlantic economy.
Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers, 1831-1921.
Call no.: MS 190
A native of Northampton, Massachusetts, Benjamin Smith Lyman was a prominent geologist and mining engineer. At the request of the Meiji government in Japan, Lyman helped introduce modern geological surveying and mining techniques during the 1870s and 1880s, and his papers from that period illuminate aspects of late nineteenth century Japan, New England, and Pennsylvania, as well as the fields of geology and mining exploration and engineering. From his earliest financial records kept as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy through the journal notations of his later days in Philadelphia, Lyman’s meticulous record-keeping provides much detail about his life and work. Correspondents include his classmate, Franklin B. Sanborn, a friend of the Concord Transcendentalists and an active social reformer, abolitionist, and editor.
The papers, 1848-1911, have been organized into nine series: correspondence, financial records, writings, survey notebooks, survey maps, photographs, student notes and notebooks, collections, and miscellaneous (total 25 linear feet). A separate Lyman collection includes over 2,000 books in Japanese and Chinese acquired by Lyman, and in Western languages pertaining to Asia.
- Geological surveys--Alabama
- Geological surveys--Illinois
- Geological surveys--India--Punjab
- Geological surveys--Japan
- Geological surveys--Japan--Maps
- Geological surveys--Maryland
- Geological surveys--Nova Scotia
- Geological surveys--Pennsylvania
- Geological surveys--Pennsylvania--Maps
- Geologists--United States
- Geology--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
- Geology--Japan--History--19th century
- Japan--Description and travel--19th century
- Japan--Social life and customs--1868-1912
- Mining engineering--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
- Mining engineering--Japan--History--19th century
- Mining engineers--United States
- Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
- Sanborn, F. B. (Franklin Benjamin), 1831-1917
Types of material
- Account books
- Book jackets
- Field notes
- Letterpress copybooks
- Trade catalogs
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses over 35,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.
Beyond New England, SCUA has built strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the history of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to the culture of the Cold War: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.
All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog and summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles, are included in SCUA’s own online catalog, UMarmot.
Selected areas of collecting interest:
Agriculture, horticulture, natural history
The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, organic agriculture, pomology, sustainability, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Cookery in New England
The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.
European history and culture
Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).
Gay and Lesbian Literature
The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.
Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press, among others, as well as the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of William Morris and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers.
New England history and culture
Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.
Association for Gravestone Studies Collection
Barbara Rotundo Photograph Collection, ca.1970-2004.
Call no.: PH 050
A long-time member of the English Department at the University of Albany, Barbara Rotundo was a 1942 graduate in economics at Mount Holyoke College. After the death of her husband, Joseph in 1953, Rotundo became one of the first female faculty members at Union College, and after earning a master’s degree in English at Cornell University and a doctorate in American Literature from Syracuse University, she served as an associate professor of English at the University of Albany, where she founded one of the first university writing programs in the United States. Avocationally, she was a stalwart member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, helping to broaden its scope beyond its the Colonial period to include the Victorian era. Her research included the rural cemetery movement, Mount Auburn Cemetery, white bronze (zinc) markers, and ethnic folk gravestones. Her research in these fields was presented on dozens of occasions to annual meetings of AGS, the American Culture Association, and The Pioneer America Society. In 1989, after residing in Schenectady for forty-six years, she retired to Belmont, NH, where she died in December 2004.
Consisting primarily of thousands of color slides (most digitized) and related research notebooks, the Rotundo collection is a major visual record of Victorian grave markers in the United States. The notebooks and slides are arranged by state, with an emphasis on the eastern states, and white bronze (zinc) markers also are represented in photographs and a separate research notebook. The collection also includes several rare or privately published books.
- Cemeteries--New York (State)
- Sepulchral monuments--New Jersey
- Sepulchral monuments--New York (State)
- Sepulchral monuments--Pennsylvania
- Rotundo, Barbara
Types of material
Sawin-Young Family Papers, 1864-1924.
Call no.: MS 583
At the turn of the twentieth century, Albert Sawin and his wife Elizabeth (nee Young) lived on Taylor Street in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with their three children, Allan, Ralph, and Alice. Elizabeth’s brother, also named Allan, traveled in the west during the 1880s, looking for work in Arizona, Utah, and Montana.
The bulk of the Sawin-Young Family Papers consists of letters exchanged between Elizabeth “Lizzie” Sawin, her sisters, and Jennie Young of nearby Easthampton. Later letters were addressed to Beatrice Sawin at Wheaton College from her father Walter E. Sawin, who contributed to the design for the Holyoke dam. The photograph album (1901) kept by Alice E. Sawin features images of the interior and exterior of the family’s home, as well as candid shots of family and friends and photographs of excursions to nearby Mt. Tom and the grounds of Northfield School.
- Holyoke (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Montana--Description and travel
- Sawin family
- Utah--Description and travel
- Young family
- Sawin, Alice E.
- Sawin, Beatrice
- Young, Allan
- Young, Elizabeth
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Roberta Uno Collection of Asian American Women Playwrights' Scripts, 1924-2005.
Call no.: MS 345
Roberta Uno was the founder and long time artistic director of the New WORLD Theater at UMass Amherst, a theater in residence dedicated to the production of works by playwrights of color.
Established by Uno in 1993, the Asian American Women Playwrights Scripts Collection contains manuscripts of plays, but also production histories, reviews, and articles, along with biographies and audio and videotaped interviews with playwrights. Among the individuals represented are Brenda Wong Aoki, Jeannie Barroga, Marina Feleo Gonzales, Jessica Hagedorn, Velina Hasu Houston, Genny Lim, le thi diem thuy, Ling-Ai Li, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Nobuko Miyamoto, Bina Sharif, and Diana Son.
- Asian American women authors
- New WORLD Theater
- Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
- Scripts (Documents)
Karl Richards Wallace Papers, 1898-1976.
Call no.: FS 086
Educator, rhetorician, author, President of the Speech Association of America in 1954, and Professor of Speech at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1968-1973.
Includes the accumulated research notes and materials written and used by Wallace in his career as a teacher and author; drafts, reprints, and proofs of his speeches, papers, articles, and books, both published and unpublished, often with accompanying correspondence, research notes, and/or contracts; lecture notes and classroom materials dating from his years as a student through those as a teacher; drafts and reprints of papers and articles by students and colleagues; correspondence; the reports, memoranda, correspondence, resolutions, agenda, notes on meetings, minutes, committee recommendations, position papers, newsletters, audit reports, budget recommendations, membership lists, itineraries, and programs indicative of his leadership and active participation in the Speech Association of America and other professional organizations, conferences, and university committees.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
- Wallace, Karl Richards, 1905-1973
Walter B. Woodbury Photograph Collection, 1865-1866.
Call no.: PH 003
In the late 1850s and early 1860s, the pioneering British photographer Walter Woodbury captured images of Java, and especially its capital city Batavia (modern day Jakarta). Working in partnership with James Page, the two established a photographic firm that continued to produce and sell images long after Woodbury’s return to England in 1863.
Consisting of 42 albumen prints, the Woodbury Collection includes numerous images of the landscape and colonial buildings in Batavia, Buitenzorg (Bogor), and Surabaya. A few photographs capture images of the European community in Java, and local Javanese residents.
- Bogor (Indonesia)--Photographs
- Jakarta (Indonesia)--Photographs
- Java (Indonesia)--Photographs
- Surabaya (Indonesia)--Photographs
- Woodbury & Page
- Woodbury, Walter B. (Walter Bentley), 1834-1885
Types of material
- Albumen prints
Henry James Clark Papers, 1865-1872.
Call no.: FS 048
The first professor of Natural History at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, Henry James Clark, had one of the briefest and most tragic tenures of any member of the faculty during the nineteenth century. Having studied under Asa Gray and Louis Agassiz at Harvard, Clark became an expert microscopist and student of the structure and development of flagellate protozoans and sponges. Barely a year after joining the faculty at Massachusetts Agricultural College at its first professor of Natural History, Clark died of tuberculosis on July 1, 1873.
A small remnant of a brief, but important career in the natural sciences, the Henry James Clark Papers consist largely of obituary notices and a fraction of his published works. The three manuscript items include two letters from Clark’s widow to his obituarist and fellow naturalist, Alpheus Hyatt (one including some minor personal memories), and a contract to build a house on Pleasant Street in Amherst.
- Developmental biology
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of Veterinary Science
- Clark, Henry James, 1826-1873
- Clark, Mary Young Holbrook
- Hyatt, Alpheus, 1838-1902
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
League of Women Voters of Amherst Records, 1939-2001.
Call no.: MS 296
Non-partisan political organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts that influences public policy through education and advocacy by registering voters, organizing candidate forums, publishing voting guides, and disseminating general information on the legislative process and the functioning of government on the local, state, and federal levels.
Includes minutes, annual reports, financial records, publications, extensive files on specific programs, photographs, video- and audio-tapes, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings. Also contains information on two league members who rose to national prominence: Lucy Wilson Benson (Under Secretary of State in the federal government in 1977) and Jane F. Garvey (Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1997).
- Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- Benson, Lucy Wilson
- Garvey, Jane F
- League of Women Voters of Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
- Oral histories