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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:

Edward H. Abbe Papers, 1828-2004

22 boxes (28.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 736
Ed Abbe in Bora Bora, 1987
Ed Abbe in Bora Bora, 1987

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1915 and raised largely in Hampton, Va., Edward Abbe seemed destined to be an engineer. The great nephew of Elihu Thomson, an inventor and founding partner in General Electric, and grandson of Edward Folger Peck, an early employee of a precursor of that firm, Abbe came from a family with a deep involvement in electrification and the development of street railways. After prepping at the Rectory and Kent Schools, Abbe studied engineering at the Sheffield School at Yale, and after graduation in 1938, accepted a position with GE. For 36 years, he worked in the Industrial Control Division in New York and Virginia, spending summers at the family home on Martha’s Vineyard. After retirement in 1975, he and his wife Gladys traveled frequently, cruising both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Ranging from an extensive correspondence from his high school and college days to materials relating to his family’s involvement in engineering, the Abbe collection offers an in depth perspective on an educated family. An avid traveler and inveterate keeper, Ed Abbe gathered a diverse assemblage of letters, diaries, and memorabilia relating to the history of the Abbe, Peck, Booth, Gifford, and Boardman families. The collection is particularly rich in visual materials, including albums and photographs, depicting homes, travel, and family life over nearly a century.


  • Abbe family
  • Boardman family
  • Booth family
  • Electrical engineers
  • General Electric
  • Gifford family
  • Kent School--Students
  • Peck family
  • Rectory School--Students
  • Yale University--Students


  • Abbe, Edward H
  • Abbe, Gladys Howard
  • Abbe, William Parker
  • Peck, Edward F
  • Peck, Mary Booth

Types of material

  • Diaries
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs

Ebenezer Akin Account Book, 1842-1869

1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 220 bd

Businessman, town clerk, owner or part-owner of many ships, merchant, lawyer, and involved citizen in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Includes activities as town clerk, accounts for ships he may have owned, entries made as the executor of several estates, accounts of expenditures for clothing and incidentals, and accounts of lot purchases and loans. Also contains genealogical information about the Blossom family of Bridgewater and the family of Benjamin and Eunice Akin.


  • Akin, Benjamin, 1715-1802
  • Akin, Eunice
  • Blossom family
  • Clothing and dress--Prices--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • Fairhaven (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Fairhaven (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
  • Hesper (Bark)
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • Napoleon (Ship)
  • Shipowners--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • Shipping--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • William Rotch (Ship)
  • Winthrop (Bark)


  • Akin, Ebenezer, 1816-

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Genealogies
  • Inventories of decedents estates

Ebenezer Bailey Papers, 1852-1882

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 448

Ebenezer Bailey was a wholesale shoe purchaser and distributor from Massachusetts. The collection comprises just over 100 items, the bulk of which are receipts for the purchase and sale of shoes and slippers, covering the period from 1852 to 1882.


  • Business records--Massachusetts
  • Dearborn, J. J
  • Lynn (Mass.)--History
  • Shoe industry--Massachusetts--Lynn
  • Shoe industry--New England--History--19th century


  • Bailey, Ebenezer

Types of material

  • Receipts (Financial records)

Joseph Laurence Black History of the Book Collection, 1789-1964

128 items (3 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 023
The Woman Trapper (1908)
The Woman Trapper (1908)

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

  • Almanacs
  • Scrapbooks

Brinley Family Papers, 1643-1950

(4.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 161
Deborah Brinley and infant son Francis, 1729<br />Copy by Charles U. Bond (1830)<br />after John Smibert
Deborah Brinley and infant son Francis, 1729
Copy by Charles U. Bond (1830)
after John Smibert

A prosperous family of merchants and landowners, the Brinleys were well ensconced among the social and political elite of colonial New England. Connected by marriage to other elite families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts — the Auchmutys, Craddocks, and Tyngs among them — the Brinleys were refined, highly educated, public spirited, and most often business-minded. Although many members of the family remained loyal to the British cause during the Revolution, the family retained their high social standing in the years following.

The Brinley collection includes business letters, legal and business records, wills, a fragment of a diary, documents relating to slaves, newspaper clippings, and a small number of paintings and artifacts. A descendent, Nancy Brinley, contributed a quantity of genealogical research notes and photocopies of Brinley family documents from other repositories. Of particular note in the collection is a fine nineteenth century copy of a John Smibert portrait of Deborah Brinley (1719), an elegant silver tray passed through the generations, and is a 1713 list of the library of Francis Brinley, which offers a foreshadowing of the remarkable book collection put together in the later nineteenth century by his descendant George Brinley.


  • American loyalists--Massachusetts
  • Book collectors--United States--History--19th century
  • Brinley family
  • Brinley, George, 1817-1875--Library
  • Businessmen--Massachusetts--History
  • Businessmen--Rhode Island--History
  • Craddock family
  • Landowners--Massachusetts--History
  • Landowners--Rhode Island--History
  • Libraries--Rhode Island--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--19th century
  • Rhode Island--Economic conditions--18th century
  • Rhode Island--Genealogy
  • Rhode Island--Politics and government--19th century
  • Slavery--United States--History
  • Tyng family
  • United Empire Loyalists

Types of material

  • Deeds
  • Realia

William Penn Brooks Papers, 1863-1939

3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 B76
Sapporo Ag. College students, 1881
Sapporo Ag. College students, 1881

Two years after graduating from Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1875, William Penn Brooks accepted an invitation from the Japanese government — and his mentor, William Smith Clark — to help establish the Sapporo Agricultural School. Spending over a decade in Hokkaido, Brooks helped to introduce western scientific agricultural practices and the outlines of a program in agricultural education, and he built a solid foundation for the School. After his return to the states in 1888, he earned a doctorate at the University of Halle, Germany, and then accepted a position at his alma mater, becoming a leading figure at the Massachusetts Experiment Station until his retirement in 1921.

Brooks’ papers consist of correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, an account book, and translations which provide rich detail on Brooks’ life in Japan, the development of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University), and practical agricultural education in the post-Civil War years.


  • Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
  • Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
  • Hokkaido (Japan)--History
  • Hokkaid¯o Daigaku
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Japan--History--1868-
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
  • Massachusetts State Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
  • Sapporo-shi (Japan)--History


  • Brooks, William Penn, 1851-

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)

Sadie Campbell Papers, 1812-2002

19 boxes (10.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 439
Sadie Campbell and sons Harold and Robert Leslie
Sadie Campbell and sons Harold and Robert Leslie

A housewife, mother and active community member, Sadie Campbell was born in 1881 and lived at 1 Depot Street in Cheshire, Massachusetts for most of her life until she died in 1971. Sadie was closely tied to the Cheshire community where she had a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and was active in a a number of organizations, such as: the Cheshire Ladies Reading Club, the Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club, and the Cheshire Cash Tearoom.

The collection documents three generations of a western Massachusetts family. The variety and nature of the materials in this collection offer a good view into the local and social history of western Massachusetts through the lives of Sadie Campbell and her family.


  • Cheshire (Mass.)--History
  • Cheshire Cash Tearoom
  • Family--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Family--Massachusetts--History--20th century
  • Housekeeping--Massachusetts--Cheshire
  • Housewives--Massachusetts--Cheshire
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--19th century
  • Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club
  • Small business--Massachusetts
  • Tyrell, Augustus
  • Williams Manufacturing Company
  • Women--Societies and clubs--History--19th century


  • Campbell, Sadie

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Invitations
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Recipes

William Smith Clark Papers, 1814-2003 (Bulk: 1844-1886)

(14.75 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 C63
William Smith Clark
William Smith Clark

Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1826, William Smith Clark graduated from Amherst College in 1848 and went on to teach the natural sciences at Williston Seminary until 1850, when he continued his education abroad, studying chemistry and botany at the University of Goettingen, earning his Ph.D in 1852. From 1852 to 1867 he was a member of Amherst College’s faculty as a Professor of Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology. As a leading citizen of Amherst, Clark was a strong advocate for the establishment of the new agricultural college, becoming one of the founding members of the college’s faculty and in 1867, the year the college welcomed its first class of 56 students, its President. During his presidency, he pressured the state government to increase funding for the new college and provide scholarships to enable poor students, including women, to attend. The college faced economic hardship early in its existence: enrollment dropped in the 1870s, and the college fell into debt. He is noted as well for helping to establish an agricultural college at Sapporo, Japan, and building strong ties between the Massachusetts Agricultural College and Hokkaido. After Clark was denied a leave of absence in 1879 to establish a “floating college” — a ship which would carry students and faculty around the world — he resigned.

The Clark Papers include materials from throughout his life, including correspondence with fellow professors and scientists, students in Japan, and family; materials relating to his Civil War service in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry; photographs and personal items; official correspondence and memoranda; published articles; books, articles, television, and radio materials relating to Clark, in Japanese and English; and materials regarding Hokkaido University and its continuing relationship with the University of Massachusetts.


  • Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
  • Agricultural colleges--Massachusetts--History
  • Agriculturists--Japan
  • Agriculturists--Massachusetts
  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Amherst College--Faculty
  • Amherst College--Students--Correspondence
  • Hokkaido (Japan)--History
  • Hokkaid¯o Daigaku--History
  • Hokkaid¯o Teikoku Daigaku--History
  • Japan--Relations--United States
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
  • Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
  • Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o. President
  • T¯ohoku Teikoku Daigaku. N¯oka Daigaku--History
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States--Relations--Japan
  • Universität Göttingen--Students--Correspondence


  • Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. President

Types of material

  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Realia
  • Scrapbooks

William Colman Account Book, 1802-1822

1 vol. (0.2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 212 bd

Merchant and shoemaker from the Byfield Parish of Newbury, Massachusetts and Boscawen, New Hampshire.

Includes accounts of the prices paid for shoemaking and agricultural labor, accounts of the men and women who worked for his father’s shoe store and factory, notes of who lived in the younger Colman’s home, a page mentioning his move to New Hampshire, and accounts of agricultural produce sales and exchange of farm labor.


  • Agricultural wages--New Hampshire--History--19th century
  • Boscawen (N.H.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Boscawen (N.H.)--Rural conditions--19th century
  • Households--Massachusetts--Newbury--History--19th century
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--Newbury--History--19th century
  • Newbury (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Shoemakers--Massachusetts--Newbury--History--19th century
  • Shoes--Prices--Massachusetts--History--19th century


  • Colman, William, 1768-1820

Types of material

  • Account books
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