“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all’; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”
W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951
In keeping with our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are tightly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds, and they currently include over 35,000 printed items, approximately 30,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival materials, tens of thousands of photographs, and a burgeoning array of digital assets.
While not comprehensive, the following includes a brief synopsis of some of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:
Following in the footsteps of W.E.B. Du Bois, we recognize the inherent interconnectedness of a broad range of issues in social justice and collect original materials that document the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social equality, human dignity, and justice. In adopting social change as a primary collecting focus, we hope to move beyond viewing social and political movements in isolation and toward a vision that acknowledges the connections between and among them. Ultimately, we wish to lay a foundation for examining the larger histories of social engagement in America and the broader experience of social change that is difficult to encapsulate within a single social movement.
A distinctive feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our effort to include “whole lives and whole communities,” to provide a robust basis for interpreting the background of the persons and organizations we document, their influences, interests, and the communities in which they operate.
Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between several social movements and centers of activist energy, including peace, social and racial justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, labor activism, gay activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities, but branching out to include antifluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).
- African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
- Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
- Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
- Arts management and arts administration:
In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
- Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
- Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
- Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
- Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
Materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities, and particularly social entrepreneurship. The collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.
The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.
- Cookery and culinary history
SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
- Literature and the arts
Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
- Politics and political culture
SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State rep John Clark and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.
Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University Archives collects, preserves, and makes available official and non-official records documenting the policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community, including its administration, departments and programs, faculty, and staff. The Archives also avidly collects materials that reflect the lives and experiences of its students and alumni.
SCUA makes an effort to document the histories of the entire UMass community. Our holdings include the comprehensive official records of the University since its founding in 1863, papers of faculty, staff, and students, official and unofficial publications, oral histories, and a wide range of other collections that reflect on our history as the Commonwealth’s land grant institution.
SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:
Edward H. Abbe Papers, 1828-2004.
Call no.: MS 736
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
- Letters (Correspondence)
Brinley Family Papers, 1643-1950.
Call no.: MS 161
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--Rhode Island--History
- Craddock family
- 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
Broadside Press Collection, 1965-1984.
Call no.: MS 571
A significant African American poet of the generation of the 1960s, Dudley Randall was an even more significant publisher of emerging African American poets and writers. Publishing works by important writers from Gwendolyn Brooks to Haki Madhubuti, Alice Walker, Etheridge Knight, Audre Lorde, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez, his Broadside Press in Detroit became an important contributor to the Black Arts Movement.
The Broadside Press Collection includes approximately 200 titles published by Randall’s press during its first decade of operation, the period of its most profound cultural influence. The printed works are divided into five series, Broadside poets (including chapbooks, books of poetry, and posters), anthologies, children’s books, the Broadside Critics Series (works of literary criticism by African American authors), and the Broadsides Series. . The collection also includes a selection of items used in promoting Broadside Press publications, including a broken run of the irregularly published Broadside News, press releases, catalogs, and fliers and advertising cards.
- African American poets
- African American writers
- Black Arts Movement
- Broadside Press
- Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000
- Emanuel, James A
- Giovanni, Nikki
- Knight, Etheridge
- Madhubuti, Haki R., 1942-
- Randall, Dudley, 1914-
- Sanchez, Sonia, 1934-
Types of material
Silvio O. Conte Papers, 1950-1991.
Call no.: MS 371
Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts’s First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.
Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- Massachusetts. Senate
- United States--Politics and government--20th century
- United States. Congress. House
- Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991
Types of material
- Sound recordings
Rebecca Crouch Papers, ca.1936-1986.
Call no.: MS 602
In the late 1870s, a middle-aged farmer from Richmond, Minnesota, Samuel Crouch, married a woman eleven years his junior and asked her to relocate to the northern plains. Possessed of some solid self-confidence, Rebecca left behind her family a friends and set out to make a life for herself, adjusting to her new role as step-mother and community member, as well as the familiar role of family member at a distance.
The Crouch Papers includes approximately 225 letters offering insight into life in Minnesota during the late 1870s and early 1880s, and into the domestic and social life of a woman entering into a new marriage with an older man. Rebecca’s letters are consumed with the ebb and flow of daily life, her interactions with other residents of the community at church or in town, the weather, and chores from cooking to cleaning, farming, gardening, writing, going to town, or rearranging furniture.
- Minnesota--Social life and customs--19th century
- Crouch, Rebecca
- Jones, Sarah
- Loomis, Emma
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Lionel Delevingne Photograph Collection, ca.1975-1995.
Call no.: PH 047
Born and raised in France, the photojournalist Lionel Delevingne studied education at l’Ecole Normale in Paris, but settled permanently in the United States in 1975. Based at first in Northampton, Mass., he became a prolific photographer of American social movements while working for the Valley Advocate and other publications, covering the early years of the Clamshell Alliance and the antinuclear movement in considerable depth. His work has been exhibited frequently and published widely in the mainstream and alternative press, including the New York Times, Le Figaro Magazine, Die Zeit, Newsweek, Washington Post Magazine, Mother Jones, and Vanity Fair.
The Delevingne collection includes remarkable visual documentation of the antinuclear movement of the 1970s and beyond, including some of the its most iconic images. Beginning with coverage of the Seabrook occupation, Delevingne covered the movement as it spread throughout the northeastern U.S. and internationally. The collection includes exhibition prints, prints for publication, and digitized images ranging in date from the mid-1970s through 1990s. Copyright in the images has been retained by Delevingne.
- Antinuclear movement--United States
- Clamshell Alliance
- Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant (N.H.)
- Delevingne, Lionel
Types of material
Siegfried Ebert Papers, 1933-1986.
Call no.: MS 576
The graphic artist Siegfried Ebert had an important influence on the visual language of East German television and animated motion pictures. Born in Eibau on July 20, 1926, Ebert was drafted into the Luftwaffe in 1943, but shortly after going on active duty, he was severely wounded and taken prisoner by the English. After his release, Ebert shifted course in life, studying commercial art at the Kunstgewerbeschule Zittau and film at the Hochschule für bildende und angewandte Kunst in Wiessensee. He became one of the earliest artists to specialize in the new medium of television, working for Deutscher Fernsehfunk, doing graphic design and animation. A member of the Verband Bildender Künstler Deutschlands, he later worked on animated films for the DEFA studios. Suffering from ill health for the last several years of his life, Ebert suffered a heart attack in November 1985, and died at home shortly after his sixtieth birthday in 1986.
The Ebert Collection includes a small assortment of correspondence, awards, and biographical materials, along with examples of his graphic work for television and film. Among other unusual items in the collection are attractive handbills (small posters) for Progress and DEFA films, some original sketches, photographs and mockups of his artwork for television, and an assortment of personal and professional ephemera.
- Germany, East--Social life and customs
- Graphic artists--Germany, East
- Motion pictures--Germany, East
- Prisoners of War--Germany
- Television--Germany, East
- World War, 1939-1945
- Ebert, Siegfried
- Thorndike, Andrew
Types of material
- Animation drawings
Roy Finestone Photograph Collection, 1969-1990.
Call no.: PH 005
A wave of experimentation in communal living in New England reached a peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with dozens of communities spread across the landscape of western Massachusetts and Vermont. Nina Finestone joined the Johnson Pastures in Guilford , Vermont, in 1969, however after the main house there went up in flames on April 16, 1970, killing four people, she joined a number of its residents who moved to the nearby Montague Farm in Montague, Massachusetts. Nina married a fellow Montague farmer, Daniel Keller, and the couple moved to Wendell in 1980.
Providing exceptional visual documentation of life at Johnson Pasture, the Montague Farm, and Wendell Farm between 1969 and 1990, the Finestone collection is centered on the lives and family of Daniel and Nina Keller. All images were taken by Roy Finestone, Nina’s father, with a medium format camera using color transparency film.
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Communal living--Vermont
- Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
- Keller, Daniel
- Keller, Nina
- Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
- Wendell Farm Community (Mass.)
- Finestone, Roy
Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley Records, 1979-1994.
Call no.: MS 468
Amherst, Massachusetts, chapter of the national Gray Panther organization that sponsored the weekly Amherst Vigil for Peace and Justice, tackled such issues as fair and affordable housing for people of all ages, nursing home reform, Social Security policy, universal health care, safe-sex, and age discrimination, and also worked to improve the everyday life of senior citizens and the community at large, often collaborating with other local organizations to address world peace, environmental concerns, improved child care, educational opportunities, and handicapped accessibility.
Records include charter, by-laws, histories and mission statements, meeting agendas and minutes, correspondence, financial reports, fund raising materials, membership lists, membership questionnaire, newsletters, press releases, leaflets, clippings, a scrapbook, T-shirts, and program files, that document the founding and activities of the Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley.
- Older people--Massachusetts
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Social justice--Massachusetts
- Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley
- Holt, Margaret