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New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

Learn more:

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Quaker History Collection, 1783-1950
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 926

During the early twentieth century, the library at the Moses Brown School (formerly the Friends Boarding School) became an informal repository for Quaker manuscripts reflecting the history and work of the Society of Friends. Most of these materials were later transferred for custody to the school’s governing body, the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.” Many of the letters appear to have been retained as good examples of Quaker expression of family and friendly bonds or as documentation about significant periods in Quaker history, particularly the Gurneyite-Wilburite controversy of the 1840s, and several touch on Quaker involvement in the antislavery and peace movements. Of special note are four interesting letters from the Quaker minister and social reformer, Elizabeth Comstock, written during and just after the Civil War; a series of nine lengthy letters from a visiting English minister Isaac Stephenson, traveling through New England meetings; a substantial series of letters from prominent Friend Samuel Boyd Tobey; and three letters from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Sarah F. Tobey regarding attempts to connect Stowe with Alexander T. Stewart in hopes of raising funds for her plans for the education of women.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Gurney, James Joseph
  • Society of Friends--History
  • Wilbur, John,
Contributors
  • Comstock, Elizabeth L.
  • Stewart, Alexander Turney, 1803-1876
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
  • Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867

Social Change Periodicals

Social Change Periodicals Collection, 1969-2006
14 boxes (21 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 306
Social Change Periodicals Collection image
Peace and Freedom, Mar. 1980

Assembled to bring together short and broken runs of periodicals produced by activists and movements for social justice, the Social Change Periodicals Collection touches on a wide variety of topics. Much of the original collection came from subscriptions held by the Everywoman’s Center at UMass Amherst, however the collection has grown to include materials supplied by many other donors. The bulk of periodicals come from the period 1965-1990 and the subjects covered range from feminism to gay rights, and political radicalism, to peace, prison, labor, antiracism, and the counterculture more generally. The collection has been organized thematically into 19 series.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Suffrage--Periodicals
  • Central America--Politics and government--Periodicals
  • Disarmament--Periodicals
  • Feminism--Periodicals
  • Gay liberation movement--Periodicals
  • Labor--United States--Periodicals
  • Lesbians--Periodicals
  • Nonviolence--Periodicals
  • Peace--Periodicals
  • Prisons--United States--Periodicals
  • Radicalism--United States--Periodicals
  • Socialism--Periodical
  • Women--Periodical
Types of material
  • Periodicals

Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. New England Joint Board

ACTWU New England Joint Board Records, 1974-1987
8 boxes (12 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 241

Records of the New England Joint Board of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union include union administration files, company files, and publications. Company files document interactions between the union and companies such as Best Coat Co.; Healthtec, Inc.; Image Wear; M & M Pants Co.; Soloff & Son, Inc.; and Wear Well Trouser Co.

Subjects
  • Clothing trade--Labor unions--New England
  • Labor unions--New England
  • Textile workers--Labor unions--New England
Contributors
  • Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. New England Joint Board

ACWA New England Joint Board Records, 1939-1976
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 193

Organized in Chicago in 1914, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was formed after a split in the United Garment Workers, and quickly became the dominant force for union in the men’s clothing industry. Within a decade of its founding, ACWA had more than 100,000 members across the U.S. and Canada.

Records of the New England Joint Board of ACWA consist of general correspondence, membership lists, press releases, and collective bargaining files for companies such as Arlan’s Department Stores, Bedford Shirtmakers Corporation, Ethan Ames Company, Holyoke Shirt Company, Lawrence Clothing Company, and Whitney Shirt Company.

Subjects
  • Clothing trade--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts
  • Textile workers--Labor unions--New England
Contributors
  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. New England Joint Board

Association of College and Research Libraries. New England Chapter

Association of College and Research Libraries. New England Chapter Records, 1976-2011
18 boxes (25.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 747

The largest division of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is an organization of information professionals employed in the wide variety of academic libraries. In 1972, the ACRL authorized formation of regional chapters, including one in New England, as a means of supporting professional growth among academic and research librarians by sponsoring workshops, conferences, and other opportunities for learning, consultation, and collaboration.

Representing over forty years of records of a regional chapter of the ACRL, this collection offers thorough documentation. The collection includes a nearly complete run of bulletins, information on the organization and administration of the chapter, and some “historical” materials gathered for the chapter’s tenth anniversary.

Subjects
  • Librarians--Societies, etc.

Linguistic Atlas of New England

Linguistic Atlas of New England Records, 1931-1972
40 boxes (19.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 330

The Linguistic Atlas of New England project, begun in 1889 and published 1939-1943, documented two major dialect areas of New England, which are related to the history of the settling and dispersal of European settlers in New England with successive waves of immigration.

The collection contains handwritten transcription sheets (carbon copies) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with some explanatory comments in longhand. Drawn from over 400 interviews conducted by linguists in communities throughout New England in the 1930s, these records document the geographic distribution of variant pronunciations and usages of spoken English. The material, taken from fieldworkers’ notebooks (1931-1933), is arranged by community, then by informant, and also includes audiotapes of follow-up interviews (1934); phonological analyses of informants’ speech; character sketches of informants by fieldworkers; fieldworkers’ blank notebook; and mimeograph word index to the atlas (1948).

Subjects
  • English language--Dialects--New England
Contributors
  • Linguistic Atlas of New England

New England Agricultural Economics Council

New England Agricultural Economics Council Records, 1955-1966
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 031

After dissolution of the New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply in 1955, a group of agricultural economists from the six state universities in New England formed the New England Agricultural Economics Council to carry on with the mission of promoting education and research on economics and the social problems relating to the production, marketing, and consumption of agricultural products.

Concentrated on the first ten years of the NEAEC, the collection include organizational materials, correspondence, minutes and proceedings, financial records, and newsletters.

Subjects
  • Agricultural economics--New England
  • Dairy products--Marketing--New England
  • Food industry and trade--New England
  • Food--Marketing--New England
Contributors
  • New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply
Types of material
  • Newsletters

New England Federation of Agricultural Students

New England Federation of Agricultural Students Records, 1907-1915
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 333

The New England Federation of Agricultural Students was organized in 1907 for the purpose of bringing together agricultural students of New England colleges for the study and advancement of agriculture and allied sciences and to learn about each others’ work. The Federation organized annual contests in fruit grading and packing, poultry, field crops, and stock.

Correspondence (1915), minutes (1915), constitution, treasurer’s report (1914-1915), records of the secretary and treasurer (1907-1915), contest scores and results (1914), and judging regulations (1913-1916).

Subjects
  • Agricultural education--New England--Societies, etc.--History
  • Agricultural students--New England--History
  • Agriculture--Competitions--New England--History
Contributors
  • New England Federation of Agricultural Students

New England Historical Association

New England Historical Association Records, 1965-1999
13 boxes (6.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 352
New England Historical Association Records image
NEHA meeting, Holy Cross College, April 1982

The New England Historical Association, the regional branch of the American Historical Association, was founded in 1965 in an informal meeting at the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the NEHA is to serve the interests of New England historians of all levels: professional, academic, or amateur. These interests include a means to share their research and work, learn about history resources that are available to them for personal study or teaching, or simply to meet socially. NEHA aims to maintain the pursuit of history through both regional and national dimensions.

This collection holds the records of the New England Historical Association including an organizational history, constitution and meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, membership lists, committee reports, meeting programs, and newsletters.

Subjects
  • History--Study and teaching
Contributors
  • American Historical Association
  • New England Historical Association
  • New England History Teachers' Association
Types of material
  • Photographs
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