As one of the main repositories documenting the history of western Massachusetts and New England, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.
Concentrated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 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. Among the more valuable collections for the political history of the region is the papers of Silvio O. Conte, Republican congressman from the First District of Massachusetts from 1959-1991. A member of the House Appropriations Committee (and its ranking minority member from 1979-1991), Conte is particularly remembered for his work in Health and Human Services, education, and the environment. SCUA also holds collections for state representatives John Haigis and Maurice Donahue, as well as other figures involved in political life in the Commonwealth.
Although the Department holds materials relating to individual communities in western Massachusetts, the history of the Quabbin watershed is a particular focal point. SCUA collects books printed in the Quabbin region and more generally, in rural New England prior to 1900, as well as manuscript, printed, and photographic collections relating to Quabbin towns.
- 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
- 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
Association for Gravestone Studies Ephemera Collection, 1788-1939.
Call no.: MS 651
Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the Association promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives. To raise public awareness about the significance of historic gravemarkers and the issues surrounding their preservation, the AGS sponsors conferences and workshops, publishes both a quarterly newsletter and annual journal, Markers, and has built an archive of collections documenting gravestones and the memorial industry.
The AGS Ephemera Collections contains a mix of materials relating to gravestones and the slate and marble industries. Most of the items relate to the marble and slate industries in Western Massachusetts and adjacent areas in Vermont and New Hampshire.
- Marble industry and trade
- Slate industry
- Association for Gravestone Studies
- Fair Haven Marble and Marbleized Slate Co
- Farr Alpaca Co
Types of material
- Business cards
- Circular letters
- Memorial cards
Boston AIDS Consortium Records, 1991-2005.
Call no.: MS 458
In the fall 1987, a working group was formed in Boston to help coordinate planning for HIV-related services, prevention, and education. The Boston AIDS Consortium began operations the following January with the goal of ensuring effective services for people affected by HIV/AIDS and enabling them to live healthy and productive lives. In its eighteen year existence, the Consortium worked with over seventy public and private agencies and two hundred individuals.
The Records of the Boston AIDS Consortium provide valuable insight into community-based mobilization in response to the AIDS epidemic.
- AIDS (Disease)
- AIDS activists--Massachusetts
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome--Prevention and control
- Boston AIDS Consortium
Linguistic Atlas of New England Records, 1931-1972.
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).
- English language--Dialects--New England
- Linguistic Atlas of New England
New England Agricultural Economics Council Records, 1955-1966.
Call no.: MS 031
NEAEC was formed in 1955 after the dissolution of the New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply, in order to promote education and research on economics and the social problems relating to the production, marketing, and consumption of agricultural products.
The NEAEC Records include correspondence, minutes and proceedings, organizational and financial records, and newsletters.
- Agricultural economics--New England
- Dairy products--Marketing--New England
- Food industry and trade--New England
- Food--Marketing--New England
- New England Agricultural Economics Council
New England Federation of Agricultural Students Records, 1907-1915.
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).
- Agricultural education--New England--Societies, etc.--History
- Agricultural students--New England--History
- Agriculture--Competitions--New England--History
- New England Federation of Agricultural Students
New England Historical Association Records, 1965-1999.
Call no.: MS 352
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.
- History--Study and teaching
- New England Historical Association
New England Homestead Farm Accounts Collection, 1883-1884.
Call no.: MS 113
The New England Homestead, a magazine published in Springfield, Massachusetts from 1842 to 1969, conducted a contest in 1884 to which farmers submitted notebooks recording their farm accounts for the one year period, April 1, 1883 to March 31, 1884.
The collection includes bound and unbound farm accounts submitted as entries to the contest contest. The Library holds The New England Homestead, 1842-1850 on microfilm, and 1894-1968 in bound volumes.
- Agriculture--Accounting--Competitions--New England
- Agriculture--Economic aspects--New England--History--19th century
- Agriculture--New England--Accounting--History--19th century
- Contests--New England
- Farm management--Competitions--New England
- Farm management--New England--History--19th century
- Farmers--Competitions--New England
- Farmers--New England--Economic conditions--19th century
- New England--Economic conditions--19th century
- New England Homestead
New England Labor and Community Newsletters, 1979-1984.
Call no.: MS 202
Includes eleven of the thirteen newsletters published by the Labor and Community Network, a group of academics and trade unionists interested in labor issues in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
- Labor--New England--Periodicals
- New England--Social conditions--Periodicals
- Working class--New England--Periodicals
Types of material
New England Post-War Marketing Plans Collection, 1937-1950.
Call no.: MS 083
Includes reports, addresses, articles, proposals, memos, and correspondence regarding post-war marketing plans in New England for agricultural products in general, and for dairy products in particular, including the Every Other Day Milk Delivery campaign.
- Agriculture--Economic aspects--New England--20th century
- Dairy products--New England--Marketing--History--20th century
- Farm produce--New England--Marketing--History--20th century
- New England--Economic conditions--20th century