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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:

Children’s Aid and Family Services of Hampshire County Inc.

Children's Aid and Family Service Records, 1910-ca. 2001
10 boxes (8 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 008

Agency providing traditional child and family service and extensive mental health services that worked closely with the SPCC, was a member in the Child Welfare League of America, and was the Northampton representative for the National Association of Travelers Aid Societies. Includes 10 versions of the constitution, typed personal recollections from the 25th anniversary, annual reports, minutes, and the correspondence of President Miriam Chrisman (1952-1957). Of special note, Mrs. Calvin Coolidge was the Chair of the Home Finding Committee of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which helped to found the CAFS.

Subjects
  • Child mental health services--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History
  • Child welfare--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History
  • Children--Institutional care--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History
  • Coolidge, Grace Goodhue, 1879-1957
  • Floods--Massachusetts
  • Foster home care--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History
  • Franklin County (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Hampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Homeless children--Massachusetts--Franklin County--History
  • Homeless children--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History
  • Hurricanes--Massachusetts
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Intellectual life--History
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Social service--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History
  • Voluntarism--Massachusetts--History
Contributors
  • Children's Aid Association (Hampshire County, Mass.)
  • Children's Aid and Family Service of Hampshire County (Hampshire County, Mass.)
  • Children's Home Association (Franklin County, Mass. and Hampshire County, Mass.)
  • Chrisman, Miriam Usher
  • Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Home Finding Committee

Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists

Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists Records, 1930-1990
5 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 346
Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists Records image
Holiday Inn greets the MAEHE, 1967

An outgrowth of the extension movement in Massachusetts aimed at assisting rural women in domestic work, the Massachusetts Home Demonstration Agents’ Association (later the Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists) was formed in 1930. Offering an opportunity for the sharing of resources, approaches, and information, the organization provided encouragement for its members to improve their skills as home economists and adult educators.

The MAEHE collection includes award applications, minutes, correspondence, newsletters, and membership files.

Subjects
  • Home economics extension work--Massachusetts
  • Home economics--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Massachusetts Home Demonstration Agents Association
  • National Association of Extension Home Economists
Types of material
  • Photographs

Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886

William Smith Clark Papers, 1814-2003 (Bulk: 1844-1886)
(14.75 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 C63
William Smith Clark Papers image
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.

Subjects
  • 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
Contributors
  • Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. President
Types of material
  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Realia
  • Scrapbooks

Greenwich (Mass.)

Greenwich (Mass.) Collection, 1734-1940
3 folders (plus digital) (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 011

Granted in 1737 and incorporated in 1754, Greenwich, Mass., was the first town in the Swift River Valley settled by Europeans. Sitting astride the East and Middle branches of the Swift River and forming the eastern boundary of Hampshire County, Greenwich was primarily an agricultural town with light manufacturing and, beginning in the later nineteenth century, an active tourist trade. The town’s population peaked at over 1,100 early in the nineteenth century, declining slowly thereafter.

The records of Greenwich, Mass., offer a long perspective on the history of the region inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of this collection consists of the records of town meetings and the Selectmen of Greenwich from the Proprietary period in the 1730s through disincorporation in 1938, but there is some documentation of the town’s Congregational Church, a local school, the library, and the Greenwich Improvement Society. This finding aid reflects both materials held by SCUA and materials digitized in partnership with the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass.

Subjects
  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Greenwich--History
  • Education--Massachusetts--Greenwich--History
  • Fires--Massachusetts--Greenwich--Histor
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--History
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Libraries--Massachusetts--Greenwich
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Contributors
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town)
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town). School Committee
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town). Treasurer
  • Greenwich Improvement Society
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Church records
  • Photographs

Halpern, Carl

Carl Halpern Papers, 1920-1986
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 783
Carl Halpern Papers image
Carl Halpern and family

Born in 1902, Carl Halpern grew up in the Bronx where he attended elementary school. Upon leaving school, he took several jobs, including shoe salesman and accounting clerk, before he was hired as an errand boy in 1917 at the Electro-Chemical Engraving Company. Halpern stayed with the company for more than 40 years, retiring as an Executive Vice President.

The collection consists chiefly of materials relating to Halpern’s tenure at Electro-Chemical Engraving Company, including company reports and inter-company memos, advertisements for products, and other materials related to the business. Of singular importance is Halpern’s memoir, which intertwines his personal history with that of the company during the nearly five decades he was associated with the business.

Subjects
  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
  • Electro-Chemical Engraving Company
  • Genealogy
Contributors
  • Halpern, Carl
  • Halpern, Joel Martin
Types of material
  • Memoirs

Howes Brothers

Howes Brothers Photograph Collection, ca. 1882-1907
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 313

Alvah, Walter, and George Howes brothers traveled the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts in the last two decades of the 19th century, taking photographs of the residents and documenting the customs, fashions, architecture, industry, technology, and economic conditions of rural New England.

The Howes collection includes 200 study prints selected from 20,000 negatives held by the Ashfield Historical Society.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts--History
Contributors
  • Howes, Alvah
  • Howes, George
  • Howes, Walter
Types of material
  • Photographs

Lipshires, Sidney

Sidney Lipshires Papers, 1932-2012
7 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 730
Sidney Lipshires Papers image
Sidney Lipshires

Born on April 15, 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland to David and Minnie Lipshires, Sidney was raised in Northampton, Massachusetts where his father owned two shoe stores, David Boot Shop and The Bootery. He attended the Massachusetts State College for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago and was awarded a BA in economics in 1940. His years at the University of Chicago were transformative, Lipshires became politically active there and joined the Communist Party in 1939. Following graduation in 1941, he married Shirley Dvorin, a student in early childhood education; together they had two sons, Ellis and Bernard. Lipshires returned to western Massachusetts with his young family in the early 1940s, working as a labor organizer. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 working as a clerk and interpreter with a medical battalion in France for over a year. Returning home, he ran for city alderman in Springfield on the Communist Party ticket in 1947. Lipshires married his second wife, Joann Breen Klein, in 1951 and on May 29, 1956, the same day his daughter Lisa was born, he was arrested under the Smith Act for his Communist Party activities. Before his case was brought to trial, the Smith Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Disillusioned with the Communist Party, he severed his ties with it in 1957, but continued to remain active in organized labor for the rest of his life. Earning his masters in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1971, Lipshires taught history at Manchester Community College in Connecticut for thirty years. During that time he worked with other campus leaders to establish a statewide union for teachers and other community college professionals, an experience he wrote about in his book, Giving Them Hell: How a College Professor Organized and Led a Successful Statewide Union. Sidney Lipshires died on January 6, 2011 at the age of 91.

Ranging from an autobiographical account that outlines his development as an activist (prepared in anticipation of a trial for conspiracy charges under the Smith Act) to drafts and notes relating to his book Giving Them Hell, the Sidney Lipshires Papers offers an overview of his role in the Communist Party and as a labor organizer. The collection also contains his testimony in a 1955 public hearing before the Special Commission to Study and Investigate Communism and Subversive Activities, photographs, and biographical materials.

Subjects
  • Communism--United States--History
  • Communists--Massachusetts
  • Jews--Massachusetts--Northampton--History
  • Jews--Political activity--United States--History--20th century
  • Labor movement--United States--History--20th century
  • Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--Biography
Contributors
  • Lipshires, David M
  • Lipshires, Joann B
  • Lipshires, Sidney
Types of material
  • Autobiographies
  • Photographs
  • Testimonies

Northampton State Hospital

Northampton State Hospital Annual Reports, 1856-1939
74 items (digital)
Call no.: Digital

The Northampton State Hospital was opened in 1858 to provide moral therapy to the “insane,” and under the superintendency of Pliny Earle, became one of the best known asylums in New England. Before the turn of the century, however, the Hospital declined, facing the problems of overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate funding. The push for psychiatric deinstitutionalization in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a steady reduction of the patient population, the last eleven of whom left Northampton State in 1993.

With the Government Documents staff, SCUA has digitized the annual reports of the Northampton State Hospital from the beginning until the last published report in 1939. The reports appeared annually from 1856 until 1924 and irregularly from then until 1939.

Westhampton (Mass. : Town)

Westhampton Town Records, 1779-1900
10 boxes (5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 799
Westhampton Town Records image
Close-up of records from 1779

Originally settled by Europeans in 1762, the town of Westhampton, Massachusetts, was separated from adjacent Northampton and incorporated in September 1778. Situated in the western reaches of Hampshire County, it was principally an agricultural town until the later twentieth century, producing apples, other fruit, and maple sugar, with only minor industry. The town still retains its rural character: a century after incorporation, the population had grown to just over 500, and nearly 1,500 by 2000.

The Westhampton collection provides an extensive record of public life and local governance in a typical small Hampshire County town. Spanning from 1779, just after the date of incorporation, through the turn of the twentieth century, the collection includes extensive records of town meetings, including warrants, agendas, and summaries; records of the Overseers of Poor, the schools, militia service, and parish; materials on roads and highways; and a large quantity of financial records.

Subjects
  • Churches--Massachusetts--Westhampton
  • Poor--Massachusetts--Westhampton
  • Roads--Massachusetts--Westhampton
  • Town meetings--Massachusetts--Westhampton
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