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Cemetery Inscriptions Collection

Cemetery Inscriptions Collection, 1902-2005
4 boxes (6 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 669

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.

Consisting of self-published and limited-run compilations of gravestone transcriptions from historical cemeteries, the AGS Cemetery Inscriptions Collection offers rich documentation of epitaphs and memorial language, with an emphasis on colonial and early national-era in New England and Ohio. The collection is arranged by state and town.

Subjects
  • Gravestones
  • Inscriptions
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies

Colburn, Paul

Paul and Olive Colburn Collection, 1894-2001
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 860
Paul and Olive Colburn Collection image
Jonathan Dow marker, Eastern Cemetery, Portland, Me.

Husband and wife Paul Francis and Olive (“Tommie” Fox) Colburn were active members of the Association for Gravestone Studies from the 1980s. Natives of Lowell, Mass., and long-time residents of Berwick, Me., the Colburns shared an interest in New England gravestones and marker symbolism, with Tommie enjoying a particular specialty in metal-based markers.

The Colburn collection represents a cross-section of the couple’s work documenting and lecturing about New England grave markers and marker symbolism as well as Victorian funerary practice. Of note are a small number of items reflecting Victorian mourning culture, including images of funeral wreaths and arrangements, three mourning handkerchiefs, and a funeral card.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Connecticut
  • Gravestones--Maine
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
  • Gravestones--New Hampshire
  • Gravestones--New York
  • Gravestones--Rhode Island
  • Gravestones--Vermont
Contributors
  • Colburn, Olive
Types of material
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Photographs

Collection policy

Frank Waugh's doves

Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… 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 pursuit of 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 highly 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.

Our approach to collecting

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation 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.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative 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.

New England history and culture

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 Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

Drinkwater, Robert W.

Robert W. Drinkwater Collection, ca.1975-2004
2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 067
Wildwood Cemetery, Amherst, Non. 2004
Wildwood Cemetery, Amherst, Non. 2004

An historical archaeologist with an MA in Anthropology from UMass Amherst, Bob Drinkwater has recorded, photographed, and reported on the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century gravestones and stonecutters of western Massachusetts for over four decades, and he has identified a number of Connecticut River Valley carvers. A charter member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, he has been active in nearly every aspect of the organization, contributing scholarly articles to its journals, organizing and presenting at its conferences, and serving terms as President and Trustee. He offers a workshop, “Gravestone Studies 101: A Survey of Gravestone Art in the Pioneer Valley”, at Greenfield Community College.

Focused on Bob Drinkwater’s research on western Massachusetts, the collection contains several hundred images recording early gravestones in the cemeteries of Amherst and Hadley, photo documentation of the stonecutters of Berkshire County and the Quabbin region, and two longer works written by Drinkwater: “From quarry to graveyard: a schematic reconstruction of early New England gravestone-carving technology” (his honor’s thesis, ca.1975) and “Notes on Methods of Collection, Classification, Recording, and Analysis of Data for Stylistic and Demographic Studies of Early New England Gravestones.”

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts--Hadley
  • Stone carving--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • McArdle, Alan
Types of material
  • Photographs

Duane, Edward H.

Edward H. Duane Collection, 1967-1992
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 029

While working as caretaker for veterans’ graves in 1966, Edward H. Duane became concerned about the deterioration he saw affecting the older tombstones. A resident of Leicester and (after 1968) Paxton, Mass., Duane was employed for many years as a shipper for companies in nearby Worcester, but preserving the information on tombstones became his calling. Over the following years, he made hundreds of rubbings of New England tombstones, teaching the technique at workshops and classes throughout the region. Among other works, he was author of The Old Burial Ground, Rutland, Mass., 1717-1888 (1983).

The Duane Collection contains an array of materials used by Edward Duane in his stone rubbing workshops in the 1970s and 1980s, along with newsclippings and short publications on New England gravestones and gravestone preservation. Among other items is an early essay of his, “Old New England Headstone, 1668-1815” (1967), accompanied by related correspondence from Allan Ludwig.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies
  • Duane, Edward H
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Rubbings

Eslinger, L. Sidney (Lucille Sidney)

L. Sidney Eslinger Collection, 1905-2003
2 boxes (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 040
L. Sidney Eslinger Collection image

Lucille “Sidney” Eslinger was born in Albany, Missouri, on November 9, 1922, the daughter of Delano R. and Alice M. Willoughby Eslinger. After graduating from high school in 1941, Eslinger turned down an opportunity to attend college to work at Caterpillar Tractor Company in Peoria, lll., partly for the opportunity to play for the Caterpillar Dieselettes, the fast-pitch softball team. Through a co-worker, Eslinger developed an interest in history, becoming an active proponent of historic preservation in central Illinois, including graveyards. After retiring from Caterpillar, she and a friend operated a dog grooming business and she was active in the Humane Society. Sidney died in Peoria on August 14, 2011.

The Eslinger Collection contains materials relating to Sidney Eslinger’s interests in gravestone studies, including four books; a research notebook about Springdale Cemetery in Peoria; a photo album of Old Peoria State Hospital; correspondence and miscellaneous materials about stone quarries and symbolism; and a photo scrapbook, “Coin Harvey: A Legend in His Time.” States represented include Illinois and Indiana.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Illinois
  • Gravestones--Indiana
  • Monte Ne (Ark.)
  • Old Peoria State Hospital
  • Springdale Cemetery (Peoria, Ill.)
Contributors
  • Eslinger, L. Sidney (Lucille Sidney)
Types of material
  • Photographs

ETHIR recipients

How can I apply for an ETHIR Fellowship?

2015

Chelsea Sams (Art)
Delene White (German and Scandinavian Studies)

2014

David Bendiksen (Comparative Literature)
Gregory Coleman (English)
Donald Geesling (Afro-American Studies)

2013

Spencer Kuchle (Afro-American Studies)
Jaime Pagana (Art History)

2012

Matthew Ferrari (Communications)
Nature, Landscape, and the Visual Culture of Sport Marketing in the McCormack Archive
Thomas Hopper (English)

2011

Molly Campbell (History)
Behold And See As You Pass By: Gravestones and Mortuary Art In Early New England
A digital exhibit drawn from the collections of the Association for Gravestone Studies
Tom Hohenstein (History)
Rhetoric or Research: The CIA at UMass
An examination of protests and counter-protests against CIA recruitment at UMass Amherst in the 1980s.
Emily Oswald (History)
Source, History, Story: Teaching U.S. History in the Archives

Farber, Daniel

Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber Photograph Collection, 1973
9 boxes (5.75 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 022
Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber Photograph Collection image
Jonathan Butterfield, Chelmsford, 1750

A businessman from Worcester, Mass., Daniel Farber (1906-1998) was among the best known photographers of early American gravestone art. Over the course of twenty years beginning in about 1970, he and his wife Jessie Lie Farber (a faculty member at Mount Holyoke College) took thousands of photographs of gravestones throughout New England and the eastern United States, eventually extending their work internationally. Interested in both the artistic and cultural value of gravestones, the Farbers were founding members of the Association for Gravestone Studies in 1976 and influenced a generation of fellow researchers in gravestone studies.

Printed in 1973, the Farber Collection includes 326 black and white prints (5×7″),mounted on rag board, of of colonial and early national gravestones in Massachusetts. The towns represented, most by multiple images, include Auburn, Billerica, Boylston, Brookfield, Cambridge, Charlestown, Chelmsford, Concord. Holden, Leicester, Lexington, Marlboro, Northboro, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Watertown, Wayland, and Westboro.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies
  • Farber, Daniel
  • Farber, Jessie Lie
Types of material
  • Photographs

Freeman, James A., 1935-

James A. Freeman Broadcast Radio Collection, ca.1930-1955
18 boxes (27 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 759

A professor of English at UMass Amherst, James A. Freeman is a scholar of seventeenth century British literature who has compiled an impressively eclectic array of publications and research projects. Educated at Amherst College (AB 1956) and the University of Minnesota (PhD 1968), Freeman joined the faculty in the English Department at UMass shortly after completing his doctorate. He has published on topics ranging from Latin and Greek poets to Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Tennyson, James Agee, Donald Duck, 17th century regicides, and 1930s radio. He has also served as a regular contributor and editor for the Association for Gravestone Studies Quarterly.

The Freeman collection consists of many hundreds of cassette tapes of radio broadcasts from the 1930s through early 1950s, reflecting the culture of commercial radio during its golden age. The collection includes representatives of most of the major genres, including comedy, drama, suspense and mystery, soap operas, and westerns. There is some depth popular programs such as Amos and Andy, the Great Gildersleeve, Philip Marlowe, and Nero Wolfe, but the collection also includes less common and short-lived shows.

Subjects
  • Radio
Contributors
  • Freeman, James A., 1935-
Types of material
  • Audiocassettes

Gabel, Laurel K.

Laurel K. Gabel Collection, 1976-1990
11 boxes (12.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 066

A registered nurse by profession, Laurel K. Gabel came to the field of gravestone studies through an initial interest in genealogy. Attending her first Association for Gravestone Studies annual conference in 1980, just three years after the organization’s founding, she quickly became one of the organization’s most active members, noted for presenting papers distinguished equally by their scholarship and accessibility to a wide audience. She has regularly led tours and workshops during conferences, and in more recent years, she has taken a lead role in introducing first-time attendees to the field of gravestone studies. In 1988, Gabel received the AGS’s highest honor, the Harriet Merrifield Forbes Award.

This collection of 35 mm slides was assembled by Gabel for use in illustrating lectures and slide presentations. The collection is divided into two discrete sets, one documenting gravestone design and motifs, and the other documenting specific carvers.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--New England
  • Stone carvers--New England
Types of material
  • Photographs
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