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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This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.”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.


  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Gurney, James Joseph
  • Society of Friends--History
  • Wilbur, John,


  • Comstock, Elizabeth L.
  • Stewart, Alexander Turney, 1803-1876
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
  • Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867

Northampton Cutlery Company Records, 1869-1987

113 boxes (55.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 058

The Northampton Cutlery Company was among the major firms in a region known for high quality cutlery manufacture. Incorporated in 1871 with Judge Samuel L. Hinckley, its largest stockholder, as its first President, the company was located along the Mill River in Northampton, Massachusetts, where operations continued until its closing in 1987.

Records document company operations and technology used in the cutlery manufacturing process, as well as details about employment of immigrant and working class families in the region. Includes administrative, legal, and financial records; correspondence; personnel and labor relations files; and production schedules and specifications.


  • Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
  • Northampton (Mass.)--History


  • Northampton Cutlery Company

Northampton Labor Council Minutebooks, 1933-1985

2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 055

From its origins in 1899 as the Northampton Central Labor Union, the Northampton Labor Council coordinated political activity and worked for union cooperation in strikes, boycotts, and celebrations. With 29 unions in its ranks by 1903, it was one of the few labor councils to include both AFL and CIO affiliates during the period of their intense competition during the 1930s, however from 1945 until the AFL-CIO merger, CIO unions were excluded. By 1985, the NLC had 14 affiliated local unions.

As the coordinating body for the political and social activities of fourteen labor unions in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the surrounding area, the Labor Council generated union support for strikes, boycotts, and celebrations, and hosting annual Labor Day parades. Includes photocopies of four minutebooks, spanning the years 1933-1985.


  • Central Labor Union (Northampton, Mass.)
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts--Northampton
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century


  • Northampton Labor Council (AFL-CIO)

Clark Hopkins Obear Diaries, 1845-1888

4 vols. (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 601

A resident of New Ipswich, N.H., Clark Obear (1881-1888) was an ardent supporter of the temperance and antislavery movements, and was deeply involved in the affairs of his church and community. Obear and his wife Lydia Ann Swasey (b.1820), whom he married June 8, 1848, were long-time teachers in Hillsborough County, but he worked at various points as a farmer and in insurance, and served in public office as a deputy sheriff, a Lieutenant Colonel in the militia, a fence viewer and pound keeper, and for several years he was superintendent of schools. Obear and his wife had two children, Annabel Clark (b. June 25, 1852, later wife of George Conant) and Francis A. (b. July 7, 1857).

The Obear collection consists of four diaries dated 1845-1851 (252p.), 1871-1877 (ca.280p.), 1878-1883 (280p.), and 1884-1888 (203p.). Although most entries are brief, they form a continuous coverage of many years and offer details that provide a real sense of the rhythms of life in a small village in south central New Hampshire. Of particular note, Obear carefully notes the various lectures he attends in town and the organizations of which he is part, including middle class reform movements like temperance and antislavery.


  • Abolitionists--New Hampshire
  • Antislavery movements--New Hampshire
  • New Ipswich (N.H.)
  • Temperance


  • Obear, Clark H.

Types of material

  • Diaries

Alfred A. Parker Daybooks, 1877-1889

4 vols. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 235

Stove and tinware dealer from Orange, Massachusetts, who also did business in the nearby towns of New Salem and Erving.

Alfred A. Parker’s account books include customers (local residents and Orange businesses such as the Gold Medal Sewing Machine Co., the Orange Manufacturing Co., and the Rodney Hunt Machine Co.), charges for labor (especially soldering), the cost of stoves, pipe, kettles of various sorts, roofing material, and information about shipping costs.


  • Freight and freightage--Rates--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company
  • Kettles--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--History--19th century
  • New Salem (Mass.)--History
  • Orange (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Orange Manufacturing Company (Orange, Mass.)
  • Pipe--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--History--19th century
  • Rodney Hunt Machine Company
  • Roofing--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--History--19th century
  • Solder and soldering--Costs--History--19th century
  • Stove industry and trade--Massachusetts--Orange--History--19th century
  • Stoves--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--History--19th century
  • Tinsmithing--Massachusetts--Orange--History--19th century
  • Tinsmiths--Massachusetts--Orange--Economic conditions--19th century


  • Parker, Alfred A., b. 1822

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Daybooks

Charles H. Patterson Papers, 1930-1958

2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 089
Charles H. Patterson.<br />Photo by Frank A. Waugh, 1926
Charles H. Patterson.
Photo by Frank A. Waugh, 1926

For many years, Charles H. Patterson served as head of the Department of Language and Literature at Massachusetts Agricultural College. Born in Smithsonville, Ont., in 1863, Patterson received both a BA (1887) and MA (1893) from Tufts University before launching his teaching career. He joined the faculty at MAC as an assistant professor of English, in 1916, after 13 years at West Virginia University. A former professional actor, he taught courses in modern literature, with a particular interest in drama, and served as department chair for nearly a decade before his sudden death in 1933.

The Patterson Papers contain a small selection of correspondence and notes on English composition and literature as taught at Massachusetts Agricultural College. Most noteworthy, perhaps, is a draft of Patterson’s unpublished book, The Amazing Boucicault.


  • Boucicault, Dion, 1820-1890
  • Drama--Study and teaching
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of English


  • Patterson, Charles H

Peck-Sisson-White Family Papers, 1772-1975 (Bulk: 1830-1875)

2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 933

Perez Peck (1786-1876) and Asa Sisson (1815-1893) of the village of Anthony (Coventry), R.I., were innovative machinists and manufacturers of cotton looms. Active members of the Society of Friends, they were supporters of the antislavery struggle and sent their children to the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I.

Although the Peck-Sisson-White family collection spans three families and three generations, the bulk of material is concentrated on the lives of Asa Sisson and his wife Mary Ann (Peck) and their daughter Emily, who married Willis H. White, with an emphasis on their poetry and their time at the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. The family also copied verse from other writers, including works from George Miller (not otherwise identified) extracting Anthony Benezet and “Remarks on encouraging slavery” and a “lamentation over New England” which touches on the execution of early Quakers in Massachusetts Bay.


  • Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
  • Death--Poetry
  • Friends Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • Quakers--Rhode Island


  • Peck, Perez, 1786-1876
  • Sisson, Asa, 1815-1893
  • Sisson, Mary Ann, 1816-1882
  • White, Emily Sisson, 1856-1945

Types of material

  • Diaries
  • Poetry

People's Institute Records, 1896-1970

2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 026

Organization in Northampton, Massachusetts that met in members’ homes for the purpose of helping working people spend their evenings in valuable reading and discussion, and for furthering the culture of the home as well as the individual. The organization also sponsored flower garden competitions, an evening school for adults, a school for the household arts, an after school play program for children, a Golden Age club, and a day camp. Photocopied records include Board of Directors minutes, Directors’ reports, and correspondence.


  • Northampton (Mass.)--Intellectual life--History
  • Working class--Massachusetts--Northampton--Intellectual life--History
  • Working class--Massachusetts--Northampton--Societies, etc. --History


  • Home Culture Club (Northampton, Mass.)
  • People's Institute (Northampton, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Minutes
  • Reports

Alida Perreault Papers, 1906-1957 (Bulk: 1928-1933)

2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 808

Alida Capistrant was the eleventh of twelve children in a large French-Canadian family in South Hadley, Massachusetts born on July 24,1914. Her parents both immigrated from Quebec in 1885. On September 30, 1895 they were married in South Hadley. The Capistrant family rented their home until 1912 when they purchased their first house in South Hadley. Alida had an active social life as a teenager and considered attending college or university, but did not pursue any further education until about 1943, when she studied at the Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Two years later she married James Perreault and the couple had two children, a daughter, Marcia (Perreault) Matthieu and a son, David James Perreault. They lived in South Hadley until 2003, when they moved to Chandler, Arizona to be near their daughter. Alida Perreault died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on April 7, 2006, and James died in 2008. Both are buried in Saint Rose Cemetery in South Hadley next to Alida’s family.

Alida’s correspondence during her high school years (1928-1932) reveal a young woman with a substantial network of friends and family. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from several friends, including two potential romantic interests. Letters document daily activities, family happenings, and later Alida’s interest in a career as a nurse and her leadership role in the South Hadley Women’s Club.


  • Capistrant family--Correspondence
  • Family--Massachusetts--History
  • High school students--Massachusetts
  • South Hadley (Mass.)--History
  • Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, Mass.)


  • Fogg, Esther
  • McEwan, William
  • Mitkiewitcz, Freddie A.

Types of material

  • Correspondence
  • Greeting cards
  • Invitations

Cynthia Shepard Perry Papers, 1946-2010

7 boxes (10.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 842
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986

An educator, diplomat, and expert on Africa, Cynthia Shepard Perry was the first recipient of a PhD from of the Program in International Education at UMass Amherst (1972). Born in Burnett, Indiana, in 1928, Perry was raising a family when she set a twenty-five year goal of earning doctorate and entering international service. One year after earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University in 1967, she arranged for her first trip to Africa, leading a secretarial training project at the University of Nairobi, and over succeeding decades, her connections to the continent deepened dramatically. On faculty at Texas Southern University (1971-1982), Perry served as Associate Director of the university’s Peace Corps Program, which resulted in her leading educational projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya. In demand for the expertise she had gained, she worked as a consultant to the US Information Service in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia and as Staff Development Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Having become a full professor and Dean of International Affairs, she left TSU in 1982 to take her first diplomatic post as an officer of the Africa Bureau of the US Agency for International Development, followed by successive appointments as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1986-1989) and Burundi (1989-1993), as Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, and finally an appointment as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank (1996-2001). Although officially retired, Perry remains active in supporting education and development in Africa from her home in Houston. Among many other awards she has received, Perry was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from UMass for her international work and was recognized by the Salute to Service Award.

A record of a life in international service in Africa, the Perry papers includes materials from Perry’s time as head of the African Development Bank and her two ambassadorial appointments, including speeches, some correspondence, and a handful of publications. The collection also includes a series of awards and plaques, some family photographs, and memorabilia.


  • Africa--Foreign relations--United States
  • Burundi--History
  • Sierra Leone--United States
  • United States--Foreign relations--Africa

Types of material

  • Memorabilia
  • Photographs

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