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Otis Company

Otis Company Records

2 folders 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 310

The Otis Company of Ware, Massachusetts, was founded in 1839 and became a major producer of textiles, including checks, denims, and cotton underwear. At the height of their operations, the company operated three mills with a workforce of over 1,300.

The collection contains correspondence between Otis agent Henry Lyon and the firms of Parks, Wright & Co. (1846-47) and Wright, Whitman & Co. (1847), both of Boston. It includes bills, invoices, letters, and memos, covering orders for such goods as lamp glasses, patent starch, whale oil, gas pipes, bales of cotton, pot and pearl ashes, fish glue, sour flour, fire buckets, potato starch, tar, sheet copper, and indigo.

Gift of John Foster, May 1990
  • Mills and milling--Massachusetts--Ware
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts
  • Ware (Mass.)--History
  • Otis Company

Peasley, Alonzo A.

Alonzo A. Peasley Diaries

2 vols. 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 608 bd
Image of Fragments of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry flag
Fragments of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry flag

Born in Dorchester, Mass., Alonzo A. Peasley enlisted in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry in May 1861, only weeks after the outbreak of the Civil War. Sent almost immediately southward, Peasley’s regiment was deployed in the Battles of Glendale and First Bull Run in July, and served with the Army of the Potomac throughout the Peninsular Campaign, Frederickbsurg, and Chancellorsville. As part of the 2nd Division, 3rd Army Corps on July 2, 1863, the 1st Massachusetts suffered a 40% casualty rate during fierce fighting along the Emmitsburg Road in Gettysburg, with Peasley sustaining serious wounds. Hospitalized for several months, he was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps to serve out his enlistment. In later life, Peasley worked as a letter carrier in Boston.

Exceptionally well-written, observant, and above all active, Peasley’s diaries offer a fine account of a private’s life in the Civil War. The two volumes include detailed descriptions of life in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry covering the entire period from the day the regiment left the state in June 1861 until the time of Peasley’s wounding at Gettysburg in July 1863. Among the highlights are a minutely detailed, thoroughly extended account of Peasley’s first major engagements (Blackburn’s Ford and First Bull Run), excellent account for the Peninsular Campaign, and a stunning account of the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Gift of William A. Carroll, June 2009
  • Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861
  • Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862
  • Peninsular Campaign, 1862
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States. Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 1st (1861-1864)
  • Peasley, Alonzo A
Types of material
  • Diaries

Peck Family

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.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
  • 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

Perske, Robert

Robert and Martha Perske Papers

13 boxes 19.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 772
Image of Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004
Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004

While serving with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II, the teenaged Bob Perske became aware of the vulnerable and disabled in society and turned his life toward advocacy on their behalf. Studying for the ministry after returning to civilian life, Perske was appointed chaplain at the Kansas Neurological Institute, serving children with intellectual disabilities for 11 years, after which he became a full-time street, court, and prison worker — a citizen advocate — laboring in the cause of deinstitutionalization and civil rights of persons with disabilities, particularly those caught in the legal system. After Bob married his wife Martha in 1971, the two became partners in work, with Martha often illustrating Bob’s numerous books and articles. In 2002, Perske was recognized by the American Bar Association as the only non-lawyer to ever receive the Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities.

The Perske Papers contains a fifty year record of published and unpublished writings by Bob Perske on issues surrounding persons with disabilities, along with correspondence, photographs, and other materials relating to the Perskes’ activism. The correspondence includes a particularly rich set of letters with a fellow advocate for persons with disabilities, Robert R. Williams.

Gift of Robert and Martha Perske, 2013
  • Mental retardation--Social aspects
  • People with disabilities--Deinstitutionalization
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
  • Perske, Martha
  • Williams, Robert R.
Types of material
  • Photographs

Picoult, Jodi, 1966-

Jodi Picoult Papers

53 boxes 40 linear feet
Call no.: MS 791
Image of Jodi Picoult in Botswana, January 2013
Jodi Picoult in Botswana, January 2013

Novelist Jodi Picoult is known for taking on compelling social and ethical issues and weaving them into the works of fiction that have won her a devoted readership. From her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), to her recent bestseller The Storyteller (2013), Picoult has grappled with a range of topics: fractured families, eugenics, school violence, teen suicide, spouse abuse, a child’s legal rights, childhood cancer, gay rights, the death penalty, war criminals, vengeance, justice, faith, the value of life. To Picoult, a passionate researcher, no issue is simple. Through her characters and her stories she engages the complications, considering provocative questions from different angles. Born in 1966, Picoult graduated from Princeton, where she majored in creative writing, and Harvard, where she earned her M.Ed. She and her husband have three grown children and live in Hanover, N.H.

The Jodi Picoult Papers, richly documenting the author’s work process, include research files for Picoult’s novels—correspondence, notes, manuscript pages, and other background material—as well as some drafts, editorial correspondence, clippings, publicity material, early stories, and student material. Also in Special Collections is a comprehensive collection of Picoult’s publications, including the novels in American and foreign-language editions.

  • Fiction and reality
  • Fiction--20th century--Stories, plots, etc
  • Fiction--21st century--Stories, plots, etc
  • Picoult, Jodi, 1966-

Plata, Jakob

Jakob Plata Memoir, Pamietnik emigranta w Stanach Zjednoczonych

1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 184 bd

A Polish immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1912, Jacob Plata worked in factories in Chicago until the mid-1920s when he relocated to Massachusetts. Plata and his wife Mary operated a dry goods store on Main Street in Indian Orchard until his death in 1947, after which Mary continued in business until her death in 1963.

Jakob Plata’s autobiographical account, Pamietnik emigranta w Stanach Zjednoczonych (Memoirs of an emigrant to the United States), includes a literate and interesting account his emigration from Poland and transition into American life. This photocopy (114p.) was retained by the Plata family from a manuscript originally written for the Institute for Social Management in Warsaw in 1936.

Language(s): Polish
  • Immigrants--Massachusetts
  • Polish Americans--Illinois--Chicago
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts
Types of material
  • Memoirs

Polish Jubilee

Polish Jubilee Catalogs and Souvenirs

5 boxes 2.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 057

Includes booklets containing parish and community histories, photographs, and local advertisements celebrating Jubilee, other anniversaries, and events in over twenty Massachusetts Polish American parishes; booklets furnishing histories and names associated with Polish American groups (such as the Brotherly Aid Society and Polish American Veterans); an historical paper on the Chicopee Polish Community; a pamphlet including songs and recipes; photographs; a booklet; and two books.

  • Chicopee (Mass.)--History
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts

Powell, James R.

James R. Powell Collection

27 boxes 16.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 701

A devoted reader of newspaper cartoon strips, Jim Powell began collecting Peanuts cartoon books in the mid-1970s, prompted by obtaining two pure-bred beagles for his son.

The Powell cartoon book collection consists of 419 mass market paperback copies of popular cartoon books, representing the work of well-known cartoonists such as Charles M. Schultz, Johnny Hart, Gary Larson, Garry Trudeau, Jim Davis, and Berke Breathed. The collection has particularly rich runs of Peanuts, Garfield, and Doonesbury.

Gift of James R. Powell, June 2010
  • Comic books, strips, etc.
  • Davis, Jim, 1945 July 28-
  • Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000
  • Trudeau, G. B., 1948-
  • Watterson, Bill
Types of material
  • Cartoons

Pratt, Grace O’Neill

Grace O'Neill Pratt Scrapbooks

4 boxes, 7 vols.
Call no.: MS 821
Image of

Grace Eleanor (O’Neill) Pratt was born in Ware, Mass., in 1924. By the early 1940s, her father’s work brought his family to Greenfield, Mass., where Grace continues to reside.

The Pratt Scrapbook Collection represents several decades of intense interest in unusual news-makers. Pratt’s primary interests included “unusual” marriages and loves, but centered on multiple births, sparked by her youthful fascination with the Dionne Quintuplets. Pratt also clipped accounts of the U.S. space program in its early years, stories on U.S. presidents and British royalty, and accounts of local Catholic church leaders. Clipped from newspapers, tabloids, and magazines, this collection captures Pratt’s fascination with popular culture and “other” lives as entertainment. Most of the items are clipped and tucked between scrapbook pages.

Gift of Ruth Allis, Apr. 2014
  • Dionne Quintuplets
  • Multiple birth
Types of material
  • Scrapbooks

Primus, Pearl

Pearl Primus Collection

3 boxes 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 912

A pioneer of African dance in the United States and a vital scholarly voice, Pearl Primus burst onto the scene in the early 1940s as a choreographer, performer, composer, and teacher. Born in Trinidad in 1919 and raised in New York City, Primus was introduced to performance through the National Youth Administration and the New Dance Group. Her interest in the dance cultures of Africa and the African diaspora formed the conceptual center of her work throughout her career, drawing upon her deep scholarly research. In addition to her creative work, Primus earned a doctorate in anthropology from NYU and taught at a number of universities, including the Five Colleges. She died in New Rochelle, N.Y., in October 1994.

Conducted with Pearl Primus’ fellow dancers, musicians, friends, and collaborators between 1995 and 2005, the interviews comprising this collection were recorded by Peggy and Murray Schwartz for use in their book, The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus (New Haven, 2011). The oral histories provide insights into Primus’s sometimes controversial life career, her performances, teaching, and legacy.

Gift of Peggy and Murray Schwartz, Dec. 2013
  • Choreographers
  • Dance--Africa
  • Dancers
  • Nash, Joe, 1919-2005
  • Washington, Donald
Types of material
  • Audiocassettes
  • Betacam-SP
  • Videotapes