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New England history

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

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Parker, Alfred A.

Alfred A. Parker Daybooks, 1877-1889
4 vols. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 235

In the years following the Civil War, Alfred A. Parker operated a stove and tinware shop in Orange, Mass., trading with individuals and business in the nearby towns of New Salem and Erving. A native of New Hampshire and resident of Missouri in the years prior to the war, Parker had four children with his wife Frances (Whipple), two of whom survived him at his death in 1907.

Alfred Parker’s daybooks document his business transactions with local residents and firms, including the Gold Medal Sewing Machine Co., the Orange Manufacturing Co., and the Rodney Hunt Machine Co. The entries note charges for labor (especially soldering), the cost of stoves, pipe, kettles of various sorts, roofing material, and information about shipping costs.

Subjects
  • Freight and freightage--Rates--Massachusetts--19th century
  • Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company
  • Kettles--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--19th century
  • New Salem (Mass.)--History
  • Orange (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Orange Manufacturing Company (Orange, Mass.)
  • Pipe--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--19th century
  • Rodney Hunt Machine Company
  • Roofing--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--19th century
  • Solder and soldering--Costs--19th century
  • Stove industry and trade--Massachusetts--Orange--19th century
  • Stoves--Prices--Massachusetts--Orange--19th century
  • Tinsmithing--Massachusetts--Orange--19th century
  • Tinsmiths--Massachusetts--Orange--Economic conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • Parker, Alfred A.
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Daybooks

Putnam, William

William Putnam Papers, 1840-1886
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 014

For several decades in the mid-nineteenth century, William Putnam (1792-1877) and his family operated a general store in Wendell Depot, Massachusetts, situated strategically between the canal and the highway leading to Warwick. Serving an area that remains rural to the present day, Putnam dealt in a range of essential merchandise, trading in lumber and shingles, palm leaf, molasses and sugar, tea, tobacco, quills, dishes, cloth and ribbon, dried fish, crackers, and candy. At various times, he was authorized by the town Selectmen to sell “intoxicating liquors” (brandy, whiskey, and rum) for “Medicinal, chemical and mechanical purposes only,” and for a period, he served as postmaster for Wendell Depot.

The daybooks and correspondence of William Putnam record the daily transactions of an antebellum storekeeper in rural Wendell, Massachusetts. Offering a dense record of transactions from 1840-1847, the daybooks provide a chronological accounting of all sales and credits in the store, including barter with local residents of the community and with contractors for the new Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad. The last in the series of daybooks lists a surprisingly high percentage of Wendell’s residents (by name, in alphabetical order) who owed him money as of October 1846. The correspondence associated with the collection continues into the 1880s and provides relatively slender documentation of Putnam’s litigiousness, his financial difficulties after the Civil War, and the efforts of his son John William to continue the business.

Gift of Donald W. Howe, 1957; Robert Lucas, 1987 (correspondence); and Dan Casavant, 2001
Subjects
  • Barter--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Consumer goods--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Consumers--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • General stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Liquor stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Panama hat industry--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Schools--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad
  • Wendell (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Wendell (Mass.)--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Putnam, William
Types of material
  • Daybooks

Rundlett, Samuel H.

Samuel H. Rundlett Daybooks, 1873-1879
3 vols. (0.2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 214 bd

A teamster from Newburyport, Mass., Samuel H. Rundlett operated a substantial business as a teamster and “truckman” from the 1830s through 1880s.

The three daybooks in this collection document Rundlett’s work for local businesses, including hauling bales of raw cotton and finished cloth, delivering coal, produce, fertilizer, and goods; as well as prices paid for freight handling and forms of payment (cash, credit at a store, and produce from a local farmer). Of note is Rundlett’s delivery of goods to the Newburyport branch of the Sovereigns of Industry, a workingmen’s cooperative association.

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987
Subjects
  • Newburyport (Mass.)--History
  • Sovereigns of Industry
  • Teamsters--Massachusetts--Newburyport
Types of material
  • Daybooks

Sagendorph Woolen Co.

Sagendorph Woolen Company Daybook, 1885-1887
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 430

The Sagendorph Woolen Company of East Brookfield, located about sixty miles southwest of Boston in Worcester County, Massachusetts, maintained sixteen looms and specialized in the carding of shoddy and the manufacture of cashmeres, repellents, and suitings. There is some evidence that Sagendorph also spun raw materials for other companies and sold some textile goods on commission.

This daybook records the daily transactions between the Sagendorph Woolen Company and other businesses, local residents, and the company’s labor force. These detailed entries present a dynamic picture of the company’s manufacturing operations ranging from the purchase of raw materials to the sales of finished products.

Subjects
  • Carding (textiles)
  • East Brookfield (Mass.)--History
  • Textile construction processes and techniques
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts--History
  • Textile manufacturers--Massachusetts
  • Textile materials
  • Yarn-making processes and techniques
Contributors
  • Sagendorph Woolen Company
Types of material
  • Daybooks

Tyler, Philemon L., b. 1812

Phileman L. Tyler Daybooks, 1841-1852
2 vols. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 236 bd

The shoemaker, Philemon L. Tyler, was born in Massachusetts in 1812. He and his wife Tersilla, also a native of Massachusetts, settled in New York some time before the birth of their first child in 1838. By 1850, after at least a decade in the village of Springville in the agricultural town of Concord, New York, Tyler had three children, and real estate valued at $4,400.

Daybooks include a record of the prices of boots and shoes, and the method and form of payment (rarely cash, sometimes labor, but often apples, potatoes, chicken, wheat, mutton, pork, beef, hay, and other farm products such as cow hides and calf skins).

Subjects
  • Barter--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
  • Boots--Prices--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
  • Debtor and creditor--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
  • Erie County (N.Y.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Erie County (N.Y.)--Rural conditions--19th century
  • Hides and skins--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
  • Shoemakers--New York--Erie County--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Shoes--Prices--New York--Erie County--History--19th century
  • Springville (Erie County, N.Y.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Springville (Erie County, N.Y.)--Rural conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • Tyler, Phileman L., 1812-
Types of material
  • Daybooks

United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Holyoke District Council (Locals 656, 390 and 1503)

UBCJA Holyoke District Council Records, 1906-1978
10 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 108

Minutes, correspondence, membership lists, ledgers, and daybooks of the the Holyoke District Council and the local affiliates of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (Locals 656, 390 and 1503). Together with the records of the Pioneer Valley District Council and the Massachusetts State Council, this collection offers comprehensive documentation for the UCBJA in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts.

Subjects
  • Carpenters--Labor unions
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America

United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Springfield District Council

UBCJA Springfield District Council Records, 1885-1973
40 boxes (23 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 110

The first local of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners to be founded in western Massachusetts was chartered in 1885 as Springfield Local 96, followed in quick order by locals in Holyoke (390) and Chicopee (685). With the pace of unionization picking up at the turn of the century, the Springfield District Council was established in 1906 and played an immediate role in coordinating collective bargaining, apprenticeship, and work rules in the local construction industry. Although Holyoke carpenters formed their own District Council soon thereafter, the logic of consolidation and a unified voice eventually prevailed. The Springfield locals consolidated as Local 32 in 1968, which in turn merged with the Holyoke District Council in 1973 to form Local 108.

The records of the Springfield District Council of the UBCJA includes strong documentation of the rise of unionization among carpenters in the Connecticut River Valley from the 1880s through 1980s. The collection includes by-laws, correspondence, and subject files of the Springfield District Council along with minutes, membership records, financial records, contracts, agreements and trials, and some correspondence for Locals 96 (Springfield), 685 (Chicopee), 177 (Springfield), 222 (Westfield), and 32 (Springfield).

Subjects
  • Carpenters--Labor unions
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America

Wright, John

John Wright Account Books, 1818-1859
9 vols. (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 162

Descendants of one of the founding families of Northampton, Mass., John Wright and his brother Samuel were farmers and freight haulers during the first half of the nineteenth century. Before the 1840s, the brothers hauled freight by wagon from Northampton as far away as Hartford and Boston, however the advent of lower-cost carriers over canal and rail, led them to restrict their operations to a local clientele.

The Wright collection includes nine bound volumes and four folders of loose material associated with the businesses of John Wright, his brother Samuel, and son Edwin. They document the growth of a freight hauling firm that supported a substantial trade stretching to Boston, as well as the eventual decline of that business.

Subjects
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Northampton
  • Freight and freightage--Massachusetts
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
  • Account books
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