As one of the main repositories documenting the history of western Massachusetts and New England, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.
Concentrated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 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. Among the more valuable collections for the political history of the region is the papers of Silvio O. Conte, Republican congressman from the First District of Massachusetts from 1959-1991. A member of the House Appropriations Committee (and its ranking minority member from 1979-1991), Conte is particularly remembered for his work in Health and Human Services, education, and the environment. SCUA also holds collections for state representatives John Haigis and Maurice Donahue, as well as other figures involved in political life in the Commonwealth.
Although the Department holds materials relating to individual communities in western Massachusetts, the history of the Quabbin watershed is a particular focal point. SCUA collects books printed in the Quabbin region and more generally, in rural New England prior to 1900, as well as manuscript, printed, and photographic collections relating to Quabbin towns.
- 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
- 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
Samuel H. Rundlett Daybooks, 1873-1879.
Call no.: MS 214 bd
Teamster from Newburyport, Massachusetts. Three daybooks document his work for local businesses (hauling bales of raw cotton and finished cloth, delivering coal, produce, fertilizer, and goods), 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.
- Newburyport (Mass.)--History
- Sovereigns of Industry
Types of material
Sagendorph Woolen Company Daybook, 1885-1887.
Call no.: MS 430
Daybook contains daily transactions between the Sagendorph Woolen Company of East Brookfield, Massachusetts 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.
- 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
- Sagendorph Woolen Company
Types of material
Phileman L. Tyler Daybooks, 1841-1852.
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).
- 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
- Tyler, Phileman L., 1812-
Types of material
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Holyoke District Council (Locals 656, 390 and 1503)
UBCJA Holyoke District Council Records, 1906-1978.
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.
- Carpenters--Labor unions
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
John Wright Account Books, 1818-1859.
Call no.: MS 162
Farmer, freight hauler, laborer, cider-maker, landlord, and town official who was a seventh-generation descendant of Samuel Wright, one of the first English settlers of Northampton, Massachusetts. Nine bound volumes and four folders of loose material include accounts of his businesses with his brother Samuel and son Edwin and activities, as well as letters, and miscellaneous papers and figurings.
- Freight and freightage--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
- Account books