University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

A steward of the past for generations to come, SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, programs, and exhibitions to promote free inquiry, the production of knowledge, and joy in learning.

Department history

African dancers
African dancers
From the Horace Mann Bond Papers

In 1931, nearly half a century after Librarian Henry Hill Goodell first authorized the permanent retention of the official records of Massachusetts Agricultural College, the Library established a College History Collection. Containing official records of the university’s administrators and faculty and reflecting the life of its students, the College History Collection grew steadily until in 1953, the Library dedicated a room named in honor of Dean William L. Machmer to serve as the first true home of the University Archives.

Goodell’s foresight in assembling the College archives coincided roughly with the university’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. As early as 1868 — just one year after the arrival of the first students — the college accepted the donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist (and state Adjutant General) Henry K. Oliver. By the time the college issued its first library catalog in 1875, rare books were a small, but notable part of the collections, closely focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. Included among the Library’s earliest acquisitions were the first London edition of William Bartram’s Travels Through North and South Carolina (1792), François Augier de Marigny’s The History of the Arabians (London, 1758), and early bee manuals by John Keys, The Practical Bee-Master (London, 1780) and The Antient Bee-Master’s Farewell (London, 1796) — both courtesy of Oliver. Each of these volumes remains part of the collections today.

David Axelrod, Class of 1965
David B. Axelrod, ca.1980, Class of 1965, poet, author of The Man who Fell in Love with His Chicken (1980)

From these beginnings, the collection of rare books and manuscripts has co-evolved with the university and its academic programs. In 1973, the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski marked an expansion of scope beyond into personal papers and organizational records of historical significance beyond the narrow confines of the university, and the arrival of the papers on W.E.B. Du Bois in that same year marked a turning point. The rare book and manuscript collections were merged with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

SCUA’s initial foray online came with a simple page on the library’s website in 1997, and by 2007, it had evolved into the UMarmot project, one of the earliest efforts to use freely-available software to create a comprehensive online archival catalog. SCUA launched its online digital repository, Credo in 2011, with the generous support of the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Available free to all researchers, Credo is now a robust and heavily used presence on the internet, containing hundreds of thousands of pages of content and dozens of complete collections, including every item in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond.

Mile markers

Each of the library’s million-volume milestones has been celebrated by the addition of a special volume to SCUA’s collections:

One millionth volume:
Jonathan Edwards, A careful and strict enquiry into the modern prevailing notions of that freedom of will; which is supposed to be essential to moral agency, vertue and vice, reward and punishment, praise and blame. Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754.
SCUA’s copy of this classic theological work on Free Will from the New Light minister from Northampton belonged to Rev. John Cleaveland of Ipswich, Mass., one of the subscribers. It is signed and dated by Cleaveland in several locations.
Two millionth volume:
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. London: A. Bell, 1773.
A classic of American literature written by a young woman enslaved in Boston, and the first book published by an African-American woman. Gift of Randolph W. Bromery.
Three millionth volume:
James Baldwin, Gypsy and other poems, with etched portraits by Leonard Baskin. Northampton, Mass.: Gehenna Press, 1989.
When Baldwin, a former faculty member at UMass Amherst, died unexpectedly, he was working with the great printer Leonard Baskin on a special volume of unpublished poems. Celebrating SCUA’s strengths in African American history literature and reflecting the fine-printing heritage in Massachusetts, SCUA’s copy includes a signed portfolio of etchings of Baldwin by Baskin, each signed. It is one of fifty copies bound specially by Daniel Gehnrich in leather and paste paper, made by Babette Gehnrich, over boards, and laid into a cloth traycase. Also laid in are Baskin’s proof, 1989, and touched proof, 1989, of two of the portraits. Gift of Lisa Baskin.
Four millionth volume:
The proclamation of emancipation of the President of the United States, to take effect January 1st, 1863. Boston: John Murray Forbes, 1862.
The first separate printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this volume was printed in miniature so that Union army troops in the south could more easily distribute it.

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United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Massachusetts State Council

UBCJA Massachusetts State Council Records, 1892-1980
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 015

One of the largest building trade unions in the U.S., the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America was established in 1881 by a convention of carpenters’ unions. An early member of the American Federation of Labor, the Brotherhood began as a radical organization, but beginning in the 1930s, were typically aligned with the conservative wing of the labor movement.

The records of the Massachusetts State Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America contain reports and other information generated during the union’s annual conventions as well as copies of the constitution and by-laws, handbooks, and histories of the union.

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

Abbe, Edward H.

Edward H. Abbe Papers, 1828-2004
22 boxes (28.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 736
Edward H. Abbe Papers image
Ed Abbe in Bora Bora, 1987

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1915 and raised largely in Hampton, Va., Edward Abbe seemed destined to be an engineer. The great nephew of Elihu Thomson, an inventor and founding partner in General Electric, and grandson of Edward Folger Peck, an early employee of a precursor of that firm, Abbe came from a family with a deep involvement in electrification and the development of street railways. After prepping at the Rectory and Kent Schools, Abbe studied engineering at the Sheffield School at Yale, and after graduation in 1938, accepted a position with GE. For 36 years, he worked in the Industrial Control Division in New York and Virginia, spending summers at the family home on Martha’s Vineyard. After retirement in 1975, he and his wife Gladys traveled frequently, cruising both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Ranging from an extensive correspondence from his high school and college days to materials relating to his family’s involvement in engineering, the Abbe collection offers an in depth perspective on an educated family. An avid traveler and inveterate keeper, Ed Abbe gathered a diverse assemblage of letters, diaries, and memorabilia relating to the history of the Abbe, Peck, Booth, Gifford, and Boardman families. The collection is particularly rich in visual materials, including albums and photographs, depicting homes, travel, and family life over nearly a century.

Subjects
  • Abbe family
  • Boardman family
  • Booth family
  • Electrical engineers
  • General Electric
  • Gifford family
  • Kent School--Students
  • Peck family
  • Rectory School--Students
  • Yale University--Students
Contributors
  • Abbe, Edward H
  • Abbe, Gladys Howard
  • Abbe, William Parker
  • Peck, Edward F
  • Peck, Mary Booth
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs

Founded under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, UMass Amherst has long been dedicated to the study and teaching of agriculture and the natural sciences. One of two land grant institutions in the Commonwealth (along with MIT), the university has played an important role in the development of scientific agriculture in New England and has been a major factor in agricultural instruction through its classes and extension service.

SCUA’s collections contain a wealth of information on the history of agriculture and related fields, including horticulture, botany, entomology, animal husbandry, gardening, and landscape design. The strength of the collection lies in documenting the development of American agricultural sciences with an emphasis upon the northeastern states, but it is supplemented with numerous works on British, French, and German agriculture. Adding additional depth are the records of the several departments at UMass Amherst charged with instruction in the agricultural sciences and the papers of individual agricultural educators.

Currently, SCUA is particularly interested in documenting the growth of organic agriculture, heritage breeds, and the practices of sustainable living.

Notable collecting areas (view all)

  • Agricultural education
    • Papers of faculty members at Massachusetts Agricultural College and UMass Amherst, as well as educational organizations dedicated to instruction in the agricultural sciences. Among the individuals represented are the agricultural educator, Kenyon Butterfield; Levi Stockbridge, the first farm manager and long-time instructor at MAC; and William Smith Clark, William Penn Brooks, and William Wheeler, who were instrumental in the 1870s in establishing the agricultural college in Hokkaido, Japan.
    • Also printed works through the late nineteenth century on agriculture in America, Britain, and Europe, including those by John Fitzherbert, Thomas Hale, Arthur Young, “Columella,” John Smith, Gervase Markham, et al.
  • Animal husbandry
    • Books on sheep culture in the United States (Robert R. Livingston, Samuel Bard) and England (Lord Somerville, John Lawrence); dairy and beef cattle, horses, poultry science.
  • Farming and rural life
    • Correspondence, farm accounts, and other records of farming and rural life, primarily in New England, as well as materials relating to the sociology of rural life.
  • Beekeeping and entomology
    • Among the earliest rare books acquired by the Massachusetts Agricultural Library were a collections of rare books in beekeeping, including key works by Thomas Hill, John Keys, Daniel Wildman, Henry Eddy, from the late 17th through late 19th centuries. Works by Maria Sibylla Merian, John Curtis, Dru Drury, Johann Jakob Romer, Jacob l’Admiral
  • Botany, horticulture, pomology, etc.
    • Collections relating to the scientific study of botany, horticulture, forestry, and related sciences.
    • Important printed works on American botany by Frederick Pursh, Thomas Nuttall, Humphry Marshall’s Arbustrum Americanum, François André Michaux, early editions of Linnaeus, William Prince, William Coxe, William Chorlton, et al.
  • Landscape and gardening
    • The papers and photographs of the landscape designer Frank Waugh, Julius Fabos, Erwin Zube, and other collections.
    • Among many printed works on gardens and landscapes are three editions of Bernard M’Mahon’s seminal American Gardener’s Calendar, William Cobbett, Alexander Jackson Davis, Humphry Repton, and others.
  • Organic and sustainable agriculture
    • Records of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association and others involved in organic agriculture, alternate energy, and sustainability.
  • Other natural sciences
    • Including entomology and geology.

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American Express Company. Florence (Mass.) Office

American Express Company Florence Office Records, 1867-1890
3 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 298

Records of express agent Watson L. Wilcox of Simsbury, Connecticut and Florence, Massachusetts documenting Wilcox’s work for the American Express Company and the evolution of the company from a small shipping business to a delivery organization whose services contributed to the growth of the local and regional economy. Records consist of agent books, receipt books, and waybills listing accounts of local companies and residents for the sending, receiving and delivery of freight, telegraph messages, express cash, goods and packages.

Subjects
  • American Merchant's Union Express Company
  • Express service--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • Florence (Mass.)--Economic conditions
  • Florence Manufacturing Company
  • Florence Sewing Machine Company
  • Hill, Samuel L
  • Industries--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company
  • Nonotuck Silk Company
  • Parsons, I. S
  • Simsbury (Conn.)--Economic conditions
  • Williston, A. L
Contributors
  • American Express Company (Florence, Mass.)
  • Wilcox, Watson L., 1832 or 3-1896

American Watch Company. Band

American Watch Company Band Engagement Book, 1878-1883
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 364

Band of musicians who worked at the Waltham Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts. Engagement book itemizes engagement dates and locations, and membership (including recent immigrants), and includes information about rehearsals, business meetings, and payment.

Subjects
  • American Watch Company--Employees--Recreation
  • American Watch Company--Employees--Social life and customs
  • American Watch Company--History
  • Brass bands--Massachusetts--Waltham
  • Industrial recreation--Massachusetts--Waltham
  • Waltham (Mass.)--Social conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • American Watch Company. Band
  • South Side Brass Band (Waltham, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Appointment books

Enfield (Mass.)

Enfield (Mass.) Collection, 1800-1939
8 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 010
Enfield (Mass.) Collection image
Birdseye view of Enfield, ca.1915

Situated at the confluence of the east and west branches of the Swift River in western Massachusetts, Enfield was the largest and southernmost of the four towns inundated in 1939 to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Incorporated as a town in 1816, Enfield was relatively prosperous in the nineteenth century on an economy based on agriculture and small-scale manufacturing, reaching a population of just over 1,000 by 1837. After thirty years of seeking a suitably large and reliable water supply for Boston, the state designated the Swift River Valley as the site for a new reservoir and with its population relocated, Enfield was officially disincorporated on April 28, 1938.

The records of the town of Enfield, Mass., document nearly the entire history of the largest of four towns inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of the collection consists of records of town meetings and of the activities of the town Selectmen, 1804-1938, but there are substantial records for the Enfield Congregational Church. The School Committee, Overseers of the Poor, the town Library Association, and groups such as the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Bethel Masonic Lodge.

Subjects
  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Women--Societies and clubs
Contributors
  • Daughters of the American Revolution. Captain Joseph Hooker Chapter (Enfield, Mass.)
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town)
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). Prudential Committee
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). School Committee
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.)
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Auxiliary
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Missionary Society
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Church records
  • Photographs
  • Sermons

Greenwich (Mass.)

Greenwich (Mass.) Collection, 1734-1940
3 folders (plus digital) (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 011

Granted in 1737 and incorporated in 1754, Greenwich, Mass., was the first town in the Swift River Valley settled by Europeans. Sitting astride the East and Middle branches of the Swift River and forming the eastern boundary of Hampshire County, Greenwich was primarily an agricultural town with light manufacturing and, beginning in the later nineteenth century, an active tourist trade. The town’s population peaked at over 1,100 early in the nineteenth century, declining slowly thereafter.

The records of Greenwich, Mass., offer a long perspective on the history of the region inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of this collection consists of the records of town meetings and the Selectmen of Greenwich from the Proprietary period in the 1730s through disincorporation in 1938, but there is some documentation of the town’s Congregational Church, a local school, the library, and the Greenwich Improvement Society. This finding aid reflects both materials held by SCUA and materials digitized in partnership with the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass.

Subjects
  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Greenwich--History
  • Education--Massachusetts--Greenwich--History
  • Fires--Massachusetts--Greenwich--Histor
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--History
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Libraries--Massachusetts--Greenwich
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Contributors
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town)
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town). School Committee
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town). Treasurer
  • Greenwich Improvement Society
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Church records
  • Photographs

Hapgood, Beth

Beth Hapgood Papers, 1789-2005
67 boxes (35 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 434
Beth Hapgood Papers image
Beth Hapgood and members of the Brotherhood, ca.1969

Daughter of a writer and diplomat, and graduate of Wellesley College, Beth Hapgood has been a spiritual seeker for much of her life. Her interests have led her to become an expert in graphology, a student in the Arcane School, an instructor at Greenfield Community College, and a lecturer on a variety of topics in spiritual growth. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hapgood befriended Michael Metelica, the central figure in the Brotherhood of the Spirit (the largest commune in the eastern states during the early 1970s) as well as Elwood Babbitt, a trance medium, and remained close to both until their deaths.

The Hapgood Papers contain a wealth of material relating to the Brotherhood of the Spirit and the Renaissance Community, Metelica, Babbitt, and other of Hapgood’s varied interests, as well as 4.25 linear feet of material relating to the Hapgood family.

Subjects
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit
  • Channeling (Spiritualism)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Graphology
  • Hapgood family--Correspondence
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
  • Mediums--Massachusetts
  • Nineteen sixties--Social aspects
  • Occultism--Social aspects
  • Popular culture--History--20th century
  • Renaissance Community
  • Rock music--1971-1980
  • Warwick (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Boyce, Neith, 1872-1951
  • Hapgood, Beth--Correspondence
  • Hapgood, Charles H
  • Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds
  • Hapgood, Hutchins, 1869-1944
  • Hapgood, Norman, 1868-1937
  • Metelica, Michael

Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920

Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers, 1831-1921
52 boxes (42 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 190
Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers image
Benjamin Smith Lyman, 1902

A native of Northampton, Massachusetts, Benjamin Smith Lyman was a prominent geologist and mining engineer. At the request of the Meiji government in Japan, Lyman helped introduce modern geological surveying and mining techniques during the 1870s and 1880s, and his papers from that period illuminate aspects of late nineteenth century Japan, New England, and Pennsylvania, as well as the fields of geology and mining exploration and engineering. From his earliest financial records kept as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy through the journal notations of his later days in Philadelphia, Lyman’s meticulous record-keeping provides much detail about his life and work. Correspondents include his classmate, Franklin B. Sanborn, a friend of the Concord Transcendentalists and an active social reformer, abolitionist, and editor.

The papers, 1848-1911, have been organized into nine series: correspondence, financial records, writings, survey notebooks, survey maps, photographs, student notes and notebooks, collections, and miscellaneous (total 25 linear feet). A separate Lyman collection includes over 2,000 books in Japanese and Chinese acquired by Lyman, and in Western languages pertaining to Asia.

Subjects
  • Geological surveys--Alabama
  • Geological surveys--Illinois
  • Geological surveys--India--Punjab
  • Geological surveys--Japan
  • Geological surveys--Japan--Maps
  • Geological surveys--Maryland
  • Geological surveys--Nova Scotia
  • Geological surveys--Pennsylvania
  • Geological surveys--Pennsylvania--Maps
  • Geologists--United States
  • Geology--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
  • Geology--Japan--History--19th century
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Japan--Maps
  • Japan--Photographs
  • Japan--Social life and customs--1868-1912
  • Mining engineering--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
  • Mining engineering--Japan--History--19th century
  • Mining engineers--United States
Contributors
  • Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
  • Sanborn, F. B. (Franklin Benjamin), 1831-1917
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Book jackets
  • Field notes
  • Letterpress copybooks
  • Maps
  • Notebooks
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Trade catalogs
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