To fire the imagination and celebrate the activist spirit, SCUA pursues an ambitious program of collecting materials of enduring historical and cultural value and offers strong support for research and learning. Through our collections, programs, and exhibitions, we promote meaningful engagement with the histories of social change in America, with the record of innovation and entrepreneurship, and we foster exploration of the histories and cultures of New England and the UMass Amherst community. In fulfilling the university’s role as a center of knowledge for the diverse peoples of the Commonwealth, we are committed to using the highest professional standards and practices and the best technologies available to provide free and unfettered access to our holdings.
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. As the official record of the activities of the university’s administrators and faculty and a reflection of the life of its students, this 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 initiative to assemble the College archives coincided roughly with the Library’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. Although the College had no separate library until 1885, its administrators nevertheless accepted several significant gifts of books, beginning with the 1868 donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist and state Adjutant General Henry K. Oliver. By the time the library published its first catalog in 1875, rare books formed a small, but notable part of the collections, focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. 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. All remain part of the collections today.
From these beginnings, the collections of rare books and manuscripts have evolved in concert with the evolution of the university and its academic programs. With the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski in 1973, the Library began to acquire collections of personal papers and organizational records of historical significance, 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 combined administratively 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, but by 2007, 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, thanks to generous support from the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. The papers of W.E.B. Du Bois led SCUA’s way into the digital realm, followed by the papers of Horace Mann Bond, and then dozens of of other collections.
Sesquicentennial oral history project
Marking the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the University of Massachusetts, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is conducting an oral history project to capture the many voices and diverse experiences that make up our campus community. The anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the real achievements — and real challenges — of public higher education over the past century and a half, and a chance to consider where we would like to be in the future.
Over the course of eighteen months, the staff of SCUA and our associates will conduct one hundred and fifty interviews with an array of administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and university employees, as well as selected members of the local community. As they are completed, the interviews will be made available to the public through this website and Credo, SCUA’s digital repository.
If you are interested in participating in the project, please contact the SCUA staff.
Antislavery Collection, 1725-1911.
Call no.: RB 003
The Antislavery Collection contains several hundred printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. The holdings include speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.
- Antislavery movements--United States
- Slavery--United States
- American Anti-Slavery Society
- American Colonization Society
Bajgier Family Papers, 1925-1986.
Call no.: MS 400
On March 13, 1903, Joseph Michael Bajgier was born in Odrzykon, Poland, the youngest of three sons in a farming family. Schooled only through the third grade, Joseph served as a young man in the First Air Division of the Polish Army before following his older brother in emigrating to the United States in 1927. Settling in Chicopee, Mass., with its large and active Polish community, Bajgier began work as a slaughterer of pigs for a meat processing company, but within a few years, he had saved enough money to purchase a small grocery store in Longmeadow. In about 1935, he returned to Chicopee, purchasing a grocery and deli, Bell Market, that his family ran for 36 years. Bajgier was deeply involved in the local Polish community as a member of the Polish National Alliance, the Holy Name Society of St. Stanislaus Parish, and an organization of Polish veterans in exile (Stowarzyszenie Polskich Kombatantow). He and his wife Martha (Misiaszek) had two sons, Casimir and Edward
The Bajgier collection documents the lives of a Polish family in Chicopee, Mass., from the time of immigration through the 1970s. The core of the collection surrounds the life of Joseph Bajgier, and includes a number of documents and a diary from the time of his emigration in 1927, a fascinating series of letters from relatives in Turaszowka, Poland before and after the Second World War, and several photographs of the family and their business in Chicopee.
- Chicopee (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Polish Americans--Massachusetts
- World War, 1939-1945
- Bajgier, Joseph M
Types of material
Silvio O. Conte Papers, 1950-1991.
Call no.: MS 371
Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts’s First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.
Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- Massachusetts. Senate
- United States--Politics and government--20th century
- United States. Congress. House
- Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991
Types of material
- Sound recordings
Double Edge Theatre Records, 1970-2002.
Call no.: MS 455
Since its founding, Double Edge Theatre has embraced a two-fold mission: to develop and promote the highest quality of original theatre performance, and to create a permanent center of performance, practice, training research, and cultural exchange.
The collection documents the Theatre’s focus on research, international collaboration, and the elevation of artistic performance above and beyond stage work into the realm of cultural exchange.
- Experimental theater
- Theater and society
- Theatrical companies--Massachusetts
- Arnoult, Philip
- Double Edge Theatre
- Durand, Carroll
- Klein, Stacy
- Odin teatret
- Staniewski, Wlodzimierz
- Stowarzyszenie Teatralne "Gardzienice"
Types of material
- First prize: Joshua Castillo (2015)
- “A Life Well Lived”
- Honorable mention: Joy Silvey (2015)
- “Queering the Institution: A Look at LGB Life at the University in the 1970s and 80s”
- First prize: Celeste Guhl (2015)
- “Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Curfews for Women at the University of Massachusetts”
- Honorable mention: Andrew Clinton (2014)
- “Yung Wing, the Chinese Educational Mission, and the Politics of Chinese Exclusion”
- First prize: Ken Lefebvre (2013)
- “‘A Wise Conservator': The Life and Times of Henry Hill Goodell“
- Honorable mention: Daniel Stein (2013)
- “David versus the State: Refusal to Serve in the Israeli Defense Forces during the Lebanon War and the First Intifada: 1982-1993“
- First prize: Justine DeCamillis (2012)
- “Liminal Space and Identities: The Transitional and Juxtaposition of Opposites within the Prologue, Bisclavret and Lanval of Marie de France’s Lais“
- Honorable mention: Peter Arsenault (2012)
- “Poetic Liminality in the Middle Ages: The Case of Thomas Hoccleve“
- First prize: Christopher Russell (2010)
- “A Tale of Two Cities: How the Government Caused and Maintained Racial Inequality in Oakland, ca. 1945-1970”
- Honorable mention: Marjorie Connolly (2011)
- “Anarchy to Activism: Italian Immigrant Politics During Boston’s Great Molasses Flood“
- Honorable mention: Sarah Goldstein (2012)
- “Cambodian Immigration and the Cambodian Crisis Committee“
- First prize: Paul Kinsman
- “Platonic and Pythagorean Ratios in the Formal Analysis of 15th Century Music”
- Honorable mention: Vanessa De Santis
- “The Emergence of a Class of Informed, Working Italian Immigrant Women in the Early Twentieth Century“
- Honorable mention: Austin Powell
An Analysis of Gender in Pre to Early Modern Society
- First prize: Name removed upon request
- Honorable mention: Amy Couto
- “Treaty of Canandaigua: The political necessity of peace
- Honorable mention: Phil Jensen
- “We are history, we are legend: Perspectives of American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War
Hampshire Community Action Commission Records, 1965-1984.
Call no.: MS 056
A private, non-profit corporation founded in 1965 in Northampton, Massachusetts to finance community action programs for eliminating poverty and assisting low income people. Programs included day care centers, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Summer Head Start, a drug addiction clinic at the jail, Legal Services, and the Foster Grandparent Program.
Records comprise bylaws and organizational charts, annual reports, board of directors minutes; administrative directors’ records, including correspondence with the federal agencies and state agencies granting funds, grant applications and awards, program plans, financial and legal documents, personnel records and staff training directives; the agency newsletter County Voice, Noticero Latina; and newsclippings about welfare programs.
- Hampshire Community Action Commission
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Social service--Massachusetts--Hampshire County
Linguistic Atlas of New England Records, 1931-1972.
Call no.: MS 330
The Linguistic Atlas of New England project, begun in 1889 and published 1939-1943, documented two major dialect areas of New England, which are related to the history of the settling and dispersal of European settlers in New England with successive waves of immigration.
The collection contains handwritten transcription sheets (carbon copies) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with some explanatory comments in longhand. Drawn from over 400 interviews conducted by linguists in communities throughout New England in the 1930s, these records document the geographic distribution of variant pronunciations and usages of spoken English. The material, taken from fieldworkers’ notebooks (1931-1933), is arranged by community, then by informant, and also includes audiotapes of follow-up interviews (1934); phonological analyses of informants’ speech; character sketches of informants by fieldworkers; fieldworkers’ blank notebook; and mimeograph word index to the atlas (1948).
- English language--Dialects--New England
- Linguistic Atlas of New England
Lyman Family Papers, 1839-1942.
Call no.: MS 634
The descendants of Joseph Lyman (1767-1847) flourished in nineteenth century Northampton, Mass., achieving social prominence, financial success, and a degree of intellectual acclaim. Having settled in Northampton before 1654, just a generation removed from emigration, the Lymans featured prominently in the development of the Connecticut River Valley. A Yale-educated clerk of the Hampshire County courts, Joseph’s descendants included sons Joseph Lyman (an engineer and antislavery man) and Samuel Fowler Lyman (a jurist), and three Harvard-educated grandsons, Benjamin Smith Lyman (a geologist and traveler in Meiji-era Japan) and brothers Joseph and Frank Lyman (both trained in the natural sciences).
Consisting of the scattered correspondence and photographic record of three generations of an intellectually adventurous Northampton family, the Lyman collection explores the ebb and flow of family relations, collegiate education, and educational travel in Europe during the mid-nineteenth century, with important content on antislavery and the Free State movement in Kansas. Although the family’s tendency to reuse names (repeatedly) presents a challenge in distinguishing the various recipients, the focal points of the collection include the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman, his uncle Joseph (1812-1871), cousins Joseph (1851-1883) and Frank, and Frank’s son Frank Lyman, Jr. Antislavery is a major theme in the letters of Samuel F. Lyman to his son Benjamin, and in the letterbook of the Kansas Land Trust, an affiliate of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, of which the elder Joseph was Treasurer.
- Antislavery movements--Massachusetts
- Germany--Description and travel--19th century
- Harvard University--Students
- Kansas Land Trust
- New England Emigrant Aid Company
- Lawrence, Amos Adams, 1814-1886
- Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
- Lyman, Joseph B, 1812-1871
Types of material