The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, the University of Massachusetts has supported the publication of three volumes of Dr. Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has served as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books on Du Bois and his legacy. SCUA has also made efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.
Beyond Du Bois, significant collections in African American history include the papers of the abolitionist Hudson Family of Northampton, the expatriate playwright Gordon Heath, the sociologist, educator, and former president of Lincoln University, Horace Mann Bond.
Each February, in commemoration of Dr. Du Bois’s birthday, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass co-sponsor a colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, and David Levering Lewis.
- Antislavery Pamphlet Collection
- Several hundred pamphlets relating to political antislavery in the United States, with an emphasis opn New England.
- See our Antislavery pamphlets digital archive
- Aronson, James. Collection, 1946-1983
- Editor of the National Guardian
- Banks, Katherine Bell. Papers, 1926-1960.
- Letters from W.E.B. Du Bois to Banks, a family friend
- Bond, Horace Mann. Papers, 1830-1979
- Educator, President of Lincoln University
- Brown, John. Papers (microfilm), 1826-1942 (bulk: 1856-1859)
- Du Bois, W. E. B. Papers, 1868-1963
- Heath, Gordon. Papers, 1940-1991
- Expatriate writer, actor, director, and musician
- Hudson Family. Papers, 1780-1955
- Family papers of the antislavery activist Erasmus D. Hudson
- International Oil Working Group. Records, 1981-1986
- Massachusetts. Special Commission on Unequal Education Opportunities. Records, 1974-1978
- Obrebski, Joseph and Tamara. Papers, 1923-1974
- Anthropological field work in Jamaica, 1947-1948
- Urban League of Springfield (Mass.). Records, 1970s
- Trent, Lloyd A. Family Papers, 1850-1996
Brinley Family Papers, 1643-1950.
Call no.: MS 161
A prosperous family of merchants and landowners, the Brinleys were well ensconced among the social and political elite of colonial New England. Connected by marriage to other elite families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts — the Auchmutys, Craddocks, and Tyngs among them — the Brinleys were refined, highly educated, public spirited, and most often business-minded. Although many members of the family remained loyal to the British cause during the Revolution, the family retained their high social standing in the years following.
The Brinley collection includes business letters, legal and business records, wills, a fragment of a diary, documents relating to slaves, newspaper clippings, and a small number of paintings and artifacts. A descendent, Nancy Brinley, contributed a quantity of genealogical research notes and photocopies of Brinley family documents from other repositories. Of particular note in the collection is a fine nineteenth century copy of a John Smibert portrait of Deborah Brinley (1719), an elegant silver tray passed through the generations, and is a 1713 list of the library of Francis Brinley, which offers a foreshadowing of the remarkable book collection put together in the later nineteenth century by his descendant George Brinley.
- American loyalists--Massachusetts
- Book collectors--United States--History--19th century
- Brinley family
- Brinley, George, 1817-1875--Library
- Businessmen--Rhode Island--History
- Craddock family
- Landowners--Rhode Island--History
- Libraries--Rhode Island--18th century
- Massachusetts--Economic conditions--18th century
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--19th century
- Rhode Island--Economic conditions--18th century
- Rhode Island--Genealogy
- Rhode Island--Politics and government--19th century
- Slavery--United States--History
- Tyng family
- United Empire Loyalists
Types of material
Du Bois Homesite Dedication Video, 1969.
As a child, W.E.B. Du Bois lived for several years on a five acre parcel of land on the Egremont plain near Great Barrington, Mass. Although barely five when his family moved into town, Du Bois never lost his feeling for this property that had been in his family for six generations, and when presented with the opportunity to reacquire the site in 1928, he accepted, intending to build a house there and settle.
Walter Wilson and Edmund Gordon purchased the Du Bois homesite in 1967 with the intention of erecting a memorial to Du Bois’ life and legacy. On October 18, 1969, the site was formally dedicated as the W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Park, with civil-rights activist and future Georgia legislator Julian Bond giving the keynote address and Ossie Davis presiding as master of ceremonies. Nineteen years later, the Du Bois Memorial Foundation donated the property to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, designating the University of Massachusetts Amherst as custodian.
Narrated by Davis and including Bond’s keynote address, this documentary (originally shot on 16mm motion picture film) depicts the 1969 dedication ceremonies. For additional information, please visit the website for the Du Bois boyhood homesite.
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Homes and haunts
- Great Barrington (Mass.)
Types of material
- Motion pictures (Visual works)
Otto F. Ege, "Fifty Original Leaves From Medieval Manuscripts", 12th-14th century.
Call no.: MS 570
The scholar of book history Otto F. Ege disassembled works from his personal collection of medieval manuscripts to create forty portfolios of fifty leaves each, offering these sets for sale to individuals and institutions under the title “Fifty Original Leaves From Medieval Manuscripts.” Marketing his portfolios as a resource for study of the history of the book, book illustration, and paleography, Ege justified his biblioclastic enterprise as a means of sharing the beauties of Medieval books with a wider audience.
The majority of the texts scavenged for Otto Ege’s “Fifty Original Leaves From Medieval Manuscripts” (all but one in Latin) are liturgical in origin — Bibles, psalters, missals, breviaries, and Books of Hours — however Ege also included a few less common works such as the 15th-century manuscript of Livy’s History of Rome and a version of Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. The leaves range in date from the late twelfth to the early sixteenth century and represent a number of distinctive regional styles in paleography and illumination from throughout western Europe, including Italy, France, Germany, the Low Countries, Switzerland, and England. The UMass Amherst set is number six of 40.
- Manuscripts, Medieval
- Ege, Otto F., 1888-1951
Types of material
- Books of hours
Robert Francis Papers, 1891-1988.
Call no.: MS 403
The poet and essayist Robert Francis settled in Amherst, Mass., in 1926, three years after his graduation from Harvard, and created a literary life that stretched for the better part of half a century. An associate of Robert Frost and friend of many other writers, Francis occasionally worked as a teacher or lecturer, including a brief stint on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College, but he sustained himself largely through his writing, living simply in “Fort Juniper,” a cottage he built on Market Hill Road in North Amherst. A recipient of the Shelley Award (1939) and the Academy of American Poets award for distinguished poetic achievement (1984), Francis was a poet in residence at both Tufts (1955) and Harvard (1960) Universities. He died in Amherst in July 1987.
The Francis Papers contains both manuscript and printed materials, drafts and finished words, documenting the illustrious career of the poet. Of particular note is Francis’s correspondence with other writers, publishing houses, and readers, notably Paul Theroux. Also contains personal photographs and Francis family records and a small number of audio recordings of Francis reading his poetry. Letters from Francis to Regina Codey, 1936-1978, can be found in MS 314 along with two typescript poems by Francis.
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- University of Massachusetts Press
- Brown, Rosellen
- Ciardi, John, 1916-
- De Vries, Peter
- Fitts, Dudley, 1903-
- Francis, Robert, 1901-1987
- Hall, Donald, 1928-
- Humphries, Rolfe
- Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972
- Moss, Howard, 1922-
- Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972
- Theroux, Paul
- Wilbur, Richard, 1921-
Types of material
- Phonograph records
Aldin Grout papers, 1833-2002 (Bulk: 1833-1894).
Call no.: MS 797
Aldin Grout was among the first American missionaries to the Zulu nation. After experiencing a religious conversion in his early twenties, Grout dedicated his life to the ministry, studying at Amherst College (1831) and Andover Theological Seminary (1834) before accepting an appointment from the American Board of Christian and Foreign Missions. In Nov. 1835, Grout and his new wife Hannah sailed for South Africa, arriving in Port Natal in June, and building their first outpost among the Zulu, who were in a temporary lull in their long war with Boer settlers. Although Hannah died barely a year later, Grout and his second wife Charlotte remained at the mission station at Umlozi for over thirty years. After settling into retirement in Springfield, Mass., in 1870, Grout took part in the ABCFM effort to translate the Bible into Zulu (1883) and wrote about his missionary experiences for a general audience. Aldin Grout died in Springfield on 1894.
In nearly fifty letters to his in-laws, Grout provided a remarkable commentary on his missionary activities in colonial South Africa, his personal religious convictions, and the lives of the Zulus to whom he ministered. The collection also includes a handful of fragmentary autobiographical and historical sketches written after Grout’s retirement, a handful of letters from his wives and fellow missionary workers, Hannah and Charlotte, and some photographs of Groutville, S.A., and other materials from Grout’s great-great-granddaughter Norine Lee (formerly Phillips).
- American Board of Christian and Foreign Missions
- Dingane, King of the Zulu, approximately 1793-1840
- Missionaries--South Africa
- South Africa--Description and travel--19th century
- South Africa--History--19th century
- Zulu (African people)--History
- Grout, Charlotte Bailey
- Grout, Hannah Davis
Types of material
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
Aurin F. Hill Papers, 1885-1929.
Call no.: MS 579
The self-styled “insane architect” Aurin F. Hill (b. 1853) was a free thinking carpenter and architect in Boston who waged a concerted campaign for his vision of social reform at the turn of the twentieth century. A Spiritualist, social radical, and union man, Hill carried the torch for issues ranging from the nationalization of railroads and corporations to civil rights and women’s rights, and joined in opposition to vaccination, Comstockery and censorship, capital punishment, and lynching. A writing medium, married to the Spiritual evangelist Izetta Sears-Hill, he became President of the National Spiritual Alliance in 1915, a Spiritualist organization based in Lake Pleasant, Mass.
Esoteric, rambling, and often difficult to follow, the Hill papers provide profound insight into the eclectic mind of an important Boston Spiritualist and labor activist at the turn of the twentieth century. Whether written as a diary or scattered notes, a scrapbook, essays, or letters to the editor, Hill’s writings cover a wide range of topics, from spirit influence to labor law, from his confinements for insanity to police strikes, hypnotism, reincarnation, and housing. More than just a reflection of one man’s psychology, the collection reveals much about broader social attitudes toward gender and race, sexuality, urban life, politics, and religion, and the collection is a particularly important resource for the history of the American Spiritualist movement between 1890 and 1920.
- Boston (Mass.)--History
- Carpenters--Labor unions
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Lake Pleasant (Mass.)--History
- Montague (Mass.)--History
- National Spiritual Alliance
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
- Hill, Aurin F.
- Sears-Hill, Izetta B.
Types of material
William L. Machmer Papers, 1899-1953.
Call no.: RG 6/1 M33
Enjoying one of the longest tenures of any administrator in the history of the University of Massachusetts, William Lawson Machmer served under five presidents across 42 years, helping to guide the university through an economic depression, two world wars, and three name changes. During his years as Dean, Machmer witnessed the growth of the university from fewer than 500 students to almost 3,800, and helped guide its transformation from a small agricultural college into Massachusetts State College (1931) and finally into the University of Massachusetts (1947).
Machmer’s papers chronicle the fitful development of the University of Massachusetts from the days of Kenyon Butterfield’s innovations of the 1920s through the time of the GI Bill. The collection is particularly strong in documenting the academic experience of students and the changes affecting the various departments and programs at the University, with particular depth for the period during and after the Second World War.
- Agricultural education
- Fort Devens (Mass.)
- Massachusetts Agricultural College
- Massachusetts State College
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dean
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Mathematics
- World War, 1939-1945
- Baker, Hugh Potter, 1878-
- Butterfield, Kenyon L. (Kenyon Leech), 1868-1935
- Lewis, Edward M
- Machmer, William L
- Van Meter, Ralph Albert, 1893-
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
- Student records