The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is a center for research into the history and impact of social change and the history and cultures of New England.
With substantial holdings documenting African American history and culture, organized labor, movements for peace and social justice, and the history of agriculture, SCUA houses approximately 35,000 rare books, nationally significant manuscript collections, historic maps, and the official records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SCUA supports the work of a wide range of researchers, from undergraduates to senior scholars and journalists to family historians. Ours is a growing collection used by an international audience of students, scholars, and other members of the general public.
Beyond the major areas of collecting interest, SCUA includes materials touching on topics as diverse as Revolutionary-era France and Belgium (1789-1848), Scottish literature, the history of protistology, the American study of Japan, East Germany and Cold War-era Poland, and the literature of American Socialism.
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Siegfried Ebert Papers, 1933-1986.
Call no.: MS 576
The graphic artist Siegfried Ebert had an important influence on the visual language of East German television and animated motion pictures. Born in Eibau on July 20, 1926, Ebert was drafted into the Luftwaffe in 1943, but shortly after going on active duty, he was severely wounded and taken prisoner by the English. After his release, Ebert shifted course in life, studying commercial art at the Kunstgewerbeschule Zittau and film at the Hochschule für bildende und angewandte Kunst in Wiessensee. He became one of the earliest artists to specialize in the new medium of television, working for Deutscher Fernsehfunk, doing graphic design and animation. A member of the Verband Bildender Künstler Deutschlands, he later worked on animated films for the DEFA studios. Suffering from ill health for the last several years of his life, Ebert suffered a heart attack in November 1985, and died at home shortly after his sixtieth birthday in 1986.
The Ebert Collection includes a small assortment of correspondence, awards, and biographical materials, along with examples of his graphic work for television and film. Among other unusual items in the collection are attractive handbills (small posters) for Progress and DEFA films, some original sketches, photographs and mockups of his artwork for television, and an assortment of personal and professional ephemera.
- Germany, East--Social life and customs
- Graphic artists--Germany, East
- Motion pictures--Germany, East
- Prisoners of War--Germany
- Television--Germany, East
- World War, 1939-1945
- Ebert, Siegfried
- Thorndike, Andrew
Types of material
- Animation drawings
Kress Political Economy Collection, 1673-1925 (Bulk: 1750-1850).
Call no.: D8 .A2
The heart of the Kress Collection lies in the livley pamphlet literature regarding Anglo-American political economics in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Although somewhat miscellaneous, the collection contains thousands of titles touching on many of the major issues in trade, finance, politcal reform, and public policy in Britain and to a lesser degree America. Topics range from tariffs and free trade to public debt and taxation, imports and exports, banking, unionism, and socialism. Nearly three quarters of the collection dates from before 1848.
- Economics--History--18th century
- Economics--History--19th century
- Great Britain--Politics and Government--18th century
- Great Britain--Politics and Government--19th century
Yann de Pierrefeu Diaries, 1927-1938.
Call no.: MS 815
Marie Alphonse Leopold Jehan Tudor Dedons “Yann” de Pierrefeu was born in 1905, the eldest of four children born into a distinguished family and heir to a French marquisate. After attending the Groton School and Harvard, Pierrefeu settled in Cape Ann, marrying Ellen Hemenway Taintor in 1930.
A dedicated, if idiosyncratic diarist, Pierrefeu left a large number of dense and often impenetrable volumes that can be part dream book, part imagination, and part quixotic engagement with the turbulent events of the 1930s. Laden with references to the Oz novels and replete with nicknames and apparently coded language, the diaries offer glimpses into Pierrefeu’s social life and marriage, and his reactions to the Great Depression, national politics, history, and the growing crises in Europe and Asia.
- Pierrefeu, Ellen Taintor
Types of material
Howard H. Quint Papers, 1940-1981 (Bulk: 1955-1968).
Call no.: FS 007
Howard Henri Quint was born in New Haven, Connecticut in January 1917. He received his PhD in History from Johns Hopkins University in 1947. During the war years (1942-1946) Dr. Quint served as Propaganda Analyst for the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service, as Political Analyst for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, and as Political and Economic Analyst for the Office of Strategic Services.In 1959 he accepted a professorship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Upon his return from a Fulbright in Italy in 1962, Quint was selected as Chair of the History Department, a position he retained until 1968. While serving as Chair, Dr. Quint was instrumental in initiating the PhD program in History and was responsible for establishing the Honors Program at the University of Massachusetts. After stepping down from his position as Department Chair in 1968, Dr. Quint continued to be a Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts until his death in June 1981.
The papers of Howard H. Quint document his distinguished career as professor, author, and Chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. They consist of biographical materials; general correspondence (largely professional); research and other materials related to the writing and publishing of five books; lecture notes, syllabi and other course-related materials; note cards and annotated typescripts; articles, book reviews, and academic conference materials; travel documents; materials related to honors programs; and materials related to international scholar exchange programs. The bulk of the papers were generated between 1955 and 1968.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History
- Quint, Howard H
Radical Student Union Records, 1905-2006 (Bulk: 1978-2005).
Call no.: RG 045/80 R1
Founded by Charles Bagli in 1976, the Revolutionary Student Brigade at UMass Amherst (later the Radical Student Union) has been a focal point for organization by politically radical students. RSU members have responded to issues of social justice, addressing both local, regional, and national concerns ranging from militarism to the environment, racism and sexism to globalization.
The RSU records document the history of a particularly long-lived organization of left-leaning student activists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beginning in the mid-1970s, as students were searching for ways to build upon the legacy of the previous decade, the RSU has been a constant presence on campus, weathering the Reagan years, tough budgetary times, and dramatic changes in the political culture at the national and state levels. The RSU reached its peak during the 1980s with protests against American involvement in Central America, CIA recruitment on campus, American support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and government-funded weapons research, but in later years, the organization has continued to adapt, organizing against globalization, sweatshops, the Iraq War, and a host of other issues.
- Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- College students--Political activity
- El Salvador--History--1979-1992
- Iraq War, 2003-
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Persian Gulf War, 1991
- Political activists--Massachusetts--History
- Student movements
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- United States. Central Intelligence Agency
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Progressive Student Network
- Radical Student Union
- Revolutionary Student Brigade
Types of material
Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.
Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.
View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).
Significant collecting areas
- Antinuclear movement
- New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
- Antiracism and civil rights
- The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
- Community organizations and charities
- SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
- Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the hsitory of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
- Intentional Communities
- Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
- Labor activism
- For more detailed information, see our research guide on Labor, work, and industry
- Peace Collections
- Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
- Political activism
- As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
- Social Justice
- Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.
Harvey Swados Papers, 1933-1983.
Call no.: MS 218
The author and social critic Harvey Swados (1920-1972) was a graduate of the University of Michigan who embarked on a literary life after service in the merchant Marine during the Second World War. His first novel, Out Went the Candle (1955), introduced the themes to which Swados would return throughout his career, the alienation of factory workers and the experience of the working class in industrial America. His other works include a widely read collection of stories set in an auto plant, On the Line, the novels False Coin (1959), Standing Fast (1970), and Celebration (1975), and a noted collection of essays A Radical’s America (1962). His essay for Esquire magazine, “Why Resign from the Human Race?,” is often cited as inspiring the formation of the Peace Corps.
The Swados collection includes journals, notes, typewritten drafts of novels and short stories, galley proofs, clippings, and correspondence concerning writings; letters from family, publishers, literary agents, colleagues, friends, and readers, including Richard Hofstadter, Saul Bellow, James Thomas Farrell, Herbert Gold, Irving Howe, Bernard Malamud, and Charles Wright Mills; letters from Swados, especially to family, friends, and editors; book reviews; notes, background material, and drafts of speeches and lectures; financial records; biographical and autobiographical sketches; bibliographies.
- Authors, American--20th century--Biography
- Jewish authors--United States--Biography
- National Book Awards--History--20th century
- Socialists--United States--Biography
- Bellow, Saul
- Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979
- Gold, Herbert, 1924-
- Hofstadter, Richard, 1916-1970
- Howe, Irving
- Malamud, Bernard
- Mills, C. Wright (Charles Wright), 1916-1962
- Swados, Harvey, 1920-1972
Tamas Aczel Papers, ca.1950-1994.
Call no.: FS 031
Born on Dec. 1, 1921, to a middle class family, Tamas Aczel became affiliated with leftist politics in Hungary prior to the Second World War, joining the Party after. With degrees in literature from Peter Pazmany University (BA 1948) and Eotvos Lorent University (MA 1950), Aczel quickly established a reputation as a literary talent, publishing seven novels and winning the Kossuth Prize (1949) and Stalin Prize for Literature (1952). During this period, he became disenchanted with the Communist government and during the short-lived rebellion in 1956, he served as press secretary for Prime Minister Imre Nagy. When Nagy was deposed, Aczel escaped through Yugoslavia to Austria and then England. In 1966, he was invited to teach modern European literature at UMass, where he became Director of the MFA program (1978-1982). Aczel died in 1994, leaving his wife Olga A. Gyarmati (an Olympic gold medalist in the long jump, 1948) and son Thomas.
The Aczel collection consists primarily of numerous drafts of several novels, including The Hunt (1990), Illuminations (1981), and Ice Age (1965), along with other writing, translations, some student essays, and autobiographical material. Some material is in Hungarian.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
- Aczel, Tamas
Michael H. Bernhard Solidarity Collection, ca.1975-1989.
Call no.: MS 575
A member of the Department of Political Science at Penn State University, Michael Bernhard specializes in the comparative history of institutional change in East Central Europe and the political economy of democratic survival and breakdown. Since receiving his doctorate from Columbia University in 1988, Bernhard has written extensively on various aspects of the democratic transition in Poland and East Germany.
The Bernhard Collection contains photocopies and some original materials of underground publications by the Solidarity Movement in Poland, most of which were crudely published and illegally distributed. The collection also includes a series of posters for Solidarity candidates during the first post-Communist election.
- NSZZ "Solidarność" (Labor organization)
- Underground press publications--Poland
- Bernhard, Michael H