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Noble, David F.

David F. Noble Papers

15 boxes 21 linear feet
Call no.: MS 879

David F. Noble was a critical and highly influential historian of technology, science, and education, writing from a strong leftist perspective. Receiving his doctorate at the University of Rochester, Noble began his academic career at MIT. His first book, America By Design (1977), received strong reviews for its critique of the corporate control of science and technology, but proved too radical for MIT, which denied him tenure despite strong support from his peers. A stint at the Smithsonian followed, but ended similarly, and he continued to face opposition in his career for his radicalism and persistence. After several years at Drexel (1986-1994), Noble landed at York University, where he remained committed to a range of social justice issues, including opposition to the corporatization of universities. Among his major works Forces of Production (1984), A World Without Women (1992), The Religion of Technology (1997), Digital Diploma Mills (2001), and Beyond the Promised Land (2005). Noble died of complications of pneumonia in December 2010, and was survived by his wife Sarah Dopp and three daughters.

The challenges of academic freedom and corporate influence that Noble confronted throughout his career, and his trenchant analysis of technology, science, and religion in contemporary culture, form the core of this collection. Although the files relating to his first book were mostly lost, each of his later books is well represented, accompanied by general correspondence, documentation of his lawsuits against his employers, and selective public talks and publications. Noble’s time at York is particularly well documented, including content relating to his principled stand against grading students.

Gift of Sarah Dopp, Aug. 2015
  • Academic freedom
  • Corporatization
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Faculty
  • Science--Social aspects
  • Technology--Social aspects
  • York University--Faculty

North Center School District (Hatfield, Mass.)

North Center School District Records

1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 442

The North Center School District in Hatfield, Massachusetts, was established in 1812, when the town divided into three school districts.

The collection consists of seventeen handwritten documents including financial records, a report and recipes relating to the North Center School District in Hatfield, Massachusetts, representing the period from 1818 to 1833. While not a comprehensive collection, the items nonetheless offer insight into education at the turn of the century, especially the sorts of expenses accrued in maintaining a small town schoolhouse.

  • Education--Massachusetts--Hatfield
  • Hatfield (Mass.)--History
  • Massachusetts--History--1775-1865
  • Recipes--Massachusetts
  • School records--Massachusetts
  • Schools--Records and Correspondence
  • Allis, Dexter
  • Bardwell, Elijah
  • Bardwell, Remembrance
  • Dickinson, Solomon
  • Morton, Chester
  • Morton, Jeremy
  • North Center School District (Hatfield, Mass.)
  • Porter, Theodore
  • Waite, Daniel
  • Waite, Justin

Northampton Cutlery Company

Northampton Cutlery Company Records

113 boxes 55.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 058

The Northampton Cutlery Company was among the major firms in a region known for high quality cutlery manufacture. Incorporated in 1871 with Judge Samuel L. Hinckley, its largest stockholder, as its first President, the company was located along the Mill River in Northampton, Massachusetts, where operations continued until its closing in 1987.

Records document company operations and technology used in the cutlery manufacturing process, as well as details about employment of immigrant and working class families in the region. Includes administrative, legal, and financial records; correspondence; personnel and labor relations files; and production schedules and specifications.

  • Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
  • Northampton (Mass.)--History
  • Northampton Cutlery Company

Nye, Thomas, 1768-1842

Thomas Nye Cashbook

1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 227 bd

Agent or part-owner of a firm, who may have been a ship’s chandler, from Fairhaven and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Includes personal expenses and business accounts (large bills for firms and small bills for labor, repairs, food, blacksmithing, and other items and services). Cash book is made up of six smaller cash books bound together; also contains lists of deaths in the family and notations of the lading of several ships.

  • Fairhaven (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--New Bedford--Economic conditions--19th century
  • New Bedford (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Nye family
  • Nye, Thomas, 1768-1842
  • T. and A.R. Nye (Firm)
Types of material
  • Account books


Jobs in SCUA

Child and dog, by Burt Brooks, ca.1910
Child and dog, by Burt V. Brooks, ca.1910

Every fall, SCUA offers a limited number of paid positions for undergraduates who wish to work in an active Special Collections or Library environment. Students should have an interest in writing and research, a passion for history and cultural heritage, a comfort with digital technologies, and a willingness to work collaboratively and collegially in an active and sometimes challenging setting.

In addition to these positions, SCUA regularly sponsors internships for either undergraduate or graduate students, from UMass Amherst and elsewhere. Taken for credit (and thus unpaid), these internships are designed to expose aspiring members of the profession to our daily work. As appropriate, internships can be adapted to the interests and needs of the individual student.

Because of the demand, hiring for SCUA positions usually takes place in the spring for students who wish to start in the fall, however positions occasionally open up mid-year. Please contact SCUA for more information.

Archival Training Program Student Assistanceships

Are you interested in exploring a future in history, cultural heritage, archives, libraries, or the information profession? The Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives, home to the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois, has openings for two Special Collections Archival Training Program Assistanceships to work with our team of professional archivists and graduate and undergraduate peers.

Two positions are available to undergraduate students from underrepresented populations in the archival profession (African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino/a, and Native American). The students selected for these positions will have an opportunity to gain hands-on professional experience in the information field. Along with working with historical documents, audiovisual materials, and digital technologies, students in the Archival Training Program will assist researchers with their projects and will be responsible for their own research and writing projects.

Students will work a regular schedule of ten hours a week during the academic term.

For more information see the job posting at

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Oral history

Class of 1889 in front of Durfee Greenhouse
Oral historian at the First National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, 1977. Photo by Diana Mara Henry

However rich our archival collections may be, there are always parts of the historical record that never make it onto the page. Memories, emotions, and attitudes are notoriously difficult to document, and there a variety of all-too human reasons that people choose not to write down every detail of their lives. As a result, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has been actively engaged in recording oral histories as a way of capturing a more complete record of the many voices and diverse experiences that comprise .

SCUA first ventured into oral historical work in the mid-1970s with efforts to document the history of the university prior to the massive expansion of the previous decade, and the department has subsequently engaged in oral historical projects to document the university’s 125th and 150th anniversaries. In the past decade, SCUA has extended its work to documenting the histories of persons represented in its collections and to a broader array of projects documenting the history and experience of social change and the people and cultures on New England. Furthermore, SCUA is the repository for hundreds of oral histories recorded by other people, ranging in scope from interviews with Franco-Americans in the 1980s, 20th century Argentine political figures, and former residents of the Quabbin towns in Western Massachusetts.

Many of SCUA’s oral histories are available online through our digital repository Credo. These include audio and video recordings and, in a few cases, they may be fully transcribed.

Supporting material

For donors of oral histories:

SCUA is happy to accept donations of oral histories that fit within its collection policy.

Although SCUA accepts materials in most audio and video formats — cassette, reel to reel, RDAT, VHS, Betacam, or digital — we typically prefer to receive interviews in the format in which they were recorded and in the highest quality available. When possible, we prefer uncompressed digital files, however we appreciate receiving a compressed derivative (e.g., mp3 for audio, mp4 for video). When available, transcripts in print and electronic form are a very valuable addition.

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Otis Company

Otis Company Records

2 folders 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 310

The Otis Company of Ware, Massachusetts, was founded in 1839 and became a major producer of textiles, including checks, denims, and cotton underwear. At the height of their operations, the company operated three mills with a workforce of over 1,300.

The collection contains correspondence between Otis agent Henry Lyon and the firms of Parks, Wright & Co. (1846-47) and Wright, Whitman & Co. (1847), both of Boston. It includes bills, invoices, letters, and memos, covering orders for such goods as lamp glasses, patent starch, whale oil, gas pipes, bales of cotton, pot and pearl ashes, fish glue, sour flour, fire buckets, potato starch, tar, sheet copper, and indigo.

Gift of John Foster, May 1990
  • Mills and milling--Massachusetts--Ware
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts
  • Ware (Mass.)--History
  • Otis Company

Panus, Mary Lou

Mary Lou Panus Polish American Collection

3 boxes 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 378

Mary Lou Panus documented Polish American life in Massachusetts by collecting newspaper clippings, business cards, programs, and Polish language prayer books and prayer cards.

The Panus collection includes photographs of Polish churches in Massachusetts, reflecting the important role religion played in the culture and in various communities. The collection also includes a doll dressed as a nun.

  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts
  • Panus, Mary Lou

Patterson, Charles H.

Charles H. Patterson Papers

2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: FS 089
Image of Charles H. Patterson.<br />Photo by Frank A. Waugh, 1926
Charles H. Patterson.
Photo by Frank A. Waugh, 1926

For many years, Charles H. Patterson served as head of the Department of Language and Literature at Massachusetts Agricultural College. Born in Smithsonville, Ont., in 1863, Patterson received both a BA (1887) and MA (1893) from Tufts University before launching his teaching career. He joined the faculty at MAC as an assistant professor of English, in 1916, after 13 years at West Virginia University. A former professional actor, he taught courses in modern literature, with a particular interest in drama, and served as department chair for nearly a decade before his sudden death in 1933.

The Patterson Papers contain a small selection of correspondence and notes on English composition and literature as taught at Massachusetts Agricultural College. Most noteworthy, perhaps, is a draft of Patterson’s unpublished book, The Amazing Boucicault.

  • Boucicault, Dion, 1820-1890
  • Drama--Study and teaching
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of English
  • Patterson, Charles H


Frank Waugh image of woman standing in a field

General inquiries 413.545.2780
Cox, Robert (Head of Special Collections) 413.545.2780
James, Lorraine (Conservation specialist)
Kay, Kirstin (Mark H. McCormack Sport Innovation Archivist) 413.545.6843
Kovacs, Danielle (Curator of Collections) 413.545.2784
Moore, Anne L. (Special Collections Librarian) 413.545.6888
Robinson, Steve (Special Collections Assistant) 413.545.0274
Rubinstein, Aaron (University and Digital Archivist) 413.545.7963
Spitz, Blake (Archivist) 413.545.6898
White, Caroline (Archivist) 413.545.9637

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