How do I arrange a class visit?
Classes from UMass Amherst and other schools are welcome to visit Special Collections and University Archives to make use of our unique collections. Members of the SCUA staff are available to provide introductions to archival research, overviews of specific areas of historical interest, information about the collections, and discussions of the history of UMass Amherst. In recent years, the staff have hosted classes from history and American culture, African American studies, English and comparative literature, art history, anthropology, politics, business, and library and information science, among other disciplines.
Class visits should be arranged ahead of time to avoid scheduling conflicts and to help us prepare. Please include the following information when contacting SCUA:
- Name of professor/teacher/contact
- Date(s) requested, with start and finish time
- Number of students
- Subject area and research interests
- Special requests (for collections)
SCUA staff are also available to help individuals plan or conduct research and we welcome inquiries from students interested in internships in archival and library studies. Appointments are not required, but advance notice of your visit is appreciated, as it allows staff time to identify and retrieve research materials to suit your needs.
The Amherst-Northampton area has a number of options for researchers needing a place to stay. The closest is the Campus Center Hotel, which is in fact located at the center of campus, adjacent to a parking garage and only a few hundred yards from the library. UMass Amherst maintains a webpage listing other options for local accommodation.
The SCUA staff are happy to provide tours of the facilities or collections at any time during normal business hours or by special appointment.
For additional information on paying a visit or to arrange for a class session or tour, please contact the SCUA archivists by email or phone (413.545.2780).
Ebenezer Pope Ledger, 1810-1821.
Call no.: MS 167 bd
Blacksmith who was prominent in the town affairs of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Includes debit and credit entries, the method and form of customer payment (cash, services, labor, and goods such as corn, potatoes, wheat, cider brandy, hog, veal, sheep, lambs, and an ox), and an entry noting the building of the Great Barrington and Alford Turnpike in 1812. Also includes documentation of seamstress activity and of African American customers.
- African Americans--Massachusetts--Great Barrington--History--19th century
- Barter--Massachusetts--Great Barrington--History--19th century
- Blacksmiths--Massachusetts--Great Barrington--Economic conditions--19th century
- George, Negro
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--History--19th century
- Great Barrington and Alford Turnpike (Mass.)--History
- Palmer, Anna M
- Toll roads--Massachusetts--History--19th century
- Wages--Men--Massachusetts--Great Barrington--History--19th century
- Wages--Women--Massachusetts--Great Barrington--History--19th century
- Wages-in-kind--Massachusetts--Great Barrington--History--19th century
- Pope, Ebenezer
Types of material
- Account books
James R. Powell Collection, 1958-2010.
Call no.: MS 701
A devoted reader of newspaper cartoon strips, Jim Powell began collecting Peanuts cartoon books in the mid-1970s, prompted by obtaining two pure-bred beagles for his son.
The Powell cartoon book collection consists of 419 mass market paperback copies of popular cartoon books, representing the work of well-known cartoonists such as Charles M. Schultz, Johnny Hart, Gary Larson, Garry Trudeau, Jim Davis, and Berke Breathed. The collection has particularly rich runs of Peanuts, Garfield, and Doonesbury.
- Comic books, strips, etc.
- Davis, Jim, 1945 July 28-
- Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000
- Trudeau, G. B., 1948-
- Watterson, Bill
Types of material
William Putnam Papers, 1840-1886.
Call no.: MS 014
For several decades in the mid-nineteenth century, William Putnam (1792-1877) and his family operated a general store in Wendell Depot, Massachusetts, situated strategically between the canal and the highway leading to Warwick. Serving an area that remains rural to the present day, Putnam dealt in a range of essential merchandise, trading in lumber and shingles, palm leaf, molasses and sugar, tea, tobacco, quills, dishes, cloth and ribbon, dried fish, crackers, and candy. At various times, he was authorized by the town Selectmen to sell “intoxicating liquors” (brandy, whiskey, and rum) for “Medicinal, chemical and mechanical purposes only,” and for a period, he served as postmaster for Wendell Depot.
The daybooks and correspondence of William Putnam record the daily transactions of an antebellum storekeeper in rural Wendell, Massachusetts. Offering a dense record of transactions from 1840-1847, the daybooks provide a chronological accounting of all sales and credits in the store, including barter with local residents of the community and with contractors for the new Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad. The last in the series of daybooks lists a surprisingly high percentage of Wendell’s residents (by name, in alphabetical order) who owed him money as of October 1846. The correspondence associated with the collection continues into the 1880s and provides relatively slender documentation of Putnam’s litigiousness, his financial difficulties after the Civil War, and the efforts of his son John William to continue the business.
- Consumer goods--Massachusetts--Wendell
- General stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
- Liquor stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
- Panama hat industry--Massachusetts--Wendell
- Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad
- Wendell (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Wendell (Mass.)--History--19th century
- Putnam, William
Types of material
Frank Prentice Rand Papers, 1905-1976.
Call no.: FS 083
Playwright, poet, historian, student theater director and professor of English, University of Massachusetts.
Correspondence, speeches, lectures, drafts of writings, reviews, publicity material, programs and playbills, scrapbooks, grade books (1917-1959), newsclippings, memorabilia, and other papers, relating to Rand’s teaching career, his writing of poetry, plays, and history, and his activities, as a dramatic coach and director. Includes material relating to the dedication of Rand Theater.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History
- Rand, Frank Prentice, 1889-
Types of material
- Oral histories
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses over 35,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.
Beyond New England, SCUA has built strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the history of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to the culture of the Cold War: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.
All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog and summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles, are included in SCUA’s own online catalog, UMarmot.
Selected areas of collecting interest:
Agriculture, horticulture, natural history
The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, organic agriculture, pomology, sustainability, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Cookery in New England
The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.
European history and culture
Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).
Gay and Lesbian Literature
The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.
Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press, among others, as well as the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of William Morris and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers.
New England history and culture
Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.
The SCUA staff have assembled a series of introductory guides to assist researchers in navigating through our collections. These guides provide a broad overview of our collections for the history of social change; labor, work, and industry; agriculture; and the regional history of New England, and intended for use in conjunction with the descriptions in UMarmot and our finding aids.
On the right side of this page, UMarmot sports several features to help you locate individual manuscript and archival collections: from top to bottom, you may search collections by entering any term in the search box; browse by general category using the drop down menu; or browse alphabetically by clicking on the appropriate letter.
We encourage researchers with more specialized interests or who require more in-depth work with our collections to consult with our staff.
Association for Gravestone Studies Collection
Barbara Rotundo Photograph Collection, ca.1970-2004.
Call no.: PH 050
A long-time member of the English Department at the University of Albany, Barbara Rotundo was a 1942 graduate in economics at Mount Holyoke College. After the death of her husband, Joseph in 1953, Rotundo became one of the first female faculty members at Union College, and after earning a master’s degree in English at Cornell University and a doctorate in American Literature from Syracuse University, she served as an associate professor of English at the University of Albany, where she founded one of the first university writing programs in the United States. Avocationally, she was a stalwart member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, helping to broaden its scope beyond its the Colonial period to include the Victorian era. Her research included the rural cemetery movement, Mount Auburn Cemetery, white bronze (zinc) markers, and ethnic folk gravestones. Her research in these fields was presented on dozens of occasions to annual meetings of AGS, the American Culture Association, and The Pioneer America Society. In 1989, after residing in Schenectady for forty-six years, she retired to Belmont, NH, where she died in December 2004.
Consisting primarily of thousands of color slides (most digitized) and related research notebooks, the Rotundo collection is a major visual record of Victorian grave markers in the United States. The notebooks and slides are arranged by state, with an emphasis on the eastern states, and white bronze (zinc) markers also are represented in photographs and a separate research notebook. The collection also includes several rare or privately published books.
- Cemeteries--New York (State)
- Sepulchral monuments--New Jersey
- Sepulchral monuments--New York (State)
- Sepulchral monuments--Pennsylvania
- Rotundo, Barbara
Types of material
Rural American Women Conference Records, 1978-1981.
Call no.: MS 146
Feeling the frustrations of millions of women and girls in rural America who lacked the support or resources necessary to combat unemployment, inadequate medical care, and domestic violence, Jane Threatt along with several other women decided to form a non-profit organization that would unite these women and give them a national voice. Established in 1978, Rural American Women (RAW) was organized to promote the interests of rural women in the areas of equal rights, employment, education, family life, and freedom of all forms of discrimination.
In 1981 RAW held a series of five regional conferences throughout the country, and the bulk of this collection consists of records relating to the New England meeting. The records also include some materials documenting the group’s activities at their national headquarters in D.C., such as minutes, correspondence, newsletters, and pamphlets.
- Rural women
- Rural American Women
Paul Samuel Sanders Papers, 1937-1972.
Call no.: FS 084
Methodist Clergyman; literary and religious scholar.
Correspondence, drafts of writings, notes for lectures and sermons, book reviews, course materials, class notes taken as a student, biographical material, and other papers, relating chiefly to Sander’s studies of English and religious literature, his teaching career at several colleges (including the University of Massachusetts) and church-related activities. Includes draft of an unpublished book on the Bible as literature; correspondence and organized material from his participation in Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies, Amherst Massachusetts (LAOS); and notebook of funeral records (1940-1957).
- Layman's Academy for Oecumenical Studies
- Methodist Church--Clergy
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
- Sanders, Paul Samuel
Types of material