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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, programs, and exhibitions to promote free inquiry; the production, exchange, and preservation of knowledge; and joy in learning.

Department history

African dancers
African dancers
From the Horace Mann Bond Papers

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. Containing official records of the university’s administrators and faculty and reflecting the life of its students, the College History 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 foresight in assembling the College archives coincided roughly with the university’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. As early as 1868 — just one year after the arrival of the first students — the college accepted the donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist (and state Adjutant General) Henry K. Oliver. By the time the college issued its first library catalog in 1875, rare books were a small, but notable part of the collections, closely focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. Included 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. Each of these volumes remains part of the collections today.

David Axelrod, Class of 1965
David B. Axelrod, ca.1980, Class of 1965, poet, author of The Man who Fell in Love with His Chicken (1980)

From these beginnings, the collection of rare books and manuscripts has co-evolved with the university and its academic programs. In 1973, the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski marked an expansion of scope beyond into personal papers and organizational records of historical significance beyond the narrow confines of the university, 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 merged 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, and by 2007, it had 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, with the generous support of the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Available free to all researchers, Credo is now a robust and heavily used presence on the internet, containing hundreds of thousands of pages of content and dozens of complete collections, including every item in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond.

Mile markers

Each of the library’s million-volume milestones has been celebrated by the addition of a special volume to SCUA’s collections:

One millionth volume:
Jonathan Edwards, A careful and strict enquiry into the modern prevailing notions of that freedom of will; which is supposed to be essential to moral agency, vertue and vice, reward and punishment, praise and blame. Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754.
SCUA’s copy of this classic theological work on Free Will from the New Light minister from Northampton belonged to Rev. John Cleaveland of Ipswich, Mass., one of the subscribers. It is signed and dated by Cleaveland in several locations.
Two millionth volume:
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. London: A. Bell, 1773.
A classic of American literature written by a young woman enslaved in Boston, and the first book published by an African-American woman. Gift of Randolph W. Bromery.
Three millionth volume:
James Baldwin, Gypsy and other poems, with etched portraits by Leonard Baskin. Northampton, Mass.: Gehenna Press, 1989.
When Baldwin, a former faculty member at UMass Amherst, died unexpectedly, he was working with the great printer Leonard Baskin on a special volume of unpublished poems. Celebrating SCUA’s strengths in African American history literature and reflecting the fine-printing heritage in Massachusetts, SCUA’s copy includes a signed portfolio of etchings of Baldwin by Baskin, each signed. It is one of fifty copies bound specially by Daniel Gehnrich in leather and paste paper, made by Babette Gehnrich, over boards, and laid into a cloth traycase. Also laid in are Baskin’s proof, 1989, and touched proof, 1989, of two of the portraits. Gift of Lisa Baskin.
Four millionth volume:
The proclamation of emancipation of the President of the United States, to take effect January 1st, 1863. Boston: John Murray Forbes, 1862.
The first separate printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this volume was printed in miniature so that Union army troops in the south could more easily distribute it.

Learn more:

Montague, Holland

Holland Montague Diary
1857-1877
1 vol. (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 257 bd

A lifelong diarist, Granby farmer Holland Montague wrote chiefly about life on the farm where he made a comfortable living supplying produce to surrounding towns. While most of his entries are bland accounts of the weather and agricultural duties, Montague occasionally offers a glimpse into his personal life, especially on the diary’s endpapers, where he records medicinal remedies for humans and livestock, purchases made and payments received, as well as a valuation of his property in 1872. Very few references are made to political events of the day, including the Civil War, although he does note on April 16, 1865 that President Lincoln is dead.

Laid into the volume is a manuscript copy of the 1826 document listing depositions to be taken from individuals in the petition of the town of Granby against the town of South Hadley relating to a dispute over the boundary line between the two towns.

Transferred from Dartmouth College Special Collections, July 1989
Subjects
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Granby
  • Granby (Mass.)--History
Types of material
  • Diaries

Mount Toby Meeting of Friends

Mount Toby Meeting of Friends Collection
1977-1991
1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 694

The Northampton Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (later the Middle Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting) was formally established in 1939, bringing together the small community of Friends in Western Massachusetts. In 1959, the small preparative meetings in Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton, and South Hadley agreed to consolidate to create a more vital gathering. After five years without a fixed location, a Friend was moved to donate three acres of land on Long Plain Road in Leverett on which to build a proper meetinghouse. When that building opened in 1964, the meeting was renamed the Mt Toby Meeting.

Reflecting a strong history of promoting peace social justice, the Mt. Toby collection documents Friends’ involvement in a wide variety of issues ranging from war tax resistance (Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner), the “Colrain action” when the Kehler/Corner house was seized by the IRS), peace education and civil disobedience, refugee resettlement, the Sanctuary movement, and support for LGBT issues and racial equality. The collection consists largely of fliers and newsletters, ephemera, and newspaper clippings.

Subjects
  • Corner, Betsy
  • Kehler, Randy
  • Mount Toby Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
  • Pacifists
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Sanctuary movement
  • War tax resistance--Massachusetts

Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Samuel E. Murray Papers
ca.1945-1989
14 boxes (7 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 568
Image of Samuel Murray, 1966
Samuel Murray, 1966

One of the pioneers in the ephemera trade, Samuel E. Murray (1906-1989) was a long time antiquarian bookman, based at his home in Wilbraham, Mass. Born on Christmas Day, 1906, Murray interrupted his college studies to go to sea, but after the Depression left him unemployed, he landed a position as sales representative for McGraw-Hill and, later, G. & C. Merriam and other firms. Always an avid book collector, Murray left the publishing industry in 1970 to become a full time bookseller. Without ever advertising or issuing catalogs, he developed a wide reputation among dealers and collectors for his keen eye and perspicacity with rare and uncommon books. A generalist by trade, Murray had a particular fondness for colorplate books and travel literature, but was renowned both for his extensive reference library and for recognizing early on the value of ephemera. After a lengthy bout with myelofibrosis, Murray died at home on June 4, 1989.

The Murray Papers contain correspondence between Murray and a range of his fellow booksellers and clients, as well as his extensive card files on fellow book dealers and wants lists. The collection offers insight into the operations of a well known antiquarian bookman during the 1970s and 1980s.

Subjects
  • Antiquarian booksellers--Massachusetts
  • Book collecting
  • Books--Want lists
  • Printed ephemera--Collectors and collecting--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
  • Ephemera Society of America
  • Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-

David Ledbetter Nanney Papers
1948-2008
13 boxes (6.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 592
Image of Tracy M. Sonneborn
Tracy M. Sonneborn

The experimental ciliatologist David L. Nanney spent much of his career studying the protozoan Tetrahymena. Under Tracy M. Sonneborn at Indiana University, he completed a dissertation in 1951 on the mating habits of Paramecium, but soon after joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, he turned his attention to Tetrahymena. During his subsequent career in Ann Arbor (1951-1959) and at the University of Illinois (1959-1991), Nanney made a series of fundamental contributions to the cytology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolution of ciliates, influencing the work of other biologists such as Joe Frankel, Janina Kaczanowska, Linda Hufnagel, and Nicola Ricci. Since his retirement in 1991, Nanney has remained in Urbana.

The Nanney Papers include a dense run of professional correspondence with ciliatologists, geneticists, students and colleagues regarding his pioneering research on ciliates and other professional matters. Of particular note is an extensive correspondence with Sonneborn, accompanied by several biographical essays written after Sonneborn’s death, and a large body of correspondence of the controversial reorganization of the biological sciences departments at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. The collection also includes a selection of Nanney’s writings and a handful of photographs.

Subjects
  • Developmental biology
  • Evolution (Biology)
  • Protozoans--Genetics
  • Tetrahymena--Genetics
  • University of Illinois--Faculty
Contributors
  • Allen, Sally
  • Bleyman, Lea K
  • Corliss, John O
  • Frankel, Joseph, 1935-
  • Kaczanowski, Andrzej
  • McKoy, J. Wynne
  • Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-
  • Nyberg, Dennis Wayne, 1944-
  • Orias, Eduardo
  • Ricci, Nicola
  • Siegel, Richard
  • Sonneborn, T. M. (Tracy Morton), 1905-

National Arts Policy Archive & Library (NAPAAL)

National Arts Policy Archive and Library
1965-2013
Image of

The National Arts Policy Archive and Library is a collaborative project initiated by SCUA, the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, and several partners in arts agencies intended to document the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state-level and national arts agencies, NAPAAL will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.

Constituent collections include:

Subjects
  • Art and state
  • Arts--Management
  • Government aid to the arts
Contributors
  • Americans for the Arts
  • National Asssembly of State Arts Agencies
  • National Endowment for the Arts

New England Telephone Workers’ Strike

New England Telephone Workers Strike Collection
1989
1 folder (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 323

In 1989, almost 60,000 telephone workers in New England and New York waged a successful fifteen week strike against Nynex to protest a new contract that threatened cuts to medical benefits.

This small collection includes three handouts and a bulletin documenting the four-month labor strike carried out by New England telephone workers (represented by the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unions) against the NYNEX corporation.

Subjects
  • NYNEX Corporation
  • New England--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Strikes and lockouts--Telephone companies--New England --History
  • Telephone companies--Employees--Labor unions--New England--History
Contributors
  • Communications Workers of America
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Types of material
  • Handbills

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records
1654-2016
(384.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 902

In 1661, less than a decade after the first Friends arrived in British North America, the precursor to the New England Yearly Meeting was organized as the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting. As one of approximately two dozen yearly meetings in the United States, the NEYM currently comprises eight quarterly meetings and approximately 85 monthlies, which are the basic unit of organization for the Society. Like many Yearly meetings, the NEYM has been diverse in spiritual practice, reflected in a history of separations and reunions. Most famously, Orthodox Friends in New England divided in the 1840s into the increasingly evangelically-oriented Gurneyites, who went by the name Yearly Meeting of Friends for New England (joining Friends United Meeting in 1902), and the Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends. In 1945, the disparate branches formally reunited.

Consolidated beginning in the 1960s, the NEYM collection contains the official records of the New England Yearly Meeting from its founding in the seventeenth century to the present, along with records of most of its constituent Quarterly, Monthly, and Preparative Meetings and records of Quaker schools and trusts. As varied as the Quaker practice they document, these records include minutes of meetings for business; committee records; newsletters, financial records; some personal papers; printed books and serials; and an assortment of photographs, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and electronic records. Of particular note are the vital statistics recorded by the Monthly Meetings, including general information on births, deaths, marriages, membership, and obituaries, and specifically-Quaker information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties suffered by Quakers for following testimonies). The Archives Committee of the NEYM is a partner in records management and on-going documentation of the Meeting and its constituent bodies. The collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and several individual monthly meetings. The records of most monthly meetings in Maine are held at the Maine Historical Society, while important bodies of records are held at the Newport Historical Society (some Nantucket and Rhode Island Meetings) or at individual Monthly Meetings.

An overview of the NEYM collections and a comprehensive inventory and finding aid prepared by Richard Stattler in 1997 at the Rhode Island Historical Society are available online. Stattler’s inventory includes materials in the NEYM Collection at UMass, as well as NEYM materials held at other institutions. SCUA’s updated inventory will follow in 2017.

Subjects
  • Quakers--New England
  • Society of Friends--New England--History

New Victoria Publishers

New Victoria Publishers Records
1974-2009
6 boxes (11 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 883
Image of From the top down: Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay Lamperti, Petey Becker, Bonnie Arnold, and ReBecca Béguin (ca. 1976)
From the top down: Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay Lamperti, Petey Becker, Bonnie Arnold, and ReBecca Béguin (ca. 1976)

Founded in 1975 in Lebanon, NH, by Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay (Lamperti), Katie Cahill, Nina Swaim, and Shelby Grantham, New Victoria Printers became one of two all-female print shops in New England at the time. Believing strongly that “the power of the press belongs to those who own it,” they began to solicit work from non-profit and politically-oriented groups. Like its namesake Victoria Press, an 1860s women run print shop in London owned by Emily Faithful, an early advocate of women’s rights, New Victoria was also committed to feminist principles. The shop offered work and training in printing, machine work, and other traditionally male dominated fields; initially focused on printing materials from the women’s movement; and was organized as a collectively owned and democratically run organization.

Additionally, the shop functioned as a de facto women’s center and lesbian hub for Lebanon and the surrounding area, often overlapping with the lesbian social club Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society, (a.k.a. the Amelia’s). The print shop was a place of education, community, creativity, and activism, and soon publishing opportunities, as the group founded New Victoria Publishers in 1976 to publish works from their community. The print shop closed in 1985, with Dingman and McKay taking over the running of the non-profit publishing company out of their home in Norwich, VT, with an emphasis on lesbian fiction in addition to other women-focused works. An early bestseller, Stoner McTavish by Sarah Dreher, put them on the map, with the company publishing over a hundred books by and about lesbians, winning three Lambda Literary Awards and several other honors.

The New Victoria Publishers Records consist of photographs, newsletters, and cards put out by the collective, materials printed by the press, marketing and promotional materials, author correspondence, graphics and cover art, book reviews, financial and legal records, histories of the organization, news clippings, and an almost full run of the books published by the company. The collection is particularly rich in documenting the work and production of a women owned business within the feminist press movement as well as the lesbian publishing industry.

Subjects
  • Collective labor agreements – Printing industry
  • Feminist literature – Publishing
  • Lesbian authors
  • Lesbians' writings -- Publishing
  • Women printers – New England
  • Women publishers – New England
Contributors
  • Beth Dingman
  • Claudia McKay
  • New Victoria Printers
  • New Victoria Publishers
Types of material
  • Photographs

Noble, David F.

David F. Noble Papers
1977-2010
14 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
Subjects
  • Academic freedom
  • Corporatization
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Faculty
  • Science--Social aspects
  • Technology--Social aspects
  • York University--Faculty

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