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Rare book collections

Votes for women, Enfield Collection
Votes for Women, ca.1919 (Enfield Collection)

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses approximately 40,000 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 developed strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the literature of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era and the works of an eclectic assortment of poets and writers. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to Cold War culture: 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.

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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.

Notice: due to renovations in the library, much of SCUA’s collection of printed materials (books and periodicals) will be unavailable until further notice. Please contact our archivists to see whether we can assist.

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

Knox gelatin
The Collection

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.

Literary collections

Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press; records of the Cummington School for the Arts and Massachusetts Review; and 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 Charles Lamb, William Morris, and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers. We are stewards of the papers of several writers from New England and collect their works comprehensively, including Andrew Coburn, Mary Doyle Curran, Mary McGarry Morris, Raymond Mungo, Jodi Picoult, and Harvey Swados.

New England history and culture

Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard
Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard

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. The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends collection contains thousands of books, pamphlets, and periodicals relating to Quaker history from the seventeenth century to the present. With an emphasis on New England Quakerism, these collections include the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and libraries amassed by several monthly and quarterly meetings. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Social change

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.

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Ross, Laura

Laura M. Ross Papers

1945-2003 Bulk: 1967-1990
13 boxes 6.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 515
Image of Laura Ross
Laura Ross

Born in the coal mining town of Blossburg, Pa., in 1913, Laura Ross (nee Kaplowitz) grew up in poverty as one of seven children of Lithuanian immigrants. In about 1932, Ross married Harry Naddell, a wine merchant, and settled into a comfortable life Brooklyn, N.Y., raising a son and daughter. During the Second World War, however, she became intensely politicized through her work with Russian War Relief, joining the Communist Party and eventually divorcing her les radical husband. Moving to the Boston area, she married Max Ross in 1963, an attorney for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and became a noted presence in a wide range of political activities, working for civil rights, the antiwar movement, and for many years, helping to run the Center for Marxist Education in Central Square , Cambridge. Perhaps most notably, between 1974 and 1984, Ross ran for Congress three times on the Communist Party ticket, taking on the powerful incumbent Tip O’Neill and winning almost a quarter of the vote. An activist to the end, Ross died in Cambridge on August 5, 2007.

The Ross papers are the legacy of a highly visible activist, organizer, educator, and member of the Communist Party USA. Heavily concentrated in the period 1967-1990, the collection includes material relating to her affiliation with CPUSA and her work with the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Mass., including information on party membership, platforms, and conventions, minutes from various district committee meetings, material relating to the People’s Daily World, and course information and syllabi. Scattered throughout the collection are materials pertaining to contemporary political issues and elections, particularly the policies associated with Ronald Reagan. Ross was a vocal and persistent opponent of Reaganomics and the nuclear arms race that Reagan accelerated.

Gift of Eugene Povirk, 2007

Subjects

  • Center for Marxist Education (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • People’s Daily World
  • United States--Politics and government--1981-1989

Contributors

  • Ross, Laura
Roxbury Action Program

Roxbury Action Program Collection

1944-1975 Bulk: 1966-1974
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 765
Image of Ernest Hamilton, <em>Black Power: What is it?</em> (1966)
Ernest Hamilton, Black Power: What is it? (1966)

The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.

Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.

Gift of Ken Gloss, Jan. 2013

Subjects

  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Black Panther Party
  • Black power
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History

Contributors

  • Morrison, George

Types of material

  • Newspapers
  • Photographs
Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection

Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection

1797-1897
48 items 3 linear feet
Call no.: RB 012
Image of John Metcalf
John Metcalf

Although printing requires a substantial capital investment in equipment before any hope of profitability can be entertained, there have been numerous attempts over the years to set up printing houses in communities with astonishingly small population bases. In even the most remote Massachusetts towns, people like John Metcalf (Wendell), Ezekiel Terry (Palmer), and John and Solomon Howe (Enfield and Greenwich) operated as printers during the nineteenth century, specializing in a quotidian array of broadsides, song sheets, almanacs, toy books, and printed forms, hoping to supplement, or provide, a decent living.

This small, but growing collection consists of materials printed prior to the twentieth century in small Massachusetts towns, defined as towns with populations less than about 2,500. Although few of these houses survived for long, they were important sources for rural communities. Typically simple in typography, design, and binding, even crude, the output of such printers provides an important gauge of the interests and tastes of New England’s smallest and often poorest communities.

Subjects

  • Children's books--Massachusetts
  • Printers--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Howe, John, 1783-1845
  • Howe, Solomon, 1750-1835
  • Metcalf, John, 1788-1864
  • Terry, Ezekiel, 1775-1829

Types of material

  • Almanacs
  • Broadsides
Samizdat

Samizdat Collection

1955-1983
12 boxes 6 linear feet
Call no.: MS 404

In the mid-1970s, the Center for the Study of New Russian Literature in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UMass Amherst began collecting the self-published and underground literature of the Soviet Union as a means of documenting social and political dissent in the Communist state.

The Samizdat collection includes writings in several genres — chiefly fiction, poetry, drama, and literary, social, and political criticism — in handwritten, photocopied, and printed form, as well as photos, a passport application for Mikhail Baryshnikov, and memorabilia from an American production of one of the plays in the collection.

Language(s): Russian

Subjects

  • Underground literature--Soviet Union
Sampson Perkins & Co.

Sampson Perkins & Co. Account Book

1866-1873
1 vol. 0.15 linear feet
Call no.: MS 232 bd

Iron foundry in Taunton, Massachusetts that produced stoves for individuals and several large local companies. Includes monthly labor payments to workforce of thirteen, as well as monthly accounts of sales, merchandise on hand, and rent. Also documents the company’s worth, annual profits, and the worth of company partners in 1870.

Subjects

  • Boardinghouses--Massachusetts--Taunton--History--19th century
  • Iron foundries--Massachusetts--Taunton--History--19th century
  • Stove industry and trade--Massachusetts--Taunton--History--19th century
  • Taunton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Wages--Iron and steel workers--Massachusetts--Taunton--History--19th century
  • Wages--Stove industry and trade--Massachusetts--Taunton--History--19th century

Contributors

  • Perkins, Sampson, b. 1806
  • Sampson Perkins & Co

Types of material

  • Account books
Sanders, Paul Samuel

Paul Samuel Sanders Papers

1937-1972
9 linear feet
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).

Subjects

  • Layman's Academy for Oecumenical Studies
  • Methodist Church--Clergy
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English

Contributors

  • Sanders, Paul Samuel

Types of material

  • Sermons
Sawin-Young Family Papers

Sawin-Young Family Papers

1864-1924
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 583
Image of Atop Mt. Tom
Atop Mt. Tom

At the turn of the twentieth century, Albert Sawin and his wife Elizabeth (nee Young) lived on Taylor Street in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with their three children, Allan, Ralph, and Alice. Elizabeth’s brother, also named Allan, traveled in the west during the 1880s, looking for work in Arizona, Utah, and Montana.

The bulk of the Sawin-Young Family Papers consists of letters exchanged between Elizabeth “Lizzie” Sawin, her sisters, and Jennie Young of nearby Easthampton. Later letters were addressed to Beatrice Sawin at Wheaton College from her father Walter E. Sawin, who contributed to the design for the Holyoke dam. The photograph album (1901) kept by Alice E. Sawin features images of the interior and exterior of the family’s home, as well as candid shots of family and friends and photographs of excursions to nearby Mt. Tom and the grounds of Northfield School.

Subjects

  • Holyoke (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Montana--Description and travel
  • Sawin family
  • Utah--Description and travel
  • Young family

Contributors

  • Sawin, Alice E.
  • Sawin, Beatrice
  • Young, Allan
  • Young, Elizabeth

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs
Schrum, Ronald W.

Ronald Wayne Schrum Papers

1966-1968
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 867

Born in Richmond, Va., in 1946, Ronald Wayne Schrum served as a corporal in the 9th Engineer Battalion, US Marine Corps, during the Vietnam War. Based in Chu Lai, on the coast 56 miles southeast of Da Nang, the 9th Engineers were responsible for the maintenance of bridges and roads, and perhaps most importantly mine sweeping. Schrum was wounded in action in August 1967, returning to duty after a short recuperation. While on leave in May 1968, Schrum married his fiancee Carolyn Ann Garrett, and the two settled in Virginia after the end of his time in service. Schrum died in Glen Allen, Va., on June 20, 1995.

A compact record of one marine’s service in Vietnam, this collection contains letters written by Ronald Schrum to his fiancee describing his duties as a combat engineer near Chu Lai. Covering only the months from Jan. 1967 to Nov. 1968, they include accounts of mine sweeping, fire fights with the Viet Cong (including one in which he was wounded in action), the Tet Offensive, and life on base, and increasingly as the couple approach their marriage, the letters are marked by a longing for his wife and home and a literal counting down of days remaining in service.

Subjects

  • Military engineering
  • Tet Offensive, 1968
  • United States. Marine Expeditionary Force, 3rd. Engineer Battalion, 9th
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Engineering and construction

Contributors

  • Schrum, Carolyn Ann Garrett

Types of material

  • Photographs
Shapiro, Leon

Leon Shapiro Papers

1939-1985
15 boxes 8.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 127

Historian, author, Professor of Russian and Soviet Jewish History at Rutgers University, who helped arrange the escape of Jews from Europe during World War II and was active in several organizations concerned with the emigration of Soviet and Eastern European Jews to Palestine. Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, legal documents, writings, lecture and research materials, statistical data in the world Jewish population before and after World War II, oral history transcripts, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and four photographs.

Subjects

  • Europe, Eastern--Ethnic relations--History--20th century
  • Israel--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Israel--History--1948-1967
  • Jews, Soviet--History--Sources
  • Jews--Europe, Eastern--History--Sources
  • Jews--Migration--History
  • Jews--Population--History
  • Jews--Soviet Union--History--Sources
  • Occupational training for Jews--History--Sources
  • Palestine--History--1929-1948
  • Romania--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Rutgers University--Curricula
  • Rutgers University--Faculty
  • Soviet Union--Ethnic relations--History
  • World ORT Union--History

Contributors

  • Shapiro, Leon

Types of material

  • Oral histories
  • Photographs