The University Archives contains the official and unofficial records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst throughout its evolution from a small agricultural college into a dynamic and complex university. Within the archives are letters and artifacts, records, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the lives of its founders, the pursuits of its faculty, and the changing attitudes of its students and alumni, revealing what high quality public education means to our Commonwealth and nation.
Among the hundreds of discrete collections and over 13,000 linear feet of records are the official papers of Chancellors, Presidents, Trustees, and other administrators; information about the University’s academic units and student organizations; and the founding documents of our sister campuses at Worcester, Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth. The papers of faculty members add a wealth of information about the lives and intellectual pursuits of our campus community as well as their chosen academic disciplines.
Finding things in the archives
A comprehensive alphabetical index of UMass departments, programs, and other units, including acronyms. Each entry includes a reference to the archival Record Group where the records can be found.
YouMass is wiki devoted to the life and history of the campus community.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Research and Graduate Studies, 1984-2007.
Call no.: RG 009
The record group includes publications, organizational charts, and files from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
- Graduate students--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Graduate School
University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Health Science, 1953-2007.
Call no.: RG 012
In response to an epidemic of scarlet fever at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1912 and the death of four students, the Massachusetts Legislature finally appropriated funds to construct an infirmary. Staffed initially by a nurse, and later (1930) by a physician, the infirmary had grown sufficiently by the 1940s to require the creation of a separate department of Student Health. Formal instruction in public health began in 1939 and the first public health department, Bacteriology, was created one year later, followed by Nursing and other departments. In 1973, the School of Health Sciences was formed, comprised of the Division of Nursing, the Division of Public Health, and (after 1975), the Department of Communication Disorders. The School of Health Sciences split into the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing in 1989. In 1993, the School was renamed the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, which provides education for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as health professionals.
Record group consists of annual reports; department histories; accreditation reports; correspondence and memoranda; proposals; technical reports; faculty lists; course descriptions, course of study guides and syllabi; training handbooks and laboratory exercises; brochures and fliers; newsclippings, newsletters and articles; surveys; conference materials; and related materials.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Nursing
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Public Health and Health Sciences
University of Massachusetts Amherst. University Outreach, 2000-2007.
Call no.: RG 016
Helping to fulfill its land grant mission, outreach at UMass Amherst engages the university with the community in economic, social, cultural, environmental, and educational issues. Outreach applies the teaching, research, and knowledge resources of the university with benefit to the public throughout the Commonwealth, nation, and world. The office operates a number of programs, including Continuing & Professional Education, the Extension and Arts Extension Service, the University Without Walls, and WFCR radio.
The records of University Outreach document the initiatives originating with the Vice Chancellor for University Outreach. As a result of the evolution of responsibility for outreach activities, the records of individual programs may be located elsewhere in the archives.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Office of University Outreach
Ralph Van Meter Papers, 1919-1958.
Call no.: RG 003/1 V36
Ralph Van Meter, the first president of the University of Massachusetts after it changed its name from Massachusetts State College in 1947, spent nearly 40 years learning, teaching, and leading on the Amherst campus. A graduate of Ohio State University (B.S., 1917), he came to the Massachusetts Agricultural College as a specialist in Food Conservation in 1917, serving in the Pomology Department first as a professor, and then as the head from 1936 to 1948. The Board of Trustees appointed Van Meter as Acting President in 1947 and President in 1948. He was responsible for a number of innovations, including the creation of the position of Provost (first held by John Paul Mather) and the establishment of new schools of business administration and engineering.
Correspondence, memos, reports, clippings, and other papers, relating to matters at issue during Van Meter’s presidency of University of Massachusetts including the building program, World War II veterans, accreditation, and the university seal; together with published writings, biographical material, military records, and material from Van Meter’s inauguration as university president.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. President
- Van Meter, Ralph Albert, 1893-
Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995.
Call no.: MS 800
An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995. He survived until April 2012.
The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- Civil Rights movements--Africa
- Civil Rights movements--Central America
- Civil Rights movements--Chile
- Civil Rights movements--United States
- Civil Rights movements-Asia
- Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
- Latin America--Periodicals
- Radicalism--United States
- Revolutionary literature
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- Venceremos Brigade
Peter G. Verity Papers, ca.1984-2009.
Call no.: MS 720
After receiving his doctorate from the University of Rhode Island for a study of the physiology and ecology of tintinids in 1984, Peter G. Verity joined the faculty at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. As a Professor of Biological Oceanography, Verity was interested broadly in the ecology of plankton and trophic interactions in the pelagic food web, studying the process of eutrophication and dissolved oxygen in the water column among other topics, and conducting a significant long-term analysis of nutrient variation in estuarine waters. Becoming deeply concerned about the future of oceanic environments and the accelerating decline of coastal ecosystems as a result of his research, Verity took on an increasingly active role in educating teachers about environmental issues. For his efforts, he was awarded the Nick Williams Award for Coastal Sustainability from the Center for a Sustainable Coast. Verity died unexpectedly at home on Dec. 31, 2009.
An important resource for marine ecology and scientific study of the environment, the Verity Papers contain an array of correspondence, research and grant proposals, manuscripts of papers, reprints, and notes of meetings.
- Marine ecology
- Skidaway Institute of Oceanography--Faculty
- Verity, Peter G.
William Gould Vinal Papers, 1931-1963.
Call no.: FS 138
William “Cap’n Bill” Vinal was the first instructor in nature education at Massachusetts State College and a pioneer in the field. A graduate of Bridgewater State (1904), Harvard (MA 1907) and Brown (PhD, 1922), Vinal worked for several years as a camp director on his native Cape Cod and held a variety of university appointments in nature education before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College as Professor of Nature Education in the Nature Guide School in 1937. Spontaneous in the classroom and field, enthusiastic, and highly popular with his students, Vinal taught courses in conservation, outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation, and nature guiding, and was an important figure in the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the American Camping Association, the Camp Directors Association, and several conservation groups. After retiring from UMass in 1951, Vinal returned to his home in Norwell, Mass., remaining active as a nature writer and teacher until his death in 1973.
A valuable glimpse into the early growth of nature and conservation education, the Vinal collection includes dozens of scarce publications by the exceptionally prolific Cap’n Bill, along with a small quantity of correspondence, talks, and reports. As a collection, these document the origin and growth of the Nature Guide School and the program in nature recreation at MSC and UMass, and more generally the growth of nature, recreation, and conservation education in New England. Of local interest is an extensive report for the town of Amherst Recreation Survey Committee (1948) regarding recreational opportunities for youth. Nearly half of the collection consists of an extensive run of Vinal’s quirky, self-published Nature Guide Newsletter (1935-1951).
- Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Conservation of natural resources--Study and teaching
- Nature Guide Newsletter
- Outdoor education--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nature Guide School
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Nature Recreation
- Vinal, William Gould, 1881-
Walther R. Volbach Papers, 1897-1996.
Call no.: FS 087
Born in Mainz, Germany on December 24, 1897, the theater historian and stage director Walther R. Volbach began directing operas and plays at the age of 17. After his immigration to the United States in 1936, he worked for several colleges, coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for five years as a visiting professor following his retirement in 1965. Noted as a director of operas and plays and for his set design, Volbach was author of three books: The Problems of Opera Production (1953), Adolphe Appia : The Prophet of The Modern Theatre (1968), and Memoirs of Max Reinhardt’s Theaters (1972).
The Volbach collection includes personal and professional correspondence in English and German, mostly from Volbach’s later years, regarding family, publishing, lectures, and employment. The collection also includes photographs of set designs, an image of Volbach teaching a class, publications, and lecture and research notes on theater history.
- Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928
- Drama--Study and teaching
- Set designers
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
- Volbach, Walther R. (Walther Richard), 1897-
George L. Waldbott Papers, 1930-1989 (Bulk: 1957-1982).
Call no.: MS 609
After receiving his medical degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1921, George L. Waldbott accepted a residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and embarked on a pioneering career in the study and treatment of allergic diseases. He is noted for his fundamental research on human anaphylaxis and penicillin shock, allergy-induced respiratory problems, and later in his career, the health impact of air pollutants. In 1955, Waldbott began conducting research in fluoride toxicity, becoming one of the first physicians to warn of the health effects of mass fluoridation. A founder of the International Society for Fluoride Research, he was considered one of the key figures in the antifluoridation movement for over two decades, contributing dozens of books and articles, including the influential The American Fluoridation Experiment (1957) and Fluoridation : The Great Dilemma (1978). He died in Detroit on July 17, 1982, from complications following open heart surgery.
The Waldbott Papers document one physician’s long struggle against the fluoridation of the American water supply. In addition to a considerable quantity of correspondence with other leading antifluoridation activists, the collection includes an array of subject files relating to fluoridation, air pollution, and allergens, as well as drafts of articles and offprints, newsclippings, and notes.
- Antifluoridation movement--Michigan
- Fluorides--Environmental aspects
- Public health
- Waldbott, George L., 1898-