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Meyer, Richard E., 1939-

Richard E. Meyer Collection

1948-2007 Bulk: 1980-2007
31 boxes 15.5 linear feet
Call no.: PH 072
Image of

A member of the English and Folklore faculty at Western Oregon University, Richard E. Meyer studied at Northwestern University and the Universities of Washington and Oregon. A prolific author, he has published on topics ranging from British and American literature to American folklore, but particularly on the culture and history of the American cemetery and gravemarkers. A founder of the Cemeteries and Gravemarkers section of the American Culture Association (1986) and longtime member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, serving as editor of its journal, Markers, for twelve years, Meyer has delivered dozens of talks on the subject, is co-author (with Peggy McDowell) of The Revival Styles in American Memorial Art (1994), and editor of Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture (1989) and Ethnicity and the American Cemetery (1993).

During the course of his extensive research in cemeteries throughout the United States and Europe, Meyer documented over 20,000 grave monuments. His collection consists of over 16,000 color slides and 200 black and white photographs, all meticulously well-identified, of gravestones and cemeteries. Meyer also collected ephemera and realia relating to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to commemoration of the dead of the First World War.

Gift of Richard E. Meyer, May 2016
  • Cemeteries
  • Gravestones
  • Sepulchral monuments
  • Soldiers' monuments
  • Tomb of the Unknowns (Va.)
Types of material
  • Photographs

Miller Family

Miller Family Photographs

1 boxes, 1 oversize envelope 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 119

Four generations of the Miller family from Roxbury and Hull, Massachusetts. Includes photographs mounted on twenty-eight sheets of posterboard and 158 slides stored in two slide trays that are comprised of formal and informal family portraits; family businesses; church and business gatherings; a wedding announcement; and postcards from the early 1900s depicting public recreation sites. More recent photographs reveal how the public recreation sites have changed over the years. Robert Parker Miller, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a member of the Miller family, displayed these images in an exhibit entitled “Trying to Live the American Dream” (1986, Wheeler Gallery).

  • Family--United States--History
  • Hull (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--19th century--Photographs
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century--Photographs
  • Roxbury (Mass.)--Pictorial works
  • Miller family
Types of material
  • Photographs

Mission and history


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.

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Morris, William, 1834-1896

William Morris, The friendship of Amis and Amile

1 item 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 362 bd

A leader in the English Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris translated the ancient French romance, Amis and Amile, in 1894, one of a number of romances he published in his literary efforts to restore the middle ages.

This holograph copy of Morris’s short story was prepared for the Kelmscott Press in 1894 and printed in a run of 500. The first American edition appeared later that year, published by Thomas Bird Mosher.

  • Kelmscott Press
  • Morris, William, 1834-1896
Types of material
  • Holographs (Autographs)

Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Samuel E. Murray Papers

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.

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

New England Association of Teachers of English

New England Association of Teachers of English Records

1901-2001 Bulk: 1901-1938
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1011

Formed by a group of 300 teachers in New England in 1901, the New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE) was the first association of teachers of English in the U.S. Open to all teachers of English from elementary schoolteachers to college deans, NEATE’s focus on the principles and practices of teaching English was as new as the addition of the study of English into the early 20th century curriculum.

While the collection is expected to grow, it currently consists of two published histories of the organization and two early record books of NEATE ranging in date from 1901-1938. These record books include issues of the Leaflet, the organization’s publication; conference programs; notes and minutes; newspaper articles; agendas; and some financial records.

  • English teachers--New England
  • Teachers--History--19th century
  • Teachers--History--20th century
  • New England Association of Teachers of English

New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

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New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records

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.

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

Newth, Frank F. (Frank Forrest)

Frank F. Newth Papers

1914-1979 Bulk: 1914-1919
5 boxes 2.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1012
Image of Frank Newth, ca.1918
Frank Newth, ca.1918

Frank “Nick” Newth was born in Lynn, Mass., on Oct. 9, 1895, the son of shoe cutter Charles H. Newth and his wife Mary Hobart Brackett. A talented baseball player in high school, Newth used his sport connections to become a manager, and eventually owner, of a billiard parlor. On October 5, 1917, however, he was drafted for service in the First World War an deployed to France with the Quartermaster Corps in January 1918. Unusually, for mpst of his service, Newth was posted in northwestern France (Abbeville, Amiens, Rouen) as a disbursement officer for American troops serving with the British Expeditionary Force an then disbursing to the wounded in base hospitals. He was promoted to Corporal in May 1918, and ended his overseas service in May 1919 as a Sergeant working with the Quartermaster’s financial unit. After returning home, Newth married his longtime sweetheat Letitia “Letty” Crane, with whom he raised a family of four. He worked as proprietor of the New Buick Billiard Hall until 1928, when he opened a successful business selling rubber tires in southern New England. Newth died on May 29, 1979, and is buried in the Forest Chapel Cemetery in Barrington, R.I.

The Newth collection consists of many dozens of letters written between Frank Newth and his fiancee Letty and other members of his family back home in Lynn, Mass., while hs served with the Quartermaster Corps in the First World War. Although his letters are subject to the censorship typical of that war, Newth was an excellent and observent writer and because often served near the front, but in a support role, he had time and energy to write. His affection for Letty (and hers for him) come through in every letter, but Newth also discusses his duties in the service, recreation and travel, and the sights and people of France. The collection also includes a fine letter describing the reelief after the Armistice went into effect; a brief, but outstanding typed diary kept during the early months of his overseas service; and a small handful of pamphlets, keepsakes, and official papers.

Gift of Lee Roberts, Jan. 1918
  • World War, 1914-1918
Types of material
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs

Newton, Levi

Levi Newton Diary

1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 998 bd

A farmer living in the Quabbin region, Levi Newton spent most of his life within a few miles of the adjoining towns of North Dana and New Salem. Born in 1830, Newton was married three times and raised two sons and a daughter. He died in New Salem in 1919.

Written at a time when his son Willie was living at home and his wife Persis was struggling with her health, Levi Newton’s pocket diary is a terse record of the daily life of a farmer in the great Quabbin region. Little more than a sentence or two in length, each entry makes quick note of the weather, travel, and Levi’s and Willie’s activities for the day, but there are relatively frequent references to the ailments and ultimate death of Persis and occasional notes on the anniversaries of the death of family members. The Newtons raised wheat, potatoes, cattle, hay, and oats on their farm and occasionally record hauling logs and other miscellaneous work.

  • Farmers--Massachusetts--North Dana
  • Newton family
  • Newton, Persis Pratt
  • North Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Wives--Death--Massachusetts--North Dana
Types of material
  • Diaries