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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

Learn more:

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Quaker History Collection

1783-1950
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 926

During the early twentieth century, the library at the Moses Brown School (formerly the Friends Boarding School) became an informal repository for Quaker manuscripts reflecting the history and work of the Society of Friends. Most of these materials were later transferred for custody to the school’s governing body, the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.” Many of the letters appear to have been retained as good examples of Quaker expression of family and friendly bonds or as documentation about significant periods in Quaker history, particularly the Gurneyite-Wilburite controversy of the 1840s, and several touch on Quaker involvement in the antislavery and peace movements. Of special note are four interesting letters from the Quaker minister and social reformer, Elizabeth Comstock, written during and just after the Civil War; a series of nine lengthy letters from a visiting English minister Isaac Stephenson, traveling through New England meetings; a substantial series of letters from prominent Friend Samuel Boyd Tobey; and three letters from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Sarah F. Tobey regarding attempts to connect Stowe with Alexander T. Stewart in hopes of raising funds for her plans for the education of women.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016

Subjects

  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Gurney, James Joseph
  • Society of Friends--History
  • Wilbur, John,

Contributors

  • Comstock, Elizabeth L.
  • Stewart, Alexander Turney, 1803-1876
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
  • Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867
Newhall, James R. (James Robinson), 1809-1893

James Robinson Newhall Account Book

1851-1883
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 177 bd

Prominent lawyer, judge, and author from Lynn, Massachusetts. Includes services as lawyer and judge (such as selling stocks, writing wills, mortgage notices, and lien certificates, and acting as administrator of estates), mention of various court cases, family members, and prominent townspeople. Also contains personal records pertaining to a rental property, and the sale of his book, History of Lynn.

Subjects

  • Curtin, Martha
  • Green, Benjamin F
  • Guardian and ward--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Hazeltine, Phebe
  • Hilton, John
  • Judges--Massachusetts--Lynn--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Lawyers--Massachusetts--Lynn--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Lindsay, James N
  • Merritt, Charles
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary--History
  • Munroe, James
  • Newhall, James R. (James Robinson), 1809-1893. History of Lynn
  • Practice of law--Massachusetts--Lynn--History--19th century
  • Rent charges--Massachusetts--Lynn--History--19th century
  • Rental housing--Massachusetts--Lynn--History--19th century
  • Usher, Roland
  • Vennard, John C

Contributors

  • Newhall, James R. (James Robinson), 1809-1893

Types of material

  • Account books
Newland, Jacob and John E.

Jacob and John E. Newland Account Book

1798-1849
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 197 bd

Jacob Newland and his son John Everit Newland were farmers in Mansfield, Mass., during the earlynational period. A Revolutionary War veteran, Jacob died in 1823, leaving much of his operation to John, his second son.

The account book kept by Jacob Newland and later John E. Newland of Mansfield, Massachusetts, details much about the work of these farmers and their interaction with neighbors in eastern Mansfield during the early nineteenth century. The customers, most of whom seem to have been fellow farmers, made frequent use of the Newlands’ animals and animal-drawn vehicles (carriage, “waggon,” “slay”) for riding and work, in addition to purchasing products, using the Newlands’ labor, and leasing pasture land. The book also served as a leaf press and scrapbook for newspaper items bearing upon the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, mention of social events and anniversaries, children’s sayings, short romantic fiction, and as a copybook for poetry.

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987

Subjects

  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Mansfield

Contributors

  • Newland, John E. (John Everit)

Types of material

  • Account books
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

Subjects

  • World War, 1914-1918

Types of material

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
Nichols, Reuben

Reuben Nichols, The adventures and ramblings of a sailor

1840
1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 901 bd

The son of a Revolutionary War veteran from Fairfield County, Conn., Reuben Nichols went to sea as teenager and spent a quarter of a century sailing the Atlantic aboard merchant ships and privateers. After rising to become master of the New York and Savannah packets Exact and Angelique in the 1830s, he retired to a life on shore near Bridgeport.

This vigorous account of a life on the antebellum seas runs Nichols’ childhood hardships through a series of adventures at sea in war and peace. An observant and effective writer, Nichols describes voyages to western and northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and South America during and after the War of 1812. During a colorful career, he took part in the operations of warships and privateers, witnessed attempted mutinies and desertions, rescued the abolitionist John Hopper from a mob in Georgia, and was drawn into the struggles for colonial liberation. His experiences aboard the privateer Kemp and descriptions of Haiti, Cape Verde, Spain, Gibraltar, Turkey, and Argentina are particularly evocative.

Acquired from William Reese, Mar. 2016

Subjects

  • Abolitionists--Georgia
  • Argentina--Description and travel--19th century
  • Aruba--Description and travel--19th century
  • Gibraltar--Description and travel--19th century
  • Haiti--Description and travel--19th century
  • Hopper, John, 1815-1865
  • Merchant ships--Connecticut
  • Mutiny
  • Privateering
  • Sailors--Connecticut
  • Spain--Description and travel--19th century
  • Stratford (Conn.)--History
  • Turkey--Description and travel--19th century
  • United States--History--War of 1812--Naval operations

Types of material

  • Autobiographies
  • Memoirs
North Center School District (Hatfield, Mass.)

North Center School District Records

1818-1833
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 442

The North Center School District in Hatfield, Massachusetts, was established in 1812, when the town divided into three school districts.

The collection consists of seventeen handwritten documents including financial records, a report and recipes relating to the North Center School District in Hatfield, Massachusetts, representing the period from 1818 to 1833. While not a comprehensive collection, the items nonetheless offer insight into education at the turn of the century, especially the sorts of expenses accrued in maintaining a small town schoolhouse.

Subjects

  • Education--Massachusetts--Hatfield
  • Hatfield (Mass.)--History
  • Massachusetts--History--1775-1865
  • Recipes--Massachusetts
  • School records--Massachusetts
  • Schools--Records and Correspondence

Contributors

  • Allis, Dexter
  • Bardwell, Elijah
  • Bardwell, Remembrance
  • Dickinson, Solomon
  • Morton, Chester
  • Morton, Jeremy
  • North Center School District (Hatfield, Mass.)
  • Porter, Theodore
  • Waite, Daniel
  • Waite, Justin
Nourse, Rebecca Towne

Rebecca Towne Nourse Collection

1944-1993
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1023

Rebecca Nourse, born on October 5, 1928, was Laurence G. Nourse’s second child. Laurence, a graduate of Dartmouth College, was a long time educator and served as the Superintendent of Schools for Norton, Mass. from 1924 to 1958. Rebecca was born with intellectual disabilities and after attending the Norton Public Schools and the Deveraux School, now known as Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, she was committed to the Belchertown State School in 1949. She remained at Belchertown for eleven years, transferring to the Laconia State School in Laconia, New Hampshire so she could be closer to her parents’ home in Deery. Rebecca died on March 12, 1993.

The Rebecca T. Nourse Collection though small, paints a rich portrait of the challenges of managing a daughter’s care in a State institution. The collection is made up of Laurence’s correspondence leading up to Rebecca’s commitment and with State School administration about issues ranging from replacing Rebecca’s broken glasses to attempts to make her tuition more affordable for their family. There are also a small number of letters from Rebecca to her father and mother and Rebecca’s commitment papers, school reports, certificates, brochures, and her death certificate.

Subjects

  • Mental retardation--Social aspects
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Institutional care--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Belchertown State School
  • Nourse, Laurence G.

Types of material

  • Correspondence
Nye, Thomas, 1768-1842

Thomas Nye Cashbook

1830-1842
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 227 bd

Agent or part-owner of a firm, who may have been a ship’s chandler, from Fairhaven and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Includes personal expenses and business accounts (large bills for firms and small bills for labor, repairs, food, blacksmithing, and other items and services). Cash book is made up of six smaller cash books bound together; also contains lists of deaths in the family and notations of the lading of several ships.

Subjects

  • Fairhaven (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--New Bedford--Economic conditions--19th century
  • New Bedford (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Nye family

Contributors

  • Nye, Thomas, 1768-1842
  • T. and A.R. Nye (Firm)

Types of material

  • Account books
Obear, Clark H.

Clark Hopkins Obear Diaries

1845-1888
4 vols. 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 601

A resident of New Ipswich, N.H., Clark Obear was an ardent supporter of the temperance and antislavery movements, and was deeply involved in the affairs of his church and community. A teacher in Hillsborough County schools, Obear also worked as a farmer and insurance agent, and served in public office as a deputy sheriff, a Lieutenant Colonel in the militia, a fence viewer and pound keeper, and for several years he was superintendent of schools. Obear and his wife Lydia Ann (Swasey) had two children, Annabel and Francis.

The four diaries in this collection contain brief, but regular entries documenting Clark Obear’s daily life in New Ipswich, N.H. during the middle years of the nineteenth century. Despite their brevity, the diaries form a continuous coverage of many years and offer details that provide a compelling sense of the rhythms of life in a small New Hampshire village. Of particular note, Obear carefully notes the various lectures he attends in town and the organizations of which he is part, including reform movements like temperance and antislavery.

Acquired from Benjamin Katz, Apr. 2009

Subjects

  • Abolitionists--New Hampshire
  • Antislavery movements--New Hampshire
  • New Ipswich (N.H.)--History
  • Temperance--New Hampshire

Contributors

  • Obear, Clark H.

Types of material

  • Diaries