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. Academic Departments, Programs, Institutes, Centers, 1870-2007.
Call no.: RG 025
The academic departments at UMass Amherst are organized within ten schools and colleges. Among the more than 88 degree programs in 2009, 74 confer masters degrees, and 53 confer doctorates.
Containing the records of individual academic departments, programs, institutes, and centers, Record Group 25 documents the shifting history of disciplinarity and departmental affairs at UMass Amherst. The papers of individual faculty members are contained within the Faculty and Staff (FS) collections and are indexed separately in UMarmot.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment, 1882-2007.
Call no.: RG 015
During its first seventy five years, the mission of Massachusetts Agricultural College gradually expanded from its original focus on teaching the science of agriculture and horticulture. Coping with the changing demands of research and teaching in a disparate array of fields, responsibilities for the administration of University units were reorganized at several points, culminating in the formation of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment in 1993.
This record group consists of Dean’s annual reports, organizational charts, personnel lists, committee minutes, lecture materials, data sheets, maps and census statistics, conference proceedings, course catalogs, directories, publications, handbooks, records of the Agricultural Experiment Station, photographs and audio-visual materials, and other related materials.
Access restrictions: Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require advance notification for retrieval.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Agricultural Experiment Station
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Stockbridge School of Agriculture
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Library, 1876-2007.
Call no.: RG 008
Beginning in a room in the first South College building, filled with books donated by faculty, staff, and students, the University Library has grown to include over three million items. After expanding into larger quarters in the Old Chapel Building in 1884 (the first campus building designed as a library), the library was relocated to Goodell Hall (1935) and the University Library tower (1973), named the W.E.B. Du Bois Library in 1996. Other library facilities on campus have included libraries for the biological sciences, physical sciences, and the Music Library, as well as the Integrated Science and Engineering Library in the Lederle Graduate Research Center.
The collection consists of basic administrative records of many library departments, the records of the Library Director (1924-1975), other materials that document the library, its staff and activities, and information about the design, construction, and dedication of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library tower, the Hampshire Inter-Library Center (HILC), and Five College cooperation.
- Academic libraries--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Student Body, 1867-2007.
Call no.: RG 045
Since the arrival of the first class of students at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1867, the student body at UMass has grown to over 20,500 undergraduates and nearly 6,000 graduate students.
Record Group 45 includes the collected records of student activities at UMass Amherst, from student publications and organizations (fraternities and sororities, unions, and honorary societies) to records of student government, student protests, and religious and social groups. Also included are class notes and correspondence of some individual students while enrolled in the University.
- Aggie Life
- Bay State Ruralist
- College Signal
- College students--Massachusetts
- Greek letter societies--Massachusetts
- Student newspapers and periodicals--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Publications Collection, 1869-2011.
Call no.: RG 045/00
Since almost the time of first arrival of students at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1867, the college’s students have taken an active role in publishing items for their own consumption. Beginning with the appearance of the first yearbook, put together by the pioneer class during their junior year in 1870 and followed by publication of the first, short-lived newspaper, The College Monthly in 1887, students have been responsible for dozens of publications from literature to humor to a range of politically- and socially-oriented periodicals.
This series consists of the collected student publications from Massachusetts Agricultural College, Massachusetts State College, and UMass Amherst, including student newspapers, magazines, newsletters, inserts, yearbooks, and songbooks. Publications range from official publications emanating from the student body to unofficial works by student interest groups or academic departments. Links to digitized versions of the periodicals are supplied when available.
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
- Massachusetts State College--Students
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
Types of material
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Trustees, 1864-2007.
Call no.: RG 002
When Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew incorporated the Board of Trustees for the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863, the fourteen members of the board were charged with creating a new agricultural college. Since that time, the Board of Trustees (including student trustees) had governed the University, meeting regularly to act on University-wide matters of policy, mission, finance, and campus maintenance. Governance responsibilities in some areas (e.g., tuition, academic program review and approval) are shared with the statewide Board of Higher Education. The Board of Trustees maintains a Chair and six standing committees: Executive, Administration and Finance, Academic and Student Affairs, Athletics, Audit, and External Affairs. The President and the Five College Chancellors administer board policy.
The bulk of the Board of Trustees records consists of meeting minutes (1906-2007) and Trustee Documents (1963-2007), along with the papers of a small number of individual trustees and the records of the Trustees’ “Commission on the Future of the University of Massachusetts” (1988-1989), which resulted in the consolidation of the state’s five public university campuses under a single President and Board of Trustees. In partnership with the Board of Trustees, SCUA has digitized the complete minutes of the Board from chartering of the university in 1863 through 2004.
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Trustees
- Massachusetts State College. Trustees
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Trustees
Types of material
Rae Unzicker Papers, 1979-1997.
Call no.: MS 818
Rae Unzicker’s exposure to the psychiatric system began at a young age. Growing up in an abusive home, her parents sent her to psychiatrists off and on for years before she was involuntarily committed. While there, she was quickly introduced to the chaotic and damaging atmosphere of a psychiatric institution, exposing her to mandatory drugs, seclusion rooms, forced feeding, and work “therapy” that required her to wash dishes six hours a day. Once she was release, Unzicker’s road to recovery was long, but after several suicide attempts and stays at other treatment facilities, she ultimately counted herself–along with her friend Judi Chamberlin, an early leader in the movement–a psychiatric survivor. Like Chamberlin, Unzicker embraced her role as an advocate of patient’s rights and for the radical transformation of the mental-health system. In 1995, President Clinton appointed her to the National Council on Disability; two years later she was elected president of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). Unzicker was widely known for her public appearances, conferences and speeches, and her writings, including numerous articles and contributions to the book Beyond Bedlam: Contemporary Women Psychiatric Survivors Speak Out. A survivor of cancer of the jaw and breast, Rae Unzicker died at her home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 22, 2001 at the age of 52.
Although a small collection, Rae Unzicker’s papers document her activities as a leading advocate for the rights of mental health patients, including transcripts of speeches and videotaped appearances, correspondence and feedback related to workshops and conferences, press kits, and newspaper clippings. The most important materials, however, are her writings. It is through her poems and her full-length memoir, You Never Gave Me M & M’s, that Unzicker’s story and voice are preserved.
- Ex-mental patients
- People with disabilities--Civil rights
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
- Unzicker, Rae
Types of material
Valley Light Opera Records, 1977-2005.
Call no.: MS 476
Founded in 1975 by a group of Gilbert and Sullivan devotees, the Valley Light Opera is based in Amherst, Massachusetts. VLO presents one fully staged opera and one less formal production every year, and over the years the company has presented all fourteen of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas at least once.
This collection contains a wonderful visual record of VLO productions with literally hunderds of photographs capturing dozens of performances. The collection contains, too, records that document the company’s activities from the moment an opera is selected to be performed to last curtain call.
- Theatrical companies--Massachusetts
- Valley Light Opera
Who can use the collections?
Special Collections and University Archives is open at no cost to researchers, regardless of affiliation, during normal business hours. SCUA staff are happy to assist in planning or conducting research and welcome inquiries from students interested in internships in archival and library studies.
Although research appointments are not required, advance notice will help our staff to locate and retrieve research materials. First-time researchers will be asked to register and to provide name, institutional affiliation (when applicable), and current address. At registration, researchers must present a valid form of identification, including a photograph.
In the reading room
- Please sign in at the front desk each visit
- Only pencils and laptop computers may be used for taking notes. Please do not use pens.
- Smoking, food, and drink are not permitted
- Cell phones should be switched off or set to silent mode; calls may be taken in the adjacent elevator lobby
- Care and handling of materials
- Please use care in handling manuscripts and books to prevent damage
- Use only a single box of manuscript or archival material at a time; take care to preserve the existing arrangement of files
- Photographs for research purposes are permitted; check with a staff member first
- Scans and photocopies are made by staff members in keeping with our copying policies
- Upon leaving for the day, please notify the staff whether you are finished with your material or wish to place it on hold for a return visit
Instruction in SCUA
Classes are welcome to visit SCUA to make use of our collections and to learn about archival and historical research. Our staff are available to provide introductions to archival research, overviews of specific areas of historical interest, information about the collections, and discussions of the history of UMass Amherst. In recent years, the staff have hosted classes from history and American culture, African American studies, English and comparative literature, art history, education, anthropology, politics, business, and library and information science, among other disciplines.
To avoid scheduling conflicts, class visits should be arranged ahead of time. Please include the following information when contacting SCUA:
- Name of instructor or contact
- Date(s) requested, with start and finish time
- Number of students
- Subject area and research interests
- Special requests (for collections)