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William Putnam Papers, 1840-1886

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 014

For several decades in the mid-nineteenth century, William Putnam (1792-1877) and his family operated a general store in Wendell Depot, Massachusetts, situated strategically between the canal and the highway leading to Warwick. Serving an area that remains rural to the present day, Putnam dealt in a range of essential merchandise, trading in lumber and shingles, palm leaf, molasses and sugar, tea, tobacco, quills, dishes, cloth and ribbon, dried fish, crackers, and candy. At various times, he was authorized by the town Selectmen to sell “intoxicating liquors” (brandy, whiskey, and rum) for “Medicinal, chemical and mechanical purposes only,” and for a period, he served as postmaster for Wendell Depot.

The daybooks and correspondence of William Putnam record the daily transactions of an antebellum storekeeper in rural Wendell, Massachusetts. Offering a dense record of transactions from 1840-1847, the daybooks provide a chronological accounting of all sales and credits in the store, including barter with local residents of the community and with contractors for the new Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad. The last in the series of daybooks lists a surprisingly high percentage of Wendell’s residents (by name, in alphabetical order) who owed him money as of October 1846. The correspondence associated with the collection continues into the 1880s and provides relatively slender documentation of Putnam’s litigiousness, his financial difficulties after the Civil War, and the efforts of his son John William to continue the business.


  • Barter--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Consumer goods--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Consumers--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • General stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Liquor stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Panama hat industry--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Schools--Massachusetts--Wendell
  • Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad
  • Wendell (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Wendell (Mass.)--History--19th century


  • Putnam, William

Types of material

  • Daybooks

Quabbin Clipping Collection, 1888-1983

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 040

To meet the growing needs for potable water in the Boston metropolitan region, the Massachusetts state legislature ordered the evacuation of the relatively sparsely populated towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott, as well as portions of other adjoining towns such as New Salem, to make way for the construction of a massive reservoir. Over the course of almost two decades, the population of the towns was systematically relocated, the houses moved or razed, and bed of the future reservoir was stripped of trees and brush. The last remaining residents of the region were removed in 1938 and the four primary towns were officially disincorporated as the dam was completed and the waters began to rise.

A collection of newspaper clippings documenting the Swift River Valley towns that were evacuated to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir, including Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, Millington (New Salem), and Prescott. The clippings are concentrated on the towns’ final days and include an incomplete run of The Springfield Union series, “Letters from Quabbin,” series, which recorded the history of the Quabbin Reservoir from site selection to the relocation of houses and people and the disbanding of local organizations and communities.


  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--History
  • New Salem (Mass.)--History
  • Prescott (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History

Types of material

  • Clippings (Information artifacts)

Joseph Rankin Papers, 1832-1866

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 147

A dry goods merchant and chair maker in Erving, Massachusetts, Joseph Rankin dealt in a variety of goods from Boston to Hartford, selling chairs as far away as New York City and Chicago. Rankin’s store supplied the essentials: produce, hardware, news, and gossip.

This collection contains an assortment of correspondence and receipts documenting the nature of business in small town Massachusetts, with small glimpses of the growth of the furniture trade in Franklin County.


  • Cabinetmakers--Massachusetts--Erving
  • Dry goods--Massachusetts--Erving
  • Erving (Mass.)--History
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--Erving

Henry Gustave Reinsch Papers, 1942-1960

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 527

Born in Germany in 1888, Henry Gustave Reinsch became an American citizen in 1912, serving in the military during the First World War, marrying an American girl, and starting a family. In 1942, however, two FBI agents showed up at Reinsch’s office, and a year later, Reinsch’s citizenship was revoked when he was accused by the U.S. government of living a double life — publicly loyal to America, privately loyal to Germany. Reinsch appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court and won. His citizenship was reinstated in 1945.

The Reinsch Papers contains newspaper clippings, personal and business correspondence, and official documents pertaining to both citizenship trials, that tell of uncommon wartime experiences.


  • Citizenship, Loss of--United States
  • Fascists--United States
  • German Americans--Washington
  • Silver Shirts of America (Organization)
  • World War, 1939-1945--German Americans


  • Reinsch, Bernice
  • Reinsch, Henry Gustave

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)

Iona Mae Reynolds Papers, 1927-2002

1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 012

After receiving her B.S. from Massachusetts State College in 1941 and M.S. in microbiology from UMass in 1957, Iona Mae Reynolds embarked upon a teaching career of over 30 years in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, later serving as the school’s Assistant Director. In 1985 Reynolds was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for her service to the University as a faculty member and her many years on the associate alumni Board of Directors.

The Reynolds Papers include reunion materials, photographs, and writings, as well as a small collection of UMass memorabilia.


  • Massachusetts State College--Alumni and alumnae
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Stockbridge School of Agriculture


  • Reynolds, Iona Mae

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Realia

Rodney Hunt Company Records, ca.1850-1987 (Bulk: 1862-1943)

316 boxes, 150 vols. (158 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 105

The Rodney Hunt Company Records document the operation of one of the region’s major producers of textile machinery, water wheels, turbines, and other specialty industrial products. Founded in Orange, Massachusetts, in 1840, the company was incorporated in 1873. Still an active concern, it continues to sell its products in international markets.

Due to a fire in 1882, and several floods, relatively few early records of the Rodney Hunt Company survive, but from the time of its incorporation in 1873, documentation improves, with nearly complete coverage from the period 1883–1914. The collection provides an excellent introduction to the history of technology and industry in 19th- and 20th-century Massachusetts. Of particular note is the incoming correspondence from 1876 to 1903, which is nearly complete. Other materials include company histories, correspondence, board minutes, blueprints, installation drawings, sketchbook drawings, patents, payroll ledgers, account books, price lists, sales books, brochures, catalogs, newsletters, subject files and photographs.


  • Orange (Mass.)--Economic conditions
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts
  • Turbines--Design and construction
  • Waterwheels


  • Rodney Hunt Company

Types of material

  • Account books

Laura M. Ross Papers, 1945-2003 (Bulk: 1967-1990)

13 boxes (6.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 515
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.


  • 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


  • Ross, Laura

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.


  • Underground literature--Soviet Union

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.


  • 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


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

Types of material

  • Account books

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).


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


  • Sanders, Paul Samuel

Types of material

  • Sermons

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