Special Collections and University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries

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Votes for women, Enfield Collection
Votes for Women, ca.1919 (Enfield Collection)

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses approximately 40,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.

Beyond New England, SCUA has developed strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the literature of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era and the works of an eclectic assortment of poets and writers. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to Cold War culture: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.


All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog and summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles, are included in SCUA’s own online catalog, UMarmot.

Selected areas of collecting interest:

Agriculture, horticulture, natural history

The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, organic agriculture, pomology, sustainability, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Cookery in New England

Knox gelatin
The Collection

The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.

European history and culture

Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).

Gay and Lesbian Literature

The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.

Literary collections

Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press; records of the Cummington School for the Arts and Massachusetts Review; and the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of Charles Lamb, William Morris, and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers. We are stewards of the papers of several writers from New England and collect their works comprehensively, including Andrew Coburn, Mary Doyle Curran, Mary McGarry Morris, Raymond Mungo, Jodi Picoult, and Harvey Swados.

New England history and culture

Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard
Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard

Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends collection contains thousands of books, pamphlets, and periodicals relating to Quaker history from the seventeenth century to the present. With an emphasis on New England Quakerism, these collections include the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and libraries amassed by several monthly and quarterly meetings. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Social change

Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.

Learn more:

Ebenezer Akin Account Book, 1842-1869

1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 220 bd

Businessman, town clerk, owner or part-owner of many ships, merchant, lawyer, and involved citizen in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Includes activities as town clerk, accounts for ships he may have owned, entries made as the executor of several estates, accounts of expenditures for clothing and incidentals, and accounts of lot purchases and loans. Also contains genealogical information about the Blossom family of Bridgewater and the family of Benjamin and Eunice Akin.


  • Akin, Benjamin, 1715-1802
  • Akin, Eunice
  • Blossom family
  • Clothing and dress--Prices--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • Fairhaven (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Fairhaven (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
  • Hesper (Bark)
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • Napoleon (Ship)
  • Shipowners--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • Shipping--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
  • William Rotch (Ship)
  • Winthrop (Bark)


  • Akin, Ebenezer, 1816-

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Genealogies
  • Inventories of decedents estates

Ebenezer Bailey Papers, 1852-1882

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 448

Ebenezer Bailey was a wholesale shoe purchaser and distributor from Massachusetts. The collection comprises just over 100 items, the bulk of which are receipts for the purchase and sale of shoes and slippers, covering the period from 1852 to 1882.


  • Business records--Massachusetts
  • Dearborn, J. J
  • Lynn (Mass.)--History
  • Shoe industry--Massachusetts--Lynn
  • Shoe industry--New England--History--19th century


  • Bailey, Ebenezer

Types of material

  • Receipts (Financial records)

Joseph Laurence Black History of the Book Collection, 1789-1964

128 items (3 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 023
The Woman Trapper (1908)
The Woman Trapper (1908)

A scholar of early modern British literature, Joe Black received his BA and PhD from the University of Toronto and taught for several years at the University of Tennessee Knoxville before joining the English faculty at UMass Amherst in 1994. Rooted in the history of the book, his research on seventeenth-century literature has examined the intersection between writing and the material and social context of production as well as the dialogue between print and manuscript culture.

The Black collection is an eclectic assemblage of American imprints designed to assist study and instruction in the history of the book. The collection includes two long runs of pulp novels, Beadle’s Frontier Series and the American Revolution-inspired Liberty Boys of ’76, examples of almanacs, prompt books, and works form the early national period in publishers’ bindings.


  • Books--History--United States
  • Dime novels, American

Types of material

  • Almanacs
  • Scrapbooks

Brinley Family Papers, 1643-1950

(4.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 161
Deborah Brinley and infant son Francis, 1729<br />Copy by Charles U. Bond (1830)<br />after John Smibert
Deborah Brinley and infant son Francis, 1729
Copy by Charles U. Bond (1830)
after John Smibert

A prosperous family of merchants and landowners, the Brinleys were well ensconced among the social and political elite of colonial New England. Connected by marriage to other elite families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts — the Auchmutys, Craddocks, and Tyngs among them — the Brinleys were refined, highly educated, public spirited, and most often business-minded. Although many members of the family remained loyal to the British cause during the Revolution, the family retained their high social standing in the years following.

The Brinley collection includes business letters, legal and business records, wills, a fragment of a diary, documents relating to slaves, newspaper clippings, and a small number of paintings and artifacts. A descendent, Nancy Brinley, contributed a quantity of genealogical research notes and photocopies of Brinley family documents from other repositories. Of particular note in the collection is a fine nineteenth century copy of a John Smibert portrait of Deborah Brinley (1719), an elegant silver tray passed through the generations, and is a 1713 list of the library of Francis Brinley, which offers a foreshadowing of the remarkable book collection put together in the later nineteenth century by his descendant George Brinley.


  • American loyalists--Massachusetts
  • Book collectors--United States--History--19th century
  • Brinley family
  • Brinley, George, 1817-1875--Library
  • Businessmen--Massachusetts--History
  • Businessmen--Rhode Island--History
  • Craddock family
  • Landowners--Massachusetts--History
  • Landowners--Rhode Island--History
  • Libraries--Rhode Island--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Economic conditions--18th century
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--19th century
  • Rhode Island--Economic conditions--18th century
  • Rhode Island--Genealogy
  • Rhode Island--Politics and government--19th century
  • Slavery--United States--History
  • Tyng family
  • United Empire Loyalists

Types of material

  • Deeds
  • Realia

Sadie Campbell Papers, 1812-2002

19 boxes (10.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 439
Sadie Campbell and sons Harold and Robert Leslie
Sadie Campbell and sons Harold and Robert Leslie

A housewife, mother and active community member, Sadie Campbell was born in 1881 and lived at 1 Depot Street in Cheshire, Massachusetts for most of her life until she died in 1971. Sadie was closely tied to the Cheshire community where she had a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and was active in a a number of organizations, such as: the Cheshire Ladies Reading Club, the Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club, and the Cheshire Cash Tearoom.

The collection documents three generations of a western Massachusetts family. The variety and nature of the materials in this collection offer a good view into the local and social history of western Massachusetts through the lives of Sadie Campbell and her family.


  • Cheshire (Mass.)--History
  • Cheshire Cash Tearoom
  • Family--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Family--Massachusetts--History--20th century
  • Housekeeping--Massachusetts--Cheshire
  • Housewives--Massachusetts--Cheshire
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--19th century
  • Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club
  • Small business--Massachusetts
  • Tyrell, Augustus
  • Williams Manufacturing Company
  • Women--Societies and clubs--History--19th century


  • Campbell, Sadie

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Invitations
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Recipes

Margo Culley Papers, 1973-1985

1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 103

A former Professor of English at UMass Amherst and contributor to the Program in Women’s Studies, Margaret (Margo) Culley was a specialist in women’s literature, particularly in women’s autobiography and diaries as a literary form. Her research drew variously upon work in literature, history, American studies, and religion, exploring gender and genre, language, subjectivity, memory, cultural diversity, and narrative. Between 1985 and 1994, she edited three volumes on American women’s autobiographical writing, and another on feminist teaching in the college classroom.

The Culley Papers offer a somewhat fragmentary glimpse into Culley’s academic career and her commitments to women’s literature. The collection includes selected notes for research and teaching, annotated bibliographies of women’s literature, a performance script for The Voices of Lost New England Women Writers, a federal grant proposal for The Black Studies/Women’s Studies Faculty Development Project (1981), and notes related to a study on minority women in the classroom. Letters collected by Culley’s students (late 18th and early 19th century) have been separated from the collection and designated as manuscript collections.


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Women
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Women's Studies


  • Culley, Margo

Enfield (Mass.) Collection, 1800-1939

8 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 010
Birdseye view of Enfield, ca.1915
Birdseye view of Enfield, ca.1915

Situated at the confluence of the east and west branches of the Swift River in western Massachusetts, Enfield was the largest and southernmost of the four towns inundated in 1939 to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Incorporated as a town in 1816, Enfield was relatively prosperous in the nineteenth century on an economy based on agriculture and small-scale manufacturing, reaching a population of just over 1,000 by 1837. After thirty years of seeking a suitably large and reliable water supply for Boston, the state designated the Swift River Valley as the site for a new reservoir and with its population relocated, Enfield was officially disincorporated on April 28, 1938.

The records of the town of Enfield, Mass., document nearly the entire history of the largest of four towns inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of the collection consists of records of town meetings and of the activities of the town Selectmen, 1804-1938, but there are substantial records for the Enfield Congregational Church. The School Committee, Overseers of the Poor, the town Library Association, and groups such as the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Bethel Masonic Lodge.


  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Women--Societies and clubs


  • Daughters of the American Revolution. Captain Joseph Hooker Chapter (Enfield, Mass.)
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town)
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). Prudential Committee
  • Enfield (Mass. : Town). School Committee
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.)
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Auxiliary
  • Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Missionary Society

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Church records
  • Photographs
  • Sermons

Howes Brothers Photograph Collection, ca. 1882-1907

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 313

Alvah, Walter, and George Howes brothers traveled the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts in the last two decades of the 19th century, taking photographs of the residents and documenting the customs, fashions, architecture, industry, technology, and economic conditions of rural New England.

The Howes collection includes 200 study prints selected from 20,000 negatives held by the Ashfield Historical Society.


  • Massachusetts--History


  • Howes, Alvah
  • Howes, George
  • Howes, Walter

Types of material

  • Photographs

Lyman Family Papers, 1839-1942

7 boxes (2.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 634
Edward H.R. and Catharine A. Lyman on their wedding day
Edward H.R. and Catharine A. Lyman on their wedding day

The descendants of Joseph Lyman (1767-1847) flourished in nineteenth century Northampton, Mass., achieving social prominence, financial success, and a degree of intellectual acclaim. Having settled in Northampton before 1654, just a generation removed from emigration, the Lymans featured prominently in the development of the Connecticut River Valley. A Yale-educated clerk of the Hampshire County courts, Joseph’s descendants included sons Joseph Lyman (an engineer and antislavery man) and Samuel Fowler Lyman (a jurist), and three Harvard-educated grandsons, Benjamin Smith Lyman (a geologist and traveler in Meiji-era Japan) and brothers Joseph and Frank Lyman (both trained in the natural sciences).

Consisting of the scattered correspondence and photographic record of three generations of an intellectually adventurous Northampton family, the Lyman collection explores the ebb and flow of family relations, collegiate education, and educational travel in Europe during the mid-nineteenth century, with important content on antislavery and the Free State movement in Kansas. Although the family’s tendency to reuse names (repeatedly) presents a challenge in distinguishing the various recipients, the focal points of the collection include the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman, his uncle Joseph (1812-1871), cousins Joseph (1851-1883) and Frank, and Frank’s son Frank Lyman, Jr. Antislavery is a major theme in the letters of Samuel F. Lyman to his son Benjamin, and in the letterbook of the Kansas Land Trust, an affiliate of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, of which the elder Joseph was Treasurer.


  • Antislavery movements--Massachusetts
  • Germany--Description and travel--19th century
  • Harvard University--Students
  • Kansas Land Trust
  • Kansas--History--1854-1861
  • New England Emigrant Aid Company


  • Lawrence, Amos Adams, 1814-1886
  • Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
  • Lyman, Joseph B, 1812-1871

Types of material

  • Photographs
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