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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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Anglin family

Anglin Family Papers

1874-1955 Bulk: 1914-1926
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 699
Image of Anglin family and friends, ca.1921
Anglin family and friends, ca.1921

Born in Cork, Ireland to a prosperous family, the Anglin siblings began immigrating to Canada and the United States in 1903. The first to relocate to Canada, brothers Will and Sydney pursued vastly different careers, one as a Presbyterian minister and the other as a salesman at a Toronto slaughterhouse. George and Crawford both served in the military during World War I, the former in the British Infantry as a medical officer and the latter in the 4th University Overseas Company first in France and later in Belgium where he died saving the life of a wounded soldier. Gladys Anglin trained as a nurse, but worked in a Canadian department store and at the Railway Office before suffering a mental breakdown and entering the Ontario Hospital as a patient. Ethel remained in Ireland the longest where she taught Domestic Economics at a technical school. The only Anglin to immigrate to the United States and the only female sibling to marry, Ida and husband David Jackson settled in Monson, Massachusetts where they raised four daughters.

The Anglin siblings were part of a close knit family who stayed in contact despite their geographic separation through their correspondence. Siblings wrote and exchanged lengthy letters that document not only family news, but also news of local and national significance. Topics addressed in their letters include World War I, the Irish revolution, medicine, religious ministry, and domestic issues from the ability of a single woman to support herself through work to child rearing.

  • Anglin family--Correspondence
  • Ireland--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Ireland--History--War of Independence, 1919-1921
  • Irish--Canada--History
  • Irish--United States--History
  • World War, 1914-1918

Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954

Arthur Cleveland Bent Collection

8 boxes 5.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 413
Image of A.C. Bent, 1929
A.C. Bent, 1929

An avid birder and eminent ornithologist, Arthur Cleveland Bent was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, on November 25, 1866. After receiving his A.B. from Harvard in 1889, bent was employed as an agent for the Safety Pocket Company and from 1900 to 1914, he was General Manager of Mason Machine Works. His passion, however, was birds. An associate in Ornithology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, Bent became a collaborator at the Smithsonian and president (1935-1937) of the American Ornithologists’ Union. The culmination of his research was the massive, 26 volume Life Histories of North American Birds (1919-1968).

The Bent collection is a glimpse into the birding life of a remarkable amateur ornithologist. It contains the field notebooks of his collaborator, Owen Durfee (1880-1909), his own journals (1887-1942), photographs and negatives (1896-1930), correspondence concerning the photographs (1925-1946), and mimeographed and printed material. Bent’s records cover nest observations, egg measurements, bird sightings, and notes on specimens provided to organizations such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Bristol County Agricultural School, and the United States National Museum.

  • American Ornithologists' Union
  • Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954. Life Histories of North American Birds
  • Birds
  • Birds--Eggs
  • Birds--Eggs--Photographs
  • Birds--Nests
  • Birds--Nests--Photographs
  • Birds--Photographs
  • Bristol County Agricultural School (Bristol County, Mass.)
  • Massachusetts Audubon Society
  • Ornithologists--Massachusetts
  • United States National Museum
  • Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954
  • Durfee, Owen
Types of material
  • Field notes
  • Photographs

Du Bois Visiting Scholars

du bois
Du Bois at his desk

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library offers short-term residential fellowships to assist scholars in conducting research in its collections. Among the approximately 15,000 linear feet of manuscripts held by SCUA are many valuable collections for the study of social change in the United States, including the papers of the most important exponent of the politics and culture of the twentieth century, W.E.B. Du Bois. In addition, the University Library houses over three million volumes and a rich suite of electronic resources to support advanced research in the humanities. Comprehensive, searchable guides and finding aids to SCUA’s collections are available on this website.

Fellowships for visiting scholars are awarded to full-time faculty or independent scholars with a PhD.

View past Du Bois Fellows

Application information


Full-time faculty or independent scholars with a PhD are eligible to apply. Fellows may come from any field and any perspective, and they may work on any topic, but their research should explore the major themes that characterize Du Bois’s scholarship and activism, including the history and meaning of racial, social, and economic justice; the problems of democracy and political inclusion; the role of capitalism in world affairs; and the global influence of African cultures. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

Award & expectations:

Visiting fellows will receive a stipend of $4,500 for an eight-week library residency with a housing allowance of $2,500 as well as a research allowance of $600. In addition to the two-month residency, Du Bois Fellows will be invited back to campus to give a public talk to the Five College community, comprised of UMass Amherst faculty, graduate student fellows, and community college faculty in the humanities and social sciences. Fellows should plan to schedule their residencies during July-August 2018.

Selection criteria: Visiting Scholars will be selected on a competitive basis from applicants interested in conducting original research in the Du Bois Papers and other SCUA collections. The criteria for selection will include: 1) potential of the proposal to contribute to scholarship, 2) fit with Du Boisian themes, 3) the need for use of SCUA collections, and 4) the letter of support. The application will consist of a brief (up to 3 pages) description of the research project, a curriculum vita, and a letter of support.
Deadline for submission:

Applications must be received by March 16, 2018.

How to submit: Applications should be submitted electronically to scua [at] with “Du Bois application” and your name in the subject line. Letters of recommendation should be sent separately to the same address.

Du Bois Visiting Scholars Fellowship application 2018


Tulip poplar leaves
Tulip poplar leaf Arthur Mange Collection

Drawing upon the unique materials under their care, the staff of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives organize two to three exhibits a year in their reading room and work regularly with their colleagues in the general library to prepare other exhibits for display on the Lower Level of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

Current Exhibit

Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers

August 2017-January 31, 2018
Location: SCUA and Learning Commons, Du Bois Library

Brother David is one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, leaving Mount Savior in the mid-1960s to study Zen Buddhism with Hakuun Yajutami, Shunayu Suzuki, and Soen Nakagawa. He was the first Benedictine to learn directly from Buddhist teachers and received Vatican support for his bridge-building work in 1967. When not in seclusion, Brother David has served as a teacher of contemplative prayer, the intersection of Zen and Catholicism, and gratefulness as a spiritual practice. Through many books and articles, lectures, and residencies in spiritual centers like Tassajara and the Esalen Institute, Brother David has developed an influential philosophy and much of the current popularity of mindfulness and Zen-influenced living and activism owes a debt to his teachings.

The Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers include Brother David’s extensive published and unpublished writings, sermons, memoirs, personal journals, correspondence, photographs, recordings, and videos of his teachings. His papers extend back to his youth in Vienna, documenting his childhood and experience during the war, including a complete run of Die Goldene Wagen, the children’s magazine published by Brother David’s mother Elisabeth Rast.

Future exhibits

W.E.B Du Bois at 150

Feb 1, 2018 – August 2018
Location: SCUA and Learning Commons, Du Bois Library

Scholar, writer, editor of The Crisis and other journals, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, the NAACP, and the Pan African Congresses, international spokesperson for peace and for the rights of oppressed minorities, W.E.B. Du Bois was a son of Massachusetts who articulated the strivings of African Americans and developed a trenchant analysis of the problem of the color line in the twentieth century.

Drawing from the rich and vast Du Bois Papers, containing the personal and professional papers of a remarkable social activist and intellectual, “W.E.B. Du Bois at 150” touches on all aspects of his long life from his childhood during Reconstruction through the end of his life in 1963. The exhibit reflects the extraordinary breadth of his social and academic commitments from research in sociology to poetry and plays, from organizing for social change to organizing for Black consciousness.

1968: Past, Present, Future

August 2018 – January 2019
Location: SCUA and Learning Commons, Du Bois Library


Exhibits online
Class of 1967 Memorial and Monuments Tour

Kenyon Butterfield

Highlights the rich legacy of alumni giving and participation on the UMass Amherst campus from 1867 to today. See the buildings, structures, monuments, plaques, gardens, sculptures, trees, and benches that tell the story of a century and a half of generosity. Exhibit courtesy of the Class of 1967; prepared by Cheryl Harned.

100 photos: Arthur Mange

Arthur Mange

Photographs from the collection of Arthur Mange.

Through the Photographer's Eyes

Photographs taken by Henry along with a rich array of related materials—speeches, press releases, brochures, and her personal notes—collected over the years, which document the political and cultural scene of the second half of the twentieth century

Photographer: Diana Mara Henry

Diana Mara Henry Photographs

Photographs from the collection of Diana Mara Henry. An exhibit by Chuck Abel.

E.D. Hudson

An examination of social reform and antislavery in Antebellum New England. An exhibit by Charles Weisenberger.

Rhetoric or Research

Rhetoric or research

interprets student protests against CIA recruitment at UMass Amherst during the 1980s through a selection of images taken by student photojournalists.
By Tom Hohenstein (ETHIR recipient, 2011).

Gordon Heath

A digital curriculum for teaching U.S. history using archival resources. An exhibit by Emily Oswald (ETHIR recipient, 2011).

Behold And See As You Pass By

I see dead people

An online exhibit on gravestones and mortuary art in Early New England drawn from the Association for Gravestones Studies Collections. By Molly Campbell (ETHIR recipient, 2011)

Robot reader

Science fiction readership in the Cold War and beyond. An exhibit by Morgan Hubbard.

Fifteen letters

Letters home

Conrad D. Totman’s letters home from Korea, 1954-1955. An exhibit by Alex McKenzie.

Du Bois photographs

An online exhibit on the life and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois based on his papers.

Herbals and Insects

A scarab beetle

A selection of rare botanical and entomological books from the SCUA collections.

A bee

Books on bees and beekeeping. An exhibit by Richard A. Steinmetz.


Foucher, Lynnette E.

Lynnette E. Foucher Cookbook Collection

429 items 8 linear feet
Call no.: MS 684
Image of 1929 cookbook
1929 cookbook

Assembled by Lynnette E. Foucher, this collection consists chiefly of cookbooks produced by food companies between the 1920s-1970s. These cookbooks reflect the changing role of women in the home as well as new food trends and innovative technology. Taken together, the collection offers a glimpse into the way meal preparation changed in the U.S. during the second half of the twentieth century and how this change transformed the way we eat today.

  • Convenience foods--United States--History--20th century
  • Cooking, American--History--20th century
  • Cooking--Social aspects
  • Diet--United States--History
  • Food--Social aspects
  • Women consumers--United States--History
  • Women in advertising--United States--History
  • Foucher, Lynette E
Types of material
  • Cookbooks

Lillydahl, Sandy

Sandy Lillydahl Venceremos Brigade Photograph Collection

1970-2005 Bulk: 1970
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: PH 056

A 1969 graduate of Smith College and member of Students for a Democratic Society, Sandy Lillydahl took part in the second contingent of the Venceremos Brigade. Between February and April 1970, Lillydahl and traveled to Cuba as an expression of solidarity with the Cuban people and to assist in the sugarcane harvest.

The 35 color snapshots that comprise the Lillydahl collection document the New England contingent of the second Venceremos Brigade as they worked the sugarcane fields in Aguacate, Cuba, and toured the country. Each image is accompanied by a caption supplied by Lillydahl in 2005, describing the scene and reflecting on her experiences; and the collection also includes copies of the file kept by the FBI on Lillydahl, obtained by her through the Freedom of Information Act in 1975.

  • Cuba--Photographs
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)--Photographs
  • Sugarcane--Harvesting--Cuba--Photographs
  • Venceremos Brigade--Photographs
Types of material
  • Photographs

Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920

Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers

52 boxes 42 linear feet
Call no.: MS 190
Image of Benjamin Smith Lyman, 1902
Benjamin Smith Lyman, 1902

A native of Northampton, Massachusetts, Benjamin Smith Lyman was a prominent geologist and mining engineer. At the request of the Meiji government in Japan, Lyman helped introduce modern geological surveying and mining techniques during the 1870s and 1880s, and his papers from that period illuminate aspects of late nineteenth century Japan, New England, and Pennsylvania, as well as the fields of geology and mining exploration and engineering. From his earliest financial records kept as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy through the journal notations of his later days in Philadelphia, Lyman’s meticulous record-keeping provides much detail about his life and work. Correspondents include his classmate, Franklin B. Sanborn, a friend of the Concord Transcendentalists and an active social reformer, abolitionist, and editor.

The papers, 1848-1911, have been organized into nine series: correspondence, financial records, writings, survey notebooks, survey maps, photographs, student notes and notebooks, collections, and miscellaneous (total 25 linear feet). A separate Lyman collection includes over 2,000 books in Japanese and Chinese acquired by Lyman, and in Western languages pertaining to Asia.

Language(s): EnglishJapanese
  • Geological surveys--Alabama
  • Geological surveys--Illinois
  • Geological surveys--India--Punjab
  • Geological surveys--Japan
  • Geological surveys--Japan--Maps
  • Geological surveys--Maryland
  • Geological surveys--Nova Scotia
  • Geological surveys--Pennsylvania
  • Geological surveys--Pennsylvania--Maps
  • Geologists--United States
  • Geology--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
  • Geology--Japan--History--19th century
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Japan--Maps
  • Japan--Photographs
  • Japan--Social life and customs--1868-1912
  • Mining engineering--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
  • Mining engineering--Japan--History--19th century
  • Mining engineers--United States
  • Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
  • Sanborn, F. B. (Franklin Benjamin), 1831-1917
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Book jackets
  • Field notes
  • Letterpress copybooks
  • Maps
  • Notebooks
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Trade catalogs

Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-

David Ledbetter Nanney Papers

13 boxes 6.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 592
Image of Tracy M. Sonneborn
Tracy M. Sonneborn

The experimental ciliatologist David L. Nanney spent much of his career studying the protozoan Tetrahymena. Under Tracy M. Sonneborn at Indiana University, he completed a dissertation in 1951 on the mating habits of Paramecium, but soon after joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, he turned his attention to Tetrahymena. During his subsequent career in Ann Arbor (1951-1959) and at the University of Illinois (1959-1991), Nanney made a series of fundamental contributions to the cytology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolution of ciliates, influencing the work of other biologists such as Joe Frankel, Janina Kaczanowska, Linda Hufnagel, and Nicola Ricci. Since his retirement in 1991, Nanney has remained in Urbana.

The Nanney Papers include a dense run of professional correspondence with ciliatologists, geneticists, students and colleagues regarding his pioneering research on ciliates and other professional matters. Of particular note is an extensive correspondence with Sonneborn, accompanied by several biographical essays written after Sonneborn’s death, and a large body of correspondence of the controversial reorganization of the biological sciences departments at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. The collection also includes a selection of Nanney’s writings and a handful of photographs.

  • Developmental biology
  • Evolution (Biology)
  • Protozoans--Genetics
  • Tetrahymena--Genetics
  • University of Illinois--Faculty
  • Allen, Sally
  • Bleyman, Lea K
  • Corliss, John O
  • Frankel, Joseph, 1935-
  • Kaczanowski, Andrzej
  • McKoy, J. Wynne
  • Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-
  • Nyberg, Dennis Wayne, 1944-
  • Orias, Eduardo
  • Ricci, Nicola
  • Siegel, Richard
  • Sonneborn, T. M. (Tracy Morton), 1905-

Rare book collections

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.

Notice: due to renovations in the library, much of SCUA’s collection of printed materials (books and periodicals) will be unavailable until further notice. Please contact our archivists to see whether we can assist.

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.

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