The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, the University of Massachusetts has supported the publication of three volumes of Dr. Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has served as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books on Du Bois and his legacy. SCUA has also made efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.
Beyond Du Bois, significant collections in African American history include the papers of the abolitionist Hudson Family of Northampton, the expatriate playwright Gordon Heath, the sociologist, educator, and former president of Lincoln University, Horace Mann Bond.
Each February, in commemoration of Dr. Du Bois’s birthday, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass co-sponsor a colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, and David Levering Lewis.
- Antislavery Pamphlet Collection
- Several hundred pamphlets relating to political antislavery in the United States, with an emphasis opn New England.
- See our Antislavery pamphlets digital archive
- Aronson, James. Collection, 1946-1983
- Editor of the National Guardian
- Banks, Katherine Bell. Papers, 1926-1960.
- Letters from W.E.B. Du Bois to Banks, a family friend
- Bond, Horace Mann. Papers, 1830-1979
- Educator, President of Lincoln University
- Brown, John. Papers (microfilm), 1826-1942 (bulk: 1856-1859)
- Du Bois, W. E. B. Papers, 1868-1963
- Heath, Gordon. Papers, 1940-1991
- Expatriate writer, actor, director, and musician
- Hudson Family. Papers, 1780-1955
- Family papers of the antislavery activist Erasmus D. Hudson
- International Oil Working Group. Records, 1981-1986
- Massachusetts. Special Commission on Unequal Education Opportunities. Records, 1974-1978
- Obrebski, Joseph and Tamara. Papers, 1923-1974
- Anthropological field work in Jamaica, 1947-1948
- Urban League of Springfield (Mass.). Records, 1970s
- Trent, Lloyd A. Family Papers, 1850-1996
Boston & Albany Railroad Engineering Department Map Collection, 1833-1920.
Call no.: MS 130
The Boston and Albany Railroad was formed between 1867 and 1870 from the merger of three existing lines, the Boston and Worcester (chartered 1831), the Western (1833), and the Castleton and West Stockbridge (1834). The corporation was a primary east-west transit through the Commonwealth, with branches connecting towns including Athol, Ware, North Adams, and Hudson, N.Y.
The nineteen atlases comprising this collection include detailed plans documenting the location and ownership of rights of way, land-takings, and other land transfers to or from the railroad company. Dating from the early years of operation for the corporation to just after the turn of the century, the atlases include maps of predecessor lines (Boston and Worcester Railroad Corporation and Western Rail-Road), as well as the Grand Junction Railway Company (Charlestown, Somerville, Everett, and Chelsea), the Ware River Railroad, and the Chester and Becket Railroad.
- Boston and Albany Railroad Co.--Maps
- Boston and Worcester Railroad Corporation--Maps
- Chester and Becket Railroad--Maps
- Grand Junction Railway Company--Maps
- Real property--Massachusetts--Maps
- Ware River Railroad--Maps
- Western Rail-Road Corporation--Maps
- Boston & Albany Railroad Company. Engineering Department
Types of material
Clement Company Records, 1881-1934.
Call no.: MS 099
A cutlery company in Northampton, Mass., the Clement Company’s records include extensive correspondence files (1881-1934), along with journals and ledgers, payroll accounts, employee information, and other records. The records provide excellent documentation of wages, working conditions, the labor forces, and technological change in the industry, as well as the efforts of local workers to unionize.
- Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
- Clement Company (Northampton, Mass.)
Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Company Records, 1799.
Call no.: MS 088
Authorized in March 1799, the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Company constructed a toll road through miles of rough terrain and sparse settlements, connecting Leominster, Athol, Greenfield, and Northfield. Having opened areas to land travel that had previously been accessible only over rivers, the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike ceased operations in 1833 after years of declining revenues.
The collection consists primarily of one volume of records of the directors of the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike, including minutes of meetings, accounts of tolls collected, and drafts of letters.
- Toll roads--Massachusetts
- Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Company
Fitchburg Railroad Company Account Book, 1884-1887.
Call no.: MS 181 bd
Incorporated in 1842 and running from Boston to Fitchburg, the Fitchburg Railroad Company built a railroad line across northern Massachusetts leading to and through the Hoosac Tunnel, and later into Vermont and New York. The railroad was leased to Boston and Maine in 1900, and the two companies merged in 1919.
- Railroad companies--United States--History--19th century
- Fitchburg Railroad Company
Florence Manufacturing Company Histories, 1916, 1974.
Call no.: MS 380
Photocopies of two typescript company histories for the Florence Manufacturing Company: “50 Years of Brush Making (1866-1916)” and “50 More Years of Brush Making, 1916-1974.”
- Broom and brush industry--Massachusetts--History
- Florence Manufacturing Company
George Cooley & Co. Ledger, 1843-1851.
Call no.: MS 111
Ledger, begun by George Cooley in 1843 to record the accounts of his soapmaking business in the Cabotville section of Chicopee, continued by Titus Chapin, an ardent abolitionist, and Mordecai Cough who managed the business following Cooley’s death (or departure) in 1848. The 1843 date coincides with the coming of many small businesses to Cabotville in connection with the growth of industries there at the time.
Cooley accepted goods, services and cash as payment. The most frequently accepted goods had relatively obvious value to a soap maker: grease and ashes, tallow, pork, scraps and skins, and candles. Some of the services bartered were repairing wagon, shoeing horse, fixing wippletree, making 30 boxes, and covering umbrella. The business sold gallons, bars, and cakes of soap. Mount Holyoke Seminary bought 28 “fancy soaps”. Also listed were shaving soap and hard or hand soap. In addition, sales sometimes included candles, butter, mop handles, molasses, apples and potatoes, squashes, satinet, cheese, cord wood, paint, and rosin. Some of the listings were annotated with regard to the customer’s character: Ashad Bartlett was seen as “bad and poor and fights with his wife”‘ Norris Starkwether was “an honest man”; and Miss L.B. Hunt “eloped with a man”.
- Chicopee (Mass.)--History
- Soap trade--Massachusetts
- George Cooley and Company
To spark researchers’ imaginations and to celebrate the legacy of innovation and the activist spirit, SCUA pursues an ambitious program of collecting materials of enduring historical value and offers strong support for research and learning. Through its collections, programs, public events, and exhibitions, SCUA promotes meaningful engagement with the broad record of social change in America, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the varied histories of the people of New England and the UMass Amherst community. We embrace the university’s historic role as a center of knowledge for the people of the Commonwealth and are committed to providing free and unfettered access to our holdings for all who wish to use them, using the highest professional standards and practices and the best technologies available.
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. Documenting the activities of the administration and faculty and the life of its students, this 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.
The timing of Goodell’s proposal to preserve the College archives coincided roughly with the Library’s first efforts to assemble a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. Although the campus had no separate library building until 1885, the College accepted several significant gifts of books, beginning as early as 1868, when the apiarist and state Adjutant General Henry K. Oliver donated twenty scarce volumes on bee culture, followed by other donations of important works in agriculture, history, and science. By the time the library published its first catalogue in 1875, rare books were a small, but distinctive part of the collections. 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 two 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. All remain part of the collections today.
From its initial focus on agriculture, horticulture, and the natural sciences, the Library soon extended its collections to encompass the history and culture of New England. With the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski in 1973, the Library began to acquire collections of personal papers and organizational records of historical significance. The rare book and manuscript collections were combined administratively with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Today, SCUA oversees a growing research collection of primary materials that includes rare books and manuscripts, historic maps, photographs, prints, and the official records of the campus at UMass Amherst.
Sesquicentennial oral history project
Marking the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the University of Massachusetts, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is conducting an oral history project to capture the many voices and diverse experiences that make up our campus community. The anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the real achievements — and real challenges — of public higher education over the past century and a half, and a chance to consider where we would like to be in the future.
Over the course of eighteen months, the staff of SCUA and our associates will conduct one hundred and fifty interviews with an array of administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and university employees, as well as selected members of the local community. As they are completed, the interviews will be made available to the public through this website and Credo, SCUA’s digital repository.
If you are interested in participating in the project, please contact the SCUA staff.
Association for Gravestone Studies Collection
Portland Granite Company Records, 1836.
Call no.: MS 648 bd
Three months after it was incorporated by the state of Maine in March 1836, the Portland Granite Company acquired 17 acres of land from Seth Clark in Westbrook, Me., and began its quarrying operation. With 160 shares of common stock, the company’s members elected a board of three directors (Henry Iseley, M.P. Sawyer, and George Clark), with Henry R. Stickney serving as Treasurer and Secretary.
Recorded in a bound ledger, the records of the Portland Granite Company provide slender, but critical documentation of the organization of a significant quarrying operation. Included are the formal act of incorporation for the company, a record of approval by the corporation to accept their charter; a list of company by-laws; approval for the distribution of stock to members of the company (160 shares); and an agreement with Seth Clark to purchase 17 acres in Westbrook for the operation. The records were apparently kept by Stickney.
- Granite industry and trade--Maine
- Sepulchral monuments--Maine
- Stickney, Henry Rolfe, 1799-1887
Types of material
- Ledgers (Account books)