Rope pull participants, ca.1913
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is a center for research into the history and impact of social change and the history and cultures of New England.
Regardless of format, the collections in SCUA are richly interconnected, with particular depth for a suite of movements devoted to social justice. We have exceptional holdings for African American history and culture; organized labor; the peace, antiwar, and antinuclear movements; political and cultural radicalism; alternative societies; spiritual approaches to social change; and the history of agriculture, with an increasing emphasis on organic agriculture and sustainability.
SCUA houses approximately 40,000 rare books, hundreds of thousands of photographs, and nearly 45,000 linear feet of archives, including nationally significant manuscript collections and the official records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SCUA supports the work of a wide range of researchers, from undergraduates to senior scholars and journalists to family historians, and we are resource for the individuals and communities we document.
In addition to the major areas of collecting interest, SCUA in home to an eclectic assortment of materials documenting Revolutionary-era France and Belgium (1789-1848); the history of protistology; and the American study of Japan.
V. Conor Account Book, 1887-1891.
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 620 bd
The details surrounding this book of accounts of personal expenditures are sketchy, but it appears that the author, identified tentatively by a name written on the front fly leaf, was based in Hartford, Conn., and traveled throughout western New England, often to Greenfield and Millers Falls, Mass. The accounts, dated between August 1887 and May 1891, are surprisingly detailed, recording the record keeper’s fondness for doughnuts, seasonal fruits, and the Opera House and Allyn Hall, and they record the range of foods and incidentals, daily trips, subscription to the Hartford Journal, piano rental, and visits to the Knights of Pythias and Red Men (presumably the Independent Order of Red Men or similar organization).
- Finance, Personal--Connecticut
- Hartford (Conn.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
Rebecca Crouch Papers, ca.1936-1986.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 602
In the late 1870s, a middle-aged farmer from Richmond, Minnesota, Samuel Crouch, married a woman eleven years his junior and asked her to relocate to the northern plains. Possessed of some solid self-confidence, Rebecca left behind her family a friends and set out to make a life for herself, adjusting to her new role as step-mother and community member, as well as the familiar role of family member at a distance.
The Crouch Papers includes approximately 225 letters offering insight into life in Minnesota during the late 1870s and early 1880s, and into the domestic and social life of a woman entering into a new marriage with an older man. Rebecca’s letters are consumed with the ebb and flow of daily life, her interactions with other residents of the community at church or in town, the weather, and chores from cooking to cleaning, farming, gardening, writing, going to town, or rearranging furniture.
- Minnesota--Social life and customs--19th century
- Crouch, Rebecca
- Jones, Sarah
- Loomis, Emma
Types of material
Jay Goldspinner Periodicals Collection, 1974-2012.
1 box (1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 909
1977 Spring Equinox cover of WomenSpirit
All social change and cultural movements have their associated resources for the exchange of information, ideas, stories, and art. Particularly in the women’s movement, the effort to create newsletters, journals, and other forms of information dissemination was a proactive step taken to assert women’s stories and to locate the power of the press within women-run communities. These periodicals, both large and small in scale, reveal the ways women connected to each other and to larger spiritual and cultural concepts. Local artist, activist, and feminist Jay Goldspinner was engaged with many of these communities, particularly those characterizing the spiritual elements of the women’s liberation and feminist movements, and collected and saved their periodicals. Her collection includes journals focusing on feminist linguistics, goddess myths and spirituality, Wiccan and witch traditions, progressive politics, and women’s spirituality and community in local and international settings. Each is a unique window into discourses of women’s history, feminist movements, and social change work.
The Jay Goldspinner Periodicals Collection consists of issues of feminist and progressive periodicals, journals, and newsletters from four decades. The titles represented include Always in Season, Goddessing, The Lonesome Node, The People’s Voice of Franklin County, Themis/Thesmophoria, Wicked Word, and an almost complete run, including the two indexes, of the seminal magazine of feminist spirituality, WomenSpirit.
- Franklin County (Mass.) --Periodicals
- Goddess religion--Periodicals
- Spiritual feminism--Periodicals
- Women and spiritualism--Periodicals
- Women's rights and spiritualism--Periodicals
Types of material
Charles Taylor Collection, 1731-1904.
(5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 104
Collection of historical documents compiled by Charles Taylor, author of the 1882 town history of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Includes Court of Common Pleas cases, deeds, estate papers, indentures, land surveys, sheriff’s writs, town history reference documents, Samuel Rossiter’s financial papers, and genealogical research papers for over 40 families.
- Debt--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
- Farm tenancy--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Economic conditions--18th century
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Genealogy
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--History
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Land use--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
- Ives, Thomas
- Kellogg, Ezra
- Pynchon, George
- Pynchon, Walter
- Root, Hewitt
- Rossiter, Samuel
- Taylor, Charles J. (Charles James), 1824-1904
Types of material
- Land surveys
Greenwich (Mass.) Collection, 1734-1940.
3 folders (plus digital) (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 011
Granted in 1737 and incorporated in 1754, Greenwich, Mass., was the first town in the Swift River Valley settled by Europeans. Sitting astride the East and Middle branches of the Swift River and forming the eastern boundary of Hampshire County, Greenwich was primarily an agricultural town with light manufacturing and, beginning in the later nineteenth century, an active tourist trade. The town’s population peaked at over 1,100 early in the nineteenth century, declining slowly thereafter.
The records of Greenwich, Mass., offer a long perspective on the history of the region inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of this collection consists of the records of town meetings and the Selectmen of Greenwich from the Proprietary period in the 1730s through disincorporation in 1938, but there is some documentation of the town’s Congregational Church, a local school, the library, and the Greenwich Improvement Society. This finding aid reflects both materials held by SCUA and materials digitized in partnership with the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass.
- Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Greenwich--History
- Greenwich (Mass.)--History
- Greenwich (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Greenwich (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
- Greenwich (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
- Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Greenwich (Mass. : Town)
- Greenwich (Mass. : Town). School Committee
- Greenwich (Mass. : Town). Treasurer
- Greenwich Improvement Society
Types of material
- Account books
- Church records
Lucy Gwin Papers, 1982-2005.
8 boxes (12 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 822
Born in Indiana, the writer Lucy Gwin (1943-2014) lived “a lot of lives,” in her own words, working in advertising, as a dairy farmer, civil rights activist, and deckhand on ships servicing oil rigs, all before the age of 40. While living in Rochester, N.Y., in 1989, however, her life took a sudden turn. After a head-on collision with a drunk driver left her with traumatic brain injury, Gwin was remanded for care to the New Medico Brain Rehabilitation Center, where she witnessed a world of isolation, patient abuse, and powerlessness. Never one to shrink from a challenge, she escaped from the Center and used her skills as an organizer and writer to expose conditions at New Medico and shut the facility down. Through her experiences, Gwin emerged as a powerful, often acerbic voice in all-disability rights advocacy, becoming the founder, designer, and editor of the influential Mouth Magazine in 1990.
Lucy Gwin’s papers document the advocacy of an important figure in the disability rights movement. The rich documentation for Mouth Magazine includes comprehensive editorial files arranged issue by issue, some correspondence with authors and supporters, and copies of the published issue. The balance of the collection contains Gwin’s other work as a writer, personal correspondence, and materials relating to her experiences with and campaign against New Medico.
- Disabled--Civil rights
- Mouth Magazine
Joel Martin Halpern Papers, 1950-2007.
(ca.300 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 001
The anthropologist Joel Martin Halpern (1929- ) has worked in regions from the Alaskan arctic to Laos and Lapland, but he is best known for his studies of modernization in the Balkans. Following undergraduate study in history at the University of Michigan (BA, 1950), Halpern entered the renowned anthropology program at Columbia, receiving his doctorate in 1956 for a study of the village of Orašac in the former Yugoslavia, which in turn became the basis of his first book, A Serbian Village (N.Y., 1958). After two years working in Laos as a Field Service Officer with the Community Development Division of the U.S. International Cooperation Administration, Halpern was a member of the faculty at UCLA, Brandeis, and the Russian Research Center at Harvard (1965-1967) before coming to UMass Amherst in 1967. A prolific author, Halpern has written or edited dozens of books on the Balkans and Southeast Asia, including A Serbian Village in Historical Context (1972), The Changing Village Community (1967), The Changing Peasantry of Eastern Europe (1976), and The Far East Comes Near (1989). Since retiring from the university in 1992, Halpern has remained in Amherst.
A massive collection documenting the long and varied career of a prolific ethnographer, the Halpern Papers include a wide range of textual and visual materials documenting the anthropological study of modernization, ethnicity, rural life and urbanization, the economy, and cultural change. Much of Halpern’s research centered on the Balkans (Macedonia and Serbia), Laos, and arctic Alaska and Canada, however he has worked on Asian immigrant communities in the United States and many other topics.
- Balkan Peninsula--Ethnic relations
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Anthropology
Types of material
Hampshire Community Action Commission Records, 1965-1984.
25 boxes (10.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 056
A private, non-profit corporation founded in 1965 in Northampton, Massachusetts to finance community action programs for eliminating poverty and assisting low income people. Programs included day care centers, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Summer Head Start, a drug addiction clinic at the jail, Legal Services, and the Foster Grandparent Program.
Records comprise bylaws and organizational charts, annual reports, board of directors minutes; administrative directors’ records, including correspondence with the federal agencies and state agencies granting funds, grant applications and awards, program plans, financial and legal documents, personnel records and staff training directives; the agency newsletter County Voice, Noticero Latina; and newsclippings about welfare programs.
- Hampshire Community Action Commission
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Social service--Massachusetts--Hampshire County
Hampshire Community United Way Records, 1969-1985.
8 boxes (4 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 047
Nonprofit organization with representatives from sixteen Western Massachusetts towns that raised funds for and distributed funds to local and national social service organizations in their communities. Records include minutes of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, financial and other standing committees; annual reports, correspondence, ledgers, budget worksheets, agency reports, campaign materials, including solicitation lists and letters, campaign studies and reports; brochures and surveys; and printed materials and photographs.
- Federations, Financial (Social service)--History--Sources
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions--Sources
- Human services--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--History--Sources
- United States. Combined Federal Campaign
- United States. Combined Federal Campaign--Correspondence
- Hampshire Community United Way (Hampshire County, Mass.)--Archives
- Hampshire United Fund (Hampshire County, Mass.)--Archives
- United Way of America
Types of material