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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.

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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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Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection

Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection
1797-1897
48 items (3 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 012
Image of John Metcalf
John Metcalf

Although printing requires a substantial capital investment in equipment before any hope of profitability can be entertained, there have been numerous attempts over the years to set up printing houses in communities with astonishingly small population bases. In even the most remote Massachusetts towns, people like John Metcalf (Wendell), Ezekiel Terry (Palmer), and John and Solomon Howe (Enfield and Greenwich) operated as printers during the nineteenth century, specializing in a quotidian array of broadsides, song sheets, almanacs, toy books, and printed forms, hoping to supplement, or provide, a decent living.

This small, but growing collection consists of materials printed prior to the twentieth century in small Massachusetts towns, defined as towns with populations less than about 2,500. Although few of these houses survived for long, they were important sources for rural communities. Typically simple in typography, design, and binding, even crude, the output of such printers provides an important gauge of the interests and tastes of New England’s smallest and often poorest communities.

Subjects
  • Children's books--Massachusetts
  • Printers--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Howe, John, 1783-1845
  • Howe, Solomon, 1750-1835
  • Metcalf, John, 1788-1864
  • Terry, Ezekiel, 1775-1829
Types of material
  • Almanacs
  • Broadsides

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.

Subjects
  • 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

Bartlett, Simeon

Simeon Bartlett Account Books
1792-1867
2 vols. (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 175 bd

Freight hauler, farmer, sawmill owner, and possibly a hatmaker from Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

The first volume of Bartlett’s accounts includes records of Bartlett’s income, sales and exchange of goods and services, and details about his employees and family (such as family births, deaths, and marriages). Volume 2 contains lists of hat purchases, lists of teachers and their pay, his participation in town affairs, and a number of lyrics to Civil War songs.

Subjects
  • Clapp, Joseph
  • Hat trade--Massachusetts--South Hadley
  • Lyman, Joseph
  • Rice, Aaron
  • Songs
  • Songs, English
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music
  • Williamsburg (Mass.)--Economic conditions
Contributors
  • Bartlett, Simeon, b. 1764
Types of material
  • Account books

Binet, Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte, 1877-

Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte Binet Collection
1784-1852 (Bulk: 1794-1814)
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 738
Image of

During the revolutionary era of 1789-1848, Belgium was ensnared in power politics on a continental scale, with all the drama and turbulence entailed. From the conquest of the region by French Republican forces under Napoleon in 1794 through the dissolution of French control in 1814, modern-day Belgium was divided into nine administrative departments, including the centrally-located Département de la Dyle, which included the key cities of Brussels, Louvain, and Nivelles.

Collected by Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte Binet, this small collection of manuscripts is relatively tightly focused on the years of French Republican domination of Belgium (1794-1814), with a particular focus on the Département de la Dyle. The majority of the collection consists of letters received by the Central Administration in the Dyle, including letters to and from Napoleonic generals and French military hierarchy, civic authorities, administrators, and police. Many of the letters concern the challenges of asserting control over a subject population and the political fallout of the French Revolution, but the collection also reflects the greater tensions within a complex society changing rapidly during an age of revolution.

Language(s): French
Subjects
  • Belgium--History--1794-1814
  • Brabant (Belgium)--History
  • Dyle (Belgium)
  • France--History--1789-1815
  • France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799
  • Napoleonic Wars--1800-1815
  • Police--France--18th century
Contributors
  • Lambrechts, Charles Joseph Matthieu, 1753-1823
  • Mallarmé, François René Augustin, 1755-1831
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Blackington, Alton H.

Alton H. Blackington Photograph Collection
1898-1943
15 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 061
Image of Fortune teller, ca.1930
Fortune teller, ca.1930

A native of Rockland, Maine, Alton H. “Blackie” Blackington (1893-1963) was a writer, photojournalist, and radio personality associated with New England “lore and legend.” After returning from naval service in the First World War, Blackington joined the staff of the Boston Herald, covering a range of current events, but becoming well known for his human interest features on New England people and customs. He was successful enough by the mid-1920s to establish his own photo service, and although his work remained centered on New England and was based in Boston, he photographed and handled images from across the country. Capitalizing on the trove of New England stories he accumulated as a photojournalist, Blackington became a popular lecturer and from 1933-1953, a radio and later television host on the NBC network, Yankee Yarns, which yielded the books Yankee Yarns (1954) and More Yankee Yarns (1956).

This collection of glass plate negatives was purchased by Robb Sagendorf of Yankee Publishing around the time of Blackington’s death. Reflecting Blackington’s photojournalistic interests, the collection covers a terrain stretching from news of public officials and civic events to local personalities, but the heart of the collection is the dozens of images of typically eccentric New England characters and human interest stories. Most of the images were taken by Blackington on 4×5″ dry plate negatives, however many of the later images are made on flexible acetate stock and the collection includes several images by other (unidentified) photographers distributed by the Blackington News Service.

Gift of Yankee Publishing, Mar. 2012
Subjects
  • Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933--Photographs
  • Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937--Photographs
  • Maine--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • New England--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • New Hampshire--Social life and customs--Photographs
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945--Photographs
  • Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921--Photographs
Types of material
  • Photographs

Brinley Family

Brinley Family Papers
1643-1950
(4.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 161
Image of 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.

Subjects
  • 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

Brooks, William Penn, 1851-

William Penn Brooks Papers
1863-1939
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 003/1 B76
Image of Sapporo Ag. College students, 1881
Sapporo Ag. College students, 1881

Two years after graduating from Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1875, William Penn Brooks accepted an invitation from the Japanese government — and his mentor, William Smith Clark — to help establish the Sapporo Agricultural School. Spending over a decade in Hokkaido, Brooks helped to introduce western scientific agricultural practices and the outlines of a program in agricultural education, and he built a solid foundation for the School. After his return to the states in 1888, he earned a doctorate at the University of Halle, Germany, and then accepted a position at his alma mater, becoming a leading figure at the Massachusetts Experiment Station until his retirement in 1921.

Brooks’ papers consist of correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, an account book, and translations which provide rich detail on Brooks’ life in Japan, the development of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University), and practical agricultural education in the post-Civil War years.

Subjects
  • Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
  • Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
  • Hokkaido (Japan)--History
  • Hokkaid¯o Daigaku
  • Japan--Description and travel--19th century
  • Japan--History--1868-
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
  • Massachusetts State Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
  • Sapporo-shi (Japan)--History
Contributors
  • Brooks, William Penn, 1851-
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Buffington, Elisha L.

Elisha L. Buffington Diaries
1894 July-Dec.
2 vols. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 711 bd

A twenty year-old from Swansea, Mass., Elisha L. Buffington took a grand tour of Asia with his uncle Elisha D. Buffington and aunt Charlotte in 1894. Spending two months in Japan, the Buffingtons traveled through China and the Subcontinent, visiting the usual cultural and historic sites as well as more unusual voyages to the Himalayas.

Meticulously kept in two volumes (ca.381p.), Elisha L. Buffington’s diaries record the impressions of a twenty year-old from Swansea, Mass., during his first voyage to Asia. Although the diaries do not cover the entire trip, they record details of two months spent in Japan, including an eyewitness account of the Meiji earthquake in Tokyo, and interesting visits to Shanghai and Hong Kong, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and India. The diary ends on December 27, 1894, when the Buffingtons were at Delhi.

Subjects
  • Buffington, Charlotte Walker
  • Buffington, Elisha D
  • Canada--Description and travel
  • China--Description and travel
  • India--Description and travel
  • Japan--Description and travel
  • Japan--Social life and customs--1868-1912
  • Singapore--Description and travel
  • Sri Lanka--Description and travel
Contributors
  • Buffington, Elisha L
Types of material
  • Diaries

Burnett, Bela, 1778-

Bela Burnett Account Book
1801-1842
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 385 bd

A storeowner, farmer, and citizen of Granby, Mass., Bela Burnett was born October 4, 1778, the second of seven children of Jonathan and Mehitabel (Dickinson) Burnett. Having relocated from Southampton, New York, to Battleboro, Vermont, in 1770, Jonathan and Mehitable settled in Granby in 1774, purchasing the farm of Aaron Nash where in 2010, Burnett descendants still live. Burnett had at least five children by two marriages, first to Clarissa Warner (1801) and second to Sally Allen (1808). Burnett died in Granby on April 16, 1846.

The Burnett account book includes careful records of goods sold, customers’ accounts, and the form and method of payment (cash, credit, or barter), as well as some information on family members and boarders, along with a handful of miscellaneous items laid in, such as calculations, notes, and a remedy for yellow jaundice.

Subjects
  • Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts--Granby
  • Barter--Massachusetts--Granby
  • Boardinghouses--Massachusetts--Granby--19th century
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Granby
  • Food prices--Massachusetts--Granby
  • General stores--Massachusetts--Granby
  • Granby (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Jaundice
  • Marsh, Tim A. P
  • Medicine--Formulae, receipts, prescriptions
  • Produce trade--Massachusetts--Granby--19th century
  • Robbins, Asa
  • Shopping--Massachusetts--Granby
  • Smith, David
Contributors
  • Burnett, Bela, 1778-
Types of material
  • Account books
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