University of Massachusetts Amherst
Special Collections and University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries
SCUA

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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College

Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

A steward of the past for generations to come, SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, 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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New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

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Antislavery

Antislavery Pamphlet Collection, 1725-1911
(7.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 003

The Antislavery Collection contains several hundred printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. The holdings include speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.

Subjects
  • Abolitionists--Massachusetts
  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Slavery--United States
Contributors
  • American Anti-Slavery Society
  • American Colonization Society
Restrictions: Collection currently unavailable due to renovations in SCUA

Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954

Arthur Cleveland Bent Collection, 1880-1942
8 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 413
Arthur Cleveland Bent Collection image
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.

Subjects
  • 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
Contributors
  • Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954
  • Durfee, Owen
Types of material
  • Field notes
  • Photographs

Foucher, Lynnette E.

Lynnette E. Foucher Cookbook Collection, 1902-2000
429 items (8 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 684
Lynnette E. Foucher Cookbook Collection image
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.

Subjects
  • 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
Contributors
  • Foucher, Lynette E
Types of material
  • Cookbooks

Greenwich (Mass.)

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.

Subjects
  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Greenwich--History
  • Education--Massachusetts--Greenwich--History
  • Fires--Massachusetts--Greenwich--Histor
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--History
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Greenwich (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Libraries--Massachusetts--Greenwich
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Contributors
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town)
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town). School Committee
  • Greenwich (Mass. : Town). Treasurer
  • Greenwich Improvement Society
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Church records
  • Photographs

Howes Brothers

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.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts--History
Contributors
  • Howes, Alvah
  • Howes, George
  • Howes, Walter
Types of material
  • Photographs

International Oil Working Group

International Oil Working Group Collection, 1957-1987 (Bulk: 1980-1985)
29 boxes (15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 268

The International Oil Working Group (IOWG) is one of a number of organizations that worked to implement an oil embargo initiated by the United Nations General Assembly against South Africa to protest the country’s policies of apartheid. The IOWG grew out of the Sanctions Working Group established in 1979. Although the nature and timing of the change in names is unclear, it appears that Dr. Teresa Turner was instrumental in the formation of both groups and was primarily responsible for their organization and administration. Other directors included Luis Prado, Arnold Baker and Kassahun Checole. While the group was loosely organized, it maintained the basic structure of a special advisory board with a pool of research associates. Primary activities involved researching topics related to the oil embargo; writing papers for regional, national, and international conferences; giving testimony at UN meetings; providing information to governments, unions and other groups committed to aiding in the implementation of the oil embargo; lecturing to students and members of the community on the subject of sanctions against South Africa; and collaborating with the UN Center Against Apartheid. Research topics included tanker monitoring to detect and expose those shipping companies that broke the embargo; the energy needs in those countries in southern Africa which depend upon South Africa to meet some of their energy demands; ways to effectively implement and enforce the oil embargo; trade union action by oil transport workers; Namibian independence and decolonization; and underground oil storage in South Africa.

Collection consists of administrative papers including financial records, minutes and association history materials; correspondence; printed materials produced by the IOWG; conference files; UN documents relating to South Africa and sanctions; and reference materials, including published reports, news clippings, newsletters and journals, related to oil shipping, tanker information and South African economic and political activity generally.

Subjects
  • Apartheid--South Africa--History
  • Economic sanctions--South Africa--History
  • Embargo
  • Namibia--History--Autonomy and independence movements
  • Namibia--Politics and government--1946-1990
  • Petroleum industry and trade--History--20th century
  • Petroleum industry and trade--Political aspects--South Africa
  • South Africa--Politics and government--1978-1989
  • Tankers--South Africa--History
Contributors
  • International Oil Working Group
  • Turner, Terisa

Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920

Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers, 1831-1921
52 boxes (42 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 190
Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers image
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.

Subjects
  • 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
Contributors
  • 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

Mange, Arthur P.

Arthur P. Mange Photograph Collection, 1965-2010
3 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 044
Arthur P. Mange Photograph Collection image
Fern fronds

Arthur P. Mange taught in the Biology Department at University of Massachusetts Amherst for 31 years before retiring in 1995. A co-author of numerous works in human genetics, Mange served on the chair of the Conservation Committee in Amherst, and currently serves on the Burnett Gallery Committee. In 1983, his New England images were featured in Across the Valley (from Cummington to New Salem) held at the Burnett Gallery. This exhibition was followed at the Hitchcock Center in 1984 with Delight in Familiar Forms (celebrating some well-known plants and animals), with Ring Bell to Admit Bird at the Jones Library and Net Prophet at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Architectural Sights — Big and Small, Mange’s most recent show (2002), appeared at the Burnett Gallery. In addition to exhibitions, Mange has also donated collections for fund-raising auctions at New York University, the Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center, the Amherst Historical Society, Jones Library, and the Amherst Community Arts Center.

His photographic collection spans more than half a century of subjects reflecting his varied interests in animals, plants, our region, gravestones, what he calls “whimsical signs,” and attention-grabbing shadows.

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Pictorial works
  • Cemeteries--Pictorial works
  • Hadley (Mass.)--Pictorial works
  • New England--Pictorial works
  • New Salem (Mass.)--Pictorial works
  • New York (N.Y.)--Pictorial works
Types of material
  • Photographs
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