The Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects and preserves textual, visual, and auditory materials of enduring historical value and makes them available to researchers at no charge.
The collections held by SCUA are rich and deeply interrelated, documenting four areas of historic and cultural interest: social change, New England, the University of Massachusetts, and innovation and entrepreneurship. Among other significant collections are the papers of:
- W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond (African American intellectuals and activists)
- Kenneth R. Feinberg (attorney and public figure)
- Congressman Silvio E. Conte and John Olver, and Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (politicians)
- Benjamin Smith Lyman, William Smith Clark, and William Penn Brooks (natural scientists)
- Mark H. McCormack and Sidney Topol (innovators)
- William Lederer, Leonard Lewin, Jodi Picoult, Harvey Swados, Charles Whipple (writers)
- Carl Oglesby, Mary Wentworth, Randy Kehler, the Liberation News Service, and the Alternative Energy Alliance (activists)
Information about all of our manuscript and photographic collections is included in UMarmot. Use the search box and menus to the right to navigate our collections and to locate collections of interest.
Alonzo A. Peasley Diaries, 1861-1863.
Call no.: MS 608 bd
Born in Dorchester, Mass., Alonzo A. Peasley enlisted in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry in May 1861, only weeks after the outbreak of the Civil War. Sent almost immediately southward, Peasley’s regiment was deployed in the Battles of Glendale and First Bull Run in July, and served with the Army of the Potomac throughout the Peninsular Campaign, Frederickbsurg, and Chancellorsville. As part of the 2nd Division, 3rd Army Corps on July 2, 1863, the 1st Massachusetts suffered a 40% casualty rate during fierce fighting along the Emmitsburg Road in Gettysburg, with Peasley sustaining serious wounds. Hospitalized for several months, he was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps to serve out his enlistment. In later life, Peasley worked as a letter carrier in Boston.
Exceptionally well-written, observant, and above all active, Peasley’s diaries offer a fine account of a private’s life in the Civil War. The two volumes include detailed descriptions of life in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry covering the entire period from the day the regiment left the state in June 1861 until the time of Peasley’s wounding at Gettysburg in July 1863. Among the highlights are a minutely detailed, thoroughly extended account of Peasley’s first major engagements (Blackburn’s Ford and First Bull Run), excellent account for the Peninsular Campaign, and a stunning account of the Second Battle of Bull Run.
- Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861
- Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862
- Peninsular Campaign, 1862
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
- United States. Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 1st (1861-1864)
- Peasley, Alonzo A
Types of material
James R. Powell Collection, 1958-2010.
Call no.: MS 701
A devoted reader of newspaper cartoon strips, Jim Powell began collecting Peanuts cartoon books in the mid-1970s, prompted by obtaining two pure-bred beagles for his son.
The Powell cartoon book collection consists of 419 mass market paperback copies of popular cartoon books, representing the work of well-known cartoonists such as Charles M. Schultz, Johnny Hart, Gary Larson, Garry Trudeau, Jim Davis, and Berke Breathed. The collection has particularly rich runs of Peanuts, Garfield, and Doonesbury.
- Comic books, strips, etc.
- Davis, Jim, 1945 July 28-
- Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000
- Trudeau, G. B., 1948-
- Watterson, Bill
Types of material
Valley Women's History Collaborative Records, 1971-2008.
Call no.: MS 531
During the early phases of second wave feminism (1968-1978), the Pioneer Valley served as a center for lesbian and feminist activity in western Massachusetts, and was home to over 400 hundred, often ad hoc, groups, such as the Abortion and Birth Control (ABC) Committee, ISIS Women’s Center, the Mudpie Childcare Cooperative, and the Springfield Women’s Center.
The records of the Valley Women’s History Collaborative document the activities of these groups as well as the efforts of the founders of the Women Studies program and department at UMass Amherst to preserve this history. Of particular value are the many oral histories conducted by the collaborative that record the history of women’s activism in the Pioneer Valley, especially as it relates to reproductive rights.
- Abortion--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
- Birth control--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History--20th century
- Feminism--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
- Feminists--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
- Mary Vazquez Women's Softball League
- Women--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
- Valley Women's History Collaborative
Types of material
- Oral histories
Westhampton Town Records, 1779-1900.
Call no.: MS 799
Originally settled by Europeans in 1762, the town of Westhampton, Massachusetts, was separated from adjacent Northampton and incorporated in September 1778. Situated in the western reaches of Hampshire County, it was principally an agricultural town until the later twentieth century, producing apples, other fruit, and maple sugar, with only minor industry. The town still retains its rural character: a century after incorporation, the population had grown to just over 500, and nearly 1,500 by 2000.
The Westhampton collection provides an extensive record of public life and local governance in a typical small Hampshire County town. Spanning from 1779, just after the date of incorporation, through the turn of the twentieth century, the collection includes extensive records of town meetings, including warrants, agendas, and summaries; records of the Overseers of Poor, the schools, militia service, and parish; materials on roads and highways; and a large quantity of financial records.
- Town meetings--Massachusetts--Westhampton
WAG Records, 1995-2002.
Call no.: MS 530
Informally referring to themselves as WAGs (Women Against Garage), Fay Kaynor, Mary Snyder, Merrylees Turner, and Mary Wentworth, opposed the building of a parking garage in the center of Amherst. Together they collected newspaper clippings, reports, minutes of meetings, and flyers that tell both sides of the story, but in particular shed light on the motivations of those opposed to the garage, concerns not well represented in the local paper, the Amherst Bulletin, at the time. Potential problems raised by garage opponents focused on the environmental issues that added traffic in Amherst would introduce, as well as the financial impact both on the town, if the revenues from the garage did not cover the investment or maintenance costs, and on locally-owned businesses that might not be able to afford higher rents if property values near the garage increased significantly.
- Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Kaynor, Fay
- Snyder, Mary
- Turner, Merrylees
- Wentworth, Mary L
John Woodward Account book, 1838-1868.
Call no.: MS 063 bd
John Woodward was a farmer in Groton, Mass., during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Although little is known of his life, it appears that Woodward was born in nearby Tyngsboro on March 7, 1813, and that he married twice: first to Rebecca Sawtelle of Groton in 1823 and second to Mary Jane Nutting — almost 30 years his junior — in Dec. 1866. With Mary Jane, at least, he was highly reproductive, fathering his first son, a seventh child, at the age of 66. Woodward died in Groton on Apr. 20, 1895, and was buried in his family’s ancestral home of Dunstable.
John Woodward’s accounts document the financial transactions of fairly typical farmer in Groton over the period of three decades. Raising an array of produce, from cranberries and chestnuts, to squash, barley, apples, and turnips, Woodward also raised poultry and a variety of livestock. The ledger documents the day to day exchanges of food and labor that comprised the core of the local economy. Noteworthy among his customers are locally prominent families such as Blood and Swett and at least two Nuttings.
- Groton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
- Account books
Edward H. Abbe Papers, 1828-2004.
Call no.: MS 736
Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1915 and raised largely in Hampton, Va., Edward Abbe seemed destined to be an engineer. The great nephew of Elihu Thomson, an inventor and founding partner in General Electric, and grandson of Edward Folger Peck, an early employee of a precursor of that firm, Abbe came from a family with a deep involvement in electrification and the development of street railways. After prepping at the Rectory and Kent Schools, Abbe studied engineering at the Sheffield School at Yale, and after graduation in 1938, accepted a position with GE. For 36 years, he worked in the Industrial Control Division in New York and Virginia, spending summers at the family home on Martha’s Vineyard. After retirement in 1975, he and his wife Gladys traveled frequently, cruising both the Atlantic and Pacific.
Ranging from an extensive correspondence from his high school and college days to materials relating to his family’s involvement in engineering, the Abbe collection offers an in depth perspective on an educated family. An avid traveler and inveterate keeper, Ed Abbe gathered a diverse assemblage of letters, diaries, and memorabilia relating to the history of the Abbe, Peck, Booth, Gifford, and Boardman families. The collection is particularly rich in visual materials, including albums and photographs, depicting homes, travel, and family life over nearly a century.
- Abbe family
- Boardman family
- Booth family
- Electrical engineers
- General Electric
- Gifford family
- Kent School--Students
- Peck family
- Rectory School--Students
- Yale University--Students
- Abbe, Edward H
- Abbe, Gladys Howard
- Abbe, William Parker
- Peck, Edward F
- Peck, Mary Booth
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Olga Gyarmati Aczel Collection, 1948-1987.
Call no.: MS 803
Olga Gyarmati was one of the most successful and popular athletes in post-war Hungary. A multiple national champion in sprint and jumping events, Gyarmati represented her country in three Olympic games, winning gold in the inagural women’s long jump competition in 1948. Gyarmati fled Hungary with her husband, the novelist Tamas Aczel, during the 1956 revolution, eventually settling in Hadley, Mass., in 1966 when Tamas joined the faculty at UMass Amherst.
The Aczel collection includes a small quantity of material relating primarily to Olga Gyarmati’s athletic career and particularly to her participation in the 1948 Olympics. Included are the gold medal awarded to her at the London games along with the printed certificate; a silver box commemorating her victory, presented to her by the Hungarian Workers’ Party; a scrapbook and two photograph albums; and a landscape painting done by Gyarmati in later life.
- Aczel, Tamas
- Olympic athletes--Hungary
Types of material