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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Morehouse, Ward, 1929-

Ward Morehouse Papers, ca.1950-2012
120 boxes (180 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 764

A writer, educator, and activist for human rights and social justice, Ward Morehouse was a prominent critic of corporate power and globalization. Raised in a family of progressive political economists and academics in Wisconsin, Morehouse began his research in international political economy while a student at Yale (BA 1950, MA 1953) and embarked on a standard academic career path. After teaching political science at New York University for a time, he became director of international education at the Center for International and Comparative Studies in 1963, building a particularly strong program in India. However in 1976, conservative opposition to his political views led Morehouse to leave for a new post as president of the Council on International and Public Affairs (CIPA), a human rights organization he had helped found twenty years before. Throughout, he remained an activist at heart. Galvanized by the 1984 industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, he organized the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, and went on to form or work with many other organizations seeking to resist corporate power and build democracy, including the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and the Permanent People’s Tribunal, operating the radical Apex Press. Morehouse died in June 2012 at the age of 83.

The Morehouse collection is a massive archive documenting six decades of research, writing, and activism. A prolific writer and editor, Morehouse left a deep record of his activities, his research and writing on corporate power, and the full breadth of his commitments in labor relations, alternative economics, “people’s law,” and peace.

Subjects
  • Anti-globalization movement
  • Bhopal Union Carbide Plant Disaster, Bhopal, India, 1984
  • Economics
  • India--Economic conditions
Contributors
  • Apex Press
  • Center for International and Comparative Studies
  • Council on International and Public Affairs
  • Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
  • Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Morton, Cyrus

Cyrus Morton Account Book, 1828-1838
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 185 bd

The physician Cyrus Morton, (1797-1873) came from a notable medical family from Plymouth County, Mass. His father Nathaniel and son Thomas were both physicians, and his sister-in-law, Julia A.W. (Drew) Winslow was one of the first female medical doctors in the Commonwealth. Morton’s second wife, Lydia Hall (Drew) Morton, was one of the first teachers at the Perkins School for the Blind, and a member of the first graduating class of the Lexington Normal School. Morton died in Halifax on May 18, 1873.

Morton’s account book contains records of frequent visits to his patients, dispensing medicine, his fees and receipts for payment (often received in kind as pigs, fish, beef, hay, wood, the use of a horse, spinning done by widows or wives, digging a well, carpentry, etc.), and a copy of a prayer in Morton’s hand. Among Morton’s patients were Timothy Wood, Stafford Sturtevant, Jacob Thompson, Capts. Knapp and Cushman, and Cyrus Munroe.

Subjects
  • Halifax (Mass.)--Social life and customs--19th centur
  • Physicians--Massachusetts--Halifax--19th century
Contributors
  • Morton, Cyrus, 1797-1873
Types of material
  • Account books

Mosely, Luther, 1807-

Luther Mosely Daybook, 1842-1846
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 249 bd

Homeopathic physician from Arlington, Vermont. Daybook contains patients’ names, including many women, identification of some cases (such as vaccination, extraction of teeth, treatment of swellings, fractures, and burns, and the delivery of babies), methods of treatment (such as purges, bleeding, cupping, and the use of blistering ointments), prices for his services, and method and form of payment (including goods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, clothes, and services such as butchering and timbering). Also contains personal entries and notation of goods he sold such as poultry, leathers, and fabrics.

Subjects
  • Arlington (Vt.)--Social conditions--19th century
  • Canfield family
  • Contraception--Vermont--Arlington--History--19th century
  • Hard family
  • Homeopathic physicians--Vermont--Arlington
  • Matteson family
  • Medicine--Practice--Vermont--19th century
  • Milligan family
  • Oatman family
  • Pessaries
  • Purdy family
  • Women--Medical care--Vermont--Arlington--19th century
Contributors
  • Mosely, Luther, 1807-
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Daybooks

Murdock, Charles N., 1835-1904

Charles N. Murdock Ledger, 1866-1869
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 251

A grocer from Stow, Massachusetts, Charles N. Murdock catered principally to farmers and the country trade.

The accounts of Murdock’s store include mention of products sold (groceries and other items) and payment received, usually in kind (lard, eggs, fruit, butter, potatoes, cigars, beans, cash, and labor).

Subjects
  • Barter--Massachusetts--Stow--History--19th century
  • Derby, Reuben
  • Grocers--Massachusetts--Stow--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Grocery trade--Massachusetts--Stow--History--19th century
  • Stow (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Stow (Mass.)--Rural conditions--19th century
  • Temple, Rufus
  • Wages-in-kind--Massachusetts--Stow--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Murdock, Charles N., 1836-
Types of material
  • Account books

Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Samuel E. Murray Papers, ca.1945-1989
14 boxes (7 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 568
Image of Samuel Murray, 1966
Samuel Murray, 1966

One of the pioneers in the ephemera trade, Samuel E. Murray (1906-1989) was a long time antiquarian bookman, based at his home in Wilbraham, Mass. Born on Christmas Day, 1906, Murray interrupted his college studies to go to sea, but after the Depression left him unemployed, he landed a position as sales representative for McGraw-Hill and, later, G. & C. Merriam and other firms. Always an avid book collector, Murray left the publishing industry in 1970 to become a full time bookseller. Without ever advertising or issuing catalogs, he developed a wide reputation among dealers and collectors for his keen eye and perspicacity with rare and uncommon books. A generalist by trade, Murray had a particular fondness for colorplate books and travel literature, but was renowned both for his extensive reference library and for recognizing early on the value of ephemera. After a lengthy bout with myelofibrosis, Murray died at home on June 4, 1989.

The Murray Papers contain correspondence between Murray and a range of his fellow booksellers and clients, as well as his extensive card files on fellow book dealers and wants lists. The collection offers insight into the operations of a well known antiquarian bookman during the 1970s and 1980s.

Subjects
  • Antiquarian booksellers--Massachusetts
  • Book collecting
  • Books--Want lists
  • Printed ephemera--Collectors and collecting--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
  • Ephemera Society of America
  • Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Myers, Wallace Haslett

Wallace Haslett Myers Papers, 1938-1961
7 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 968

Wallace Haslett Myers was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on November 21, 1929, the elder of two sons of Roscoe and Priscilla Myers. Myers received his Bachelor’s Degree from Clark University in Worcester in 1951. He attended Boston University Law School in the summer of 1951, then enrolled in Harvard Law School, and received a law degree in 1954. Of note, he survived a close brush with the Worcester Tornado of 1953, classified as the 21st deadliest tornado in U.S. history. After graduating from law school, he served in the U.S. Army from 1954-1956 and was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon his return from the Army, Myers began practicing law, specializing in probate, taxation and real estate matters. On August 23, 1985, he married Irene Healy in Worcester. He belonged to the Worcester Republican 21 Club, was active in the Episcopal Church, and was a supporter of the church’s summer retreat house, Bucksteep Manor in Washington, Massachusetts.

This collection covers the years 1941-1975, with the bulk of the collection between 1945-1957. Myers frequently exchanged letters with many individuals, so the majority is personal correspondence between family and friends, documenting daily life, and notably including one friend’s marriage to a Korean woman during the era of the Korean War. Other papers in the collection pertain to his attendance at Clark, Boston University and Harvard, social activities and clubs, and stamp collecting and trading.

Gift of S. Myron Weinblatt, Apr. 2017
Subjects
  • Harvard Law School
  • Korean War, 1950-1953
  • Law Schools--United States
  • Stamp collectiong
  • Worcester (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Chaffee, Fred
  • Chen, Phil
  • Kerwien, Priscilla
  • Myers, Priscilla Haslett, 1901-1980
  • Myers, Robert Haslett, 1933-
  • Myers, Roscoe, 1899-1982
  • Myers, Wallace Haslett, 1929-
  • Myers, Wallace P.
  • Seiler, Shirley
Types of material
  • Correspondence (Letters)

Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-

David Ledbetter Nanney Papers, 1948-2008
13 boxes (6.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 592
Image of Tracy M. Sonneborn
Tracy M. Sonneborn

The experimental ciliatologist David L. Nanney spent much of his career studying the protozoan Tetrahymena. Under Tracy M. Sonneborn at Indiana University, he completed a dissertation in 1951 on the mating habits of Paramecium, but soon after joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, he turned his attention to Tetrahymena. During his subsequent career in Ann Arbor (1951-1959) and at the University of Illinois (1959-1991), Nanney made a series of fundamental contributions to the cytology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolution of ciliates, influencing the work of other biologists such as Joe Frankel, Janina Kaczanowska, Linda Hufnagel, and Nicola Ricci. Since his retirement in 1991, Nanney has remained in Urbana.

The Nanney Papers include a dense run of professional correspondence with ciliatologists, geneticists, students and colleagues regarding his pioneering research on ciliates and other professional matters. Of particular note is an extensive correspondence with Sonneborn, accompanied by several biographical essays written after Sonneborn’s death, and a large body of correspondence of the controversial reorganization of the biological sciences departments at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. The collection also includes a selection of Nanney’s writings and a handful of photographs.

Subjects
  • Developmental biology
  • Evolution (Biology)
  • Protozoans--Genetics
  • Tetrahymena--Genetics
  • University of Illinois--Faculty
Contributors
  • Allen, Sally
  • Bleyman, Lea K
  • Corliss, John O
  • Frankel, Joseph, 1935-
  • Kaczanowski, Andrzej
  • McKoy, J. Wynne
  • Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-
  • Nyberg, Dennis Wayne, 1944-
  • Orias, Eduardo
  • Ricci, Nicola
  • Siegel, Richard
  • Sonneborn, T. M. (Tracy Morton), 1905-

Negatives file

The index of photographic negatives taken by campus photographers was compiled by the photographers themselves as a working document and remains a work in progress. Although we have begun the process of standardization and have attempted to verify the accuracy of the titles when possible, the entries are often incomplete and contain numerous misspellings and misattributions.

Neg. no. Title Category Date
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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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