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Research guides

Hula cats
Postcard, Miriam Chrisman Papers

The SCUA staff have assembled a series of introductory guides to assist researchers in navigating through our collections. These guides provide a broad overview of our collections for the history of social change; labor, work, and industry; agriculture; and the regional history of New England, and intended for use in conjunction with the descriptions in UMarmot and our finding aids.

On the right side of this page, UMarmot includes a suite of menus to help you find what you need in our manuscript and archival collections: from top to bottom, you may search collections by entering terms in the search box; browse by general category using the drop down menu; browse our university archives; or browse all collections alphabetically by clicking on the appropriate letter.

We encourage researchers with more specialized interests or who require more in-depth work with our collections to consult with our staff.

Learn more:

Riggs, Maida L.

Maida L. Riggs Papers

1925-2000
8 boxes 4.5 linear feet
Call no.: FS 095
Image of Maida Riggs, ca.1944
Maida Riggs, ca.1944

Maida Leonard Riggs, class of 1936, taught women’s physical education at UMass before shifting to teacher preparation. Riggs was a beloved member of the UMass faculty for 28 years before her retirement. An adventurous spirit took Riggs around the globe: to Europe with the Red Cross during World War II; as a bicycling tour leader after the war; on a trek across Nepal at age 62; to Russia, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Uzbekistan. After retiring, Riggs, a self-described compulsive traveler, embarked on a more personal journey to explore her roots. Riggs transcribed more than 250 letters by her pioneer great-grandmother, Mary Ann Clark Longley, and published them under the title A Small Bit of Bread and Butter: Letters from the Dakota Territory, 1832-1869, an absorbing and sometimes heartbreaking account of life on the frontier. An avid photographer, Riggs took advantage of any opportunity to use her camera. These images, particularly from World War II, tell as many stories as do her correspondence. Her memoir, Dancing in Paratrooper Boots, contains typed copies of her letters from her days as a Red Cross volunteer during the war.

The Riggs Papers are a rich documentary history of the World War II era, both in America and Europe, as well as an engrossing study (in transcripts) of the American frontier. Included with extensive correspondence and photographs are published and unpublished prose, and Lovingly, Lucy: Vignettes of a Pioneer Woman’s Life, an essay on Riggs’s paternal grandmother, Lucy Dodge Riggs. Additional items in the collection include handwritten journals, one detailing a trip to China and Japan in 1982, and Riggs’s photographs of young children at play taken for her book on child development, Jump to Joy: Helping Children Grow Through Active Play. Riggs also took her genealogical research seriously, meticulously charting her family’s 1638 immigration from England to Massachusetts. With camera in hand, she later traveled to England in search of more evidence of the Longleys’ English roots.

Gift of Maida Riggs, 2000-2006

Subjects

  • China--Description and travel
  • Longley family
  • Riggs family
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Alumni and alumnae
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Physical Education
  • Women physical education teachers
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945--Women

Contributors

  • Riggs, Maida L.

Types of material

  • Photographs
Rodney Hunt Company

Rodney Hunt Company Records

ca.1850-1987 Bulk: 1862-1943
316 boxes, 150 vols. 158 linear feet
Call no.: MS 105

The Rodney Hunt Company Records document the operation of one of the region’s major producers of textile machinery, water wheels, turbines, and other specialty industrial products. Founded in Orange, Massachusetts, in 1840, the company was incorporated in 1873. Still an active concern, it continues to sell its products in international markets.

Due to a fire in 1882, and several floods, relatively few early records of the Rodney Hunt Company survive, but from the time of its incorporation in 1873, documentation improves, with nearly complete coverage from the period 1883–1914. The collection provides an excellent introduction to the history of technology and industry in 19th- and 20th-century Massachusetts. Of particular note is the incoming correspondence from 1876 to 1903, which is nearly complete. Other materials include company histories, correspondence, board minutes, blueprints, installation drawings, sketchbook drawings, patents, payroll ledgers, account books, price lists, sales books, brochures, catalogs, newsletters, subject files and photographs.

Subjects

  • Orange (Mass.)--Economic conditions
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts
  • Turbines--Design and construction
  • Waterwheels

Contributors

  • Rodney Hunt Company

Types of material

  • Account books
Ross, Laura

Laura M. Ross Papers

1945-2003 Bulk: 1967-1990
13 boxes 6.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 515
Image of Laura Ross
Laura Ross

Born in the coal mining town of Blossburg, Pa., in 1913, Laura Ross (nee Kaplowitz) grew up in poverty as one of seven children of Lithuanian immigrants. In about 1932, Ross married Harry Naddell, a wine merchant, and settled into a comfortable life Brooklyn, N.Y., raising a son and daughter. During the Second World War, however, she became intensely politicized through her work with Russian War Relief, joining the Communist Party and eventually divorcing her les radical husband. Moving to the Boston area, she married Max Ross in 1963, an attorney for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and became a noted presence in a wide range of political activities, working for civil rights, the antiwar movement, and for many years, helping to run the Center for Marxist Education in Central Square , Cambridge. Perhaps most notably, between 1974 and 1984, Ross ran for Congress three times on the Communist Party ticket, taking on the powerful incumbent Tip O’Neill and winning almost a quarter of the vote. An activist to the end, Ross died in Cambridge on August 5, 2007.

The Ross papers are the legacy of a highly visible activist, organizer, educator, and member of the Communist Party USA. Heavily concentrated in the period 1967-1990, the collection includes material relating to her affiliation with CPUSA and her work with the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Mass., including information on party membership, platforms, and conventions, minutes from various district committee meetings, material relating to the People’s Daily World, and course information and syllabi. Scattered throughout the collection are materials pertaining to contemporary political issues and elections, particularly the policies associated with Ronald Reagan. Ross was a vocal and persistent opponent of Reaganomics and the nuclear arms race that Reagan accelerated.

Gift of Eugene Povirk, 2007

Subjects

  • Center for Marxist Education (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • People’s Daily World
  • United States--Politics and government--1981-1989

Contributors

  • Ross, Laura
Sears, Roebuck and Company

Sears, Roebuck and Company Catalog Collection

1929-1980
104 vols. 19.5 linear feet
Call no.: RB 020

Sears, Roebuck and Company were pioneers in the concept of the mail order catalog. Beginning in 1894, company founder Richard Sears began sending thick catalogs offering a wild profusion of consumer goods, ranging from clothing and kitchen goods to toys, bicycles, furniture, and even homes themselves. With an affordable price tag, the catalogs became a staple in many homes, particularly in rural settings and locations with limited access to stores. Changes in the retail market and the country’s demographics led Sears to end publication of its “big book” catalogs in 1993, although the company continues to issue specialty and seasonal catalogs.

This collection contains over one hundred seasonal catalogs issued by Sears from its stores in Boston between 1929 and 1990.

Subjects

  • Department stores
  • Mail-order business

Types of material

  • Mail order catalogs
Seneca Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice

Seneca Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice Collection

1979-1992
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 839
Image of

Concerned women in upstate New York joined together in the summer 1983 to form the Seneca Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, occupying a site near the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, N.Y., where nuclear weaponry was stored. Taking a radical stance against militarism, violence, and oppression and modeling their approach after the women’s encampment at Greenham Common in England, the Seneca Encampment drew participants from a large number of women’s peace groups. In 1994, the Encampment transitioned into the Women’s Peace Land, remaining an active center of resistance to militarism and nuclear power for several years.

Maintained by attorney Alaine T. Espenscheid, the collection consists primarily of legal records relating to the Seneca Encampament, including filings documenting health and saftey, sanitation, water, and finances and materials relating to the arrest of several women for civil disobedience in 1985. Also included is a folder of ephemera and clippings on the Encampment from local media.

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movements--New York (State)
  • Peace movements--New York (State)

Contributors

  • Espenscheid, Alaine T.
Shattuck, Louise F.

Louise F. Shattuck Papers

1881-2006
31 boxes 24 linear feet
Call no.: MS 563
Image of Louise Shattuck
Louise Shattuck

A life-long resident of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, and a third-generation Spiritualist, Louise Shattuck was an artist, teacher, and noted breeder of English cocker spaniels.

Shattuck’s work as a teacher, writer, artist, and dog breeder are documented in this collection through decades of correspondence and diaries, artwork, publications, and newspaper clippings. Of particular note are the materials associated with the Spiritualist history of Lake Pleasant, including three turn of the century spirit slates, samples of Louise’s automatic writing, a ouija board and dowsing rods, and an excellent photograph album with associated realia for the Independent Order of Scalpers, a Lake Pleasant.

Subjects

  • Dogs--Breeding
  • English Cocker spaniels
  • Lake Pleasant (Mass.)--History
  • Mediums--Massachusetts
  • Montague (Mass.)--History
  • Spiritualism

Contributors

  • Shattuck, Louise F
  • Shattuck, Sarah Bickford

Types of material

  • Diaries
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographs
  • Spirit slates
  • Spirit writing
Shearer, James

James Shearer Daybook

1836-1838
1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 418 bd

During the late 1830s, James Shearer operated a general store near Palmer, Massachusetts, trading in the gamut of dry goods and commodities that made up the country trade in Massachusetts, from dried fish, butter, rum, and brandy, to soap, nails, chalk, cloth, sugar, molasses, spices, coffee, and tea. Although some customers paid their accounts in cash, most appear bartered goods (e.g, with butter) or services (carting).

The Shearer daybook contains detailed records the transactions of a general store located in or near Palmer, Mass., during the years surrounding the financial panic of 1837. The volume is attributed to Shearer based on a single signature on the last page of the volume, closing out a lengthy account with J. Sedgwick. Although Shearer cannot be identified with certainty, it appears likely that he was a member of the prolific Shearer family of Palmer in Hampden County.

Subjects

  • General stores--Massachusetts--Palmer
  • Palmer (Mass.)--History

Contributors

  • Shearer, James

Types of material

  • Daybooks
Simon, Peter, 1947-

Peter Simon Collection

ca. 1945-2016
10 boxes 20 linear feet
Call no.: PH 009
Image of Peter Simon in mirror photographing Jennie Blackton at the Bitter End Cafe, 1968
Peter Simon in mirror photographing Jennie Blackton at the Bitter End Cafe, 1968

Peter Simon’s life and work as a photojournalist follows the quintessential arc of the counterculture, baby boom generation. The son of Richard Simon, founder of Simon and Schuster, Peter grew up in the New York City suburb of Riverdale and attended Boston University, graduating in 1969. While a student at BU, he began documenting the political turmoil in the US when he became photo editor for the radical student newspaper, the BU News, and later as a press photographer for the Cambridge Phoenix. In 1970, Simon left Boston to form Tree Frog Farm, a back-to-the-land commune in Guilford, Vermont, and after leaving there in 1972, he immersed himself in the New Age, forming a close relationship with spiritual leader Ram Dass. Among the most constant threads connecting his work throughout these changes was music. Simon’s sisters, Carly, Lucy, and Joanna have all been involved in music, and through a partnership with longtime friend Stephen Davis and his association with Rolling Stone magazine, Simon enjoyed unique access to many of the most important musicians of his generation. He spent time on the road with the Grateful Dead; went backstage and at home with Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and many others. His early forays into the world of reggae with Bob Marley and other Jamaican recording artists resulted in one of his nine books, Reggae Bloodlines. Simon’s other photographic interests are as wide-ranging as his background. A visitor to Martha’s Vineyard since the 1950s and a resident since 1974, his work reflects the changes and cultural richness of that island; his family’s friendship with Jackie Robinson has driven his lifelong documentation of baseball, and he is in high demand for portraits, weddings, and other work for hire.

The Peter Simon Collection houses the original negatives for Simon’s complete body of work as a photo journalist and also includes many photographs taken by his father Richard, an avid amateur photographer, which documents the Simon family and life in Riverdale and Stamford, Connecticut, where the family had a summer home.

Subjects

  • Boston (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Counterculture--United States--20th century
  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Photographs
  • Musicians--Photographs
  • Simon, Carly--Photographs
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements

Contributors

  • Simon, Richard L. (Richard Leo), 1899-1960

Types of material

  • Photographs
Smith, Gilbert, b. 1801

Gilbert Smith and Gilbert Smith, Jr. Account Books

1798-1846
2 vols. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 205 bd

Gilbert Smith was a shoemaker and doctor from New Marlborough, Massachusetts, and his son Gilbert Jr. was a prosperous farmer from Sheffield, Massachusetts. Includes merchandise sales, labor accounts, lists of boarders, and documentation of the sale of homemade butter and cheese to local merchants, as well as trade with the substantial rural black community of the region.

Subjects

  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Agricultural wages--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Dairy products--Massachusetts--Marketing--History--19th century
  • Family--Economic aspects--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Sheffield--History--19th century
  • New Marlborough (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Sheffield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century

Contributors

  • Smith, Gilbert, 1801-
  • Smith, Gilbert, d. 1804

Types of material

  • Account books