The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses over 35,000 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 built strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the history of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to the culture of the Cold War: 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.
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.
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
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.
Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press, among others, as well as 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 William Morris and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers.
New England history and culture
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. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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.
Paul Samuel Sanders Papers, 1937-1972.
Call no.: FS 084
Methodist Clergyman; literary and religious scholar.
Correspondence, drafts of writings, notes for lectures and sermons, book reviews, course materials, class notes taken as a student, biographical material, and other papers, relating chiefly to Sander’s studies of English and religious literature, his teaching career at several colleges (including the University of Massachusetts) and church-related activities. Includes draft of an unpublished book on the Bible as literature; correspondence and organized material from his participation in Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies, Amherst Massachusetts (LAOS); and notebook of funeral records (1940-1957).
- Layman's Academy for Oecumenical Studies
- Methodist Church--Clergy
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
- Sanders, Paul Samuel
Types of material
Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers, 1970-1987 (Bulk: 1945-1980).
Call no.: MS 881
For thirty five years, Gifford Towle (1907-1987) and his with Marjorie worked as missionaries in the state of Maharashtra, India. Born and raised a Quaker, Towle was educated at the Mt. Hermon School and Massachusetts State College, graduating in 1932. After marrying in a Quaker ceremony held in Congregational Church that September, Towle entered the Hartford Seminary with the goal of preparing himself for foreign missionary work. Gaining experience through appointments at churches in Packardville, Pelham, and Southampton, Massachusetts, he enlisted with the American Marathi Mission in 1939. Assigned to the Vadala Mission in Ahmadnagar, the oldest missionary outpost of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, he drew on his education at Mass. State to introduce modern agricultural engineering technologies and concepts, particularly in the “the practical field of water resources.” After retiring in 1973, Towle toured the country lecturing on India and his experiences.
The Towle collection is a remarkably rich assemblage reflecting over three decades of life as a foreign missionary and agricultural engineer in rural India. Between regular reports on the progress of the mission and his extensive correspondence with his family and American and Indian associates, the collection provides a detailed record of the massive changes affecting India from the end of colonialism through the beginning of India’s green revolution and into the early 1970s. A diligent writer, meticulous record keeper, and avid photographer, Towle left a thorough record of his life’s work and its impact on the lives of rural Indians.
- India--Description and travel
- Maharasthra (India)--Economic conditions
- Towle, Marjorie Blossom
Types of material
Mary E. Tucker Journal and Receipt book, ca.1854-1890.
Call no.: MS 076 bd
The second child of attorney George J. Tucker and his first wife, Eunice, Mary E. Tucker was born in Lenox, Mass., ca.1835, and raised there with her elder brother Joseph and sisters Maria, Harriett, and Sarah. Mary died at a tragically young age on August 20, 1855. She is buried with her father and sister Maria in the town’s Church on the Hill Cemetery.
As small as the volume is, it is a complex book, consisting of two main parts, neither with certain authorship. Approximately the first third of the volume is comprised of brief notes on sermons delivered by Congregational minister Edmund K. Alden and other, 1854-1862, while the rest is a well-organized receipt book kept in a different hand. The receipts are arranged in sections devoted to bread and cake, soups, fish, meats, vegetables, pastry, puddings, other desserts, cake, preserves and jellies, miscellaneous, and pickles and sauces. Several recipes are attributed to other writers, including the well-known cookbook author Juliet Corson.
- Cooking, American--Massachusetts--Lenox
- Lenox (Mass.)--History--19th century
- Alden, Edmund K.
Types of material
Dana F. Ward Diaries, 1897-1982 (Bulk: 1904-1951).
Call no.: MS 577
Born in Chelsea, Mass., in 1874, and a long-time resident of Somerville, Dana F. Ward enjoyed a prominent career in the fisheries industry in Massachusetts. Entering the wholesale fish business in 1900 when he organized the firm of Whitman, Ward, and Lee, Ward became Director and Advertising Manager of the Boston Fish Market Corporation (builder and operator of the Fish Pier) and an investor. Before the U.S. entry into the First World War, Ward was employed by the state to lecture on the benefits of frozen fish as a food source. An active member in both the Congregational Church and local Masonic lodge, he married Katherine B. Symonds (d. 1948) in Leominster in October 1899.
Personal in nature, the Ward diaries provide a chronicle of the daily life of a relatively well to do fish wholesaler from 1897 through 1951, with some gaps. Generally small in size, the diaries are densely written and are laid in with letters, various sorts of documents, stamps, newsclippings, and other ephemera that help define the contours of Ward’s life. The collection is particularly rich for the years during the Second World War and it includes three diaries (1967, 1977, 1982) from later family members.
- Somerville (Mass.)--History
- Ward, Dana F
Types of material
Ebenezer Akin Account Book, 1842-1869.
Call no.: MS 220 bd
Businessman, town clerk, owner or part-owner of many ships, merchant, lawyer, and involved citizen in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Includes activities as town clerk, accounts for ships he may have owned, entries made as the executor of several estates, accounts of expenditures for clothing and incidentals, and accounts of lot purchases and loans. Also contains genealogical information about the Blossom family of Bridgewater and the family of Benjamin and Eunice Akin.
- Akin, Benjamin, 1715-1802
- Akin, Eunice
- Blossom family
- Clothing and dress--Prices--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
- Fairhaven (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Fairhaven (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
- Hesper (Bark)
- Napoleon (Ship)
- William Rotch (Ship)
- Winthrop (Bark)
- Akin, Ebenezer, 1816-
Types of material
- Account books
- Inventories of decedents estates
American Express Company Florence Office Records, 1867-1890.
Call no.: MS 298
Records of express agent Watson L. Wilcox of Simsbury, Connecticut and Florence, Massachusetts documenting Wilcox’s work for the American Express Company and the evolution of the company from a small shipping business to a delivery organization whose services contributed to the growth of the local and regional economy. Records consist of agent books, receipt books, and waybills listing accounts of local companies and residents for the sending, receiving and delivery of freight, telegraph messages, express cash, goods and packages.
- American Merchant's Union Express Company
- Express service--Massachusetts--Florence--History
- Florence (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Florence Manufacturing Company
- Florence Sewing Machine Company
- Hill, Samuel L
- New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company
- Nonotuck Silk Company
- Parsons, I. S
- Simsbury (Conn.)--Economic conditions
- Williston, A. L
- American Express Company (Florence, Mass.)
- Wilcox, Watson L., 1832 or 3-1896
Black Mass Communications Project Collection, ca.1970-1985.
Call no.: RG 045/30 B4
The Black Mass Communications Project was founded as an educational and informational outlet for Black students at UMass Amherst in 1968 and authorized in the following year as a Registered Student Organization. Over the years, BCMP played varied roles on campus, hosting cultural events, lectures, workshops, and social gatherings as to help keep black music alive. Many of its early members were also affiliated with the student radio station WMUA, and throughout the 1970s, the organization played a prominent role in providing programming to the station, offering programming highlighting African American music and current affairs.
The BCMP collection consists of many dozens of reel to reel audiotapes of radio broadcasts aired over WMUA during the 1970s and early 1980s by and for the university’s African American community. Included is a range of locally-produced public affairs, cultural, and music programming, with some content licensed from around the country. A few of the tapes are associated with the Five College’s National Public Radio affiliate, WFCR.
- African American college students
- African American music
- College radio stations--Massachusetts
- WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
- WMUA (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
- Sound recordings
Center for Community Access Television Records, 1973-1989.
Call no.: MS 293
Group comprised of students from the University of Massachusetts and community members who sought to develop and promote cultural, literary, charitable, educational and public affairs television programming. Records include by-laws, articles of organization, organizational histories, annual reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, program schedules, subject files, brochures, handbills, news clippings, and materials relating to a proposed merger with University of Massachusetts Cable Vision. In 1989, CCATV was renamed Amherst Community Television (ACT).
- Amherst (Mass.)--Intellectual life--20th century
- Cable television--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
- Public-access television--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
- Television programs--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
- Center for Community Access Television (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
Girls Club of Greenfield Records, 1895-1995.
Call no.: MS 379
Founded in 1895, the Girls Club of Greenfield provides high quality early care and educational services to the girls of Franklin County, Massachusetts, and advocates for the rights of children and their families. During the school year, the Club offers diverse programming, ranging from an infant room and preschool to after school activities that promote teamwork, community spirit, social skills, and confidence. Since 1958, they have also operated a summer camp, Lion Knoll, in Leyden.
The records of the Girls Club of Greenfield include by-laws, annual reports, reports and meeting minutes of the Board of Directors, correspondence, and ledgers and account books. Also contains program files for daycare, summer camp, education worker programs, and others, personnel records, membership and committee lists, newsletters, press releases, ledgers, account books, scrapbooks, news clippings, photographs, slides, and artifacts.
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social conditions
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social life and customs
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Societies and clubs--History
- Greenfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Greenfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Girls Club of Greenfield (Greenfield, Mass.)
Types of material
- Account books