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African American history

Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905

Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905

The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, UMass has supported publication of three volumes of Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has digitized the papers and made them freely available on the internet while serving as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books. SCUA continues in its efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.

Every February, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass Amherst commemorate Du Bois’s birthday by co-sponsoring a public colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert and Bethina Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, Arnold Rampersad, and David Levering Lewis.

Significant collections (view all)

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New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Quaker History Collection
1783-1950
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 926

During the early twentieth century, the library at the Moses Brown School (formerly the Friends Boarding School) became an informal repository for Quaker manuscripts reflecting the history and work of the Society of Friends. Most of these materials were later transferred for custody to the school’s governing body, the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.” Many of the letters appear to have been retained as good examples of Quaker expression of family and friendly bonds or as documentation about significant periods in Quaker history, particularly the Gurneyite-Wilburite controversy of the 1840s, and several touch on Quaker involvement in the antislavery and peace movements. Of special note are four interesting letters from the Quaker minister and social reformer, Elizabeth Comstock, written during and just after the Civil War; a series of nine lengthy letters from a visiting English minister Isaac Stephenson, traveling through New England meetings; a substantial series of letters from prominent Friend Samuel Boyd Tobey; and three letters from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Sarah F. Tobey regarding attempts to connect Stowe with Alexander T. Stewart in hopes of raising funds for her plans for the education of women.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Gurney, James Joseph
  • Society of Friends--History
  • Wilbur, John,
Contributors
  • Comstock, Elizabeth L.
  • Stewart, Alexander Turney, 1803-1876
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
  • Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867

Oral history

Class of 1889 in front of Durfee Greenhouse
Oral historian at the First National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, 1977. Photo by Diana Mara Henry

However rich our archival collections may be, there are always parts of the historical record that never make it onto the page. Memories, emotions, and attitudes are notoriously difficult to document, and there a variety of all-too human reasons that people choose not to write down every detail of their lives. As a result, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has been actively engaged in recording oral histories as a way of capturing a more complete record of the many voices and diverse experiences that comprise .

SCUA first ventured into oral historical work in the mid-1970s with efforts to document the history of the university prior to the massive expansion of the previous decade, and the department has subsequently engaged in oral historical projects to document the university’s 125th and 150th anniversaries. In the past decade, SCUA has extended its work to documenting the histories of persons represented in its collections and to a broader array of projects documenting the history and experience of social change and the people and cultures on New England. Furthermore, SCUA is the repository for hundreds of oral histories recorded by other people, ranging in scope from interviews with Franco-Americans in the 1980s, 20th century Argentine political figures, and former residents of the Quabbin towns in Western Massachusetts.

Many of SCUA’s oral histories are available online through our digital repository Credo. These include audio and video recordings and, in a few cases, they may be fully transcribed.

Supporting material

For donors of oral histories:

SCUA is happy to accept donations of oral histories that fit within its collection policy.

SCUA accepts materials in most audio and video formats — cassette, reel to reel, RDAT, VHS, Betacam, or digital — but in every case, we prefer to receive the interview in the format in which it was recorded and in the highest quality available. When possible, we prefer digital files that are uncompressed, however we appreciate receiving a compressed derivative (e.g., mp3 for audio, mp4 for video). When available, transcripts in print and electronic form are a very valuable addition.

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Playgoers’ Club (London, England)

Playgoers' Club Records
1884-1892
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 351

Founded by Heneage Mandell in 1884, the London Playgoers Club met regularly “to afford members facilities for Critical Theatrical Discussions… in the form of… debate[s].” Playgoers in Victorian England did not generally enjoy a favorable reputation, stereotyped as abrasive at best and dangerous at worst. Mandell and his colleagues sought to promote a more genteel image of playgoers while nurturing a relationship between the players and audience.

The core of the Playgoers Club collection consists of a series of meeting minutes from 1884 to 1892, a list of all members who ran in club elections, and a brief, handwritten history of the club.

Subjects
  • Theater audiences--England--London
  • Theater--England--London
  • Theater--Societies and clubs--Great Britain
Contributors
  • Playgoers’ Club (London, England)
Types of material
  • Minutes (Administrative records)

Association of College and Research Libraries. New England Chapter

Association of College and Research Libraries. New England Chapter Records
1976-2011
18 boxes (25.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 747

The largest division of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is an organization of information professionals employed in the wide variety of academic libraries. In 1972, the ACRL authorized formation of regional chapters, including one in New England, as a means of supporting professional growth among academic and research librarians by sponsoring workshops, conferences, and other opportunities for learning, consultation, and collaboration.

Representing over forty years of records of a regional chapter of the ACRL, this collection offers thorough documentation. The collection includes a nearly complete run of bulletins, information on the organization and administration of the chapter, and some “historical” materials gathered for the chapter’s tenth anniversary.

Subjects
  • Librarians--Societies, etc.

New England Agricultural Economics Council

New England Agricultural Economics Council Records
1955-1966
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 031

After dissolution of the New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply in 1955, a group of agricultural economists from the six state universities in New England formed the New England Agricultural Economics Council to carry on with the mission of promoting education and research on economics and the social problems relating to the production, marketing, and consumption of agricultural products.

Concentrated on the first ten years of the NEAEC, the collection include organizational materials, correspondence, minutes and proceedings, financial records, and newsletters.

Subjects
  • Agricultural economics--New England
  • Dairy products--Marketing--New England
  • Food industry and trade--New England
  • Food--Marketing--New England
Contributors
  • New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply
Types of material
  • Newsletters

New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Regional Planning Commission Collection
1935-1943
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 069

Organized in March 1934, the New England Regional Planning Commission was a coalition of state planning boards intended as a permanent, non-partisan, representative body. Charged with the continuous coordination, review, and revision of state plans, the Commission coordinated research and physical planning relating to transportation (including the highway system and airports), interstate water resources, land utilization, conservation of forests and wildlife, and recreational facilities.

This small collection consists of printed reports, bulletins, and minutes from the NERPC from its founding through middle of the Second World War. Ephemeral in nature, the reports chart the growth of regional cooperation in planning in the use of water and land resources and the transportation system, spurred by the federal New Deal.

Subjects
  • Airports--New England
  • New England--Economic conditions
  • Regional planning--New England
  • Roads--New England
  • Transportation--New England
  • Water-supply--New England
Contributors
  • New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply

New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply Records
1922-1955
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 028

The New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply was established after a 1922 meeting in which Lloyd Tenny of the Agricultural Economics Bureau disclosed that federal money was available for research in marketing. He requested that an advisory council be organized to prevent the duplication of research. The group’s charge was to stimulate and coordinate the studies of economic problems connected with the supply of foods and other agricultural products of New England. Membership of the council was comprised of representatives from institutions and agencies actively involved in prosecuting such economic studies. A number of faculty at the Massachusetts Agricultural College helped to shape the council in its early years, including Kenyon Butterfield and Alexander Cance. The council dissolved in 1955, and the New England Agricultural Economics Council was formed in its place.

The collection contains the records of the NERC from its formation in 1922 until its dissolution in 1955. Included are the council’s constitution adopted in 1922 and unaltered throughout the life of the organization, proceedings of annual meetings, publications, and reports on such topics as milk marketing and fruit and vegetable marketing.

Subjects
  • Agricultural economics--New England
  • Dairy products--Marketing--New England
  • Food industry and trade--New England
  • Food--Marketing--New England
Contributors
  • Butterfield, Kenyon L. (Kenyon Leech), 1868-1935
  • Cance, Alexander E
  • New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply

Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP)

Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) Records
1992-2016
4 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 868
Image of

Originating in 1991, the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) was established “to create a global network for book historians working in a broad range of scholarly disciplines.” With more than 1,000 members, research interests include the composition and reception of books as well as their survival and transformation over time.

Records cover the earliest days of the organization’s development, including founding documents, and document a variety of their activities from hosting conferences and publishing a newsletter to promoting scholarship.

Subjects
  • Authors and readers
  • Authorship
  • Books--History
  • Publishers and publishing

Abbe, Edward H.

Edward H. Abbe Papers
1828-2004
22 boxes (28.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 736
Image of Ed Abbe in Bora Bora, 1987
Ed Abbe in Bora Bora, 1987

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.

Gift of Edward Abbe, Mar. 2012
Subjects
  • Abbe family
  • Boardman family
  • Booth family
  • Electrical engineers
  • General Electric
  • Gifford family
  • Kent School--Students
  • Peck family
  • Rectory School--Students
  • Yale University--Students
Contributors
  • Abbe, Edward H
  • Abbe, Gladys Howard
  • Abbe, William Parker
  • Peck, Edward F
  • Peck, Mary Booth
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs
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