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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This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.”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.

Although SCUA accepts materials in most audio and video formats — cassette, reel to reel, RDAT, VHS, Betacam, or digital — we typically prefer to receive interviews in the format in which they were recorded and in the highest quality available. When possible, we prefer uncompressed digital files, 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.
Folk New England

Folk New England Ephemera Collection

1960-1973
1 oversize box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1017
Image of Poster for performance by Jackie Wilson, 1964 (designed by Eric von Schmidt)
Poster for performance by Jackie Wilson, 1964 (designed by Eric von Schmidt)

Founded by Betsy Siggins in 2009, Folk New England is an organization dedicated to documenting, preserving, and interpreting the cultural legacy of folk music in all its forms, with an emphasis on New England’s contributon.

The Ephemera Collection consists of dozens of posters, fliers, calendars, and other promotional materials for musical acts collected by Folk New England. Concentrated in the years of the folk revival in the late 1950s to late 1960s, many of the posters were sent to Club 47 in Cambridge, Mass.

Gift of Tom Curren and Folk New England, March 2018

Subjects

  • Folk music--New England

Types of material

  • Fliers
  • Posters
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 Association of Teachers of English

New England Association of Teachers of English Records

1901-2001 Bulk: 1901-1938
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1011

Formed by a group of 300 teachers in New England in 1901, the New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE) was the first association of teachers of English in the U.S. Open to all teachers of English from elementary schoolteachers to college deans, NEATE’s focus on the principles and practices of teaching English was as new as the addition of the study of English into the early 20th century curriculum.

While the collection is expected to grow, it currently consists of two published histories of the organization and two early record books of NEATE ranging in date from 1901-1938. These record books include issues of the Leaflet, the organization’s publication; conference programs; notes and minutes; newspaper articles; agendas; and some financial records.

Subjects

  • English teachers--New England
  • Teachers--History--19th century
  • Teachers--History--20th century

Contributors

  • New England Association of Teachers of English
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