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American History Workshop

American History Workshop Records
1980-2016
42 boxes (63 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 922

Founded by Richard Rabinowitz in 1980, American History Workshop is a consortium of historians, designers, and filmmakers who promote public understanding of history through innovative exhibition and interpretation. Collaborating with a national roster of clients, the AHW provides consultation and assistance in developing, designing, and installing exhibitions that convey current historical scholarship and pedagogical practice for the public. Their exhibits have explored a wide array of critical themes in American history, including slavery, civil rights, and social justice; Constitutional and political history; immigration; urbanization; and labor history. In recent years, they have expanded their operations to include services such as audience analysis, media production, fund raising assistance, and organizational development.

The records of the American History Workshop document over three decades of work by one of the premier firms in historical exhibition and interpretation. The collection contains detailed records of nearly 600 projects prepared in collaboration with organizations ranging from the New-York Historical Society and Arizona Historical Society to the Smithsonian, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Gift of Richard Rabinowitz, 2016
Subjects
  • Exhibitions
  • Public history
Contributors
  • Rabinowitz, Richard
  • Singer, Michael

Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, 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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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

No matter how 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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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

Alternative Energy Coalition

Alternative Energy Coalition
ca.1975-1985
9 boxes (13.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 586

A product of the vibrant and progressive political culture of western Massachusetts during the early 1970s, the Alternative Energy Coalition played a key role in the growth of antinuclear activism. In 1974, the AEC helped mobilize support for Sam Lovejoy after he sabotaged a weather tower erected by Northeast Utilities in Montague, Mass., in preparation for a proposed nuclear power plant, and they helped organize the drive for a referendum opposing not only the proposed plant in Montague, but existing plants in Rowe, Mass., and Vernon, Vt. Forming extensive connections with other antinuclear organizations, the AEC also became one of the organizations that united in 1976 to form the Clamshell Alliance, which made an art of mass civil disobedience.

The AEC Records provide insight into grassroots activism of the 1970s and 1980s, galvanized by the seemingly unrestrained growth of the nuclear power industry. The records, emanating from the Hampshire County branch, contain both research materials used by the AEC and organizational and promotional materials produced by them, including publications, minutes of meetings, correspondence, and materials used during protests. Of particular interest are a thick suite of organizational and other information pertaining to the occupation of the Seabrook (N.H.) nuclear power plant in 1979 and minutes, notes, and other materials relating to the founding and early days of the Clamshell Alliance. The collection is closely related to the Antinuclear Collection (MS 547).

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Hampshire County (Mass.)--History
  • Nonviolence--Massachusetts
  • Nuclear energy--Massachusetts
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Political activists--Massachusetts
  • Renewable energy source
  • Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant (N.H.)
  • Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station
Contributors
  • Alternative Energy Coalition
  • Clamshell Alliance
Types of material
  • Realia

Aronson, James

James Aronson Collection of W.E.B. Du Bois
1946-1983
2 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 292

Materials written by or pertaining to W.E.B. Du Bois, collected by James Aronson, who was executive editor of the “National Guardian” from 1948 to 1967. Includes correspondence, speeches by Du Bois in published form, articles by Du Bois, biographical sketches and tribute articles about Du Bois, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Civil rights
  • African Americans--History--1877-1964
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Death and burial
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on Pan-Africanism
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on democracy
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on pacifism
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on socialism
  • National Guardian
  • Socialism--Africa
Contributors
  • Du Bois, Shirley Graham, 1896-1977
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Speeches

Barton, Thomas

Thomas Barton Papers
1947-1977 (Bulk: 1960-1974)
4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 539
Image of YPSL logo
YPSL logo

In the early 1960s, Tom Barton (b. 1935) emerged as a leader in the Left-wing of the Young People’s Socialist League, the national youth affiliate of the Socialist Party. Deeply committed to the civil rights and antiwar struggles and to revolutionary organizing, Barton operated in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York and was a delegate and National Secretary at the 1964 convention in which tensions within YPSL led to its dissolution.

A small, but rich collection, the Barton Papers provide a glimpse into the career of a long-time Socialist and activist. From Barton’s entry into the Young People’s Socialist League in the latest 1950s through his work with the Wildcat group in the early 1970s, the collection contains outstanding content on the civil rights and antiwar movements and the strategies for radical organizing. The collection is particularly rich on two periods of Barton’s career — his time in the YPSL and Student Peace Union (1960-1964) and in the Wildcat group (1968-1971) — and particularly for the events surrounding the dissolution of YPSL in 1964, following a heated debate over whether to support Lyndon Johnson for president. The collection includes correspondence with other young radicals such as Martin Oppenheimer, Lyndon Henry, Juan McIver, and Joe Weiner.

Subjects
  • Antiwar movements
  • Civil rights movements
  • Communists
  • Revolutionaries
  • Socialist Party of the United States of America
  • Socialists--United States
  • Student Peace Union
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
  • Wildcat
  • Young People's Socialist League
Contributors
  • Barton, Thomas
  • Gilbert, Carl
  • Henry, Lyndon
  • MacFadyen, Gavin
  • McIver, Juan
  • Oppenheimer, Martin
  • Shatkin, Joan
  • Shatkin, Norm
  • Verret, Joe
  • Weiner, Joe

Binet, Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte, 1877-

Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte Binet Collection
1784-1852 (Bulk: 1794-1814)
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 738
Image of

During the revolutionary era of 1789-1848, Belgium was ensnared in power politics on a continental scale, with all the drama and turbulence entailed. From the conquest of the region by French Republican forces under Napoleon in 1794 through the dissolution of French control in 1814, modern-day Belgium was divided into nine administrative departments, including the centrally-located Département de la Dyle, which included the key cities of Brussels, Louvain, and Nivelles.

Collected by Maurice Emmanuel Hippolyte Binet, this small collection of manuscripts is relatively tightly focused on the years of French Republican domination of Belgium (1794-1814), with a particular focus on the Département de la Dyle. The majority of the collection consists of letters received by the Central Administration in the Dyle, including letters to and from Napoleonic generals and French military hierarchy, civic authorities, administrators, and police. Many of the letters concern the challenges of asserting control over a subject population and the political fallout of the French Revolution, but the collection also reflects the greater tensions within a complex society changing rapidly during an age of revolution.

Language(s): French
Subjects
  • Belgium--History--1794-1814
  • Brabant (Belgium)--History
  • Dyle (Belgium)
  • France--History--1789-1815
  • France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799
  • Napoleonic Wars--1800-1815
  • Police--France--18th century
Contributors
  • Lambrechts, Charles Joseph Matthieu, 1753-1823
  • Mallarmé, François René Augustin, 1755-1831
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Bowman, Mitzi

Mitzi Bowman Papers
ca.1970-2010
12 boxes (18 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 761
Image of Mitzi Bowman, 2012
Mitzi Bowman, 2012

For years, Mitzi Bowman and her husband Pete were stalwarts of the progressive community in Connecticut, and tireless activists in the movements for social justice, peace, and the environment. Shortly after their marriage in 1966, the Bowman’s settled in Newtown and then in Milford, Conn., where Pete worked as an engineer and where Mitzi had trouble finding employment due to her outspoken ways. In close collaboration, the couple became ardent opponents of the war in Vietnam as well as opponents of nuclear weaponry. The focus of their activism took a new direction in 1976, when they learned of plans to ship spent nuclear fuel rods near their home. Founding their first antinuclear organization, STOP (Stop the Transport of Pollution), they forced the shipments to be rerouted, and they soon devoted themselves to shutting down nuclear power in Connecticut completely, including the Millstone and Connecticut Yankee facilities, the latter of which was decommissioned in 1996. The Bowmans were active in a wide array of other groups, including the New Haven Green Party, the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, the People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), and they were founding members of Fight the (Utility Rate) Hike, the Progressive Action Roundtable, and Don’t Waste Connecticut. Two years after Pete died on Feb. 14, 2006 at the age of 78, Mitzi relocated to Vermont, carrying on her activism.

The Bowman Papers center on Mitzi and Pete Bowman’s antinuclear activism, dating from their first forays with STOP in the mid-1970s through the growth of opposition to Vermont Yankee in the approach to 2010. The collection offers a valuable glimpse into the early history of grassroots opposition to nuclear energy and the Bowmans’ approach to organizing and their connections with other antinuclear activists and to the peace and environmental movements are reflected in an extensive series of notes, press releases, newsclippings, talks, ephemera, and correspondence. The collections also includes extensive subject files on radiation, nuclear energy, peace, and related topics.

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--Connecticut
  • Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone
  • Don't Waste Connecticut
  • STOP (Stop the Transport of Pollution)
Contributors
  • Bowman, Pete

Brinsfield, Mark

Mark Brinsfield Poster Collection
1979-1994
53 items (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 854
Image of Wer Kohl wählt, wählt Reagan
Wer Kohl wählt, wählt Reagan

Mark Taylor Brinsfield studied languages and law in Europe before receiving his MA in European Studies at the University of Exeter. His research has included work in the history of multiracial people in post-World War II Southeast Asia. Brinsfield currently lives in Northampton, Mass.

The posters in the Brinsfield Collection represent a cross-section of West German political campaigning during the decade leading up to reunification. Focused primarily on national, rather than regional elections, the collection includes representative work from the major left- and right-leaning political parties (CDU and RCDS, SDU, the Greens) as well as a few posters addressed at major political issues, including the antinuclear and antiwar movements.

Language(s): German
Subjects
  • Antinuclear movements--Germany
  • Antiwar movements--Germany
  • Christlich-Demokratische Union Deutschlands
  • Germany--History --1945-1990
  • Germany--Politics and government--1945-1990
  • Grünen (Political party)
  • Ring Christlich-Demokratischer Studenten
  • Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
Contributors
  • Staeck, Klaus
Types of material
  • Posters
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