“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all'; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”
W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951
In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.
While not comprehensive, the following includes a brief synopsis of some of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:
Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.
A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.
Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).
- African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
- Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
- Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
- Arts management and arts administration:
In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
- Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
- Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
- Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
- Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.
The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.
- Cookery and culinary history
SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
- Literature and the arts
Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
- Politics and political culture
SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.
Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University Archives collects, preserves, and makes available official and non-official records documenting the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community, including its administration, departments and programs, faculty, and staff. The Archives avidly collects materials that reflect the lives and experiences of its students and alumni and that reflect our history as one of the Commonwealth’s two land grant institutions.
SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:
John H. Coon Ledger, 1862-1873.
Call no.: MS 230 bd
Owner of a general store and a farmer in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Ledger includes lists of customers, the goods that they purchased, and how they paid (cash and exchange of goods or services).
- Arnold, Emmons
- Crippen, Frank
- Croslear, Aaron, Mrs
- Curtiss, Ira
- General stores--Massachusetts--Sheffield
- Noteware, Frank
- Sheffield (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Tuttle, Leonard
- Coon, John H
Types of material
- Account books
William Wallace Denslow Botanical Manuscripts Collection, 1864-1868.
Call no.: MS 064
A druggist by training, William Denslow became interested in botany as a means of combating tuberculosis through outdoor exercise. As his interests developed, Denslow amassed an herbarium that included between 11,000 and 15,000 specimens, including both American and European species.
The Denslow collection consists of a single volume of manuscripts, chiefly letters, collected from significant botanists and other individuals, including William Henry Brewer, Mordecai Cubitt Cooke, Asa Gray, Isaac Hollister Hall, Thomas P. James, Horace Mann, Edward Sylvester Morse, Charles Horton Peck, George Edward Post, Frederick Ward Putnam, George Thurber, and John Torrey.
- Botany--History--19th century--Sources
- Brewer, William Henry, 1828-1910
- Cooke, M. C. (Mordecai Cubitt), b. 1825
- Denslow, William Wallace, 1826-1868
- Gray, Asa, 1810-1888
- Hall, Isaac H. (Isaac Hollister), 1837-1896
- James, Thomas Potts, 1803-1882
- Mann, Horace, 1844-1868
- Morse, Edward Sylvester, 1838-1925
- Peck, Charles H. (Charles Horton), 1833-1917
- Post, George E. (George Edward), 1838-1909
- Putnam, F. W. (Frederic Ward), 1839-1915
- Thurber, George, 1821-1890
- Torrey, John, 1796-1873
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Digital UMass contains the results of several initiatives to document the history of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and its predecessors the Massachusetts Agricultural College and Massachusetts State College. In addition to an on-going project to capture the oral history of the University’s administrators and reflections on student life, the archives has digitized materials relating to the early years of co-education at MAC and women’s education at the University. Additional materials will be added as they become available.
- Annual Reports, 1864-1932/33
- College Monthly
- Student newspaper, 1887-1889
- Distinguished Visitors Program, 1972-1979
- Invited lectures on current topics by distinguished speakers (audio files in mp3 format).
- Oral Histories
- Barnard, Ellsworth and Mary, Classes of 1928 and 1934
- Bromery, Randolph W., Chancellor
- Class of 1919: Mary E. Garvey, Willard K. French, Anna Liebman Shore, E. Sidney Stockwell
- Conant, Eudora V., Nutritionist and wife of Ralph Van Meter, UMass President, 1947-1954
- Curtis, Helen, Dean of Women, 1945-1973
- McLaughlin, Fred, Class of 1911.
- Mitchell, Helen, Nutritionist; Dean, School of Home Economics
- Rand, Mrs. Frank Prentice, wife of Frank Prentice Rand, poet, writer, and UMass Professor of English. Reminiscences about Robert Frost, faculty lives, MAC.
- Wheeler, Mae Holden, Class of 1916
- Selected records related to women’s education at Massachusetts Agricultural College, 1906-1924
- Selected records related to women’s affairs at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC), Massachusetts State College (MSC), and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1924-1951
Student Handbooks, 1890-1950
- Records, 1902-1993 (bulk, 1940-1973)
- Handbooks for Women, 1925/27-1941
(See also Record Group 30/00/2: Student Handbooks, 1890-1950)
- Keith, Vicky, “Mass Aggie Women, 1910-1923” (Fall 1983)
- O’Donnell, Robert, “Undergraduate Women and the Post-War College: The University of Massachusetts” (December 3, 1996)
Charles H. Fernald Papers, 1869-1963.
Call no.: FS 059
During a long and productive career in natural history, Charles Fernald conducted important research in economic entomology and performed equally important work as a member of the faculty and administration at Massachusetts Agricultural College. Arriving at MAC in 1886 as a professor of zoology, Fernald served as acting President of the College (1891-1892) and as the first Director of the Graduate School (1908-1912), and perhaps most importantly, he helped for many years to nurture the Hatch Experiment Station.
Correspondence, published writings, publication notes, newspaper clippings, Massachusetts Board of Agriculture Reports, and biographical material including personal recollections of former student and colleague Charles A. Peters.
- Agriculture--Study and teaching
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of Zoology
- Zoology--Study and teaching
- Fernald, Charles H.
William F. Field Papers, 1948-1986.
Call no.: RG 030/2 F5
The University’s first Dean of Students, William F. Field held the post from 1961 until his retirement in 1988. The 27 years Field was Dean of Students was a critical time of growth and unrest, as the University’s student population more than tripled in size and the nation-wide movements for civil rights and against the Vietnam War were reflected through student activism and protest on the University’s campus. Responsible for ending student curfews and overseeing all dorms becoming co-ed, Field also worked with minority students and faculty to support the Black Arts Movement on campus and the founding of the W.E.B Du Bois Afro-American Studies Department.
The William F. Field Papers document Field’s career as an administrator at the University of Massachusetts and specifically his role as Dean of Students from 1961-1988. The correspondence, memoranda, reports, notes, and other official printed and manuscript documents are a rich resource for one of the most important and volatile eras in the University’s history. Of particular interest are extensive files on student protests and activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the growing diversity of the campus student population, flourishing of the Black Arts Movement on campus and the founding of the W.E.B. Du Bois Afro-American Studies Department.
- African American college students--Massachusetts
- Field, William Franklin, 1922-
- Race relations--United States
- Universities and colleges--United States--Administration
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dean of Students
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American Studies
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States
Types of material
Sidney Finkelstein Papers, 1914-1974.
Call no.: MS 128
Noted critic of music, literature, and the arts, as well as a writer and an active member of the Communist Party U.S.A. Includes letters to and from Mr. Finkelstein; original manuscripts of reviews, articles, essays, and books; legal documents, educational, military, and personal records, financial papers, contracts, photographs, and lecture and course notes.
- Art criticism--United States--History--20th century
- Communism--United States--History
- Communist Party of the United States of America--History--20th century
- Communist aesthetics--History--Sources
- Culture--Study and teaching--United States--History--20th century
- Music--History and criticism
- Musical criticism--United States--History
- Socialist realism--History--Sources
- Cohen, R. S. (Robert Sonné)
- Finkelstein, Sidney Walter, 1909-1974
- Gorton, Sally Kent, 1915-2000
- Hille, Waldemar, 1908-
- Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971
- Lawson, John Howard, 1894-
- Richmond, Al, 1913-1987
- Selsam, Millicent Ellis, 1912-
- Siegmeister, Elie, 1909-
- Thomson, Virgil, 1896-
- Veinus, Abraham
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Nancy E. Foster Papers, 1972-2010.
Call no.: MS 753
For the better part of four decades, Nancy E. Foster was active in the struggle for social justice, peace, and political reform. From early work in civil rights through her engagement in political reform in Amherst, Mass., Foster was recognized for her work in the movements opposing war, nuclear power, and the assault on civil liberties after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Locally, she worked with her fellow members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst and with interfaith coalitions to address problems of hunger and homelessness.
Centered in western Massachusetts and concentrated in the last decade of her life (2000-2010), the Nancy Foster Papers includes a record of one woman’s grassroots activism for peace, civil liberties, and social justice. The issues reflected in the collection range from the assault on civil liberties after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to immigration, hunger and poverty, the Iraq Wars, and the conflict in Central America during the 1980s, and much of the material documents Nancy’s involvement with local organizations such as the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. The collection also contains a valuable record of Nancy’s participation in local politics in Amherst, beginning with the records of the 1972 committee which was charged with reviewing the Town Meeting.
- Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Civil rights--Massachusetts
- Disaster relief
- El Salvador--History--1979-1992
- Interfaith Cot Shelter (Amherst, Mass.)
- Iraq War, 2003-2011
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
- War on Terrorism, 2001-2009
- Lay Academy for Oecumenical Studies
- Massachusetts Voters for Clean Elections
- Olver, John
- Pyle, Christopher H.
- Swift, Alice
- Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst
Types of material
Robert Fowler Diary, 1831-1854.
Call no.: MS 174
A native of Salisbury, Massachusetts, Robert Fowler (b.1805) was a prosperous shipbuilder and merchant with a trade extending from Nova Scotia to the Gulf South. He and his wife Susan Edwards, whom he married in 1830, had at least four children.
Kept by Robert Fowler between 1831 and 1854, the volume includes both diary entries (primarily 1841-1846) and accounts. With occasional commentary on local political matters, commerce, weather, and family matters, the diary is largely a record of Fowler’s spiritual concerns and his wrestling with doctrinal matters and the relationship of religion and daily life. An ardent temperance man, he commented on religious topics ranging from the Millerite movement to the resurrection, salvation, and the duty of prayer.
- Fitch, Charles, 1805-1844
- Millerite movement
- Religious life--Massachusetts--Salisbury
- Salisbury (Mass.)--History
- Second Advent
Types of material
- Account books
Robert Francis Papers, 1891-1988.
Call no.: MS 403
The poet and essayist Robert Francis settled in Amherst, Mass., in 1926, three years after his graduation from Harvard, and created a literary life that stretched for the better part of half a century. An associate of Robert Frost and friend of many other writers, Francis occasionally worked as a teacher or lecturer, including a brief stint on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College, but he sustained himself largely through his writing, living simply in “Fort Juniper,” a cottage he built on Market Hill Road in North Amherst. A recipient of the Shelley Award (1939) and the Academy of American Poets award for distinguished poetic achievement (1984), Francis was a poet in residence at both Tufts (1955) and Harvard (1960) Universities. He died in Amherst in July 1987.
The Francis Papers contains both manuscript and printed materials, drafts and finished words, documenting the illustrious career of the poet. Of particular note is Francis’s correspondence with other writers, publishing houses, and readers, notably Paul Theroux. Also contains personal photographs and Francis family records and a small number of audio recordings of Francis reading his poetry. Letters from Francis to Regina Codey, 1936-1978, can be found in MS 314 along with two typescript poems by Francis.
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- University of Massachusetts Press
- Brown, Rosellen
- Ciardi, John, 1916-
- De Vries, Peter
- Fitts, Dudley, 1903-
- Francis, Robert, 1901-1987
- Hall, Donald, 1928-
- Humphries, Rolfe
- Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972
- Moss, Howard, 1922-
- Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972
- Theroux, Paul
- Wilbur, Richard, 1921-
Types of material
- Phonograph records