As one of the main repositories documenting the history of western Massachusetts and New England, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.
Concentrated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Among the more valuable collections for the political history of the region is the papers of Silvio O. Conte, Republican congressman from the First District of Massachusetts from 1959-1991. A member of the House Appropriations Committee (and its ranking minority member from 1979-1991), Conte is particularly remembered for his work in Health and Human Services, education, and the environment. SCUA also holds collections for state representatives John Haigis and Maurice Donahue, as well as other figures involved in political life in the Commonwealth.
Although the Department holds materials relating to individual communities in western Massachusetts, the history of the Quabbin watershed is a particular focal point. SCUA collects books printed in the Quabbin region and more generally, in rural New England prior to 1900, as well as manuscript, printed, and photographic collections relating to Quabbin towns.
- Business and industry
- In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
- Civic organizations and charities
- Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
- Family history
- SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
- Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
- Medical history
- Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
- Military history
- Political life and culture
- The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
- Printing in rural Massachusetts
- SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
- Quabbin Regional collections
- Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
- Religious life
- Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
- New England regional history
Craig D. Robinson Papers, ca.1980-2007.
Call no.: MS 739
A labor attorney and activist, Craig Robinson was born in Hartford, Conn., on August 6, 1952, and raised in Stafford. After rising tuition led him to drop out of the University of Connecticut in 1971, Robinson worked in a variety of manual jobs until he was hired by the US Postal Service in 1974. From the time of his assignment to the bulk mail facility in Springfield the next year, Robinson was an active member of the American Postal Workers Union, eventually serving as steward, vice president, and president of his Local, and his activism often created friction with management. Earning his BA at UMass Amherst (1980) and JD from the Western New England School of Law (1984), he began practicing labor law, moving to full time in 1991. Devoted to workplace justice, he served as General Counsel for the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council and for Locals of the United Roofers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union, among others, and was a founding board member of the Western Massachusetts Coalituion for Occupational Safety and Health. Robinson died on June 17, 2007, and is survived by his wife Linda Tonoli, and son.
The Robinson papers contain a record of labor activism in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. The collection incldues retained copies of legal filings relating to arbitration and other labor-related cases, along with articles written by and about Robinson, and an assortment of other notes and correspondence.
- American Postal Workers Union
- Labor laws and legislation
- Labor lawyers--Massachusetts
- Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council
- Robinson, Craig D.
Juan Mauricio Rugendas Letters, 1835-1845.
Call no.: MS 271
Born in Germany as Johann Moritz Rugendas, Juan Rugendas was a painter who spent much of his adult life working and traveling in South America. The collection includes a total of 4 poems and 192 personal letters received by Rugendas from four friends during the years 1835 to 1845. Rugendas received the bulk of these letters while living in Valparaíso, Chile, where he found political asylum, and in Lima, Peru from 1842 to 1844.
- Argentina--Description and travel
- Argentina--Social life and customs--19th century
- Painters--South America
- Bustamante, José Javier y Tomás
- Espinosa, Juan, 1804-1871
- Godoy, Juan Gualberto, 1793-1864
- Oro, Domingo de, 1800-1879
- Rugendas, Johann Moritz, 1802-1858
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
SEIU Local 925 (Tufts University) Records, 1978-1980.
Call no.: MS 589
In October 1978 a group of clerical workers at Tufts united in an effort to organize their coworkers with Local 925, S.E.I.U. Isolated and scattered across campus, the clerical employees at the university greeted this call to unionize with support, hoping it would mean an improvement in salaries and in grievance procedures. By the summer of the following year, 60% of eligible employees signed authorization cards, more than required to vote on the issue, and an election early that fall was expected. Tufts administration, however, delayed the election by disputing the composition of the bargaining unit. Formal hearings took place from September through the end of the year, but instead of resolving the case, the Boston Labor Board referred it to Washington on January 25, 1980. Nine months later the election was finally held, but the results were not what were anticipated more than a year earlier. Rather than an easy victory to unionize, the majority of clerical staff at Tufts voted not to make Local 925 their exclusive bargaining representative. The administration’s anti-union campaign waged throughout 1979 and 1980 had a tremendous impact on the employees at the university, and a number of concessions made on wages, health insurance, and vacations further eroded support for organizing with Local 925.
The collection documents the efforts of Tufts clerical workers to unionize during 1978-1980. The group’s biweekly newsletter, Inside Tufts, written by the university’s employees and published by Local 925, offers an important behind-the-scenes look on two fronts: the issues and grievances of the clerical staff at Tufts and the reasons behind their decision to unionize. Materials relating to the efforts of other Boston-area institutions, in particular colleges and universities, are also included.
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Labor unions--Organizing
- Service Employees International Union. Local 925
Leon Shapiro Papers, 1939-1985.
Call no.: MS 127
Historian, author, Professor of Russian and Soviet Jewish History at Rutgers University, who helped arrange the escape of Jews from Europe during World War II and was active in several organizations concerned with the emigration of Soviet and Eastern European Jews to Palestine. Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, legal documents, writings, lecture and research materials, statistical data in the world Jewish population before and after World War II, oral history transcripts, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and four photographs.
- Europe, Eastern--Ethnic relations--History--20th century
- Israel--Emigration and immigration--History
- Jews, Soviet--History--Sources
- Jews--Europe, Eastern--History--Sources
- Jews--Soviet Union--History--Sources
- Occupational training for Jews--History--Sources
- Romania--Emigration and immigration--History
- Rutgers University--Curricula
- Rutgers University--Faculty
- Soviet Union--Ethnic relations--History
- World ORT Union--History
- Shapiro, Leon
Types of material
- Oral histories
Levi Stockbridge Papers, 1841-1878.
Call no.: RG 003/1 S76
Born in Hadley, Mass., in 1820, Levi Stockbridge was one of the first instructors at Massachusetts Agricultural College and President from 1879-1882. Known for his work on improving crop production and for developing fertilizers, Stockbridge was an important figure in the establishment of the college’s Experiment Station. After filling in as interim President of MAC in 1879, he was appointed president for two years, serving during a period of intense financial stress. After his retirement in 1882, he was named an honorary professor of agriculture.
The Stockbridge Papers include correspondence, personal notebooks, travel diary, journal as a farmer (1842-1845), writings, lectures, notes on experiments, clippings, photocopies of personal and legal records, and biographical material, including reminiscences by Stockbridge’s daughter. Also contains auction records, notebook of Amherst, Massachusetts town records (1876-1890), and printed matter about Amherst and national elections, including some about his candidacy for Congress on Labor-Greenback party ticket 1880. Also contains papers (13 items) of Stockbridge’s son, Horace Edward Stockbridge (1857-1930), agricultural chemist and educator, including a letter (1885) from him to the elder Stockbridge, written from Japan while he was professor at Hokkaido University.
- Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
- Greenback Labor Party (U.S.)--History
- Japan--Description and travel--19th century
- Legislators--Massachusetts--History--19th century
- Massachusetts Agricultural College
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. President
- Massachusetts Cattle Commission
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1865-1950
- Stockbridge family
- Stockbridge, Horace E. (Horace Edward),1857-1930
- Stockbridge, Levi, 1820-1904
Types of material
Collection growth is the heart of any archive, and as an active, growing archive, SCUA welcomes donations of personal papers, organizational records, photographs, diaries and journals, books and pamphlets, and other materials relating to our major collecting interests. With the support of our friends and colleagues, SCUA has built substantial depth in documenting:
- The history and experience of social change in America
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- The social, cultural, intellectual, and political history of New England
- The University of Massachusetts Amherst, its faculty, staff, students, and alumni
SCUA offers secure, permanent housing for collections, excellent access for researchers, and a stimulating intellectual environment. Please help us preserve our history for the future.
For further information, please contact the Head of Special Collections.
Donate to the University Archives
The University Archives welcomes assistance in preserving the memory of UMass Amherst, our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. We document all aspects of the University and its unique intellectual climate and history, with a particular interest in:
- Personal, professional, or family papers
- Correspondence from students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni
- Diaries, journals, or reminiscences
- Memorabilia from UMass Amherst, Mass. Agricultural College, and Mass. State College
- Histories of departments, centers, institutes, and programs
- Syllabi, selected lectures, and lecture notes
- Records of committees, university organizations, or events
- Unique research materials, such as field notes
- Photographs and artwork.
To discuss archiving your papers with the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, please contact the Head of Special Collections.
Thomas W. and Margaret Tenney Photograph Collection, 1966-1978 (Bulk: 1966-1972).
Call no.: PH 045
A long-time resident of Berkeley, Calif., Thomas W. Tenney and his wife Margaret took up photography in a serious way in the early 1960s. Photographing the Bay Area scene and publishing in the New York Times and elsewhere, the Tenneys became full time photographers by about 1964. For over a decade, they took summer trips to New England to photograph colonial and early national gravestones, culminating in a public exhibition of their work in 1972 at the Bolles Gallery in San Francisco.
The Tenney collection consists of several hundred scrupulously-documented images of gravestones in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other New England states taken between 1966 and 1978. Selecting stones for “artistic rather than historical reasons,” the Tenney’s focused primarily on details of the carving and inscriptions.
- Sepulchral monuments--Connecticut
- Sepulchral monuments--Massachusetts
- Sepulchral monuments--Rhode Island
- Sepulchral monuments--Vermont
- Tenney, Margaret K.
- Tenney, Thomas W.
Types of material
Roscoe Wilfrid Thatcher Papers, 1900-1934.
Call no.: RG 003/1 T43
The agronomist Roscoe Thatcher served as the last president of Massachusetts Agricultural College and the first when the institution changed its name to Massachusetts State College in 1931. Before coming to Amherst, Thatcher had extensive experience in both agricultural research and administration, having served as director of the agricultural station for the state of Washington, as professor of plant chemistry at the University of Minnesota (1913-1917), and as dean of the School of Agriculture and director of the Minnesota Experiment Station (1917-1921), and as director of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva. Selected as President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1927, he helped expand the two year program in practical agriculture to become the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and oversaw curricular reform, orienting vocational training toward citizenship education. The student health service also started during his tenure. Thatcher resigned due to ill health in 1933. Although he returned to research in agricultural chemistry at the College in April 1933, he died in his laboratory on December 6, 1933.
Official and administrative correspondence, memos, and other papers, relating to Thatcher’s service as president of Massachusetts State College together with writing and biographical material.
- Massachusetts State College. President
- Thatcher, Roscoe Wilfrid, 1872-1933
C.S. Toppan Account Book, 1845-1861.
Call no.: MS 084
A wealthy merchant from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Includes details of his ventures in ship owning and his investments in manufacturing companies and real estate. Also contains total assets of his “property in possession” as of January 1845, and lists of debtors, including men, women, businesses, religious groups, and political groups.
- Debtor and creditor--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--History--19th century
- Inventories of decedents' estates--New Hampshire--Portsmouth
- Merchants--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--Economic conditions--19th century
- Portsmouth (N.H.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Shipowners--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--Economic conditions--19th century
- Toppan, C. S. (Christopher S.)--Estate
- Toppan, C. S. (Christopher S.)
Types of material
- Account books