University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College

Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

A steward of the past for generations to come, SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, 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.

Learn more:

Morris, William, 1834-1896

William Morris, The friendship of Amis and Amile, ca.1894
1 item (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 362 bd

A leader in the English Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris translated the ancient French romance, Amis and Amile, in 1894, one of a number of romances he published in his literary efforts to restore the middle ages.

This holograph copy of Morris’s short story was prepared for the Kelmscott Press in 1894 and printed in a run of 500. The first American edition appeared later that year, published by Thomas Bird Mosher.

Subjects
  • Kelmscott Press
Contributors
  • Morris, William, 1834-1896
Types of material
  • Holographs (Autographs)

Morton, Cyrus

Cyrus Morton Account Book, 1828-1838
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 185 bd

The physician Cyrus Morton, (1797-1873) came from a notable medical family from Plymouth County, Mass. His father Nathaniel and son Thomas were both physicians, and his sister-in-law, Julia A.W. (Drew) Winslow was one of the first female medical doctors in the Commonwealth. Morton’s second wife, Lydia Hall (Drew) Morton, was one of the first teachers at the Perkins School for the Blind, and a member of the first graduating class of the Lexington Normal School. Morton died in Halifax on May 18, 1873.

Morton’s account book contains records of frequent visits to his patients, dispensing medicine, his fees and receipts for payment (often received in kind as pigs, fish, beef, hay, wood, the use of a horse, spinning done by widows or wives, digging a well, carpentry, etc.), and a copy of a prayer in Morton’s hand. Among Morton’s patients were Timothy Wood, Stafford Sturtevant, Jacob Thompson, Capts. Knapp and Cushman, and Cyrus Munroe.

Subjects
  • Halifax (Mass.)--Social life and customs--19th centur
  • Physicians--Massachusetts--Halifax--19th century
Contributors
  • Morton, Cyrus, 1797-1873
Types of material
  • Account books

Mungo, Raymond, 1946-

Raymond Mungo Papers, 1966-2008
6 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 659
Image of Raymond Mungo, 1967
Raymond Mungo, 1967

Born in a “howling blizzard” in February 1946, Raymond Mungo became one of the most evocative writers of the 1960s counterculture. Through more than fifteen books and hundreds of articles, Mungo has brought a wry sense of humor and radical sensibility to explorations of the minds and experiences of the generation that came of age against a backdrop of the struggles for civil rights and economic justice, of student revolts, Black Power, resistance to war, and experimentation in communal living.

Consisting of the original typescripts and manuscripts of ten of Raymond Mungo’s books, along with corrected and uncorrected galleys and a small number of letters from publishers. Among the other materials in the collection are thirteen photographs of Mungo taken by Clif Garboden and Peter Simon during and immediately after his undergraduate years at Boston University; a DVD containing motion pictures of life at Packer Corners in 1969 and 1977; and an irate letter from a writer regarding the status of poems he had submitted to Liberation News Service.

Subjects
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Nineteen Sixties
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Porche, Verandah
Contributors
  • Garboden, Clif
  • Mungo, Raymond, 1946-
  • Simon, Peter, 1947-
Types of material
  • Photographs

National Priorities Project

National Priorities Project Records, 1983-2015
15 boxes (22.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 913

A national non-partisan, not-for-profit organization based in Northampton, Mass., the National Priorities Project was founded in 1983 by Greg Speeter, Brenda Loew, Ricky Fogel, and Alwin Schmidt to conduct research into the depths of the federal budget. Their first effort was to analyze the dramatic reductions affecting many social programs, but the organization grew around the principle of making the complex federal budget transparent and more publicly accessible so that the public can better influence how their tax dollars are spent. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 in recognition of its pioneering work in tracking military spending, the NPP continues to work toward a federal budget that reflects Americans’ priorities, including funding for issues such as inequality, unemployment, education, healthcare, and the need to build a green economy.

The NPP collection documents over thirty years of a not-for-profit organization devoted to research-informed advocacy for a federal budget that reflects the priorities of most Americans. In addition to a run of NPP publications, the collection includes a series of topical files from Greg Speeter and his associates, selected correspondence, talks, and notes on their work.

Gift of Kris Elinevsky, 2016
Subjects
  • Military spending
  • United States--Appropriations and expenditures
Contributors
  • Speeter, Greg

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League Records, 1893-1977
9 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 331

When Charles Marsters founded the Boston Lacrosse Club in 1913, the club was the only one in New England to play teams from outside of the region. Under Marsters’s leadership, however, participation in the sport rose steadily at both the high school and collegiate level, helping establish New England as one of the centers of the American game. In 1935, he and Tom Dent founded the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League (NEILL) to continue to build the sport.

The NEILL records document the growth of lacrosse from informal club team play to a more regulated, interscholastic and intercollegiate varsity sport. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, minutes, and agendas kept by co-founder Charles Marsters and a handful of other NEILL officers, but with material documenting the growth of the sport at UMass Amherst from the 1950s onward and the addition of women’s lacrosse as a collegiate sport. The collection also includes some printed material (including rulebooks), news clippings, and photographs.

Subjects
  • College sports--New England
  • Lacrosse for women--United States
  • Lacrosse guide
  • Lacrosse--New England--History
  • School sports--New England
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Sports
Contributors
  • Boyden, Frank L. (Frank Learoyd), 1879-1972
  • Marsters, Charles E
  • New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New Victoria Publishers

New Victoria Publishers Records, 1974-2009
6 boxes (11 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 883
Image of From the top down: Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay Lamperti, Petey Becker, Bonnie Arnold, and ReBecca Béguin (ca. 1976)
From the top down: Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay Lamperti, Petey Becker, Bonnie Arnold, and ReBecca Béguin (ca. 1976)

Founded in 1975 in Lebanon, NH, by Beth Dingman, Claudia McKay (Lamperti), Katie Cahill, Nina Swaim, and Shelby Grantham, New Victoria Printers became one of two all-female print shops in New England at the time. Believing strongly that “the power of the press belongs to those who own it,” they began to solicit work from non-profit and politically-oriented groups. Like its namesake Victoria Press, an 1860s women run print shop in London owned by Emily Faithful, an early advocate of women’s rights, New Victoria was also committed to feminist principles. The shop offered work and training in printing, machine work, and other traditionally male dominated fields; initially focused on printing materials from the women’s movement; and was organized as a collectively owned and democratically run organization.

Additionally, the shop functioned as a de facto women’s center and lesbian hub for Lebanon and the surrounding area, often overlapping with the lesbian social club Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society, (a.k.a. the Amelia’s). The print shop was a place of education, community, creativity, and activism, and soon publishing opportunities, as the group founded New Victoria Publishers in 1976 to publish works from their community. The print shop closed in 1985, with Dingman and McKay taking over the running of the non-profit publishing company out of their home in Norwich, VT, with an emphasis on lesbian fiction in addition to other women-focused works. An early bestseller, Stoner McTavish by Sarah Dreher, put them on the map, with the company publishing over a hundred books by and about lesbians, winning three Lambda Literary Awards and several other honors.

The New Victoria Publishers Records consist of photographs, newsletters, and cards put out by the collective, materials printed by the press, marketing and promotional materials, author correspondence, graphics and cover art, book reviews, financial and legal records, histories of the organization, news clippings, and an almost full run of the books published by the company. The collection is particularly rich in documenting the work and production of a women owned business within the feminist press movement as well as the lesbian publishing industry.

Subjects
  • Collective labor agreements – Printing industry
  • Feminist literature – Publishing
  • Lesbian authors
  • Lesbians' writings -- Publishing
  • Women printers – New England
  • Women publishers – New England
Contributors
  • Beth Dingman
  • Claudia McKay
  • New Victoria Printers
  • New Victoria Publishers
Types of material
  • Photographs

Newland, Jacob and John E.

Jacob and John E. Newland Account Book, 1798-1849
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 197 bd

Jacob Newland and his son John Everit Newland were farmers in Mansfield, Mass., during the earlynational period. A Revolutionary War veteran, Jacob died in 1823, leaving much of his operation to John, his second son.

The account book kept by Jacob Newland and later John E. Newland of Mansfield, Massachusetts, details much about the work of these farmers and their interaction with neighbors in eastern Mansfield during the early nineteenth century. The customers, most of whom seem to have been fellow farmers, made frequent use of the Newlands’ animals and animal-drawn vehicles (carriage, “waggon,” “slay”) for riding and work, in addition to purchasing products, using the Newlands’ labor, and leasing pasture land. The book also served as a leaf press and scrapbook for newspaper items bearing upon the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, mention of social events and anniversaries, children’s sayings, short romantic fiction, and as a copybook for poetry.

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987
Subjects
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Mansfield
Contributors
  • Newland, John E. (John Everit)
Types of material
  • Account books

Nguyen, Lucy Hong Nhiem, 1939-

Lucy Nguyen Papers, 1983-2001
2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 026

A scholar of Francophone literature in Asia and Director of the United Asia Learning Resource Center, Lucy Nguyen Hong Nhiem was born in Kontum, Vietnam, in 1939. A graduate of the University of Saigon and teacher of French, she fled Saigon in 1975 just three days before its fall. From a refugee camp in Arkansas, she traveled through Connecticut and then to Springfield, Mass., before arriving at UMass in 1976 to resume her studies. After completing her MA (1978) and PhD (1982), she held positions at Smith, Amherst, and Mount Holyoke Colleges before beginning her tenure at UMass in 1984. An Adjunct Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures, she also served as Academic Advisor to the Bilingual Collegiate Program and Vice-Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants.

Nguyen’s papers are a small but critical collection of materials on Southeast Asian Refugees. Included among the papers are materials relating to the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees, materials relating to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants (1983), and a paper on the status of refugees in Massachusetts in 1987, along with unpublished writings, professional correspondence, and a handful of notes from a search committee.

Subjects
  • Refugees--Vietnam
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bilingual Collegiate Program
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Asian Languages and Literatures
  • Vietnamese--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Nguyen, Lucy Hong Nhiem, 1939-

Nichols, Reuben

Reuben Nichols, The adventures and ramblings of a sailor, 1840
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 901 bd

The son of a Revolutionary War veteran from Fairfield County, Conn., Reuben Nichols went to sea as teenager and spent a quarter of a century sailing the Atlantic aboard merchant ships and privateers. After rising to become master of the New York and Savannah packets Exact and Angelique in the 1830s, he retired to a life on shore near Bridgeport.

This vigorous account of a life on the antebellum seas runs Nichols’ childhood hardships through a series of adventures at sea in war and peace. An observant and effective writer, Nichols describes voyages to western and northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and South America during and after the War of 1812. During a colorful career, he took part in the operations of warships and privateers, witnessed attempted mutinies and desertions, rescued the abolitionist John Hopper from a mob in Georgia, and was drawn into the struggles for colonial liberation. His experiences aboard the privateer Kemp and descriptions of Haiti, Cape Verde, Spain, Gibraltar, Turkey, and Argentina are particularly evocative.

Acquired from William Reese, Mar. 2016
Subjects
  • Abolitionists--Georgia
  • Argentina--Description and travel--19th century
  • Aruba--Description and travel--19th century
  • Gibraltar--Description and travel--19th century
  • Haiti--Description and travel--19th century
  • Hopper, John, 1815-1865
  • Merchant ships--Connecticut
  • Mutiny
  • Privateering
  • Sailors--Connecticut
  • Spain--Description and travel--19th century
  • Stratford (Conn.)--History
  • Turkey--Description and travel--19th century
  • United States--History--War of 1812--Naval operations
Types of material
  • Autobiographies
  • Memoirs
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