The University Archives contains the official and unofficial records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst throughout its evolution from a small agricultural college into a dynamic and complex university. Within the archives are letters and artifacts, records, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the lives of its founders, the pursuits of its faculty, and the changing attitudes of its students and alumni, revealing what high quality public education means to our Commonwealth and nation.
Among the hundreds of discrete collections and over 13,000 linear feet of records are the official papers of Chancellors, Presidents, Trustees, and other administrators; information about the University’s academic units and student organizations; and the founding documents of our sister campuses at Worcester, Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth. The papers of faculty members add a wealth of information about the lives and intellectual pursuits of our campus community as well as their chosen academic disciplines.
Finding things in the archives
A comprehensive alphabetical index of UMass departments, programs, and other units, including acronyms. Each entry includes a reference to the archival Record Group where the records can be found.
YouMass is wiki devoted to the life and history of the campus community.
Urbana Wine Company Records, 1881-1911.
Call no.: MS 660
Founded by John W. Davis, H.H. Cook, A.J. Startzer and others in 1865, the Urbana Wine Company was among the earliest and most successful wineries in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Organized in Hammondsport, N.Y., the center of the eastern wine industry, Urbana’s claim to fame was its widely popular Gold Seal Champagne and other sparkling wines and along with Walter Taylor, they dominated regional wine production during the Gilded Age. The winery survived passage of Prohibition in 1919 , both World Wars operating under the Gold Seal label, but was closed by its parent company, Seagrams, in 1984.
The Urbana Records are concentrated in the period 1881-1885, as the company was growing rapidly. Among other materials, the collection includes a range of correspondence, receipts, some financial records, and tallies of grapes. Additional material on the company is located in Cornell University’s Eastern Wine and Grape Archive.
- Wine industry--New York
- Urbana Wine Company
Ralph Van Meter Papers, 1919-1958.
Call no.: RG 003/1 V36
Ralph Van Meter, the first president of the University of Massachusetts after it changed its name from Massachusetts State College in 1947, spent nearly 40 years learning, teaching, and leading on the Amherst campus. A graduate of Ohio State University (B.S., 1917), he came to the Massachusetts Agricultural College as a specialist in Food Conservation in 1917, serving in the Pomology Department first as a professor, and then as the head from 1936 to 1948. The Board of Trustees appointed Van Meter as Acting President in 1947 and President in 1948. He was responsible for a number of innovations, including the creation of the position of Provost (first held by John Paul Mather) and the establishment of new schools of business administration and engineering.
Correspondence, memos, reports, clippings, and other papers, relating to matters at issue during Van Meter’s presidency of University of Massachusetts including the building program, World War II veterans, accreditation, and the university seal; together with published writings, biographical material, military records, and material from Van Meter’s inauguration as university president.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. President
- Van Meter, Ralph Albert, 1893-
Walther R. Volbach Papers, 1897-1996.
Call no.: FS 087
Born in Mainz, Germany on December 24, 1897, the theater historian and stage director Walther R. Volbach began directing operas and plays at the age of 17. After his immigration to the United States in 1936, he worked for several colleges, coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for five years as a visiting professor following his retirement in 1965. Noted as a director of operas and plays and for his set design, Volbach was author of three books: The Problems of Opera Production (1953), Adolphe Appia : The Prophet of The Modern Theatre (1968), and Memoirs of Max Reinhardt’s Theaters (1972).
The Volbach collection includes personal and professional correspondence in English and German, mostly from Volbach’s later years, regarding family, publishing, lectures, and employment. The collection also includes photographs of set designs, an image of Volbach teaching a class, publications, and lecture and research notes on theater history.
- Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928
- Drama--Study and teaching
- Set designers
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
- Volbach, Walther R. (Walther Richard), 1897-
Dana F. Ward Diaries, 1897-1982 (Bulk: 1904-1951).
Call no.: MS 577
Born in Chelsea, Mass., in 1874, and a long-time resident of Somerville, Dana F. Ward enjoyed a prominent career in the fisheries industry in Massachusetts. Entering the wholesale fish business in 1900 when he organized the firm of Whitman, Ward, and Lee, Ward became Director and Advertising Manager of the Boston Fish Market Corporation (builder and operator of the Fish Pier) and an investor. Before the U.S. entry into the First World War, Ward was employed by the state to lecture on the benefits of frozen fish as a food source. An active member in both the Congregational Church and local Masonic lodge, he married Katherine B. Symonds (d. 1948) in Leominster in October 1899.
Personal in nature, the Ward diaries provide a chronicle of the daily life of a relatively well to do fish wholesaler from 1897 through 1951, with some gaps. Generally small in size, the diaries are densely written and are laid in with letters, various sorts of documents, stamps, newsclippings, and other ephemera that help define the contours of Ward’s life. The collection is particularly rich for the years during the Second World War and it includes three diaries (1967, 1977, 1982) from later family members.
- Somerville (Mass.)--History
- Ward, Dana F
Types of material
Watchmaker's Account Book, 1882-1883.
Call no.: MS 623 bd
The mid-century success of the Waltham Watch Company set the stage for a period of innovation and corporate ferment in the manufacture and distribution of watches in the United States. As watchmakers and technologies spread and new companies sprouted and split at a rapid pace, Springfield emerged as a center for the production of high quality, mass produced watches. Perhaps best known among the large local corporations, the Hampden Watch Company was established in 1877 from the New York Watch Company and was bought out in turn by the Dueber Watch Company and relocated a decade later.
The unidentified owner of this slender account book maintained itemized records of income and expenses for a relatively small watchmaking concern in Springfield between May 1882 and September 1883. Most of the trade consisted of sales of accoutrements and repair work.
- Springfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
- Account books
Western Massachusetts Bridge Association Records, 1957-2007.
Call no.: MS 801
Established in 1957, the Western Massachusetts Bridge Association (WMBA) Unit 196 was created by founding members of the Springfield Bridge Club eager to share their love for the game with the wider western Massachusetts area. The unit played a prominent role in teaching interested individuals to learn to play contract bridge by reaching out to colleges, clubs, and churches. Over the years, WMBA has remained an active unit in the New England Bridge Conference District 25, one of the largest districts of the American Contract Bridge Association.
Records of the WMBA and District 25 document the growth of contract bridge in New England. From the earliest days of the unit, members drafted by-laws, oversaw membership services, organized tournaments, and tracked finances. Materials in the collection shed light on every aspect of these activities.
- Contract bridge
Western Massachusetts Library Club Records, 1898-2006.
Call no.: MS 492
Situated in a region known for its progressive spirit, the Western Massachusetts Library Club was established in 1898 to respond to the unique needs of librarians overseeing small or rural libraries, and to foster camaraderie among local colleagues. Almost immediately, however, the club expanded its focus, taking positions on issues ranging from modern library practices to national legislation and leading the way in the expansion of services for public libraries, all while maintaining its identity as an advocate for local libraries and librarians.
The collection is richest in records that document the early history of the club including detailed meeting minutes, news clippings, programs, and circulars. Beginning in the late 1960s, the club’s activities are captured primarily through membership lists and meeting notices and programs. Taken together, the records trace the growth of the WMLC for more than a century from its establishment to the present.
- Cutter, Charles A. (Charles Ammi), 1937-1903
- Western Massachusetts Library Club
Association for Gravestone Studies Collection
Elizabeth W. Whitaker Collection, 1802-1989.
Call no.: MS 682
A physical education teacher from Rome, New York, Elizabeth W. Whitaker became an avid recorder of gravestone inscriptions in the 1940s. She died in 1992 at the age of 93.
The core of the Whitaker collection consists of 25 receipts and accounts relating to the early marble industry in western Massachusetts. The key figures in this series are Rufus Willson and his father-in-law, John Burghardt, who quarried stone near West Stockbridge, Mass., conveying it to Hudson, N.Y. The collection also includes a selection of photographs and postcards of gravestones, mostly in New England and New York; two folders of typed transcriptions and newspaper clippings of epitaphs from the same region, ranging in date from the early colonial period to the mid-19th century; and a price list of Barre granite from Wetmore and Morse Granite Co., 1934.
- Marble industry and trade--Massachusetts
- Sepulchral monuments--Massachusetts
- Association for Gravestone Studies
- Burghardt, John
- Whitaker, Elizabeth W
- Willson, Rufus
Types of material
- Receipts (Financial records)
Martha R. Whitmore Diaries, 1937-1962.
Call no.: MS 807
Shortly after graduating from college in 1920, Martha Richardson married Philip F. Whitmore, a market gardener from Sunderland, Mass., and 1915 graduate of Massachusetts Agricultural College. As a housewife and mother of three, Martha supported Philip, who became a Trustee of his alma mater and a representative in the State House (1950-1962). Philip Whitmore died in 1962, with Martha following nineteenth years later.
This small collection includes six scattered diaries of Martha Whitmore, kept somewhat irregularly during the years 1937, 1947, 1950, 1953, 1957, and 1962. Largely personal in nature, they are centered on home and family life, husband and children, and Martha’s love of nature, but they include occasional references to Philip Whitmore’s political activities and the University of Massachusetts.
- Sunderland (Mass.)--History
- University of Massachusetts at Amherst--Trustees
- Whitmore, Philip F.
Types of material