Class of 1889 in front of Durfee Greenhouse
Marking the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the University of Massachusetts, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is conducting an oral history project to capture the many voices and diverse experiences that make up our campus community. The anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the real achievements — and real challenges — of public higher education over the past century and a half, and a chance to consider where we would like to be in the future.
Over the course of eighteen months, the staff of SCUA and our associates will conduct one hundred and fifty interviews with an array of administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and university employees, as well as selected members of the local community. As they are completed, the interviews will be made available to the public through this website and Credo, SCUA’s digital repository.
If you are interested in participating in the project, please contact the SCUA staff.
Otis Company Records, 1846-1847.
2 folders (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 310
The Otis Company of Ware, Massachusetts, was founded in 1839 and became a major producer of textiles, including checks, denims, and cotton underwear. At the height of their operations, the company operated three mills with a workforce of over 1,300.
The collection contains correspondence between Otis agent Henry Lyon and the firms of Parks, Wright & Co. (1846-47) and Wright, Whitman & Co. (1847), both of Boston. It includes bills, invoices, letters, and memos, covering orders for such goods as lamp glasses, patent starch, whale oil, gas pipes, bales of cotton, pot and pearl ashes, fish glue, sour flour, fire buckets, potato starch, tar, sheet copper, and indigo.
- Mills and milling--Massachusetts--Ware
- Textile industry--Massachusetts
- Ware (Mass.)--History
Our Hideaway Collection, 1998-1999.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 647
Founded in Chicopee, Massachusetts in 1949 under another name, Our Hideaway was the oldest women’s bar on the east coast, offering the local lesbian community a safe haven in which to socialize for fifty continuous years. Before the bar was forced to close after losing its lease in 1999, it was home to a diverse community of women from those known as “old timers,” comprised of women patronizing the bar for upwards of 25 years, to college students new to the area.
As part of a project to research the lesbian bar as a social institution, Smith College student Heather Rothenberg conducted interviews of the women who frequented Our Hideaway. During the course of her research an unexpected announcement was made: the bar was closing. As a result, Rothenberg’s efforts to document Our Hideaway extended far beyond her original intent, and she was able to capture the final days of the bar as both a physical place as well as a community of women assembled over five decades. The collection consists of interview transcripts, emails, photographs and Rothenberg’s written reports. Transcripts of the interviews were modified to protect the privacy of the women interviewed; the original transcripts are restricted.
- Lesbian bars--Massachusetts
- Lesbian business enterprises--Massachusetts
- Lesbian community--Massachusetts
Peacemakers Records, 1983-1990.
10 boxes (20 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 309
Established in the early 1980s, the UMass Peacemakers brought together students on the Amherst campus who were advocates for peace, in particular nuclear disarmament. Through education combined with action, such as rallies and civil disobedience, the Peacemakers hoped to build a community of people aware if their own ability to reverse the arms race and to decrease militarism in society and education.
- Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
Alonzo A. Peasley Diaries, 1861-1863.
2 vols. (0.2 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 608 bd
Born in Dorchester, Mass., Alonzo A. Peasley enlisted in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry in May 1861, only weeks after the outbreak of the Civil War. Sent almost immediately southward, Peasley’s regiment was deployed in the Battles of Glendale and First Bull Run in July, and served with the Army of the Potomac throughout the Peninsular Campaign, Frederickbsurg, and Chancellorsville. As part of the 2nd Division, 3rd Army Corps on July 2, 1863, the 1st Massachusetts suffered a 40% casualty rate during fierce fighting along the Emmitsburg Road in Gettysburg, with Peasley sustaining serious wounds. Hospitalized for several months, he was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps to serve out his enlistment. In later life, Peasley worked as a letter carrier in Boston.
Exceptionally well-written, observant, and above all active, Peasley’s diaries offer a fine account of a private’s life in the Civil War. The two volumes include detailed descriptions of life in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry covering the entire period from the day the regiment left the state in June 1861 until the time of Peasley’s wounding at Gettysburg in July 1863. Among the highlights are a minutely detailed, thoroughly extended account of Peasley’s first major engagements (Blackburn’s Ford and First Bull Run), excellent account for the Peninsular Campaign, and a stunning account of the Second Battle of Bull Run.
- Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861
- Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862
- Peninsular Campaign, 1862
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
- United States. Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 1st (1861-1864)
Types of material
People for Economic Survival Records, 1974-1977.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 535
Established in October 1974, People for Economic Survival (PES) was a Socialist group based in Northampton, Massachusetts, first organized with the short-term goal of pressuring local banks to sell food stamps. The group’s vision for the longer term, however, was to stimulate change that would result in the replacement of an economy based on corporate profit with one based on people’s needs. After two and half years of community activity, including working for lower utility rates and against cutbacks in welfare, human services, and unemployment benefits, PES disbanded.
The PES collection consists of flyers, meeting minutes, and a full run of Take It, the group’s newsletter.
- Food stamps--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Northampton (Mass.)--History
- Public welfare--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
- People for Economic Survival
Cynthia Shepard Perry Papers, 1946-2010.
7 boxes (10.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 842
An educator, diplomat, and expert on Africa, Cynthia Shepard Perry was the first recipient of a PhD from of the Program in International Education at UMass Amherst (1972). Born in Burnett, Indiana, in 1928, Perry was raising a family when she set a twenty-five year goal of earning doctorate and entering international service. One year after earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University in 1967, she arranged for her first trip to Africa, leading a secretarial training project at the University of Nairobi, and over succeeding decades, her connections to the continent deepened dramatically. On faculty at Texas Southern University (1971-1982), Perry served as Associate Director of the university’s Peace Corps Program, which resulted in her leading educational projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya. In demand for the expertise she had gained, she worked as a consultant to the US Information Service in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia and as Staff Development Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Having become a full professor and Dean of International Affairs, she left TSU in 1982 to take her first diplomatic post as an officer of the Africa Bureau of the US Agency for International Development, followed by successive appointments as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1986-1989) and Burundi (1989-1993), as Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, and finally an appointment as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank (1996-2001). Although officially retired, Perry remains active in supporting education and development in Africa from her home in Houston. Among many other awards she has received, Perry was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from UMass for her international work and was recognized by the Salute to Service Award.
A record of a life in international service in Africa, the Perry papers includes materials from Perry’s time as head of the African Development Bank and her two ambassadorial appointments, including speeches, some correspondence, and a handful of publications. The collection also includes a series of awards and plaques, some family photographs, and memorabilia.
- Africa--Foreign relations--United States
- Sierra Leone--United States
- United States--Foreign relations--Africa
Types of material
Digital (+)Finding aid
Marie Phillips Collection, 1948-2007.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 170
For many years, the UMass Amherst campus was home to several colonies of feral cats that took up residence in its barns and outbuildings, and beginning with Leo V. Robinson in 1945, a succession of individuals were moved to feed and care for the cats. An alumna and employee in Human Relations, Marie Phillips (BA ’78, MPA ’91) took over as feral cat caretaker between 1991 and 2007, joined by her colleague Meg Caulmare of the English Department, and together they supported the colonies along the Cat Corridor stretching from the rear of Munson Hall to the Queen Anne Horse Barn. With increasing construction on campus and careful rehoming, the feral cat population was gradually reduced on campus until 2014, when the last cats to live in the Horse Barn, Mr. Junie Moon and Rusty, were given a home by Caulmare. Phillips wrote about her experiences with two of the more notable cats on campus, Dadcat and Ashes, in her book Dadcat University (2007).
The Phillips collection offers a visual records of the lives of the feral cats on the UMass Amherst campus. A strong supporter of efforts to preserve the declining Horse Barn, Phillips also accumulated photographs, reports, and research materials on the barn and horses at the university.
- Feral cats--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Munson Annex (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
- Queen Anne Horse Barn (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Types of material
Louis Pictou Mi'kmaq Manuscript, Prior to 1903.
1 vol., 140 p. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 342 bd
The Pictou family were prominent members of the Bear River Band of the Mi’kmaq nation in Nova Scotia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Notably, Chief Benjamin Pictou (1830-1931) lived for over a century, witnessing the evolution of the Mi’kmaq economy from hunting, fishing, and trapping to include guiding and attempts at agriculture, and was listed by the anthropologist Frank G. Speck in 1922 as having a hunting allocation near Sporting Lake, southwest of the Bear River.
An extensive, unidentified manuscript written in Mi’kmaq (Micmac) language, using the “hieroglyphic” (pictographic) writing system. At one time, the manuscript was apparently in the possession of Louis Pictou, an “Indian guide” on the Bear River, who stating that the manuscript was written by his “ancestors.”
- Indians of North America--Nova Scotia
- Micmac Indians--Manuscripts
Lynne Pledger Collection, 1968-2007.
3 boxes (4.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 726
Lynne Pledger became active in waste management issues when Casella Waste Systems, a New England-based landfill company, applied to expand operations in Hardwick, Mass., potentially threatening the public water supply. Organizing a grassroots campaign, Pledger succeeded in getting Casella to drop plans to rezone the landfill in 2007, after the company failed to garner the necessary support in town meeting. Pledger has remained active in zero waste and waste reduction efforts, serving on the Zero Waste Committee for the Sierra Club, on the Clean Water Action Campaign, on the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and co-founding Don’t Waste Massachusetts, an alliance of 25 environmental organizations supporting waste reduction measures.
This small collection contains documentation of grassroots opposition to the expansion of the landfill at Hardwick, Mass. Collected by Pledger, the material includes environmental and site reports, some filings, background information on the site and landfills, and some correspondence relating to the controversy.
- Casella Waste Systems
- Fills (Earthwork)--Massachusetts
- Hardwick (Mass.)--History
- Refuse and refuse disposal--Massachusetts