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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, 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:

Morehouse, Ward, 1929-

Ward Morehouse Papers

ca.1950-2012
120 boxes 180 linear feet
Call no.: MS 764
Image of Ward Morehouse at his desk in the Educational Resources Center, New Delhi, 1966
Ward Morehouse at his desk in the Educational Resources Center, New Delhi, 1966

A writer, educator, and activist for human rights and social justice, Ward Morehouse was a prominent critic of corporate power and globalization. Raised in a family of progressive political economists and academics in Wisconsin, Morehouse began his research in international political economy while a student at Yale (BA 1950, MA 1953) and embarked on a standard academic career path. After teaching political science at New York University for a time, he became director of international education at the Center for International and Comparative Studies in 1963, building a particularly strong program in India. However in 1976, conservative opposition to his political views led Morehouse to leave for a new post as president of the Council on International and Public Affairs (CIPA), a human rights organization he had helped found twenty years before. Throughout, he remained an activist at heart. Galvanized by the 1984 industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, he organized the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, and went on to form or work with many other organizations seeking to resist corporate power and build democracy, including the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and the Permanent People’s Tribunal, operating the radical Apex Press. Morehouse died in June 2012 at the age of 83.

The Morehouse collection is a massive archive documenting six decades of research, writing, and activism. A prolific writer and editor, Morehouse left a deep record of his activities, his research and writing on corporate power, and the full breadth of his commitments in labor relations, alternative economics, “people’s law,” and peace.

Gift of Ward Morehouse and Carolyn Oppenheim, Nov. 2013

Subjects

  • Anti-globalization movement
  • Bhopal Union Carbide Plant Disaster, Bhopal, India, 1984
  • Economics
  • India--Economic conditions

Contributors

  • Apex Press
  • Center for International and Comparative Studies
  • Council on International and Public Affairs
  • Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
  • Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy
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
Newth, Frank F. (Frank Forrest)

Frank F. Newth Papers

1914-1979 Bulk: 1914-1919
5 boxes 2.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1012
Image of Frank Newth, ca.1918
Frank Newth, ca.1918

Frank “Nick” Newth was born in Lynn, Mass., on Oct. 9, 1895, the son of shoe cutter Charles H. Newth and his wife Mary Hobart Brackett. A talented baseball player in high school, Newth used his sport connections to become a manager, and eventually owner, of a billiard parlor. On October 5, 1917, however, he was drafted for service in the First World War an deployed to France with the Quartermaster Corps in January 1918. Unusually, for mpst of his service, Newth was posted in northwestern France (Abbeville, Amiens, Rouen) as a disbursement officer for American troops serving with the British Expeditionary Force an then disbursing to the wounded in base hospitals. He was promoted to Corporal in May 1918, and ended his overseas service in May 1919 as a Sergeant working with the Quartermaster’s financial unit. After returning home, Newth married his longtime sweetheat Letitia “Letty” Crane, with whom he raised a family of four. He worked as proprietor of the New Buick Billiard Hall until 1928, when he opened a successful business selling rubber tires in southern New England. Newth died on May 29, 1979, and is buried in the Forest Chapel Cemetery in Barrington, R.I.

The Newth collection consists of many dozens of letters written between Frank Newth and his fiancee Letty and other members of his family back home in Lynn, Mass., while hs served with the Quartermaster Corps in the First World War. Although his letters are subject to the censorship typical of that war, Newth was an excellent and observent writer and because often served near the front, but in a support role, he had time and energy to write. His affection for Letty (and hers for him) come through in every letter, but Newth also discusses his duties in the service, recreation and travel, and the sights and people of France. The collection also includes a fine letter describing the reelief after the Armistice went into effect; a brief, but outstanding typed diary kept during the early months of his overseas service; and a small handful of pamphlets, keepsakes, and official papers.

Gift of Lee Roberts, Jan. 1918

Subjects

  • World War, 1914-1918

Types of material

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs