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Rare book collections

Votes for women, Enfield Collection

Votes for Women, ca.1919 (Enfield Collection)

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses approximately 40,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.

Beyond New England, SCUA has developed strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the literature of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era and the works of an eclectic assortment of poets and writers. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to Cold War culture: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.

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All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog and summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles, are included in SCUA’s own online catalog, UMarmot.

Notice: due to renovations in the library, much of SCUA’s collection of printed materials (books and periodicals) will be unavailable until further notice. Please contact our archivists to see whether we can assist.

Selected areas of collecting interest:

Agriculture, horticulture, natural history

The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, organic agriculture, pomology, sustainability, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Cookery in New England

Knox gelatin

The Collection

The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.

European history and culture

Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).

Gay and Lesbian Literature

The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.

Literary collections

Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press; records of the Cummington School for the Arts and Massachusetts Review; and the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of Charles Lamb, William Morris, and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers. We are stewards of the papers of several writers from New England and collect their works comprehensively, including Andrew Coburn, Mary Doyle Curran, Mary McGarry Morris, Raymond Mungo, Jodi Picoult, and Harvey Swados.

New England history and culture

Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard

Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard

Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends collection contains thousands of books, pamphlets, and periodicals relating to Quaker history from the seventeenth century to the present. With an emphasis on New England Quakerism, these collections include the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and libraries amassed by several monthly and quarterly meetings. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Social change

Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.

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Shattuck, Louise F.

Louise F. Shattuck Papers, 1881-2006
31 boxes (24 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 563
Louise F. Shattuck Papers image
Louise Shattuck

A life-long resident of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, and a third-generation Spiritualist, Louise Shattuck was an artist, teacher, and noted breeder of English cocker spaniels.

Shattuck’s work as a teacher, writer, artist, and dog breeder are documented in this collection through decades of correspondence and diaries, artwork, publications, and newspaper clippings. Of particular note are the materials associated with the Spiritualist history of Lake Pleasant, including three turn of the century spirit slates, samples of Louise’s automatic writing, a ouija board and dowsing rods, and an excellent photograph album with associated realia for the Independent Order of Scalpers, a Lake Pleasant.

Subjects
  • Dogs--Breeding
  • English Cocker spaniels
  • Lake Pleasant (Mass.)--History
  • Mediums--Massachusetts
  • Montague (Mass.)--History
  • Spiritualism
Contributors
  • Shattuck, Louise F
  • Shattuck, Sarah Bickford
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographs
  • Spirit slates
  • Spirit writing

Smith, Gilbert, b. 1801

Gilbert Smith and Gilbert Smith, Jr. Account Books, 1798-1846
2 vols. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 205 bd

Gilbert Smith was a shoemaker and doctor from New Marlborough, Massachusetts, and his son Gilbert Jr. was a prosperous farmer from Sheffield, Massachusetts. Includes merchandise sales, labor accounts, lists of boarders, and documentation of the sale of homemade butter and cheese to local merchants, as well as trade with the substantial rural black community of the region.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Agricultural wages--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Dairy products--Massachusetts--Marketing--History--19th century
  • Family--Economic aspects--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Sheffield--History--19th century
  • New Marlborough (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Sheffield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • Smith, Gilbert, 1801-
  • Smith, Gilbert, d. 1804
Types of material
  • Account books

Ware, Ellen and Mary E.

Ellen and Mary E. Ware Papers, 1862-1893
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 511

The working class women Ellen Ware and her step-daughter Mary E. lived in North Hadley, Massachusetts, during the mid to late nineteenth century.

This collection of letters documents the older generation’s reaction to the draft during the Civil War and the younger generation’s daily activities, including their education, social events, and the growing temperance movement.

Gift of Virginia Goldsbury, Feb. 2007
Subjects
  • Hadley (Mass.)--History--19th century
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1851-1865
  • Women--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Ware, Ellen
  • Ware, Mary E.

Wells, William, 1767-1848

William Wells Papers, 1796-1863
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 347

A prominent figure in the rural town of Shelburne, Mass., during the early nineteenth century, William Wells served for many years as a town selectman, representative in the state legislature, and captain of the militia. He died in Shelburne in July 1848, leaving behind his wife Prudence (May) and their nine children.

This tightly focused body of documents from William Wells represents a cross-section of public life in the town of Shelburne during the early decades of the nineteenth century, touching on the town’s finances, care for the church, school, highways, roads, and the local militia.

Subjects
  • Shelburne (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Wells, William

Westhampton (Mass. : Town)

Westhampton Town Records, 1779-1900
10 boxes (5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 799
Westhampton Town Records image
Close-up of records from 1779

Originally settled by Europeans in 1762, the town of Westhampton, Massachusetts, was separated from adjacent Northampton and incorporated in September 1778. Situated in the western reaches of Hampshire County, it was principally an agricultural town until the later twentieth century, producing apples, other fruit, and maple sugar, with only minor industry. The town still retains its rural character: a century after incorporation, the population had grown to just over 500, and nearly 1,500 by 2000.

The Westhampton collection provides an extensive record of public life and local governance in a typical small Hampshire County town. Spanning from 1779, just after the date of incorporation, through the turn of the twentieth century, the collection includes extensive records of town meetings, including warrants, agendas, and summaries; records of the Overseers of Poor, the schools, militia service, and parish; materials on roads and highways; and a large quantity of financial records.

Subjects
  • Churches--Massachusetts--Westhampton
  • Poor--Massachusetts--Westhampton
  • Roads--Massachusetts--Westhampton
  • Town meetings--Massachusetts--Westhampton

Wright, John

John Wright Account Books, 1818-1859
9 vols. (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 162

Farmer, freight hauler, laborer, cider-maker, landlord, and town official who was a seventh-generation descendant of Samuel Wright, one of the first English settlers of Northampton, Massachusetts. Nine bound volumes and four folders of loose material include accounts of his businesses with his brother Samuel and son Edwin and activities, as well as letters, and miscellaneous papers and figurings.

Subjects
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Northampton
  • Freight and freightage--Massachusetts
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
  • Account books

Bates Family

Marcia Grover Church Bates Family Papers, 1712-1999
11 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 424

Generations of the Bates and Church families based in North Amherst and Ashfield, Massachusetts. Papers include deeds, a will, correspondence, account books (recording day-to-day expenditures on food, clothing, postage, housekeeping supplies, and laborer’s wages), diaries, an oral history, photographs, genealogical notes, and memorabilia related to the family.

Subjects
  • Ashfield (Mass.)--History
  • Bates family
  • Church family
  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Ashfield
  • Hotelkeepers--Massachusetts--North Amherst
  • Libraries--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Alumni and alumnae
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--North Amherst
  • North Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Prescott (Mass.)--History
  • Public librarians--Massachusetts
  • Street-railroads--Massachusetts--Employees
  • Weather--Massachusetts--Ashfield
  • Women--Massachusetts--History
  • Worcester (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Bates, Marcia Church, 1908-2000
  • Church, Cornelia, 1906-1978
  • Church, Lucia Grover, 1877-1943
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Deeds
  • Diaries
  • Geneaologies
  • Photographs
  • Wills

Black, Joseph Laurence, 1962-

Joseph Laurence Black History of the Book Collection, 1789-1964
128 items (3 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 023
Joseph Laurence Black History of the Book Collection image
The Woman Trapper (1908)

A scholar of early modern British literature, Joe Black received his BA and PhD from the University of Toronto and taught for several years at the University of Tennessee Knoxville before joining the English faculty at UMass Amherst in 1994. Rooted in the history of the book, his research on seventeenth-century literature has examined the intersection between writing and the material and social context of production as well as the dialogue between print and manuscript culture.

The Black collection is an eclectic assemblage of American imprints designed to assist study and instruction in the history of the book. The collection includes two long runs of pulp novels, Beadle’s Frontier Series and the American Revolution-inspired Liberty Boys of ’76, examples of almanacs, prompt books, and works form the early national period in publishers’ bindings.

Subjects
  • Books--History--United States
  • Dime novels, American
Types of material
  • Almanacs
  • Scrapbooks

Culley, Margo

Margo Culley Papers, 1973-1985
1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 103

A former Professor of English at UMass Amherst and contributor to the Program in Women’s Studies, Margaret (Margo) Culley was a specialist in women’s literature, particularly in women’s autobiography and diaries as a literary form. Her research drew variously upon work in literature, history, American studies, and religion, exploring gender and genre, language, subjectivity, memory, cultural diversity, and narrative. Between 1985 and 1994, she edited three volumes on American women’s autobiographical writing, and another on feminist teaching in the college classroom.

The Culley Papers offer a somewhat fragmentary glimpse into Culley’s academic career and her commitments to women’s literature. The collection includes selected notes for research and teaching, annotated bibliographies of women’s literature, a performance script for The Voices of Lost New England Women Writers, a federal grant proposal for The Black Studies/Women’s Studies Faculty Development Project (1981), and notes related to a study on minority women in the classroom. Letters collected by Culley’s students (late 18th and early 19th century) have been separated from the collection and designated as manuscript collections.

Subjects
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Women
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Women's Studies
Contributors
  • Culley, Margo
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