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New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

Learn more:

Association of College and Research Libraries. New England Chapter

Association of College and Research Libraries. New England Chapter Records, 1976-2011
18 boxes (25.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 747

The largest division of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is an organization of information professionals employed in the wide variety of academic libraries. In 1972, the ACRL authorized formation of regional chapters, including one in New England, as a means of supporting professional growth among academic and research librarians by sponsoring workshops, conferences, and other opportunities for learning, consultation, and collaboration.

Representing over forty years of records of a regional chapter of the ACRL, this collection offers thorough documentation. The collection includes a nearly complete run of bulletins, information on the organization and administration of the chapter, and some “historical” materials gathered for the chapter’s tenth anniversary.

Subjects
  • Librarians--Societies, etc.

Linguistic Atlas of New England

Linguistic Atlas of New England Records, 1931-1972
40 boxes (19.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 330

The Linguistic Atlas of New England project, begun in 1889 and published 1939-1943, documented two major dialect areas of New England, which are related to the history of the settling and dispersal of European settlers in New England with successive waves of immigration.

The collection contains handwritten transcription sheets (carbon copies) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with some explanatory comments in longhand. Drawn from over 400 interviews conducted by linguists in communities throughout New England in the 1930s, these records document the geographic distribution of variant pronunciations and usages of spoken English. The material, taken from fieldworkers’ notebooks (1931-1933), is arranged by community, then by informant, and also includes audiotapes of follow-up interviews (1934); phonological analyses of informants’ speech; character sketches of informants by fieldworkers; fieldworkers’ blank notebook; and mimeograph word index to the atlas (1948).

Subjects
  • English language--Dialects--New England
Contributors
  • Linguistic Atlas of New England

New England Federation of Agricultural Students

New England Federation of Agricultural Students Records, 1907-1915
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 333

The New England Federation of Agricultural Students was organized in 1907 for the purpose of bringing together agricultural students of New England colleges for the study and advancement of agriculture and allied sciences and to learn about each others’ work. The Federation organized annual contests in fruit grading and packing, poultry, field crops, and stock.

Correspondence (1915), minutes (1915), constitution, treasurer’s report (1914-1915), records of the secretary and treasurer (1907-1915), contest scores and results (1914), and judging regulations (1913-1916).

Subjects
  • Agricultural education--New England--Societies, etc.--History
  • Agricultural students--New England--History
  • Agriculture--Competitions--New England--History
Contributors
  • New England Federation of Agricultural Students

New England Historical Association

New England Historical Association Records, 1965-1999
13 boxes (6.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 352
Image of NEHA meeting, Holy Cross College, April 1982
NEHA meeting, Holy Cross College, April 1982

The New England Historical Association, the regional branch of the American Historical Association, was founded in 1965 in an informal meeting at the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the NEHA is to serve the interests of New England historians of all levels: professional, academic, or amateur. These interests include a means to share their research and work, learn about history resources that are available to them for personal study or teaching, or simply to meet socially. NEHA aims to maintain the pursuit of history through both regional and national dimensions.

This collection holds the records of the New England Historical Association including an organizational history, constitution and meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, membership lists, committee reports, meeting programs, and newsletters.

Subjects
  • History--Study and teaching
Contributors
  • American Historical Association
  • New England Historical Association
  • New England History Teachers' Association
Types of material
  • Photographs

New England Homestead

New England Homestead Farm Accounts Collection, 1883-1884
2 vols. (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 113

The New England Homestead, a magazine published in Springfield, Massachusetts from 1842 to 1969, conducted a contest in 1884 to which farmers submitted notebooks recording their farm accounts for the one year period, April 1, 1883 to March 31, 1884.

The collection includes bound and unbound farm accounts submitted as entries to the contest contest. The Library holds The New England Homestead, 1842-1850 on microfilm, and 1894-1968 in bound volumes.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Accounting--Competitions--New England
  • Agriculture--Economic aspects--New England--History--19th century
  • Agriculture--New England--Accounting--History--19th century
  • Contests--New England
  • Farm management--Competitions--New England
  • Farm management--New England--History--19th century
  • Farmers--Competitions--New England
  • Farmers--New England--Economic conditions--19th century
  • New England--Economic conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • New England Homestead

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 England Post-War Marketing

New England Post-War Marketing Plans Collection, 1937-1950
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 083

Includes reports, addresses, articles, proposals, memos, and correspondence regarding post-war marketing plans in New England for agricultural products in general, and for dairy products in particular, including the Every Other Day Milk Delivery campaign.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Economic aspects--New England--20th century
  • Dairy products--New England--Marketing--History--20th century
  • Farm produce--New England--Marketing--History--20th century
  • New England--Economic conditions--20th century

New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Regional Planning Commission Collection, 1935-1943
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 069

Organized in March 1934, the New England Regional Planning Commission was a coalition of state planning boards intended as a permanent, non-partisan, representative body. Charged with the continuous coordination, review, and revision of state plans, the Commission coordinated research and physical planning relating to transportation (including the highway system and airports), interstate water resources, land utilization, conservation of forests and wildlife, and recreational facilities.

This small collection consists of printed reports, bulletins, and minutes from the NERPC from its founding through middle of the Second World War. Ephemeral in nature, the reports chart the growth of regional cooperation in planning in the use of water and land resources and the transportation system, spurred by the federal New Deal.

Subjects
  • Airports--New England
  • New England--Economic conditions
  • Regional planning--New England
  • Roads--New England
  • Transportation--New England
  • Water-supply--New England
Contributors
  • New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Telephone and Telegraph Company

Western Massachusetts Ice Storm Photograph Collection, 1942
1 envelope (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 354
Image of Ice damage near Becket
Ice damage near Becket

Approximately every twenty years, western New England suffers from devastating ice storms, leaving heavy ice coating on trees and buildings and hazardous conditions. Major storms struck in 1921, 1942, 1961, 1983, 1998, and 2008, with the storm of December 29-30, 1942, disrupting power and closing roads throughout a broad swath of the northeast. In northern New York state, ice depths reached six inches.

The collection includes twenty six of an original thirty eight photographs depicting ice storm damage to power lines in the Pittsfield District (Windsor, Middlefield, Washington Mountain to Becket) resulting from the storm in December 1942. The collection also includes a cover letter pertaining to photos (not included) documenting a similar situation in Northampton, affecting the New England Power Service Co.

Subjects
  • Electric lines--Massachusetts--Photographs
  • Electric power systems--Natural disaster effects --Massachusetts--Photographs
  • Ice storms--Massachusetts--Photographs
Contributors
  • New England Power Service Company
Types of material
  • Photographs
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