As one of the main repositories documenting the history of western Massachusetts and New England, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.
Concentrated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 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. Among the more valuable collections for the political history of the region is the papers of Silvio O. Conte, Republican congressman from the First District of Massachusetts from 1959-1991. A member of the House Appropriations Committee (and its ranking minority member from 1979-1991), Conte is particularly remembered for his work in Health and Human Services, education, and the environment. SCUA also holds collections for state representatives John Haigis and Maurice Donahue, as well as other figures involved in political life in the Commonwealth.
Although the Department holds materials relating to individual communities in western Massachusetts, the history of the Quabbin watershed is a particular focal point. SCUA collects books printed in the Quabbin region and more generally, in rural New England prior to 1900, as well as manuscript, printed, and photographic collections relating to Quabbin towns.
- 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
- 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
Leon Shapiro Papers, 1939-1985.
Call no.: MS 127
Historian, author, Professor of Russian and Soviet Jewish History at Rutgers University, who helped arrange the escape of Jews from Europe during World War II and was active in several organizations concerned with the emigration of Soviet and Eastern European Jews to Palestine. Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, legal documents, writings, lecture and research materials, statistical data in the world Jewish population before and after World War II, oral history transcripts, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and four photographs.
- Europe, Eastern--Ethnic relations--History--20th century
- Israel--Emigration and immigration--History
- Jews, Soviet--History--Sources
- Jews--Europe, Eastern--History--Sources
- Jews--Soviet Union--History--Sources
- Occupational training for Jews--History--Sources
- Romania--Emigration and immigration--History
- Rutgers University--Curricula
- Rutgers University--Faculty
- Soviet Union--Ethnic relations--History
- World ORT Union--History
- Shapiro, Leon
Types of material
- Oral histories
Daniel M. J. and Joyce Stokes Papers, 1984-1996.
Call no.: MS 661
From 1987 through early 1988, Daniel and Joyce Stokes published Into the Night, “a newsletter for freedom for political prisoners held in the United States.” Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this simply-produced publication offered updates and commentary on Americans imprisoned for politically-motivated acts. Reflecting both the legacy of 1960s radicalism and the resurgent activism associated with U.S. imperialism in Central America, Into the Night offered news on the Ohio 7 sedition trial, the MOVE organization, and the fate of Plowshares war resisters.
The Stokes collection contains correspondence from subscribers and supporters of Into the Night, fleshing out their political philosophy and the conditions of imprisonment. Drawn from groups including the MOVE organization, the United Freedom Front, Black Liberation Army, and Plowshares, the correspondents include Ramona Africa, Alberto Aranda, Philip Berrigan, Marilyn Buck, Carl Kabat, Ray Luc Levasseur, Ruchell Cinque Magee, and Carol Manning. The collection also includes copies of other radical publications and a complete run of Into the Night itself.
- African American prisoners
- African American radicals
- Anti-imperialist movements
- Into the Night
- MOVE (Group)
- Ohio 7
- Political prisoners
- United Freedom Front
- Africa, Ramona
- Aranda, Alberto
- Berrigan, Philip
- Buck, Marilyn
- Gelabert, Ana Lucia
- Hernandez, Alvaro L
- Kabat, Carl
- Levasseur, Ray Luc
- Magee, Ruchell Cinque
- Stokes, Daniel M. J.
- Stokes, Joyce
Types of material
Jeff Albertson Photograph Collection, ca.1966-2005.
Call no.: PH 057
Born in Reading, Mass., on Sept 13, 1948, Jeff Albertson was still a student at Boston University, working on the staff of the BU News, when he was hired as a photographer by the Boston Globe. Reflecting the youth culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s, his photographs earned him positions with several prominent Boston alternative media outlets. Covering news, music, and the political interests of his generation, he served as photo editor for the Boston Phoenix and associate publisher for the Real Paper, and his work appeared regularly in mainstream publications such as Rolling Stone, People, and Boston Magazine. After becoming photo editor for the Medical Tribune News Group and moving to New York City in the 1980s, he met and married Charlene Laino. In later years, he became involved in early efforts to create websites devoted to issues surrounding health. Albertson died in 2008.
As a photographer, Albertson covered a wide range of subjects, with particular focus on music and social change. The many thousands of prints, slides, and negatives in the collection include stunning shots of Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and John Lee Hooker, activists such as Abbie Hoffman, politicians, and public personalities. The collection also includes several photographic essays centered on poverty, old age, fire fighting in Boston, and prisoners in Massachusetts (among other issues) along with a wide array of landscapes and street scenes.
- Boston (Mass.)--Photographs
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
- Simon, Peter
Types of material
Elizabeth Henderson Papers, 1966-2011.
Call no.: MS 746
A farmer, activist, and writer, Elizabeth Henderson has exerted an enormous influence on the movement for organic and sustainable agriculture since the 1970s. Although Henderson embarked on an academic career after completing a doctorate at Yale on the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1974, by 1980, she abandoned academia for Unadilla Farm in Gill, Mass., where she learned organic techniques for raising vegetables. Relocating to Rose Valley Farm in Wayne County, NY, in 1989, she helped establish Genesee Valley Organic CSA (GVOCSA), one of the first in the country, and she continued the relationship with the CSA after founding Peacework Organic Farm in Newark, NY, in 1998. Deeply involved in the organic movement at all levels, Henderson was a founding member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) in Massachusetts, has served on the Board of Directors for NOFA NY, the NOFA Interstate Council, SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) Northeast, and many other farming organizations at the state, regional, and national level, and she has been an important voice in national discussions on organic standards, fair trade, and agricultural justice. Among other publications, Henderson contributed to and edited The Real Dirt: Farmers Tell about Organic and Low-Input Practices in the Northeast and co-wrote Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture (1999, with Robyn Van En) and A Manual of Whole Farm Planning (2003, with Karl North).
Offering insight into the growth of the organic agriculture movement and the organizations that have sustained it, the Henderson Papers document Henderson’s involvement with NOFA, SARE, and the GVOCSA, along with her work to establish organic standards and promote organic practices. Henderson’s broad social and political commitments are represented by a rich set of letters from her work educating prisoners in the late 1970s, including correspondence with Tiyo Atallah Salah El and John Clinkscales, and with the American Independent Movement in New Haven during the early 1970s, including a nearly complete run of the AIM Bulletin and its successor Modern Times.
- American Independent Movement (Conn.)
- Community Supported Agriculture
- Genesee Valley Organic
- Northeast Organic Farming Association
- Organic farming
- Peacework Organic Farm (Newark, N.Y.)
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
- Clinkscale, John
- Salah El, Tiyo Atallah
Types of material
Raymond Mungo Papers, 1966-2008.
Call no.: MS 659
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.
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Communal living--Vermont
- Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
- Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
- Nineteen Sixties
- Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
- Porche, Verandah
- Garboden, Clif
- Mungo, Raymond, 1946-
- Simon, Peter, 1947-
Types of material
Roxbury Action Program Collection, 1944-1975 (Bulk: 1966-1974).
Call no.: MS 765
The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.
Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.
- African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
- Black Panther Party
- Black power
- Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
- Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History
- Morrison, George
Types of material
Dean Albertson Collection of Oral History Transcripts and Student Papers, 1975-1977.
Call no.: MS 224
Dean Albertson’s 384-level History classes at the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted interviews with social activists of the 1960s and early 1970s, participants and observers in the Springfield, Massachusetts North End riots of 1975, and war and nuclear power resisters. The collection includes transcripts of 15 interviews conducted during the years 1975-1977, as well as the students’ papers, which put the transcripts into context. See also the Dean Albertson Papers (FS 109).
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Attica Correctional Facility
- Civil rights--Massachusetts--Hampden County
- Hampden County (Mass.) Civil Liberties Union
- History--Study and teaching (Higher)--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Police shootings--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Political activists--Massachusetts
- Prison riots--New York (State)--Attica
- Puerto Ricans--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Selma-Montgomery Rights March, 1965
- Springfield (Mass.)--History
- Springfield (Mass.)--Race relations
- Springfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Springfield Area Movement for a Democratic Society
- Venceremos Brigade
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Weatherman (Organization)
- Welfare rights movement--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)
- Albertson, Dean, 1920-
- Lecodet, Rafael
Types of material
- Oral histories
Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter Records, 1947-1973.
Call no.: MS 303
Minutes and correspondence of the Executive Committee, correspondence and general files of chairmen Philip Eddy, David E. Matz, and Donn Kesselheim, as well as correspondence, briefs, and clippings related to legal cases and inquiries undertaken by the chapter.
- Civil rights--Massachusetts
- Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter
- Eddy, Philip
- Kesselheim, Donn
- Matz, David E