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Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers, 1970-1987 (Bulk: 1945-1980)

24 boxes (33 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 881
Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957
Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957

As a student at Mount Hermon School in the late 1920s, Gifford Hoag Towle met Marjorie Ripley Blossom, a young woman at the Northfield School for Girls. When Giff went on to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (BS 1932) and Marjorie to a midwestern Bible College for a year (before being called home due to a family crisis), they remained connected and after Giff’s graduation in 1932, they married. By the time that Giff graduated from Hartford Seminary, he had left his Quaker upbringing to enter the Congregationalist ministry, and he and Marjorie filled three pulpits near Pelham, Mass. In 1939, however, they were called by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve as missionaries in the American Marathi Mission in Maharashtra State, central India. Following two years of intensive study of the Marathi language in Ahmednagar, they settled in Vadala, a rural village on the semi-arid plains, where they worked for thirty-four years, counting furloughs. In 1946 on furlough in the U.S., Giff earned a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Cornell while pastoring a small church in the suburbs of Ithaca. In his agricultural work in India, Giff used the mission farm to demonstrate crop diversity and farm animal improvement; created co-operatives to enable poor farmers to use appropriate modern tools and machinery for pennies; taught good irrigation and soil conservation; and later built a Mechanical Unit and trained local Indians as mechanics to repair machinery and drill wells. Giff also invented a pump for which he never filed a patent, wanting instead to make it as widely available as possible. He built networks with relatives, churches, and non-profits to fund these efforts and get supplies.

The Towle Collection contains a wealth of information for research in three distinct areas: missions and religious matters; agriculture in “developing” countries; and the cultural and socio-economic context of social change in rural India. The Towles’ voluminous correspondence and reports offer a particularly rich view into mission life in India, including American participation through churches, relations between Hindus and Christians or between Christians, and the viability of these efforts. Marjorie’s letters are particularly vivid, adding significantly to our understanding of mission lives and experiences. The collection is equally rich in revealing the impact of the Towles’ agricultural work and for study of the efficacy of government agencies and non-profits seeking to understand cross-cultural issues.


  • Agriculture--India
  • India--Description and travel
  • Maharasthra (India)--Economic conditions
  • Missionaries--India


  • Towle, Marjorie Blossom, 1907-1994

Types of material

  • Photographs

University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Education, 1967-2007

(46.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 013

In 1906, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted a law supporting the development of agricultural teaching in elementary schools in the Commonwealth, and in the following year, President Kenyon L. Butterfield, a leader in the rural life movement, organized a separate Department of Agricultural Education at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, introducing training courses for the preparation of teachers of agriculture. The Board of Trustees changed the name of the Department of Agricultural Education to the Department of Education in 1932, which became the School of Education in 1955.

The records of the School of Education group chart the evolution of teacher training at UMass from its agricultural origins to the current broad-based curriculum. Of particular note in the record group are materials the early collection of Teacher Training: Vocational Agriculture materials (1912-1964) and the National School Alternative Programs films and related materials.

Access restrictions: The National School Alternative Program films and related materials are housed off-site and require 24-hour retrieval notification.


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Education

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Student Body, 1867-2007

(155 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 045

Since the arrival of the first class of students at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1867, the student body at UMass has grown to over 20,500 undergraduates and nearly 6,000 graduate students.

Record Group 45 includes the collected records of student activities at UMass Amherst, from student publications and organizations (fraternities and sororities, unions, and honorary societies) to records of student government, student protests, and religious and social groups. Also included are class notes and correspondence of some individual students while enrolled in the University.

Connect to another siteA number of student publications have been digitized and are indexed in YouMass.


  • Aggie Life
  • Bay State Ruralist
  • College Signal
  • College students--Massachusetts
  • Greek letter societies--Massachusetts
  • Student newspapers and periodicals--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students

Marshall P. Wilder Collection, 1848-1929

3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 002/3 W55
Marshall P. Wilder
Marshall P. Wilder

A merchant and amateur horticulturalist from Dorchester, Mass., Marshall P. Wilder (1798-1886) was a key figure in American pomology during the mid-nineteenth century and a major supporter of agricultural education. A supreme organizer and institution builder, he was a founder and president of the American Pomological Society and United States Agricultural Society, and president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and New England Historic Genealogical Society. His 1849 address before the Norfolk Agricultural Society is often credited as an important catalyst for the creation of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and he served as trustee of the College from its opening in 1867 until his death in 1886.

The Wilder Collection consists primarily of printed works written or collected by Marshall P. Wilder, including materials pertaining to early meetings of the American Pomological Society and the United States Agricultural Society, his 1849 address to the Norfolk Agricultural Society, and his address to the first graduating class at MAC. Among the handful of manuscripts are a draft proposal to hold a national meeting of fruit growers (the inaugural meeting of the American Pomological Society), two letters regarding his donation of a large number of books to the MAC library, and a bound set of 22 beautiful watercolors of pear varieties painted by Louis B. Berckmans.


  • Agricultural exhibitions
  • American Pomological Society
  • Horticulture--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Trustees
  • New-England Historic Genealogical Society
  • Pomology--Massachusetts
  • United States Agricultural Society


  • Wilder, Marshall P. (Marshall Pinckney), 1798-1886

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)

American Express Company Florence Office Records, 1867-1890

3 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 298

Records of express agent Watson L. Wilcox of Simsbury, Connecticut and Florence, Massachusetts documenting Wilcox’s work for the American Express Company and the evolution of the company from a small shipping business to a delivery organization whose services contributed to the growth of the local and regional economy. Records consist of agent books, receipt books, and waybills listing accounts of local companies and residents for the sending, receiving and delivery of freight, telegraph messages, express cash, goods and packages.


  • American Merchant's Union Express Company
  • Express service--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • Florence (Mass.)--Economic conditions
  • Florence Manufacturing Company
  • Florence Sewing Machine Company
  • Hill, Samuel L
  • Industries--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company
  • Nonotuck Silk Company
  • Parsons, I. S
  • Simsbury (Conn.)--Economic conditions
  • Williston, A. L


  • American Express Company (Florence, Mass.)
  • Wilcox, Watson L., 1832 or 3-1896

Amherst Town Records, ca.1750-1860

3 reels (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 338 mf

Incorporated in 1775, Amherst was settled by Massachusetts Bay colonists who moved west, first to the Springfield area, then to Amherst. The microfilm records of the town consist of tax and valuation lists.


  • Amherst (Mass.)--History

Types of material

  • Microfilm

Amherst Study Circles: Dialogues on Race and Class Records, 2002-2016 (Bulk: 2002-2006)

1 (.4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 917
Amherst Study Circles: Dialogues on Race and Class flier
Amherst Study Circles: Dialogues on Race and Class flier

The Amherst Study Circles: Dialogues on Race and Class were a series of dialogue and project action groups begun in 2002 to discuss and enact social change in the school districts and communities around Amherst, MA. They arose as a response by the Amherst Regional High School (ARHS) Parent Center to a question to their group: What were they going to do about racism in the Amherst Schools? The ARHS Parent Center Board suggested the study circle model, and a round of facilitated pilot groups were run in February 2003. The successful pilots stirred the organizers to seek additional support, and with funding from the Amherst Education Foundation and the Amherst Drugs Free Partnership, additional groups were organized each year, building awareness, trust, and power amongst those striving to improve the community’s schools for all students. Almost 200 people, including school administrators, teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members participated over the course of several years, and each group culminated in an action forum and set up action groups to propose and enact tangible steps towards specific goals. Action groups affected change in school climate, policies, and course offerings, and organized a standing committee of the ARHS Parent Center called RaDAR: Race and Discipline, Action, Rights.

The Amherst Study Circles: Dialogues on Race and Class Records consist of descriptive materials from the ARHS Parent Center; an organizer’s binder with sections on the origin in 2002, participants, action groups, finances, curriculum, and evaluations; and additional materials such as evaluations for study circle sessions and facilitators, newspaper clippings of articles about the group and their work, and documents for student study circles, such as advertisements, curriculum, and certificates.


  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Amherst Regional High School (Amherst, Mass.)
  • Classism--Massachusetts
  • Education--Massachusetts
  • Racism--Massachusetts


  • Amherst Regional High School Parent Center
  • Wolf, Jackie

Black Mass Communications Project Collection, ca.1970-1985

10 boxes (15 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 045/30 B4

The Black Mass Communications Project was founded as an educational and informational outlet for Black students at UMass Amherst in 1968 and authorized in the following year as a Registered Student Organization. Over the years, BCMP played varied roles on campus, hosting cultural events, lectures, workshops, and social gatherings as to help keep black music alive. Many of its early members were also affiliated with the student radio station WMUA, and throughout the 1970s, the organization played a prominent role in providing programming to the station, offering programming highlighting African American music and current affairs.

The BCMP collection consists of many dozens of reel to reel audiotapes of radio broadcasts aired over WMUA during the 1970s and early 1980s by and for the university’s African American community. Included is a range of locally-produced public affairs, cultural, and music programming, with some content licensed from around the country. A few of the tapes are associated with the Five College’s National Public Radio affiliate, WFCR.


  • African American college students
  • African American music
  • College radio stations--Massachusetts
  • WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
  • WMUA (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Sound recordings

Brookfield (Mass.) Records, 1736-1795

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 595

Settled in 1660 and incorporated in 1718, the town of Brookfield (Worcester County) straddles the Boston Post Road, one of the major arteries during the colonial period connecting Boston with the towns of the Connecticut River Valley and New York.

This assemblage of documents from the town of Brookfield consists primarily of warrants for town meetings, many with agendas, issued through the local constable. Concentrated in the 1770s, these warrants provide relatively detailed information on matters of local importance, including town finances, tax assessments, contributions to the poor house, roadways, and property disputes. During the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary years, however, issues of interest to the town were often wrapped up in regional or national political issues. Town freeholders, for example, were called to consider requests to “come into any Vote or Resolve Respecting the East India Company Tea,” the encouragement of manufacture of firearms, smallpox inoculation, and pay for the town’s Minute Men.


  • Brookfield (Mass.)--History--18th century
  • Smallpox
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783


  • Forster, Jedediah

Types of material

  • Warrants

Dana (Mass.) Collection, 1801-1938

21 vols. (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 012

Situated in the northeastern reaches of the Swift River Valley in western Massachusetts, Dana was one of four towns inundated in the 1930s to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Rural and relatively sparsely populated, Dana’s economy centered on agriculture, leavened with manufacturing wood products and soapstone quarrying.

The Dana Collections include a comprehensive records of town meetings from incorporation through disincorporation (1801-1938), plus rich records for the Congregational Church and its affiliate organizations, the Ladies Aid Society, the Orthodox Congregational Society, and the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. Most of the materials listed in this finding aid are held at the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass., and were part of a cooperative digitization project centered on the records of the Quabbin towns.


  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Dana--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Dana (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Dana (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Poor-Massachusetts--Dana
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Women--Massachusetts--Dana
  • Women--Societies and clubs


  • Dana (Mass. : Town)
  • Dana (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
  • First Universalist Church (North Dana, Mass.)
  • Ladies' Aid Society (Dana, Mass.)
  • Orthodox Congregational Church (Dana, Mass.)
  • Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor

Types of material

  • Church records
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