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
American Watch Company Band Engagement Book, 1878-1883.
Call no.: MS 364
Band of musicians who worked at the Waltham Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts. Engagement book itemizes engagement dates and locations, and membership (including recent immigrants), and includes information about rehearsals, business meetings, and payment.
- American Watch Company--Employees--Recreation
- American Watch Company--Employees--Social life and customs
- American Watch Company--History
- Brass bands--Massachusetts--Waltham
- Industrial recreation--Massachusetts--Waltham
- Waltham (Mass.)--Social conditions--19th century
- American Watch Company. Band
- South Side Brass Band (Waltham, Mass.)
Types of material
- Appointment books
Anglin Family Papers, 1874-1955 (Bulk: 1914-1926).
Call no.: MS 699
Born in Cork, Ireland to a prosperous family, the Anglin siblings began immigrating to Canada and the United States in 1903. The first to relocate to Canada, brothers Will and Sydney pursued vastly different careers, one as a Presbyterian minister and the other as a salesman at a Toronto slaughterhouse. George and Crawford both served in the military during World War I, the former in the British Infantry as a medical officer and the latter in the 4th University Overseas Company first in France and later in Belgium where he died saving the life of a wounded soldier. Gladys Anglin trained as a nurse, but worked in a Canadian department store and at the Railway Office before suffering a mental breakdown and entering the Ontario Hospital as a patient. Ethel remained in Ireland the longest where she taught Domestic Economics at a technical school. The only Anglin to immigrate to the United States and the only female sibling to marry, Ida and husband David Jackson settled in Monson, Massachusetts where they raised four daughters.
The Anglin siblings were part of a close knit family who stayed in contact despite their geographic separation through their correspondence. Siblings wrote and exchanged lengthy letters that document not only family news, but also news of local and national significance. Topics addressed in their letters include World War I, the Irish revolution, medicine, religious ministry, and domestic issues from the ability of a single woman to support herself through work to child rearing.
- Anglin family--Correspondence
- Ireland--Emigration and immigration--History
- Ireland--History--War of Independence, 1919-1921
- Irish--United States--History
- World War, 1914-1918
Katherine Bell Banks Papers, 1926-1960.
Call no.: MS 429
Collection of letters from Du Bois to various members of the Bell family, the earliest written in September 1926 to Katherine Bell and the latest written in December 1960 to Thomasina Bell Fitzroy. These letters offer a unique perspective of Du Bois’s personal life.
- African Americans--History--1877-1964
- Banks, Katherine Bell
- Bell, Thomas, d.1946
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Simeon Bartlett Account Books, 1792-1867.
Call no.: MS 175 bd
Freight hauler, farmer, sawmill owner, and possibly a hatmaker from Williamsburg, Massachusetts.
The first volume of Bartlett’s accounts includes records of Bartlett’s income, sales and exchange of goods and services, and details about his employees and family (such as family births, deaths, and marriages). Volume 2 contains lists of hat purchases, lists of teachers and their pay, his participation in town affairs, and a number of lyrics to Civil War songs.
- Clapp, Joseph
- Hat trade--Massachusetts--South Hadley
- Lyman, Joseph
- Rice, Aaron
- Songs, English
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music
- Williamsburg (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Bartlett, Simeon, b. 1764
Types of material
- Account books
George W. Barton Papers, 1889-1984 (Bulk: 1914-1920).
Call no.: RG 050 B37
George W. Barton was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1896. After attending Concord High School in Concord, Barton began his studies in horticulture and agriculture at Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst. The collection includes diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, announcements, and his herbarium, and relates primarily to his career at the Massachusetts Agricultural College where he studied horticulture and agriculture from 1914-1918.
- Botany--Study and teaching
- Horticulture--Study and teaching
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
- Barton, George W
Types of material
Felice Beato Photograph Collection, ca.1863-1871.
Call no.: PH 004
A pioneer in war and documentary photography, the Anglo-Greek photographer Felice Beato was an important chronicler of late-Edo and early-Meiji era Japan. Between 1863 and 1877, Beato took a stunning array of views, portraits, ethnographic images, and genre scenes and helped train the first generation of Japanese photographers.
The Beato Collection includes ten images taken by Felice Beato in Japan between 1863 and 1871, including his famous view of Daibutsu, the Great Buddha at Kotokuin Temple, Kamakura; his view of one of the residences of the Shimabara clan; two very scarce views of a farmhouse and agricultural laborers, probably taken along the Tokaido Road; two views of Yokohama; and a fine view of a naval fleet at Nagasaki.
- Japan--Social life and customs
- Nagasaki (Japan)--Photographs
- Yokohama (Japan)--Photographs
- Beato, Felice, b. ca. 1825
Types of material
- Albumen prints
Arthur Cleveland Bent Collection, 1880-1942.
Call no.: MS 413
An avid birder and eminent ornithologist, Arthur Cleveland Bent was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, on November 25, 1866. After receiving his A.B. from Harvard in 1889, bent was employed as an agent for the Safety Pocket Company and from 1900 to 1914, he was General Manager of Mason Machine Works. His passion, however, was birds. An associate in Ornithology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, Bent became a collaborator at the Smithsonian and president (1935-1937) of the American Ornithologists’ Union. The culmination of his research was the massive, 26 volume Life Histories of North American Birds (1919-1968).
The Bent collection is a glimpse into the birding life of a remarkable amateur ornithologist. It contains the field notebooks of his collaborator, Owen Durfee (1880-1909), his own journals (1887-1942), photographs and negatives (1896-1930), correspondence concerning the photographs (1925-1946), and mimeographed and printed material. Bent’s records cover nest observations, egg measurements, bird sightings, and notes on specimens provided to organizations such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Bristol County Agricultural School, and the United States National Museum.
- American Ornithologists' Union
- Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954. Life Histories of North American Birds
- Bristol County Agricultural School (Bristol County, Mass.)
- Massachusetts Audubon Society
- United States National Museum
- Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954
- Durfee, Owen
Types of material
- Field notes
Bernard B. Berger Papers, 1955-1993.
Call no.: FS 039
Bernard B. Berger served as the Director of the Water Resources Research Center from 1966 to 1978 and was a world-renown expert on water supply management and the effects of pollution. Berger was born in 1912 in New York City, earned a B.S. in 1935 from MIT and an M.S. in Sanitary Engineering in 1948 from Harvard. Before coming to the University of Massachusetts, Berger worked as a civil engineer for twenty-five years in the United States Public Health Service, where he researched and advocated policy on pollution control. While at the University, Berger served as the United States’ water resources specialist in the executive office of Science and Technology and worked as a consultant to Israel in 1972 on that country’s creation of the Israel Environmental Service, now the Department of the Environment and as a consultant to South Africa on a similar project in 1975. The year after retiring from the University in 1978, Berger earned an honorary doctorate of science. He died on December 8, 2000.
The Bernard B. Berger Papers includes correspondence and reports from his consultancy work with Israel and South Africa. The collection also includes several folders of Berger’s published and unpublished writings, personal and professional correspondence and documents relating to his receipt of his honorary degree and other awards and recognitions.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Water Resources Research Center
- Berger, Bernard B
Sam Bishop Bronx-Lebanon (N.Y.) Incinerator Collection, 1982-1997.
Call no.: MS 703
A new medical waste incinerator for New York city hospitals became the focal point of drawn-out controversy in the 1990s. After proposals to place the facility in Rockland County and downtown Manhattan were scotched, a site in the South Bronx was selected. Even before it opened in 1991, the Bronx-Lebanon incinerator touched off fierce opposition. Built to dispose of up to 48 tons per day of medical waste gathered from fifteen regional hospitals, the incinerator was located in a poor and densely populated area, and worse, raising charges of environmental racism. Making matters worse, during its years of operation, it was cited for hundreds of violations of state pollution standards. A coalition of grassroots organizations led an effective campaign to close the facility, and in June 1997 the plant’s owner, Browning Ferris Industries agreed. In an agreement with the state two years later, BFI agreed to disable the plant and remove the emission stacks.
Gathered by an environmental activist and consultant from New York city, Sam Bishop, this collection documents the turbulent history of public opposition to the Bronx-Lebanon medical waste incinerator. In addition to informational materials on medical waste incineration, the collection includes reports and legal filings relative to the facility, some materials on the campaign to close it, and a small quantity of correspondence and notes from activists.
- Bronx (New York, N.Y.)--History
- Incinerators--Environmental aspects
- Medical wastes--Incineration
Types of material
- Legal documents