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African American history

Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905

Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905

The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, UMass has supported publication of three volumes of Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has digitized the papers and made them freely available on the internet while serving as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books. SCUA continues in its efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.

Every February, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass Amherst commemorate Du Bois’s birthday by co-sponsoring a public colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert and Bethina Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, Arnold Rampersad, and David Levering Lewis.

Significant collections (view all)

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Clark, Henry James, 1826-1873

Henry James Clark Papers
1865-1872
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 048
Image of Trichodina pediculus
Trichodina pediculus

The first professor of Natural History at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, Henry James Clark, had one of the briefest and most tragic tenures of any member of the faculty during the nineteenth century. Having studied under Asa Gray and Louis Agassiz at Harvard, Clark became an expert microscopist and student of the structure and development of flagellate protozoans and sponges. Barely a year after joining the faculty at Massachusetts Agricultural College at its first professor of Natural History, Clark died of tuberculosis on July 1, 1873.

A small remnant of a brief, but important career in the natural sciences, the Henry James Clark Papers consist largely of obituary notices and a fraction of his published works. The three manuscript items include two letters from Clark’s widow to his obituarist and fellow naturalist, Alpheus Hyatt (one including some minor personal memories), and a contract to build a house on Pleasant Street in Amherst.

Subjects
  • Developmental biology
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of Veterinary Science
  • Protozoans
Contributors
  • Clark, Henry James, 1826-1873
  • Clark, Mary Young Holbrook
  • Hyatt, Alpheus, 1838-1902
Types of material
  • Contracts
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Dickinson, Walter Mason, 1856-1898

Walter Mason Dickinson Papers
1858-1900
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 173
Image of Walter Mason Dickinson, ca.1880
Walter Mason Dickinson, ca.1880

Originally a member of the Massachusetts Agricultural College Class of 1876, Walter Mason Dickinson left after his junior year to enter the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his military career, Dickinson saw service in the southwest and as a military instructor at MAC (1891-1896). As a Captain and Quartermaster in the 17th Infantry, he was called to active duty during the Spanish-American War and was killed in action at the Battle of El Caney. He was the first man associated with MAC to die in military service.

This small collection of photographs and letters centers on the death and family of Walter M. Dickinson, the first person associated with Massachusetts Agricultural College to die in combat. In addition to two of the last letters he wrote as he was heading off to war in Cuba, the collection contains three formal portraits of Dickinson at different points in his military career, images of his wife and family, and two images of the scene of his death at El Caney and one of his temporary grave.

Gift of Alex Kingsbury, Jan. 2016
Subjects
  • Dickinson, Asa Williams--Photographs
  • Dickinson, Charles--Photographs
  • Dickinson, Marquis F. (Marquis Fayette), 1814-1901--Photographs
  • Dickinson, Marquis F. (Marquis Fayette), 1840-19215--Photographs
  • Dickinson, Martha E.--Photographs
  • Dickinson, Walter Mason, 1856-1898--Photographs
  • Dwellings--Massachusetts--Amherst--Photographs
  • El Caney (Cuba)--Photographs
  • Farms--Massachusetts--Amherst--Photographs
  • Soldiers' bodies, Disposition of--Cuba--Photographs
  • Soldiers--United States--Photographs
  • Spanish-American War, 1898
Types of material
  • Ambrotypes
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs

Stockwell, E. Sidney

E. Sidney Stockwell Papers
1910-1928
7 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 691
Image of Sid Stockwell
Sid Stockwell

A member of the Massachusetts Agricultural College class of 1919, Ervin Sidney Stockwell, Jr. (1898-1983) was born in Winthrop, Mass., to Grace Cobb and E. Sidney Cobb, Sr., a successful business man and owner of a wholesale dairy. Entering MAC as a freshman in 1915, Stockwell, Jr., studied agricultural economics and during his time in Amherst, took part in the college debate team, winning his class award for oratory, and dramatics with the Roister Doisters. He performed military service in 1918 at Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Camp Lee, Va. Stockwell went on to found a successful custom-house brokerage in Boston, E. Sidney Import Export, and was followed at his alma mater by his son and great-grandson.

The extensive correspondence between Sidney Stockwell and his mother, going in both directions, provides a remarkably in-depth perspective on a typical undergraduate’s life at Massachusetts Agricultural College during the time of the First World War, a period when MAC was considered an innovator in popular education. The letters touch on the typical issues of academic life and social activity, Stockwell’s hopes for the future, his military service and the war. Following graduation, Stockwell undertook an adventurous two year trip in which he worked his way westward across the country, traveling by rail and foot through the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana, Washington state and California, taking odd jobs to earn his keep and writing home regularly to describe his journey. An oral history with Stockwell is available in the University Archives as part of the Class of 1919 project.

Subjects
  • Agricultural education--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
  • Montana--Description and travel
  • North Dakota--Description and travel
  • Washington--Description and travel
  • World War, 1914-1918
Contributors
  • Stockwell, E. Sidney
  • Stockwell, Helen Cobb

Storrsville (Mass.) Lyceum Debating Society

Storrsville Lyceum Debating Society Minutebook
1842-1846
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 016 bd

Club that met weekly or bi-weekly in Storrsville, Massachusetts, to debate questions of local, national, and international interest including religion, abolition and slavery, human nature, penal reform, the lure of the West, intemperance, and war and peace. Single minutebook includes two versions of the constitution, proposed and debated questions, the teams, the outcome, and notations of any additional activities that took place during the formal meetings.

Subjects
  • Ciceronean Debating Club (Dana, Mass.)
  • Dana (Mass. : Town)--Intellectual life--19th century
  • Debates and debating--Massachusetts--Dana (Town)--History
  • Storrsville (Dana, Mass. : Town)--Intellectual life--19th century
  • Storrsville Lyceum Debating Society (Dana, Mass.)--Archives
Types of material
  • Minute books

Totman, Ruth J.

Ruth J. Totman Papers
ca. 1914-1999
6 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 097
Image of Ruth Totman and Jean Lewis, ca.1935
Ruth Totman and Jean Lewis, ca.1935

Trained as a teacher of physical education at the Sargent School in Boston, Ruth J. Totman enjoyed a career at state normal schools and teachers colleges in New York and Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College in 1943, building the program in women’s physical education almost from scratch and culminating in 1958 with the opening of a new Women’s Physical Education Building, which was one of the largest and finest of its kind in the nation. Totman retired at the mandatory age of 70 in 1964, and twenty years later, the women’s PE building was rededicated in her honor. Totman died in November 1989, three days after her 95th birthday.

The Totman Papers are composed mostly of personal materials pertaining to her residence in Amherst, correspondence, and Totman family materials. The sparse material in this collection relating to Totman’s professional career touches lightly on her retirement in 1964 and the dedication of the Ruth J. Totman Physical Education Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Supplementing the documents is a sizeable quantity of photographs and 8mm films, with the former spanning nearly her entire 95 years. The 8mm films, though fragile, provide an interesting, though soundless view into Totman’s activities from the 1940s through the 1960s, including a cross-country trip with Gertrude “Jean” Lewis, women’s Physical Education events at the New Jersey College for Women, and trips to Japan to visit her nephew, Conrad Totman..

Subjects
  • College buildings--Massachusetts--Amherst--History--Sources
  • Conway (Mass.)--Genealogy
  • Dairy farms--Massachusetts
  • Family farms--United States
  • Farm life--United States
  • Physical Education for women
  • Totman family
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
  • Women physical education teachers
Contributors
  • Drew, Raymond Totman, 1923-1981
  • Lewis, Gertrude Minnie, 1896-
  • Totman, Conrad D
  • Totman, Ruth J
Types of material
  • Genealogies

Vinal, William Gould, 1881-

William Gould Vinal Papers
1931-1963
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 138
Image of Cap'n Bill Vinal
Cap'n Bill Vinal

William “Cap’n Bill” Vinal was the first instructor in nature education at Massachusetts State College and a pioneer in the field. A graduate of Bridgewater State (1904), Harvard (MA 1907) and Brown (PhD, 1922), Vinal worked for several years as a camp director on his native Cape Cod and held a variety of university appointments in nature education before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College as Professor of Nature Education in the Nature Guide School in 1937. Spontaneous in the classroom and field, enthusiastic, and highly popular with his students, Vinal taught courses in conservation, outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation, and nature guiding, and was an important figure in the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the American Camping Association, the Camp Directors Association, and several conservation groups. After retiring from UMass in 1951, Vinal returned to his home in Norwell, Mass., remaining active as a nature writer and teacher until his death in 1973.

A valuable glimpse into the early growth of nature and conservation education, the Vinal collection includes dozens of scarce publications by the exceptionally prolific Cap’n Bill, along with a small quantity of correspondence, talks, and reports. As a collection, these document the origin and growth of the Nature Guide School and the program in nature recreation at MSC and UMass, and more generally the growth of nature, recreation, and conservation education in New England. Of local interest is an extensive report for the town of Amherst Recreation Survey Committee (1948) regarding recreational opportunities for youth. Nearly half of the collection consists of an extensive run of Vinal’s quirky, self-published Nature Guide Newsletter (1935-1951).

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Conservation of natural resources--Study and teaching
  • Nature Guide Newsletter
  • Outdoor education--Massachusetts
  • Recreation--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nature Guide School
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Nature Recreation
Contributors
  • Vinal, William Gould, 1881-

American Express Company. Florence (Mass.) Office

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.

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

Amherst (Mass.)

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.

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
Types of material
  • Microfilm

Girls Club of Greenfield (Mass.)

Girls Club of Greenfield Records
1895-1995
21 boxes (27 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 379

Founded in 1895, the Girls Club of Greenfield provides high quality early care and educational services to the girls of Franklin County, Massachusetts, and advocates for the rights of children and their families. During the school year, the Club offers diverse programming, ranging from an infant room and preschool to after school activities that promote teamwork, community spirit, social skills, and confidence. Since 1958, they have also operated a summer camp, Lion Knoll, in Leyden.

The records of the Girls Club of Greenfield include by-laws, annual reports, reports and meeting minutes of the Board of Directors, correspondence, and ledgers and account books. Also contains program files for daycare, summer camp, education worker programs, and others, personnel records, membership and committee lists, newsletters, press releases, ledgers, account books, scrapbooks, news clippings, photographs, slides, and artifacts.

Subjects
  • Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social conditions
  • Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social life and customs
  • Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Societies and clubs--History
  • Greenfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Greenfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Contributors
  • Girls Club of Greenfield (Greenfield, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
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