The University Archives contains the official and unofficial records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst throughout its evolution from a small agricultural college into a dynamic and complex university. Within the archives are letters and artifacts, records, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the lives of its founders, the pursuits of its faculty, and the changing attitudes of its students and alumni, revealing what high quality public education means to our Commonwealth and nation.
Among the hundreds of discrete collections and over 13,000 linear feet of records are the official papers of Chancellors, Presidents, Trustees, and other administrators; information about the University’s academic units and student organizations; and the founding documents of our sister campuses at Worcester, Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth. The papers of faculty members add a wealth of information about the lives and intellectual pursuits of our campus community as well as their chosen academic disciplines.
Finding things in the archives
A comprehensive alphabetical index of UMass departments, programs, and other units, including acronyms. Each entry includes a reference to the archival Record Group where the records can be found.
YouMass is wiki devoted to the life and history of the campus community.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Academic Departments, Programs, Institutes, Centers, 1870-2007.
Call no.: RG 025
The academic departments at UMass Amherst are organized within ten schools and colleges. Among the more than 88 degree programs in 2009, 74 confer masters degrees, and 53 confer doctorates.
Containing the records of individual academic departments, programs, institutes, and centers, Record Group 25 documents the shifting history of disciplinarity and departmental affairs at UMass Amherst. The papers of individual faculty members are contained within the Faculty and Staff (FS) collections and are indexed separately in UMarmot.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Physical Education, 1868-2000.
Call no.: RG 018
Physical education was required of all students during the early years of Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC), enforced through required courses in the Department of Military Science and Tactics. Although intermural competition began shortly thereafter with a loss by the Wilder Baseball Association (Mass Aggies) to Amherst College 57-38, athletics were slow to catch on, due largely to a lack of student interest and faculty opposition. By 1909, a formal department of Physical Education and Hygiene was established to provide fitness training and coordinate the sports teams, with a separate women’s program following in 1940, however unlike most other universities, athletics were de-emphasized at UMass for many years, remaining more or less stagnant until the post-1960 expansion of the University.
This record group consists of annual reports, Athletic Board records, committee meeting minutes, policies, financial statements (1911-1921), histories, handbooks, Varsity “M” Club records, Hall of Fame records, athletic field records, correspondence and memoranda, curriculum and teacher training courses, colloquia and conference materials, schedules and scores (1871-1923), newsletters and newsclippings, media programs and guides, brochures and catalogs, pamphlets and fliers, and related materials.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Sports
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Athletic Board
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Physical Education
University of Massachusetts Amherst. University as a Whole, 1849-2007.
Call no.: RG 001
Established under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1863, the Massachusetts Agricultural College began with four faculty members and 56 students distributed among four wooden buildings and acres of farms, orchards, and fields. In keeping with the progressive educational principles of its early years, the College offered advanced instruction in the eminently practical pursuit of agriculture, while its fellow land grant college, MIT, covered the mechanical arts. Although “Mass Aggie’s” fortunes waxed and waned, it grew to become Massachusetts State College in 1931, and the University of Massachusetts in 1947.
Among the official publications of the University in Record Group 1 are institutional histories, annual reports, special reports, minutes, directories, catalogs, newsclippings, press releases, and memorabilia.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Trustees, 1864-2007.
Call no.: RG 002
When Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew incorporated the Board of Trustees for the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863, the fourteen members of the board were charged with creating a new agricultural college. Since that time, the Board of Trustees (including student trustees) had governed the University, meeting regularly to act on University-wide matters of policy, mission, finance, and campus maintenance. Governance responsibilities in some areas (e.g., tuition, academic program review and approval) are shared with the statewide Board of Higher Education. The Board of Trustees maintains a Chair and six standing committees: Executive, Administration and Finance, Academic and Student Affairs, Athletics, Audit, and External Affairs. The President and the Five College Chancellors administer board policy.
The bulk of the Board of Trustees records consists of meeting minutes (1906-2007) and Trustee Documents (1963-2007), along with the papers of a small number of individual trustees and the records of the Trustees’ “Commission on the Future of the University of Massachusetts” (1988-1989), which resulted in the consolidation of the state’s five public university campuses under a single President and Board of Trustees. In partnership with the Board of Trustees, SCUA has digitized the complete minutes of the Board from chartering of the university in 1863 through 2004.
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Trustees
- Massachusetts State College. Trustees
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Trustees
Types of material
Rae Unzicker Papers, 1979-1997.
Call no.: MS 818
Rae Unzicker’s exposure to the psychiatric system began at a young age. Growing up in an abusive home, her parents sent her to psychiatrists off and on for years before she was involuntarily committed. While there, she was quickly introduced to the chaotic and damaging atmosphere of a psychiatric institution, exposing her to mandatory drugs, seclusion rooms, forced feeding, and work “therapy” that required her to wash dishes six hours a day. Once she was release, Unzicker’s road to recovery was long, but after several suicide attempts and stays at other treatment facilities, she ultimately counted herself–along with her friend Judi Chamberlin, an early leader in the movement–a psychiatric survivor. Like Chamberlin, Unzicker embraced her role as an advocate of patient’s rights and for the radical transformation of the mental-health system. In 1995, President Clinton appointed her to the National Council on Disability; two years later she was elected president of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). Unzicker was widely known for her public appearances, conferences and speeches, and her writings, including numerous articles and contributions to the book Beyond Bedlam: Contemporary Women Psychiatric Survivors Speak Out. A survivor of cancer of the jaw and breast, Rae Unzicker died at her home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 22, 2001 at the age of 52.
Although a small collection, Rae Unzicker’s papers document her activities as a leading advocate for the rights of mental health patients, including transcripts of speeches and videotaped appearances, correspondence and feedback related to workshops and conferences, press kits, and newspaper clippings. The most important materials, however, are her writings. It is through her poems and her full-length memoir, You Never Gave Me M & M’s, that Unzicker’s story and voice are preserved.
- Ex-mental patients
- People with disabilities--Civil rights
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
- Unzicker, Rae
Types of material
Valley Light Opera Records, 1977-2005.
Call no.: MS 476
Founded in 1975 by a group of Gilbert and Sullivan devotees, the Valley Light Opera is based in Amherst, Massachusetts. VLO presents one fully staged opera and one less formal production every year, and over the years the company has presented all fourteen of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas at least once.
This collection contains a wonderful visual record of VLO productions with literally hunderds of photographs capturing dozens of performances. The collection contains, too, records that document the company’s activities from the moment an opera is selected to be performed to last curtain call.
- Theatrical companies--Massachusetts
- Valley Light Opera
Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995.
Call no.: MS 800
An Ecuadorian-born community activist, Carlos Vega moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his family in 1955. Settling in the working-class “Flats” neighborhood at a time when many of Holyoke’s factories were relocating to the southern United States or Asia, the Vegas were one of the few Spanish-speaking families in the city, but when Carlos began to work on a local tobacco farm at the age of 14, he encountered the new influx of migrants from Puerto Rico who had been lured to the Connecticut Valley as agricultural laborers by the Department of Labor. With the Puerto Rican economy declining in the 1960s, many of these farm workers settled permanently in Springfield and Holyoke, but they soon discovered that the declining economy there combined with racism and urban decay blocked their hopes for upward mobility. Radicalized by the anti-colonial, anti-war, and Civil Rights movements of the late 1960s, Vega emerged as an important community organizer in the 1970s, working with Fair Share, New Unity, Urban Ministry, and other progressive organizations. With a backdrop of riots, arson, and racial tension, these organizations focused on issues relevant to the Puerto Rican community, particularly voter education and registration, fair housing, and education. In 1982, Vega helped found Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit community development organization whose mission was to restore and maintain blighted buildings in South Holyoke. He worked with Nueva Esperanza for over 30 years, continuing until 2010 after a brain cancer diagnosis in 1995. He survived until April 2012.
The materials in this collection reflect Vega’s interests in left wing movements in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa from the 1960s through 1980s and include leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newsletters. The approximately 300 items offer sometimes scarce documentation of internationalist liberation movements such as the PAIGC in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, and the EFLNA in Eritrea. Of particular note is a small collection documenting Vega’s participation in the 1974 Venceremos Brigade and a collection of clippings, newsletters, notes, fliers, conference material, and newspapers from various groups such as New England Action Research, Friends of the Filipino People, The Latin American Student Association, and the Ethiopian Students Union of North America. Some printed materials are cataloged and housed with the rare books collection.
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- Civil Rights movements--Africa
- Civil Rights movements--Central America
- Civil Rights movements--Chile
- Civil Rights movements--United States
- Civil Rights movements-Asia
- Civil Rights movements-Caribbean
- Latin America--Periodicals
- Radicalism--United States
- Revolutionary literature
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- Venceremos Brigade
William Gould Vinal Papers, 1931-1963.
Call no.: FS 138
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).
- Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Conservation of natural resources--Study and teaching
- Nature Guide Newsletter
- Outdoor education--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nature Guide School
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Nature Recreation
- Vinal, William Gould, 1881-
Walther R. Volbach Papers, 1897-1996.
Call no.: FS 087
Born in Mainz, Germany on December 24, 1897, the theater historian and stage director Walther R. Volbach began directing operas and plays at the age of 17. After his immigration to the United States in 1936, he worked for several colleges, coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for five years as a visiting professor following his retirement in 1965. Noted as a director of operas and plays and for his set design, Volbach was author of three books: The Problems of Opera Production (1953), Adolphe Appia : The Prophet of The Modern Theatre (1968), and Memoirs of Max Reinhardt’s Theaters (1972).
The Volbach collection includes personal and professional correspondence in English and German, mostly from Volbach’s later years, regarding family, publishing, lectures, and employment. The collection also includes photographs of set designs, an image of Volbach teaching a class, publications, and lecture and research notes on theater history.
- Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928
- Drama--Study and teaching
- Set designers
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
- Volbach, Walther R. (Walther Richard), 1897-