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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, programs, and exhibitions to promote free inquiry; the production, exchange, and preservation of knowledge; and joy in learning.

Department history

African dancers
African dancers
From the Horace Mann Bond Papers

In 1931, nearly half a century after Librarian Henry Hill Goodell first authorized the permanent retention of the official records of Massachusetts Agricultural College, the Library established a College History Collection. Containing official records of the university’s administrators and faculty and reflecting the life of its students, the College History Collection grew steadily until in 1953, the Library dedicated a room named in honor of Dean William L. Machmer to serve as the first true home of the University Archives.

Goodell’s foresight in assembling the College archives coincided roughly with the university’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. As early as 1868 — just one year after the arrival of the first students — the college accepted the donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist (and state Adjutant General) Henry K. Oliver. By the time the college issued its first library catalog in 1875, rare books were a small, but notable part of the collections, closely focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. Included among the Library’s earliest acquisitions were the first London edition of William Bartram’s Travels Through North and South Carolina (1792), François Augier de Marigny’s The History of the Arabians (London, 1758), and early bee manuals by John Keys, The Practical Bee-Master (London, 1780) and The Antient Bee-Master’s Farewell (London, 1796) — both courtesy of Oliver. Each of these volumes remains part of the collections today.

David Axelrod, Class of 1965
David B. Axelrod, ca.1980, Class of 1965, poet, author of The Man who Fell in Love with His Chicken (1980)

From these beginnings, the collection of rare books and manuscripts has co-evolved with the university and its academic programs. In 1973, the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski marked an expansion of scope beyond into personal papers and organizational records of historical significance beyond the narrow confines of the university, and the arrival of the papers on W.E.B. Du Bois in that same year marked a turning point. The rare book and manuscript collections were merged with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

SCUA’s initial foray online came with a simple page on the library’s website in 1997, and by 2007, it had evolved into the UMarmot project, one of the earliest efforts to use freely-available software to create a comprehensive online archival catalog. SCUA launched its online digital repository, Credo in 2011, with the generous support of the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Available free to all researchers, Credo is now a robust and heavily used presence on the internet, containing hundreds of thousands of pages of content and dozens of complete collections, including every item in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond.

Mile markers

Each of the library’s million-volume milestones has been celebrated by the addition of a special volume to SCUA’s collections:

One millionth volume:
Jonathan Edwards, A careful and strict enquiry into the modern prevailing notions of that freedom of will; which is supposed to be essential to moral agency, vertue and vice, reward and punishment, praise and blame. Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754.
SCUA’s copy of this classic theological work on Free Will from the New Light minister from Northampton belonged to Rev. John Cleaveland of Ipswich, Mass., one of the subscribers. It is signed and dated by Cleaveland in several locations.
Two millionth volume:
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. London: A. Bell, 1773.
A classic of American literature written by a young woman enslaved in Boston, and the first book published by an African-American woman. Gift of Randolph W. Bromery.
Three millionth volume:
James Baldwin, Gypsy and other poems, with etched portraits by Leonard Baskin. Northampton, Mass.: Gehenna Press, 1989.
When Baldwin, a former faculty member at UMass Amherst, died unexpectedly, he was working with the great printer Leonard Baskin on a special volume of unpublished poems. Celebrating SCUA’s strengths in African American history literature and reflecting the fine-printing heritage in Massachusetts, SCUA’s copy includes a signed portfolio of etchings of Baldwin by Baskin, each signed. It is one of fifty copies bound specially by Daniel Gehnrich in leather and paste paper, made by Babette Gehnrich, over boards, and laid into a cloth traycase. Also laid in are Baskin’s proof, 1989, and touched proof, 1989, of two of the portraits. Gift of Lisa Baskin.
Four millionth volume:
The proclamation of emancipation of the President of the United States, to take effect January 1st, 1863. Boston: John Murray Forbes, 1862.
The first separate printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this volume was printed in miniature so that Union army troops in the south could more easily distribute it.

Learn more:

Morley, Cathrin

Cathrin Morley Poetry Album
1832-1837
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 136 bd

Possibly a worker who boarded in Van Duesenville, a growing industrial area of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Notebook consists of poems, most of which concern religious faith and local events that were written in Cathrin Morley’s hand but may not have been created by her. Also includes a list of significant family dates.

Subjects
  • Christian poetry, American--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
  • Death--Poetry
  • Great Barrington (Mass.)--History
  • Morley family
  • Sex role--Massachusetts--Great Barrington--Poetry
  • Spiritual life--Poetry
  • Van Duesenville (Great Barrington, Mass.)
  • Women--Poetry
Contributors
  • Morley, Cathrin
Types of material
  • Notebooks
  • Poems

Morris, William, 1834-1896

William Morris, The friendship of Amis and Amile
ca.1894
1 item (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 362 bd

A leader in the English Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris translated the ancient French romance, Amis and Amile, in 1894, one of a number of romances he published in his literary efforts to restore the middle ages.

This holograph copy of Morris’s short story was prepared for the Kelmscott Press in 1894 and printed in a run of 500. The first American edition appeared later that year, published by Thomas Bird Mosher.

Subjects
  • Kelmscott Press
Contributors
  • Morris, William, 1834-1896
Types of material
  • Holographs (Autographs)

Mosakowski, Ken

Ken Mosakowski Papers
1970s-2006
80 boxes (120 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 560

As a student at the University of Massachusetts in the late 1960s, Ken Mosakowski first became a political activist when he protested the Vietnam War. Seeking an outlet to spread his message of peace and justice, he reached out to the student radio station WMUA, and started a weekly talk show Focus. For 38 years Mosakowski hosted the radio program every Sunday afternoon discussing topics of both local and national significance. Deeply involved in Amherst politics, he ran for the Amherst Select Board and lost; the loss, however, did not diminish his passion for serving the town and community he loved. Vocal on many issues, Mosakowski was known for being an activist in electoral politics and more recently an advocate for the homeless in Amherst, urging the creation of the Emergency Homelessness Task Force created in April 2006.

The Ken Mosakowski Papers document more than thirty years of his political activism. Saving everything from flyers and newspaper clippings to campaign buttons and posters, the collection documents a wide array of local and national issues. More importanly, it sheds light on issues of personal importance to Mosakowski, and as such chronicles his contributions as a lifelong activist.

Subjects
  • Activists--Massachusetts
  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Political activists--Massachusetts
  • Social action--Massachusetts--History
Contributors
  • Mosakowski, Ken
Restrictions: The Mosakowski collection has temporarily been moved offsite; it is closed to research. Contact SCUA for more information.

Murdock, Charles N., 1835-1904

Charles N. Murdock Ledger
1866-1869
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 251

A grocer from Stow, Massachusetts, Charles N. Murdock catered principally to farmers and the country trade.

The accounts of Murdock’s store include mention of products sold (groceries and other items) and payment received, usually in kind (lard, eggs, fruit, butter, potatoes, cigars, beans, cash, and labor).

Subjects
  • Barter--Massachusetts--Stow--History--19th century
  • Derby, Reuben
  • Grocers--Massachusetts--Stow--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Grocery trade--Massachusetts--Stow--History--19th century
  • Stow (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Stow (Mass.)--Rural conditions--19th century
  • Temple, Rufus
  • Wages-in-kind--Massachusetts--Stow--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Murdock, Charles N., 1836-
Types of material
  • Account books

Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Samuel E. Murray Papers
ca.1945-1989
14 boxes (7 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 568
Image of Samuel Murray, 1966
Samuel Murray, 1966

One of the pioneers in the ephemera trade, Samuel E. Murray (1906-1989) was a long time antiquarian bookman, based at his home in Wilbraham, Mass. Born on Christmas Day, 1906, Murray interrupted his college studies to go to sea, but after the Depression left him unemployed, he landed a position as sales representative for McGraw-Hill and, later, G. & C. Merriam and other firms. Always an avid book collector, Murray left the publishing industry in 1970 to become a full time bookseller. Without ever advertising or issuing catalogs, he developed a wide reputation among dealers and collectors for his keen eye and perspicacity with rare and uncommon books. A generalist by trade, Murray had a particular fondness for colorplate books and travel literature, but was renowned both for his extensive reference library and for recognizing early on the value of ephemera. After a lengthy bout with myelofibrosis, Murray died at home on June 4, 1989.

The Murray Papers contain correspondence between Murray and a range of his fellow booksellers and clients, as well as his extensive card files on fellow book dealers and wants lists. The collection offers insight into the operations of a well known antiquarian bookman during the 1970s and 1980s.

Subjects
  • Antiquarian booksellers--Massachusetts
  • Book collecting
  • Books--Want lists
  • Printed ephemera--Collectors and collecting--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
  • Ephemera Society of America
  • Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts Collection
1965-2016
5 boxes (7.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 686
Image of

Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

In contributing to the National Arts Policy Archive and Library (NAPAAL), the NEA allowed SCUA to digitize publications on the arts and arts management since its inception. The collection reflects the impact of the arts (including music, literature, and the performing arts) on everyday lives of Americans and include materials intended to support individual and classroom education, information on arts management, reports on the status of the arts, histories of the organization, and much more. All items are cataloged in the UMass Amherst Libraries online catalog and are included in the Internet Archive, where they are available for full-text searching.

Subjects
  • Art and State
  • Arts--Management
  • Government aid to the arts

National Priorities Project

National Priorities Project Records
1983-2015
15 boxes (22.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 913

A national non-partisan, not-for-profit organization based in Northampton, Mass., the National Priorities Project was founded in 1983 by Greg Speeter, Brenda Loew, Ricky Fogel, and Alwin Schmidt to conduct research into the depths of the federal budget. Their first effort was to analyze the dramatic reductions affecting many social programs, but the organization grew around the principle of making the complex federal budget transparent and more publicly accessible so that the public can better influence how their tax dollars are spent. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 in recognition of its pioneering work in tracking military spending, the NPP continues to work toward a federal budget that reflects Americans’ priorities, including funding for issues such as inequality, unemployment, education, healthcare, and the need to build a green economy.

The NPP collection documents over thirty years of a not-for-profit organization devoted to research-informed advocacy for a federal budget that reflects the priorities of most Americans. In addition to a run of NPP publications, the collection includes a series of topical files from Greg Speeter and his associates, selected correspondence, talks, and notes on their work.

Gift of Kris Elinevsky, 2016
Subjects
  • Military spending
  • United States--Appropriations and expenditures
Contributors
  • Speeter, Greg

New England Homestead

New England Homestead Farm Accounts Collection
1883-1884
2 vols. (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 113

The New England Homestead, a magazine published in Springfield, Massachusetts from 1842 to 1969, conducted a contest in 1884 to which farmers submitted notebooks recording their farm accounts for the one year period, April 1, 1883 to March 31, 1884.

The collection includes bound and unbound farm accounts submitted as entries to the contest contest. The Library holds The New England Homestead, 1842-1850 on microfilm, and 1894-1968 in bound volumes.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Accounting--Competitions--New England
  • Agriculture--Economic aspects--New England--History--19th century
  • Agriculture--New England--Accounting--History--19th century
  • Contests--New England
  • Farm management--Competitions--New England
  • Farm management--New England--History--19th century
  • Farmers--Competitions--New England
  • Farmers--New England--Economic conditions--19th century
  • New England--Economic conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • New England Homestead

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League Records
1893-1977
9 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 331

When Charles Marsters founded the Boston Lacrosse Club in 1913, the club was the only one in New England to play teams from outside of the region. Under Marsters’s leadership, however, participation in the sport rose steadily at both the high school and collegiate level, helping establish New England as one of the centers of the American game. In 1935, he and Tom Dent founded the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League (NEILL) to continue to build the sport.

The NEILL records document the growth of lacrosse from informal club team play to a more regulated, interscholastic and intercollegiate varsity sport. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, minutes, and agendas kept by co-founder Charles Marsters and a handful of other NEILL officers, but with material documenting the growth of the sport at UMass Amherst from the 1950s onward and the addition of women’s lacrosse as a collegiate sport. The collection also includes some printed material (including rulebooks), news clippings, and photographs.

Subjects
  • College sports--New England
  • Lacrosse for women--United States
  • Lacrosse guide
  • Lacrosse--New England--History
  • School sports--New England
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Sports
Contributors
  • Boyden, Frank L. (Frank Learoyd), 1879-1972
  • Marsters, Charles E
  • New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League
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