Special Collections and University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries

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Goat cart at football game with Amherst College, ca.1913
Goat cart at football game vs.
Amherst College, ca.1913

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

concordance to 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.

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YouMass is wiki devoted to the life and history of the campus community.

Credo digital repository

SCUA’s digital repository Credo is home to all of SCUA’s digital collections, including UMass student publications, 12,000 university-related photographs, oral histories, and much more…

Links to University archives resources

Records relating to

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Arts Extension Service Records, 1973-2005

7 boxes (9.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RE 007/5

The Arts Extension Service (AES), a national arts service organization located at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the nation’s leading provider of professional arts management education, serving the arts through education, research, and publications. The AES distinguished itself as the first program in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in Arts Administration and it has subsequently added a range of training programs for state, regional and local arts agencies, including Peer Advising and Artist-in-Business, research services, and two online Certificates in Arts Management.

The records of the Arts Extension Service (AES) are divided into three series: Administration; Programs; and Publications. Series one dates from 1973-2004 and contains correspondence, consulting logs, contracts, course catalogs, organizational plans, press releases, books, booklets, forms and documents. Series two dates from 1977-2005 and contains correspondence, handouts, flyers, news clippings, brochures, pamphlets, reports, proposals, registration forms, grants, evaluation forms, schedules, and planning documents. Series three is composed of news manuals, catalogs, news clippings, newspapers, books, booklets, advertisements, correspondence, entry forms and handbooks that date from 1974-1999.


  • Arts--Education
  • Arts--Management

Roberta Uno Collection of Asian American Women Playwrights' Scripts, 1924-2005

25 boxes (9 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 345
Coconut masquerade postcard
Coconut masquerade postcard

Roberta Uno was the founder and long time artistic director of the New WORLD Theater at UMass Amherst, a theater in residence dedicated to the production of works by playwrights of color.

Established by Uno in 1993, the Asian American Women Playwrights Scripts Collection contains manuscripts of plays, but also production histories, reviews, and articles, along with biographies and audio and videotaped interviews with playwrights. Among the individuals represented are Brenda Wong Aoki, Jeannie Barroga, Marina Feleo Gonzales, Jessica Hagedorn, Velina Hasu Houston, Genny Lim, le thi diem thuy, Ling-Ai Li, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Nobuko Miyamoto, Bina Sharif, and Diana Son.


  • Asian American women authors
  • New WORLD Theater
  • Playwrights


  • Uno, Roberta, 1956-

Types of material

  • Scripts (Documents)

Rae Unzicker Papers, 1979-1997

1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 818
Rae Unzicker
Rae Unzicker

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.


  • Antipsychiatry
  • Ex-mental patients
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.


  • Unzicker, Rae

Types of material

  • Memoirs
  • Videotapes

Upholsters International Union Local 58 Minutebooks, 1901-1939

7 vols. (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 018

Upholsterers were among the earliest trades in the United States to organize into a national union, with the first efforts dating to the 1850s. The most successful of their unions, the Upholsterers International Union of North America, was founded in Chicago in 1892 and affiliated with the American Federation of Laborers in 1900. One year later, UIU Local 58 was established to organize workers in Washington, D.C.

The minutebooks of UIU Local 58 document the history of the union from its formation in 1901 through the late 1930s.


  • Labor unions--Washington (D.C.)
  • Upholsterers--Labor unions


  • Upholsters International Union

Types of material

  • Minutebooks

Valley Women's Union Records, 1974-1976

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 201

The Valley Women’s Union was established in 1974 by members of the Valley Women’s Center, Northampton, Massachusetts, who were committed to political change benefiting women. They were concerned that the Valley Women’s Center had become a static umbrella organization and that many of its formerly vital functions had been absorbed by local social service agencies The VWU sought to unify groups that were working for political change beneficial to women.

Records include newsletters, agendas for meetings, reports, position papers, and mailings.


  • Feminism--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
  • Feminists--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
  • Social change--Political activity--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
  • Women--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity --History


  • Valley Women's Union (Northampton, Mass.)

J.M. Van Dusen Ledgers, 1865-1910

5 vols. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 188 bd

Tinsmith and plumber from Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Mentions items he repaired and cleaned (stoves, furnaces, pots, pans, tinware, glassware, and crockery), goods sold (lamps, wash basins, kitchen utensils, shovels, fuel, and furnaces), occasional mention of payment with goods, lists of suppliers, and lists of customers, many of whom were prominent people in the community.


  • Business enterprises--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--History--19th century
  • Heating--Equipment and supplies--History
  • House furnishings--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--History
  • Plumbers--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Plumbing--Equipment and supplies--History
  • Stockbridge (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Tinsmiths--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--Economic conditions--19th century


  • J.M. Van Dusen Plumbing and Heating Co.
  • Van Dusen, J. M.

Types of material

  • Account books

Carlos Vega Collection, ca.1966-1995

148 volumes, 1 box, (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 800
Carlos Vega ca. 1990
Carlos Vega ca. 1990

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
  • Nicaragua--History--1979-1990
  • Radicalism--United States
  • Revolutionary literature
  • Socialism
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • Venceremos Brigade

Vietnamese Students Association New Year's Day Celebration Collection, 1985

1 envelope (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 106 bd

The Vietnamese Students Association hosted a Vietnamese New Year celebration at the Campus Center of the University of Massachusetts Amherst on February 20, 1985. Collection contains twelve photographs and a program listing sponsors, speakers, performers, the sequence of events, descriptions of ancestor worship, the legend of the earth and the sky cakes, the menu, and some song lyrics.


  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students--Social life and customs
  • Vietnamese New Year--Massachusetts--Photographs
  • Vietnamese Students Association (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
  • Vietnamese students--Massachusetts--Folklore
  • Vietnamese students--Massachusetts--Social life and customs

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Songs

Who can use the collections?

Enfield (Quabbin) dancers
How they danced in Enfield, a Quabbin town

Special Collections and University Archives is open at no cost to researchers, regardless of affiliation, during normal business hours. SCUA staff are happy to assist in planning or conducting research and welcome inquiries from students interested in internships in archival and library studies.

Although research appointments are not required, advance notice will help our staff to locate and retrieve research materials. First-time researchers will be asked to register and to provide name, institutional affiliation (when applicable), and current address. At registration, researchers must present a valid form of identification, including a photograph.

In the reading room

  • General
    • Please sign in at the front desk each visit
    • Only pencils and laptop computers may be used for taking notes. Please do not use pens.
    • Smoking, food, and drink are not permitted
    • Please switch off cell phones or set them to silent mode; calls may be taken in the adjacent elevator lobby
  • Care and handling of materials
    • Please use care in handling materials to prevent damage
    • Use only a single box of manuscript or archival material at a time; take care to preserve the existing arrangement of files
    • Photographs of materials are permitted for research purposes only
    • Scans and photocopies are made by staff members in keeping with our copying policies
    • Upon leaving for the day, please notify the staff whether you are finished with your material or wish to place it on hold for a return visit

Instruction in SCUA

SCUA’s archivists welcome visits from groups at any level or of any affiliation who wish to make use of our collections or to learn about archives and history. Our staff are available to provide introductions to archival research, overviews of specific areas of historical or cultural interest, information about the collections, or discussions of the history of New England or UMass Amherst. In recent years we have hosted classes from a wide range of disciplines, including history and American culture, African American studies, English and comparative literature, art history, education, anthropology, politics, business, plant and soil sciences, and library and information science.

To avoid scheduling conflicts, class visits should be arranged ahead of time. Please include the following information when contacting SCUA:

  • Name of instructor or contact
  • Affiliation
  • Date(s) requested, with start and finish time
  • Number of students or visitors
  • Subject area and research interests
  • Special requests (for collections)

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