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.
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
Upholsters International Union Local 58 Minutebooks, 1901-1939.
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
Valley Peace Center Records, 1965-1973.
Call no.: MS 301
In the summer of 1967, members of University of Massachusetts Amherst campus groups, such as the Faculty Group on War and Peace and the Students for Political Action, joined with individuals from other area colleges and from the community at large to form the Valley Peace Center of Amherst for the purposes of opposing the Vietnam War, providing draft counseling, eliciting pledges from the government to avoid first use of nuclear and biological weapons, and reduction of the power of the “military-industrial complex”. The Center was active for more than five and a half years, drawing its financial support largely from the community and its human resources from student and community volunteers.
Correspondence, minutes, volunteer and membership lists, financial records, newsletters, questionnaires, notes, petitions, clippings, posters, circulars, pamphlets, periodicals, other printed matter, and memorabilia. Includes material relating to alternative service, boycotts, war tax resistance, prison reform, environmental quality, and political candidates.
- Amherst (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
- Draft--United States--History
- Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Social movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)--History--20th century
- Valley Peace Center (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
Valley Women's Union Records, 1974-1976.
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.
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.
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
Vietnamese Students Association New Year's Day Celebration Collection, 1985.
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
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-
Mary Morris Walker Papers, 1868-2003 (Bulk: 1944-2003).
Call no.: MS 775
An avid botanist and naturalist, Mary (Morris) Walker was born in Stamford, Conn., on April 1, 1923, the daughter of renowed surgeon and naturalist Robert Tuttle Morris. After graduating from Vassar in 1944, Morris took her MA in Geology at the University of Michigan, marrying a fellow geologist Eugene H. Walker in 1947. Moving to Kentucky, Iowa, and Idaho before settling in Concord, Mass., in 1968, the Walkers raised three children. In Concord, Walker studied for an MA in library science at Simmons College (1971), but her work in botany and natural history became increasingly important. As a plant collector, writer, and educator, Walker traveled widely in the United States and the Caribbean, and she became a leader in organizations including the New England Wild Flower Society, the New England Botanical Club, the Thoreau Society, and the Appalachian Mountain Club. Walker died in Concord on Oct. 2, 2012.
The Walker Papers are a rich assemblage of materials documenting the life of an energetic amateur botanist. Beginning during her time as a student at Vassar, the collection offers insight into Walker’s growing interest in the natural sciences, her botanizing, and her commitments to several organizations devoted to natural history. The collection also includes a small number of letters and photographs of Walker’s father, Robert T. Morris.
- Botany--Study and teaching
- New England Botanical Club
- New England Wild Flower Society
- Thoreau Society