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Rare book collections

Votes for women, Enfield Collection
Votes for Women, ca.1919 (Enfield Collection)

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses approximately 40,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.

Beyond New England, SCUA has developed strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the literature of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era and the works of an eclectic assortment of poets and writers. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to Cold War culture: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.

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All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog and summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles, are included in SCUA’s own online catalog, UMarmot.

Selected areas of collecting interest:

Agriculture, horticulture, natural history

The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, organic agriculture, pomology, sustainability, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Cookery in New England

Knox gelatin
The Collection

The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.

European history and culture

Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).

Gay and Lesbian Literature

The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.

Literary collections

Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press; records of the Cummington School for the Arts and Massachusetts Review; and the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of Charles Lamb, William Morris, and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers. We are stewards of the papers of several writers from New England and collect their works comprehensively, including Andrew Coburn, Mary Doyle Curran, Mary McGarry Morris, Raymond Mungo, Jodi Picoult, and Harvey Swados.

New England history and culture

Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard
Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard

Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends collection contains thousands of books, pamphlets, and periodicals relating to Quaker history from the seventeenth century to the present. With an emphasis on New England Quakerism, these collections include the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and libraries amassed by several monthly and quarterly meetings. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Social change

Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.

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Ray Family

Ray Family Papers, 1898-1953 (Bulk: 1911-1944)
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 432

Herman Edgar Ray, son of Fred Jackson Ray and Mabel Cosella Merriam Ray, was born in Westminster, Massachusetts on May 28, 1911. Herman Edgar married Anita Crabtree on May 4, 1934 in Gardner, Massachusetts. The family remained in the area throughout the 1950s as indicated by their correspondence.

The collection consists primarily of family photographs spanning three identifiable generations of the Ray family, and contains photograph albums, formal portraits, and miscellaneous photographs. Additional material includes postcards, correspondence, and hand-made greeting cards. The materials document the childhood of Herman Edgar Ray. His extended family includes: Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Ray, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ray, Ray Fenno, Mary Emergene Fenno, Mr.and Mrs. Charles A. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis, Helen Gates, Mary Russell, and Eleanor Howe.

Subjects
  • Camping--Massachusetts
  • Family--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts--Description and travel
  • Portraits--History--20th century
  • Westwinster (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Ray, Herman Edgar
Types of material
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographs

Regional Dairy Marketing Program

Regional Dairy Marketing Program Records, 1946-1960
2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 070

Founded in 1935, the Northeast Dairy Conference was “an association of more than 40 organizations of dairy producers in thirteen states from Maine to West Virginia.” Ranging from individual farmers and cooperatives to state-level departments of agriculture and milk control boards,” the NDC represented the interests of “hundreds of dairy plants and… thousands of workers,” and worked to ensure the success of the “principle agricultural industry in the Northeast.”

The Regional Dairy Marketing Program collection contains meeting proceedings, annuals reports, research project statements, and detailed accounts of the Northeast Dairy Conference’s Cooperative Regional Projects from 1946 to 1960.

Subjects
  • Dairy products industry
  • Milk trade--New England
Contributors
  • Northeast Dairy Conference

Reinsch, Henry Gustave

Henry Gustave Reinsch Papers, 1942-1960
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 527

Born in Germany in 1888, Henry Gustave Reinsch became an American citizen in 1912, serving in the military during the First World War, marrying an American girl, and starting a family. In 1942, however, two FBI agents showed up at Reinsch’s office, and a year later, Reinsch’s citizenship was revoked when he was accused by the U.S. government of living a double life — publicly loyal to America, privately loyal to Germany. Reinsch appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court and won. His citizenship was reinstated in 1945.

The Reinsch Papers contains newspaper clippings, personal and business correspondence, and official documents pertaining to both citizenship trials, that tell of uncommon wartime experiences.

Subjects
  • Citizenship, Loss of--United States
  • Fascists--United States
  • German Americans--Washington
  • Silver Shirts of America (Organization)
  • World War, 1939-1945--German Americans
Contributors
  • Reinsch, Bernice
  • Reinsch, Henry Gustave
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Ring, Hans Joachim

Hans Joachim Ring Collection of East German Cinema, 1945-1990
10 boxes (4.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 566
Hans Joachim Ring Collection of East German Cinema image
Bummi

Born in Germany on Aug. 4, 1934, Hans Joachim Ring was a film enthusiast with an encyclopedic knowledge of German cinema. During the Second World War, movie theatres became a refuge for the young boy, whose family was forced several times to flee due to Allied bombing. The hardships of post-war life cemented the role of film in his life and as he grew older, he became an ardent collector of materials relating to film.

The Ring Collection includes hundreds of programs, fliers, and handbills published by the official East German film distributors Progress Film-Vertrieb and the Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA) and sold to patrons at theatres. This extraordinary assemblage includes several hundred programs covering the immediate post-war period (1945-1950) and hundreds more relating to films released up to and beyond the end of the Communist era. Offering insight into the evolution of graphic design in East Germany and the marketing of film, the collection is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.

Subjects
  • Children's films--Germany, East
  • Motion pictures--Germany, East
Contributors
  • Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft
  • Progress Film-Vertrieb
  • Ring, Hans Joachim
Types of material
  • Fliers (Printed matter)
  • Handbills
  • Programs

Rodin, Phyllis

Phyllis Rodin Papers, 1950-2014
ca.50 boxes (75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 894
Phyllis Rodin Papers image
Phyllis Rodin

Born into a Jewish Lithuanian family in Williamsburg., N.Y., on May 10, 1914, Phyllis Rodin was drawn to the struggle for peace and social justice from early in life. Her widowed mother set an example as an antiwar activist and advocate for women’s rights, and after marrying at age 18, Phyllis and her husband ran a dairy farm that they reorganized on cooperative principles in the 1930s. A watershed in her life came after witnessing the suffering of war first hand while engaged as a psychiatric aid worker for the Red Cross during the Second World War. From that point, Rodin was an unrelenting activist for peace, traveling internationally and remaining vocal through the McCarthy era and Vietnam War and diving headlong into the second wave of the feminist movement. Returning to school late in life, she completed an undergraduate degree at Wisconsin before moving to Amherst in 1980 to study for a doctorate in Future Studies through the UMass Department of Education. Her activism barely skipped a beat as she worked closely with Quaker groups and stalwart activists such as her friend Frances Crowe to oppose nuclear weapons and violence in all forms. Rodin died in Amherst on Jan. 2015.

The Rodin Papers are the product of a long life of a woman devoted to the struggle for peace, feminism, and social justice. Richer in documenting Rodin’s latter decades and the philosophy of world peace she honed, the collection contains an abundance of correspondence, ephemera, and audiovisual materials related to international work in peacebuilding.

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Feminists
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts

Rotundo, Barbara

Barbara Rotundo Photograph Collection, ca.1970-2004
9 boxes (10 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 050
Barbara Rotundo Photograph Collection image

A long-time member of the English Department at the University of Albany, Barbara Rotundo was a 1942 graduate in economics at Mount Holyoke College. After the death of her husband, Joseph in 1953, Rotundo became one of the first female faculty members at Union College, and after earning a master’s degree in English at Cornell University and a doctorate in American Literature from Syracuse University, she served as an associate professor of English at the University of Albany, where she founded one of the first university writing programs in the United States. Avocationally, she was a stalwart member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, helping to broaden its scope beyond its the Colonial period to include the Victorian era. Her research included the rural cemetery movement, Mount Auburn Cemetery, white bronze (zinc) markers, and ethnic folk gravestones. Her research in these fields was presented on dozens of occasions to annual meetings of AGS, the American Culture Association, and The Pioneer America Society. In 1989, after residing in Schenectady for forty-six years, she retired to Belmont, NH, where she died in December 2004.

Consisting primarily of thousands of color slides (most digitized) and related research notebooks, the Rotundo collection is a major visual record of Victorian grave markers in the United States. The notebooks and slides are arranged by state, with an emphasis on the eastern states, and white bronze (zinc) markers also are represented in photographs and a separate research notebook. The collection also includes several rare or privately published books.

Subjects
  • Cemeteries--New York (State)
  • Gravestones--New Jersey
  • Gravestones--New York (State)
  • Gravestones--Pennsylvania
Contributors
  • Rotundo, Barbara
Types of material
  • Photographs

Rowinska, Leokadia

Leokadia Rowinska Papers, 1917-1988
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 102

Courier for the underground in Nazi occupied Poland during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising who was apprehended and placed in a concentration camp. After the war she and her husband moved from England to Holyoke, Massachusetts. Includes typescripts and photocopies of short stories; “Ameryce”, a booklet of poems; Poklosie, a book of poems published in Polish and English (Artex Press, 1987); audiotaped oral histories of Leokadia and Stanley Rowinski (primarily in Polish) done by their children; and photographs, audiotape, program and text of poems read at a public reading.

Subjects
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Holyoke
  • World War, 1939-1945
Types of material
  • Oral histories

Salah-El, Tiyo Attallah

Tiyo Attallah Salah-El Papers, 1890-2006
15 boxes (7.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 590

While serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison, Tiyo Attallah Salah-El transformed himself into an activist, scholar, and advocate for the abolition of prisons. An accomplished jazz musician, Salah-El has distinguished himself for educational and scholarly work, his musical career, his close relationship with activists and educators, and for the non-profit organization he founded, The Coalition for the Abolition of Prisons (CAP).

The Papers of Tiyo Attallah Salah-El document his experience in the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pennsylvania from 1977 to the present, providing information on his education, teaching, and activism. The bulk of the collection consists of his extensive correspondence with educators, musicians, and activists. Other highlights include a manuscript copy of his autobiography and the founding documents of the The Coalition for the Abolition of Prisons.

Subjects
  • Criminal justice, Administration of
  • Jazz musicians
  • Prisoners--United States
  • Prisons--United States
  • Quakers
Contributors
  • Ahrens, Lois
  • Nagel, Mechthild
  • Neill, Montgomery
  • Salah-El, Tiyo Attallah
  • Zinn, Howard, 1922-
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Samizdat

Samizdat Collection, 1955-1983
12 boxes (6 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 404

In the mid-1970s, the Center for the Study of New Russian Literature in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UMass Amherst began collecting the self-published and underground literature of the Soviet Union as a means of documenting social and political dissent in the Communist state.

The Samizdat collection includes writings in several genres — chiefly fiction, poetry, drama, and literary, social, and political criticism — in handwritten, photocopied, and printed form, as well as photos, a passport application for Mikhail Baryshnikov, and memorabilia from an American production of one of the plays in the collection.

Subjects
  • Underground literature--Soviet Union
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