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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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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

Richardson, Charley

Charley Richardson Papers, ca.1985-2012
32 boxes (48 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 862

A shipfitter and union activist, Charley Richardson was a visonary labor educator. After working for a time in a machine shop and driving a school bus, Richardson hired on as a shipfitter at Sun Ship in Philadelphia in 1976, and grew active in the labor movement as a steward for the United Steelworkers. After relocating to the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy seven years later, he sustained a workplace injury that ended his career, but he remained active in the workers’ cause. Helping served as director of the Labor Extension Program at UMass Lowell and helped to create the Technology and Work Program where he and his wife Nancy Lessin developed educational programs to aid unions in countering harmful workplace changes and build strength and solidarity for the union. An advocate for social and economic justice, he became a vocal opponent of the U.S. war in Iraq in 2002, and was co-founder of Military Families Speak Out. After a long battle with cancer, Richardson passed away in May 2013.

The Richardson papers document over thirty years of work as a labor educator and United Steelworkers activist. At the heart of the collection are materials relating to Richardson’s research and instruction at UMass Lowell, teaching “continuous bargaining” and other techniques for unions coping with economic and political change. The collection is informed throughout by Richardson’s concerns for workplace safety and health and the impact of technology, downsizing, deregulation, and globalization.

Subjects
  • Industrial safety
  • Labor unions and education
  • United Steelworkers of America
  • University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Labor Education Prograss
Contributors
  • Lessin, Nancy

Rowe Camp and Conference Center

Rowe Camp and Conference Center Collection, 1982-2007
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 536

Founded as a Unitarian camp in 1924 for high school students and later adding a junior high component in 1947, the Rowe Camp and Conference Center now offers retreat programs in a variety of areas, including health care, exploration of rituals and dreams, astronomy, and workshops for families, couples, men and women.

This collection consists of newspaper clippings and the Rowe Conference Center and camp annual bulletin.

Subjects
  • Religion--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Rowe Camp and Conference Center
  • Spiritual healing
  • Spiritual life
  • Spiritual retreats--Christianity

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

Savas, Athena

Athena Savas Cookbook Collection, 1876-2003
1,635 titles (105 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 025

A lifelong resident of Springfield, Mass., Athena Savas was a passionate collector who assembled a massive collection of cookbooks over the course of almost forty years.

The Savas Cookbook Collection contains many hundreds of commercially-produced and community cookbooks, primarily from New England. As a collector, Savas was particularly interested in ethnic and regional cookery, but she ranged widely to include corporate cookbooks and works relating to subjects such as waiting tables, home entertainment, and restaurants.

Subjects
  • Community cookbooks
  • Cookbooks
  • Cookery, American
Contributors
  • Savas, Athena

Shapiro, Leon

Leon Shapiro Papers, 1939-1985
15 boxes (8.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 127

Historian, author, Professor of Russian and Soviet Jewish History at Rutgers University, who helped arrange the escape of Jews from Europe during World War II and was active in several organizations concerned with the emigration of Soviet and Eastern European Jews to Palestine. Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, legal documents, writings, lecture and research materials, statistical data in the world Jewish population before and after World War II, oral history transcripts, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and four photographs.

Subjects
  • Europe, Eastern--Ethnic relations--History--20th century
  • Israel--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Israel--History--1948-1967
  • Jews, Soviet--History--Sources
  • Jews--Europe, Eastern--History--Sources
  • Jews--Migration--History
  • Jews--Population--History
  • Jews--Soviet Union--History--Sources
  • Occupational training for Jews--History--Sources
  • Palestine--History--1929-1948
  • Romania--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Rutgers University--Curricula
  • Rutgers University--Faculty
  • Soviet Union--Ethnic relations--History
  • World ORT Union--History
Contributors
  • Shapiro, Leon
Types of material
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs

Sharpe, Wayne G., 1915-1991

Wayne G. Sharpe Papers, 1943-1944
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 462

Wayne G. Sharpe was a secretary for Company A in the 1874th Engineers Aviation Battalion of the Army Air Corps and a middle-class family man from Belmont, Massachusetts. Enlisted in February of 1943 at the age of twenty-seven, Wayne left his wife and infant son for a year’s training at home before his Battalion was dispatched to New Guinea in late December. Flown to a hospital on the island in late April 1944, he returned to the United States in August.

The papers of Wayne G. Sharpe, Sr. are primarily made up of his letters and V-mails home during his training and service abroad, but also include his wife’s letters to him from April 1943-August 1944.

Subjects
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Sharpe, Wayne G., 1915-1991

Shearer, James

James Shearer Daybook, 1836-1838
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 418 bd

During the late 1830s, James Shearer operated a general store near Palmer, Massachusetts, trading in the gamut of dry goods and commodities that made up the country trade in Massachusetts, from dried fish, butter, rum, and brandy, to soap, nails, chalk, cloth, sugar, molasses, spices, coffee, and tea. Although some customers paid their accounts in cash, most appear bartered goods (e.g, with butter) or services (carting).

The Shearer daybook contains detailed records the transactions of a general store located in or near Palmer, Mass., during the years surrounding the financial panic of 1837. The volume is attributed to Shearer based on a single signature on the last page of the volume, closing out a lengthy account with J. Sedgwick. Although Shearer cannot be identified with certainty, it appears likely that he was a member of the prolific Shearer family of Palmer in Hampden County.

Subjects
  • General stores--Massachusetts--Palmer
  • Palmer (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Shearer, James
Types of material
  • Daybooks

Sirius Community

Sirius Community Collection, 1979-2003
2 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 835

Founded in September 1978, Sirius is an intentional community in Shutesbury, Mass., built on four foundational pillars: spiritual, ecological, communitarian, and educational. Established by former members of the Scottish Findhorn Community, Sirius is rooted in a non-sectarian spirituality and practices consensus in the community governance process and in their shared vision of an ecologically sustainable future.

The Sirius collection contains a nearly complete run of the commune newsletter along with a selection of fliers and brochures about the community, and a small number of newsclippings and photographs.

Subjects
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Sustainability
Types of material
  • Newsletters
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