SCUA

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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.

Notice: due to renovations in the library, much of SCUA’s collection of printed materials (books and periodicals) will be unavailable until further notice. Please contact our archivists to see whether we can assist.

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

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.

Gift of Vincent DiMarco, June 2007
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)

Research guides

Hula cats
Postcard, Miriam Chrisman Papers

The SCUA staff have assembled a series of introductory guides to assist researchers in navigating through our collections. These guides provide a broad overview of our collections for the history of social change; labor, work, and industry; agriculture; and the regional history of New England, and intended for use in conjunction with the descriptions in UMarmot and our finding aids.

On the right side of this page, UMarmot includes a suite of menus to help you find what you need in our manuscript and archival collections: from top to bottom, you may search collections by entering terms in the search box; browse by general category using the drop down menu; browse our university archives; or browse all collections alphabetically by clicking on the appropriate letter.

We encourage researchers with more specialized interests or who require more in-depth work with our collections to consult with our staff.

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Ring, Hans Joachim

Hans Joachim Ring Collection of East German Cinema

1945-1990
10 boxes 4.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 566
Image of Bummi
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.

Acquired from Ann Langevin, May 2008
Language(s): German
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

Risser, Pat

Pat Risser Papers

1987-2015
1 box, 4 external drives 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 987

A leading voice in the psychiatric survivor movement, Pat Risser worked for years in the cause of civil rights and peer self-help for people with psychiatric disabilities. An Ohioan by birth, Risser suffered severe abuse as a child and was diagnosed with “schizophrenia” in his twenties, although he wrote that his diagnosis changed with each new doctor or therapist. Finding his condition worsen the deeper he became involved in the mental health system, Risser discovered the value of peer self-help in the early 1980s and became one of the first students in the Consumer Case Manager Aide program, where he trained to work as a professional mental health provider. A dynamic leader, he helped start dozens of self-help peer support groups in Colorado, founded several drop-in centers, and established seventeen Alliance for the Mentally Ill groups. His reputation led to his recruitment to become Director of Mental Health Consumer Concerns, a patients-rights advocacy program in California, with which he enjoyed enormous success. In 1996, he relocated to Oregon and although “semi-retired” due to poor health, he continued to work at the state and national level on mental health issues, becoming chair of Clackamas County Mental Health Council, acting as a mental health consultant, and writing and speaking on a range of topics. Risser died in 2016 at the age of 63.

Primarily a digital archive, the Pat Risser papers contain the writings and correspondence of a significant figure in the history of disability rights. Working in Colorado, California, Oregon, and Ohio, Risser was an early adopter of online technologies to communicate with fellow activists and to raise awareness about the pitfalls of the mental health system. The collection includes several important autobiographical essays by Risser.

Gift of Patricia Sandoval through Steve Stone, Oct. 2017
Subjects
  • Antipsychiatry
  • Ex-mental patients
  • People with disabilities--Civil rights
  • Psychiatric survivors movement
Types of material
  • Born digital

Robinson, Frank B. (Frank Bruce), b. 1886

Psychiana Collection

1932
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 502

Moved by a vision in which he saw himself as the head of a new religion, Frank Bruce Robinson established Psychiana soon after moving to Moscow, Idaho, in 1928-1929. Once established, word about the religion spread quickly, primarily through advertisements Robinson placed in newspapers and magazines. Within the first year more than 600,000 students in 67 countries were receiving his printed lessons. Robinson’s launching of Psychiana could not have been better timed. The Great Depression provided a ready-made audience eager to grasp onto his message of “health, wealth, and prosperity” achieved by positive affirmations and self help. This collection consists of 16 lessons in the Psychiana Advanced Course printed in 1932.

Acquired from Stephen Resnick, Apr. 2006
Subjects
  • Psychiana movement
Contributors
  • Robinson, Frank B. (Frank Bruce), b. 1886

Ross, Laura

Laura M. Ross Papers

1945-2003 Bulk: 1967-1990
13 boxes 6.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 515
Image of Laura Ross
Laura Ross

Born in the coal mining town of Blossburg, Pa., in 1913, Laura Ross (nee Kaplowitz) grew up in poverty as one of seven children of Lithuanian immigrants. In about 1932, Ross married Harry Naddell, a wine merchant, and settled into a comfortable life Brooklyn, N.Y., raising a son and daughter. During the Second World War, however, she became intensely politicized through her work with Russian War Relief, joining the Communist Party and eventually divorcing her les radical husband. Moving to the Boston area, she married Max Ross in 1963, an attorney for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and became a noted presence in a wide range of political activities, working for civil rights, the antiwar movement, and for many years, helping to run the Center for Marxist Education in Central Square , Cambridge. Perhaps most notably, between 1974 and 1984, Ross ran for Congress three times on the Communist Party ticket, taking on the powerful incumbent Tip O’Neill and winning almost a quarter of the vote. An activist to the end, Ross died in Cambridge on August 5, 2007.

The Ross papers are the legacy of a highly visible activist, organizer, educator, and member of the Communist Party USA. Heavily concentrated in the period 1967-1990, the collection includes material relating to her affiliation with CPUSA and her work with the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Mass., including information on party membership, platforms, and conventions, minutes from various district committee meetings, material relating to the People’s Daily World, and course information and syllabi. Scattered throughout the collection are materials pertaining to contemporary political issues and elections, particularly the policies associated with Ronald Reagan. Ross was a vocal and persistent opponent of Reaganomics and the nuclear arms race that Reagan accelerated.

Gift of Eugene Povirk, 2007
Subjects
  • Center for Marxist Education (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • People’s Daily World
  • United States--Politics and government--1981-1989
Contributors
  • Ross, Laura

Rotundo, Barbara

Barbara Rotundo Photograph Collection

ca.1970-2004
9 boxes 10 linear feet
Call no.: PH 050
Image of

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

Roxbury Action Program

Roxbury Action Program Collection

1944-1975 Bulk: 1966-1974
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 765
Image of Ernest Hamilton, <em>Black Power: What is it?</em> (1966)
Ernest Hamilton, Black Power: What is it? (1966)

The Roxbury Action Program and Black Panther Party of Boston were both founded in the Roxbury section of Boston following the riots of 1968. RAP pursued community revitalization through Black self-determination and enjoyed success in its housing initiatives and in providing social services ranging from support for Black businesses to Black draft counseling, health and legal referrals, a Black library, and community awareness program.

Although the exact provenance of this small collection is uncertain, the materials appear to have been collected by an individual, possibly a woman, associated with the early days of the Roxbury Action Program and Boston branch of the Black Panther Party. Steeped in Black Power ideology, the collection includes publications of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and other organizations, as well as an insightful series of transcripts of Roxbury Action Program meetings held during its first few months of operation.

Gift of Ken Gloss, Jan. 2013
Subjects
  • African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Black Panther Party
  • Black power
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Nation of Islam (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Morrison, George
Types of material
  • Newspapers
  • Photographs