Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.
Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.
View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).
Significant collecting areas
- Antinuclear movement
- New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
- Antiracism and civil rights
- The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
- Community organizations and charities
- SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
- Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the hsitory of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
- Intentional Communities
- Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
- Labor activism
- For more detailed information, see our research guide on Labor, work, and industry
- Peace Collections
- Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
- Political activism
- As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
- Social Justice
- Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.
UMass Amherst. Academic Departments, Programs, Institutes, Centers, 1870-2007.
Call no.: RG 25
The academic departments at UMass Amherst are organized within ten schools and colleges. Among the more than 88 degree programs in 2009, 74 confer masters degrees, and 53 confer doctorates.
Containing the records of individual academic departments, programs, institutes, and centers, Record Group 25 documents the shifting history of disciplinarity and departmental affairs at UMass Amherst. The papers of individual faculty members are contained within the Faculty and Staff (FS) collections and are indexed separately in UMarmot.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
Marshall P. Wilder Collection, 1848-1929.
Call no.: RG 2/3 W55
A merchant and amateur horticulturalist from Dorchester, Mass., Marshall P. Wilder (1798-1886) was a key figure in American pomology during the mid-nineteenth century and a major supporter of agricultural education. A supreme organizer and institution builder, he was a founder and president of the American Pomological Society and United States Agricultural Society, and president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and New England Historic Genealogical Society. His 1849 address before the Norfolk Agricultural Society is often credited as an important catalyst for the creation of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and he served as trustee of the College from its opening in 1867 until his death in 1886.
The Wilder Collection consists primarily of printed works written or collected by Marshall P. Wilder, including materials pertaining to early meetings of the American Pomological Society and the United States Agricultural Society, his 1849 address to the Norfolk Agricultural Society, and his address to the first graduating class at MAC. Among the handful of manuscripts are a draft proposal to hold a national meeting of fruit growers (the inaugural meeting of the American Pomological Society), two letters regarding his donation of a large number of books to the MAC library, and a bound set of 22 beautiful watercolors of pear varieties painted by Louis B. Berckmans.
- Agricultural exhibitions
- American Pomological Society
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Trustees
- New-England Historic Genealogical Society
- United States Agricultural Society
- Wilder, Marshall P. (Marshall Pinckney), 1798-1886
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Association for Gravestone Studies Collection
Association for Gravestone Studies Book Collection, 1812-2005.
Call no.: Rare Book Collections
Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the Association promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives. To raise public awareness about the significance of historic gravemarkers and the issues surrounding their preservation, the AGS sponsors conferences and workshops, publishes both a quarterly newsletter and annual journal, Markers, and has built an archive of collections documenting gravestones and the memorial industry.
The AGS Books Collection contains scarce, out of print, and rare printed works on cemeteries and graveyards, epitaphs and inscriptions, and gravemarkers, with an emphasis on North America. The collection is divided into two series: Series 1 (Monographs and Offprints) and Series 2 (Theses and Dissertations).
- Sepulchral monuments
- Association for Gravestone Studies
Lionel Delevingne Photograph Collection, ca.1975-1995.
Call no.: PH 047
Born and raised in France, the photojournalist Lionel Delevingne studied education at l’Ecole Normale in Paris, but settled permanently in the United States in 1975. Based at first in Northampton, Mass., he became a prolific photographer of American social movements while working for the Valley Advocate and other publications, covering the early years of the Clamshell Alliance and the antinuclear movement in considerable depth. His work has been exhibited frequently and published widely in the mainstream and alternative press, including the New York Times, Le Figaro Magazine, Die Zeit, Newsweek, Washington Post Magazine, Mother Jones, and Vanity Fair.
The Delevingne collection includes remarkable visual documentation of the antinuclear movement of the 1970s and beyond, including some of the its most iconic images. Beginning with coverage of the Seabrook occupation, Delevingne covered the movement as it spread throughout the northeastern U.S. and internationally. The collection includes exhibition prints, prints for publication, and digitized images ranging in date from the mid-1970s through 1990s. Copyright in the images has been retained by Delevingne.
- Antinuclear movement--United States
- Clamshell Alliance
- Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant (N.H.)
- Delevingne, Lionel
Types of material
Luke Drury Papers, 1746-1831.
Call no.: MS 258
Soldier in Revolutionary War and Shays Rebellion, later a state legislator and local politician from Grafton and Marlboro, Massachusetts. Drury’s papers contain family and business (farm and mill) correspondence, notes of hand, bills, receipts, and legal papers as well as records pertaining to the town of Grafton. Collection also includes papers of Timothy Darling and the Goulding, Place, and Sherman families.
- Grafton (Mass.)--History
- Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787
- Darling, Timothy
- Drury, Luke, 1737-1811
- Goulding, Israel
- Sherman, Thankful Temple
Types of material
Enfield (Mass.) Collection, 1800-1939.
Call no.: MS 010
Situated at the confluence of the east and west branches of the Swift River in western Massachusetts, Enfield was the largest and southernmost of the four towns inundated in 1939 to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Incorporated as a town in 1816, Enfield was relatively prosperous in the nineteenth century on an economy based on agriculture and small-scale manufacturing, reaching a population of just over 1,000 by 1837. After thirty years of seeking a suitably large and reliable water supply for Boston, the state designated the Swift River Valley as the site for a new reservoir and with its population relocated, Enfield was officially disincorporated on April 28, 1938.
The records of the town of Enfield, Mass., document nearly the entire history of the largest of four towns inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The core of the collection consists of records of town meetings and of the activities of the town Selectmen, 1804-1938, but there are substantial records for the Enfield Congregational Church. The School Committee, Overseers of the Poor, the town Library Association, and groups such as the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Bethel Masonic Lodge.
- Enfield (Mass.)--History
- Enfield (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Enfield (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
- Enfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
- Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Women--Societies and clubs
- Daughters of the American Revolution. Captain Joseph Hooker Chapter (Enfield, Mass.)
- Enfield (Mass. : Town)
- Enfield (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
- Enfield (Mass. : Town). Prudential Committee
- Enfield (Mass. : Town). School Committee
- Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.)
- Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Auxiliary
- Enfield Congregational Church (Enfield, Mass.). Women's Missionary Society
Types of material
- Account books
- Church records
Girls Club of Greenfield Records, 1895-1995.
Call no.: MS 379
Founded in 1895, the Girls Club of Greenfield provides high quality early care and educational services to the girls of Franklin County, Massachusetts, and advocates for the rights of children and their families. During the school year, the Club offers diverse programming, ranging from an infant room and preschool to after school activities that promote teamwork, community spirit, social skills, and confidence. Since 1958, they have also operated a summer camp, Lion Knoll, in Leyden.
The records of the Girls Club of Greenfield include by-laws, annual reports, reports and meeting minutes of the Board of Directors, correspondence, and ledgers and account books. Also contains program files for daycare, summer camp, education worker programs, and others, personnel records, membership and committee lists, newsletters, press releases, ledgers, account books, scrapbooks, news clippings, photographs, slides, and artifacts.
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social conditions
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social life and customs
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Societies and clubs--History
- Greenfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Greenfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Girls Club of Greenfield (Greenfield, Mass.)
Types of material
- Account books
Hampshire Council of Governments Records, 1677-1974.
Call no.: MS 704
The Hampshire Council of Governments is a voluntary association of cities and towns and the successor to the former government of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, that was abolished in 1999. A body politic and corporate, its charter ratified by Massachusetts General Law 34B, S20(b), the Council oversees roadways, the electricity supply, building inspection, tobacco control, cooperative purchasing, and other services for member communities.
The Hampshire Council collection contains a dense record of county-level governance in western Massachusetts from the colonial period through the mid-twentieth century with extensive documentation of the actions of the County Commissioners, and before them the Court of Common Pleas and Court of General Sessions. Rich in documenting the development of the transportation infrastructure of western Massachusetts, the collection offers detailed information associated with the planning and construction of highways, canals, ferries, and railroads, but the early records offer a broad perspective on the evolution of the legal and cultural environment, touching on issues from disorderly conduct (e.g., fornication, Sabbath breaking) to the settlement of estates, local governance, public works, and politics.
- Bridges--Massachusetts--Hampshire Count
- Dams--Massachusetts--Hampshire Count
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--History
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Indians of North America--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--History
- Northampton (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Roads--Massachusetts--Hampshire County
- Taverns (Inns)--Massachusetts--Hampshire County
- Hampshire County (Mass.). County Commissioners
- Massachusetts. Court of General Sessions of the Peace (Hampshire County)
- Massachusetts. Inferior Court of Common Pleas (Hampshire County)
Types of material
- Civil court records
Haymarket People's Fund Western Massachusetts Records, 1975-1983.
Call no.: MS 336
A granting agency that advises and provides funding for grass roots, non-profit projects and organizations in order to bring about broad social change by addressing local issues and community needs. Records include minutes, reports, correspondence, successful and unsuccessful grant applications from Western Massachusetts organizations, grant source information, and grantee materials including organization reports, publications, member lists, clippings, and other materials.
- Berkshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Citizen's associations--Massachusetts--History
- Community power--Massachusetts--History
- Franklin County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Hampden County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Political activists--Massachusetts--History
- Social action--Massachusetts--History
- Haymarket People's Fund (Boston, Mass.)