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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, programs, and exhibitions to promote free inquiry; the production, exchange, and preservation of knowledge; and joy in learning.

Department history

African dancers
African dancers
From the Horace Mann Bond Papers

In 1931, nearly half a century after Librarian Henry Hill Goodell first authorized the permanent retention of the official records of Massachusetts Agricultural College, the Library established a College History Collection. Containing official records of the university’s administrators and faculty and reflecting the life of its students, the College History Collection grew steadily until in 1953, the Library dedicated a room named in honor of Dean William L. Machmer to serve as the first true home of the University Archives.

Goodell’s foresight in assembling the College archives coincided roughly with the university’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. As early as 1868 — just one year after the arrival of the first students — the college accepted the donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist (and state Adjutant General) Henry K. Oliver. By the time the college issued its first library catalog in 1875, rare books were a small, but notable part of the collections, closely focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. Included among the Library’s earliest acquisitions were the first London edition of William Bartram’s Travels Through North and South Carolina (1792), François Augier de Marigny’s The History of the Arabians (London, 1758), and early bee manuals by John Keys, The Practical Bee-Master (London, 1780) and The Antient Bee-Master’s Farewell (London, 1796) — both courtesy of Oliver. Each of these volumes remains part of the collections today.

David Axelrod, Class of 1965
David B. Axelrod, ca.1980, Class of 1965, poet, author of The Man who Fell in Love with His Chicken (1980)

From these beginnings, the collection of rare books and manuscripts has co-evolved with the university and its academic programs. In 1973, the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski marked an expansion of scope beyond into personal papers and organizational records of historical significance beyond the narrow confines of the university, and the arrival of the papers on W.E.B. Du Bois in that same year marked a turning point. The rare book and manuscript collections were merged with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

SCUA’s initial foray online came with a simple page on the library’s website in 1997, and by 2007, it had evolved into the UMarmot project, one of the earliest efforts to use freely-available software to create a comprehensive online archival catalog. SCUA launched its online digital repository, Credo in 2011, with the generous support of the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Available free to all researchers, Credo is now a robust and heavily used presence on the internet, containing hundreds of thousands of pages of content and dozens of complete collections, including every item in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond.

Mile markers

Each of the library’s million-volume milestones has been celebrated by the addition of a special volume to SCUA’s collections:

One millionth volume:
Jonathan Edwards, A careful and strict enquiry into the modern prevailing notions of that freedom of will; which is supposed to be essential to moral agency, vertue and vice, reward and punishment, praise and blame. Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754.
SCUA’s copy of this classic theological work on Free Will from the New Light minister from Northampton belonged to Rev. John Cleaveland of Ipswich, Mass., one of the subscribers. It is signed and dated by Cleaveland in several locations.
Two millionth volume:
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. London: A. Bell, 1773.
A classic of American literature written by a young woman enslaved in Boston, and the first book published by an African-American woman. Gift of Randolph W. Bromery.
Three millionth volume:
James Baldwin, Gypsy and other poems, with etched portraits by Leonard Baskin. Northampton, Mass.: Gehenna Press, 1989.
When Baldwin, a former faculty member at UMass Amherst, died unexpectedly, he was working with the great printer Leonard Baskin on a special volume of unpublished poems. Celebrating SCUA’s strengths in African American history literature and reflecting the fine-printing heritage in Massachusetts, SCUA’s copy includes a signed portfolio of etchings of Baldwin by Baskin, each signed. It is one of fifty copies bound specially by Daniel Gehnrich in leather and paste paper, made by Babette Gehnrich, over boards, and laid into a cloth traycase. Also laid in are Baskin’s proof, 1989, and touched proof, 1989, of two of the portraits. Gift of Lisa Baskin.
Four millionth volume:
The proclamation of emancipation of the President of the United States, to take effect January 1st, 1863. Boston: John Murray Forbes, 1862.
The first separate printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this volume was printed in miniature so that Union army troops in the south could more easily distribute it.

Learn more:

Communist Party of Massachusetts

Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection

1932-1957
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 538

A branch of the Communist Party of the United States of America, the Communist Party of Massachusetts enjoyed strong popularity during the 1930s and 1940s, organizing the textile and other manufacturing industries.

This small collection is comprised of a miscellaneous assemblage of fliers, broadsides, and ephemera issued by the Communist Party of Massachusetts and its affiliates from the mid-1930s through the repression of the McCarthy era. Originating mostly from Boston, the items in the collection center on significant themes in Communist thought, including opposition to Fascism and militarism, labor solidarity against capital, and elections. A small number of items relate to Party-approved cultural productions, including plays and gatherings to celebrate Lenin or the Russian Revolution. Many items are associated with Otis A. Hood, a perpetual candidate for public office on the Communist Party ticket who became a target for McCarthy-era repression in the mid-1950s.

Acquired from Eugene Povirk, 2008

Subjects

  • Antiwar movements--Massachusetts
  • Communists--Massachusetts
  • Elections--Massachusetts
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Communist Party of Massachusetts

Types of material

  • Broadsides
  • Fliers
Massachusetts

Massachusetts Agricultural Surveys

1910-1965
25 boxes 18 linear feet
Call no.: MS 261

Studies were conducted by departments of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, Massachusetts State College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in conjunction with various other college departments and agencies of the state and federal governments. The surveys encompass a number of agricultural study areas such as land use, business and farm management, dairy farm and cost of milk production, tobacco and onion production, and poultry and livestock disease surveys. Supplemental statistical information and aerial photographs are also included.

Subjects

  • Agriculture--Massachusetts
  • Land use--Massachusetts

Types of material

  • Aerial photographs
Massachusetts State Employees Association. University of Massachusetts Chapter

MSEA University of Massachusetts Chapter Records

1955-1978
10 boxes 4.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 049

The Massachusetts State Employees’ Association (MSEA) was founded in 1943 to protest proposed changes in the state employees’ retirement system. By 1969, the group had become the exclusive bargaining agent for the University’s administrative, clerical, and technical employees.

This small collection includes the constitution and by-laws of the MSEA along with Executive Board and general body minutes, correspondence, contracts, legislative materials, grievance records, hearing transcripts and decisions pertaining to job reallocations, subject files, newsletters, and press releases that document the UMass chapter of the Massachusetts State Employees’ Association from 1955 to 1978.

Subjects

  • Collective labor agreements--Education, Higher--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Massachusetts State Council

UBCJA Massachusetts State Council Records

1892-1980
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 015

One of the largest building trade unions in the U.S., the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America was established in 1881 by a convention of carpenters’ unions. An early member of the American Federation of Labor, the Brotherhood began as a radical organization, but beginning in the 1930s, were typically aligned with the conservative wing of the labor movement.

The records of the Massachusetts State Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America contain reports and other information generated during the union’s annual conventions as well as copies of the constitution and by-laws, handbooks, and histories of the union.

Subjects

  • Carpenters--Labor unions
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Academic Departments

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Academic Departments, Programs, Institutes, Centers

1870-2007

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.

Subjects

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Alumni

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Alumni

1871-2007
146.25 linear feet
Call no.: RG 050

This record group contains materials that document alumni and alumni activities throughout the history of the Amherst campus. Included are annual reports, constitutions and by-laws, board and committee minutes, cash books and financial statements, correspondence, alumni directories, class lists, obituaries, biographies, bibliographies of alumni writings, photographs, alumni periodicals, brochures from alumni events, newsclippings, handbooks and manuals, reunion and dinner programs, scrapbooks, memorabilia and artifacts.

Subjects

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Alumni

Contributors

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Alumni Office

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Scrapobooks
University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment

University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment

1882-2007
53.5 linear feet
Call no.: RG 015

During its first seventy five years, the mission of Massachusetts Agricultural College gradually expanded from its original focus on teaching the science of agriculture and horticulture. Coping with the changing demands of research and teaching in a disparate array of fields, responsibilities for the administration of University units were reorganized at several points, culminating in the formation of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment in 1993.

This record group consists of Dean’s annual reports, organizational charts, personnel lists, committee minutes, lecture materials, data sheets, maps and census statistics, conference proceedings, course catalogs, directories, publications, handbooks, records of the Agricultural Experiment Station, photographs and audio-visual materials, and other related materials.

Access restrictions: Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require advance notification for retrieval.

Subjects

  • Agriculture--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Agricultural Experiment Station
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Stockbridge School of Agriculture
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Isenberg School of Management

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Isenberg School of Management

1954-2007
11 linear feet
Call no.: RG 011

Business courses were first offered at the Massachusetts Agricultural College in the early years of the twentieth century, expanding rapidly during the 1930s and 1940s in response to student demand. The Board of Trustees established the School of Business Administration in 1947, and within seven years, it was conferring graduate degrees, including doctorates after 1967. In 1998, the School was renamed the Eugene M. Isenberg School of Management.

The record group consists of annual reports, deans’ records, correspondence, committee reports, long-range planning, self-study reports, proposals, research reports, faculty reprint series, lists of faculty publications, general publications, brochures, seminar information, newsletters, newsclippings and other related materials.

Subjects

  • Business schools--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Isenberg School of Management
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Student Body

1867-2007
155 linear feet
Call no.: RG 045

Since the arrival of the first class of students at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1867, the student body at UMass has grown to over 20,500 undergraduates and nearly 6,000 graduate students.

Record Group 45 includes the collected records of student activities at UMass Amherst, from student publications and organizations (fraternities and sororities, unions, and honorary societies) to records of student government, student protests, and religious and social groups. Also included are class notes and correspondence of some individual students while enrolled in the University.

Connect to another siteA number of student publications have been digitized and are indexed in YouMass.

Subjects

  • Aggie Life
  • Bay State Ruralist
  • College Signal
  • College students--Massachusetts
  • Greek letter societies--Massachusetts
  • Student newspapers and periodicals--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students