Special Collections and University Archives
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Frank Waugh's doves
Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all'; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951

In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.

Our approach to collecting

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).

  • African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
  • Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
  • Arts management and arts administration:
    In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
  • Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
  • Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
  • Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
  • Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

New England history and culture

The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.

  • Cookery and culinary history
    SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
  • Literature and the arts
    Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
  • Politics and political culture
    SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

Silvio O. Conte Papers, 1950-1991

389 boxes (583.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 371

Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts’s First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.

Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.


  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • Massachusetts. Senate
  • United States--Politics and government--20th century
  • United States. Congress. House


  • Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings

Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley Records, 1979-1994

12 boxes (7 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 468

Amherst, Massachusetts, chapter of the national Gray Panther organization that sponsored the weekly Amherst Vigil for Peace and Justice, tackled such issues as fair and affordable housing for people of all ages, nursing home reform, Social Security policy, universal health care, safe-sex, and age discrimination, and also worked to improve the everyday life of senior citizens and the community at large, often collaborating with other local organizations to address world peace, environmental concerns, improved child care, educational opportunities, and handicapped accessibility.

Records include charter, by-laws, histories and mission statements, meeting agendas and minutes, correspondence, financial reports, fund raising materials, membership lists, membership questionnaire, newsletters, press releases, leaflets, clippings, a scrapbook, T-shirts, and program files, that document the founding and activities of the Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley.


  • Older people--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Social justice--Massachusetts


  • Gray Panthers of the Pioneer Valley
  • Holt, Margaret

Howe Family Papers, 1730-1955

7 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 019

Personal, business, and legal papers of the Howe family of Enfield and Dana, Massachusetts, including correspondence between family members, genealogies, account books and printed materials. Account books record transactions of various family members whose occupations included general storekeeper, minister, printer, postmaster, telephone exchange and gas-station owner, and document the transactions of community businesses and individuals, some of whom were women involved in the beginnings of the local palm leaf hat and mat industry.


  • Bookkeeping--History--Sources
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Biography
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Enfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Howe family--Genealogy
  • Moneylenders--Massachusetts--Enfield--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Swift River Valley (Mass.)--History
  • Swift River Valley (Mass.)--Social life and customs


  • Howe, Donald W. (Donald Wiliam), 1982-1977
  • Howe, Edwin H., 1859-1943
  • Howe, Henry Clay Milton, b. 1823
  • Howe, John M.
  • Howe, John, 1783-1845
  • Howe, Theodocia Johnson, 1824-1898

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Business records
  • Deeds
  • Genealogies
  • Scrapbooks
  • Wills

David R. Inglis Papers, 1929-2003 (Bulk: 1946-1980)

12 boxes (5.75 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 033
David R. Inglis at Argonne N.L., ca.1953
David R. Inglis at Argonne N.L., ca.1953

David R. Inglis enjoyed a distinguished career in nuclear physics that ranged from theoretical work on the structure of the nucleus in the 1930s to the development of the atomic bomb in the 1940s and work on renewable energy in the 1960s and 1970s. A Professor of Physics at UMass from 1969-1975, Inglis was a founding member of the Federation of American Scientists and from the mid-1940s on, he dedicated himself to informing public policy on the dangers of nuclear technologies.

The Inglis Papers offer a perspective on the life and career of a theoretical physicist who grew from an early involvement in the Manhattan Project to becoming a committed critic of nuclear weaponry and nuclear power. Although the collection is relatively sparse in unpublished scientific work, it includes valuable correspondence relating to Inglis’s efforts with the Federation of American Scientists and other organizations to influence public policy on issues relating to disarmament and nuclear power.


  • Allegiance--United States
  • Argonne National Laboratories
  • Condon, Edward Uhler, 1902-1974
  • Federation of American Scientists
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Nuclear energy
  • Nuclear warfare
  • Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967
  • Physics--Massachusetts
  • United States--History--1945-1953
  • United States--History--1953-1961
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Physics
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Institute for Man and His Environment
  • World Association of World Federalists
  • World Federation of Scientific Workers


  • Bohr, Aage
  • Inglis, David Rittenhouse, 1905-
  • Teller, Edward, 1908-2003
  • Wigner, Eugene Paul, 1902-1995

Types of material

  • Laboratory notes
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs

Julie Lewin Papers, 1947-2003

11 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 454

Julie Lewin began her career as a freelance writer and newspaper journalist, and went from writing articles about sexual abuse of children and women’s prison reforms to lobbying for the protection and treatment of animals. The collection documents Lewin’s efforts to uphold the rights of animals, and in particular focuses on her opposition to the pet industry and to the use of animals in research.


  • Animal rights--Activism
  • Animal rights--Advocates
  • Animal rights--Law and legislation
  • Animal welfare--Rescue
  • Connecticut Humane Society
  • Greyhound racing
  • Hunting
  • Pet industry
  • Trapping--Leghold
  • Vivisection-Animal research


  • Lewin, Julie

J. Roy Lewis Papers, 1910-1949

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 024

A native and long-time resident of Holyoke, Mass., J. Roy Lewis was a prominent businessman in the lumber trade and a model of civic engagement during the decades prior to the Second World War. A 1903 graduate of Phillips Academy, Lewis worked as an executive with the Hampden-Ely Lumber Company and was active in trade associations as well as civic and political groups such as the Kiwanis Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tax Association, and the Holyoke Planning committee. Locally, he may have been best known as the writer of hundreds of letters and opinion pieces to the editors of the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram and the Springfield Republican. An ardent conservative, Lewis was a vocal opponent of women’s suffrage, prohibition, and anything he deemed contrary to the interests of business.

This small collection, consisting of a scrapbook and a handful of miscellaneous letters from J. Roy Lewis are a testament to the mindset of a conservative businessman during a progressive age. Lewis’s letters to the editor and his small surviving correspondence touch on a wide range of political and social issues of the day, most notably women’s suffrage, prohibition, business support, the New Deal, and the Depression.


  • Depressions--1929
  • Holyoke (Mass.)--History
  • United States--Economic policy--1933-1945


  • Lewis, J. Roy

Types of material

  • Letters to the editor
  • Scrapbooks

William L. Machmer Papers, 1899-1953

18 boxes (9 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 006/1 M33
William L. Machmer
William L. Machmer

Enjoying one of the longest tenures of any administrator in the history of the University of Massachusetts, William Lawson Machmer served under five presidents across 42 years, helping to guide the university through an economic depression, two world wars, and three name changes. During his years as Dean, Machmer witnessed the growth of the university from fewer than 500 students to almost 3,800, and helped guide its transformation from a small agricultural college into Massachusetts State College (1931) and finally into the University of Massachusetts (1947).

Machmer’s papers chronicle the fitful development of the University of Massachusetts from the days of Kenyon Butterfield’s innovations of the 1920s through the time of the GI Bill. The collection is particularly strong in documenting the academic experience of students and the changes affecting the various departments and programs at the University, with particular depth for the period during and after the Second World War.

Connect to another siteView selected records on women's affairs at UMass, 1924-1951


  • Agricultural education
  • Fort Devens (Mass.)
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College
  • Massachusetts State College
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dean
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Mathematics
  • World War, 1939-1945


  • Baker, Hugh Potter, 1878-
  • Butterfield, Kenyon L. (Kenyon Leech), 1868-1935
  • Lewis, Edward M
  • Machmer, William L
  • Van Meter, Ralph Albert, 1893-

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Student records

Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1938-1982

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 494

American poet, writer, and Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish was associated with the modernist school of poetry and awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times. The collection features a manuscript of “An Evening’s Journey To Conway, Massachusetts,” written to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of the town, as well as correspondence with Kenneth Murdoch documenting their friendship over three decades.


  • Poets--Massachusetts


  • MacLeish, Archibald

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.


  • Agriculture--Massachusetts
  • Land use--Massachusetts

Types of material

  • Aerial photographs
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