“… 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 keeping with 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 tightly 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, and they currently include over 35,000 printed items, approximately 30,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival materials, tens of thousands of photographs, and a burgeoning array of digital assets.
While not comprehensive, the following includes a brief synopsis of some of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:
Following in the footsteps of W.E.B. Du Bois, we recognize the inherent interconnectedness of a broad range of issues in social justice and collect original materials that document the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social equality, human dignity, and justice. In adopting social change as a primary collecting focus, we hope to move beyond viewing social and political movements in isolation and toward a vision that acknowledges the connections between and among them. Ultimately, we wish to lay a foundation for examining the larger histories of social engagement in America and the broader experience of social change that is difficult to encapsulate within a single social movement.
A distinctive feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our effort to include “whole lives and whole communities,” to provide a robust basis for interpreting the background of the persons and organizations we document, their influences, interests, and the communities in which they operate.
Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between several social movements and centers of activist energy, including peace, social and racial justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, labor activism, gay activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities, but branching out to include antifluoridation 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.
- 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.
Materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities, and particularly social entrepreneurship. The 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.
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 rep John Clark and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.
Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University Archives collects, preserves, and makes available official and non-official records documenting the policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community, including its administration, departments and programs, faculty, and staff. The Archives also avidly collects materials that reflect the lives and experiences of its students and alumni.
SCUA makes an effort to document the histories of the entire UMass community. Our holdings include the comprehensive official records of the University since its founding in 1863, papers of faculty, staff, and students, official and unofficial publications, oral histories, and a wide range of other collections that reflect on our history as the Commonwealth’s land grant institution.
SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:
Robert Francis Papers, 1891-1988.
Call no.: MS 403
The poet and essayist Robert Francis settled in Amherst, Mass., in 1926, three years after his graduation from Harvard, and created a literary life that stretched for the better part of half a century. An associate of Robert Frost and friend of many other writers, Francis occasionally worked as a teacher or lecturer, including a brief stint on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College, but he sustained himself largely through his writing, living simply in “Fort Juniper,” a cottage he built on Market Hill Road in North Amherst. A recipient of the Shelley Award (1939) and the Academy of American Poets award for distinguished poetic achievement (1984), Francis was a poet in residence at both Tufts (1955) and Harvard (1960) Universities. He died in Amherst in July 1987.
The Francis Papers contains both manuscript and printed materials, drafts and finished words, documenting the illustrious career of the poet. Of particular note is Francis’s correspondence with other writers, publishing houses, and readers, notably Paul Theroux. Also contains personal photographs and Francis family records and a small number of audio recordings of Francis reading his poetry. Letters from Francis to Regina Codey, 1936-1978, can be found in MS 314 along with two typescript poems by Francis.
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- University of Massachusetts Press
- Brown, Rosellen
- Ciardi, John, 1916-
- De Vries, Peter
- Fitts, Dudley, 1903-
- Francis, Robert, 1901-1987
- Hall, Donald, 1928-
- Humphries, Rolfe
- Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972
- Moss, Howard, 1922-
- Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972
- Theroux, Paul
- Wilbur, Richard, 1921-
Types of material
- Phonograph records
Lewis Fried Collection of Jack Conroy, 1969-1995.
Call no.: MS 414
A voice of the radical working class during the Great Depression, Jack Conroy was the son of a union organizer, born and raised in the mining camps near Moberly, Mo. His novels The Disinherited (1933) and A World to Win (1935) were among the best known works of “proletarian” American fiction to appear in the 1930s.
The Conroy Collection includes a series of 24 letters from Jack Conroy to Lewis Fried, a professor of English at Kent State University and UMass PhD, along with a small number of letters by associates of Conroy, and a selection of publications associated with or including work by him. Of particular interest are Fried’s oral history interviews with Conroy (1971) and Sally Goodman (1978).
- Bontemps, Arna Wendell, 1902-1973
- Communists--United States
- New Anvil
- Working class authors
- Conroy, Jack, 1899-1990
- Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979
- Fried, Lewis Frederick, 1943-
- Gold, Michael, 1894-1967
- Goodman, Percival
- Goodman, Sally
- Snow, Walter
Types of material
- Oral histories
Maxwell Henry Goldberg Papers, 1888-1986.
Call no.: FS 064
Professor of English, adviser to student newspaper (The Collegian) and Jewish student organizations, University of Massachusetts, and founding member, College English Association.
The Goldberg Papers contain correspondence, speeches, published writings, papers written as a graduate student, biographical material, book reviews, subject files, newsclippings, and material from committees and projects with which he was involved, including the College English Association, College English Association Institute, Humanities Center for Liberal Education, and American Humanities Seminar.
- College English Association
- Humanities Center for Liberal Education
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
- Goldberg, Maxwell Henry, 1907-
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives has digitized over 13,000 photographs and other works of art from its collections documenting the history of the University of Massachusetts Amherst community, and thousands more depicting individuals, organizations, and localities within its broader collecting scope.
The following MSExcel files represent an index to over 21,000 photographs taken by Campus Creative Services between 1954 and 2004. Please use the reference number when requesting images. Because the University Archives contains additional images, please contact our archivists if you do not find what you are looking for.
Justice for Woody Records, 1998-2005.
Call no.: MS 444
The organization Justice for Woody (JFW) was formed in December of 2001 in the weeks immediately following the death of Robert “Woody” Woodward, a political and environmental activist, social worker, teacher, and mountaineer. JFW seeks not only to honor Woody’s legacy, but also to advocate for a fair an independent investigation. The collection consists primarily of newspaper articles from various New England papers as well as Attorney General Sorrell’s Report and an independent analysis of it.
- Brattleboro (Vt.). Police
- Law enforcemnet--Vermont
- Police brutality--Vermont
- Police discretion
- Woodward, Robert, d. 2001
- Wrongful death--Vermont
Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers, 1831-1921.
Call no.: MS 190
A native of Northampton, Massachusetts, Benjamin Smith Lyman was a prominent geologist and mining engineer. At the request of the Meiji government in Japan, Lyman helped introduce modern geological surveying and mining techniques during the 1870s and 1880s, and his papers from that period illuminate aspects of late nineteenth century Japan, New England, and Pennsylvania, as well as the fields of geology and mining exploration and engineering. From his earliest financial records kept as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy through the journal notations of his later days in Philadelphia, Lyman’s meticulous record-keeping provides much detail about his life and work. Correspondents include his classmate, Franklin B. Sanborn, a friend of the Concord Transcendentalists and an active social reformer, abolitionist, and editor.
The papers, 1848-1911, have been organized into nine series: correspondence, financial records, writings, survey notebooks, survey maps, photographs, student notes and notebooks, collections, and miscellaneous (total 25 linear feet). A separate Lyman collection includes over 2,000 books in Japanese and Chinese acquired by Lyman, and in Western languages pertaining to Asia.
- Geological surveys--Alabama
- Geological surveys--Illinois
- Geological surveys--India--Punjab
- Geological surveys--Japan
- Geological surveys--Japan--Maps
- Geological surveys--Maryland
- Geological surveys--Nova Scotia
- Geological surveys--Pennsylvania
- Geological surveys--Pennsylvania--Maps
- Geologists--United States
- Geology--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
- Geology--Japan--History--19th century
- Japan--Description and travel--19th century
- Japan--Social life and customs--1868-1912
- Mining engineering--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
- Mining engineering--Japan--History--19th century
- Mining engineers--United States
- Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
- Sanborn, F. B. (Franklin Benjamin), 1831-1917
Types of material
- Account books
- Book jackets
- Field notes
- Letterpress copybooks
- Trade catalogs
New WORLD Theater Records, 1979-2010.
Call no.: RG 025/F2/N4
New WORLD Theater was founded at UMass Amherst in 1979 by Roberta Uno with the mission of presenting innovative works of theater by contemporary artists of color, with the goal of fostering creative communities, promoting cultural equity, and embracing diverse cultural backgrounds, social engagement, and a commitment to justice. For more than thirty years New WORLD Theater produced many dozens of plays and other dramatic works representing new voices in the theater, as well as plays from the traditional multicultural repertory, and they have supported the arts through performance residencies, conferences and colloquia, and a variety of initiatives aimed at the diverse communities they serve, youth, and theater professionals. New WORLD Theater has contributed significantly to national conversations on cultural equity. After more than three decades of acclaim and recognition, New WORLD Theater was closed by UMass Amherst in summer 2010.
The bulk of the New WORLD Theater collection consists of administrative records documenting the day-to-day activities of the theater, however, it also contains an extensive and exceptionally rich archive of taped interviews, conferences, and theatrical productions. Taken together, the audiovisual material traces the history of New WORLD through the words and performances of artists who both contributed to and benefited from the theater.
- African Americans--Drama
- American drama--Minority authors
- Asian Americans--Drama
- Ethnic groups--United States--Drama
- Hispanic Americans--Drama
- Minorities--United States--Drama
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- New WORLD Theater
- Page, Priscilla
- Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
- Audiovisual materials
- Sound recordings
Robert and Martha Perske Papers, 1964-2005.
Call no.: MS 772
While serving with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II, the teenaged Bob Perske became aware of the vulnerable and disabled in society and turned his life toward advocacy on their behalf. Studying for the ministry after returning to civilian life, Perske was appointed chaplain at the Kansas Neurological Institute, serving children with intellectual disabilities for 11 years, after which he became a full-time street, court, and prison worker — a citizen advocate — laboring in the cause of deinstitutionalization and civil rights of persons with disabilities, particularly those caught in the legal system. After Bob married his wife Martha in 1971, the two became partners in work, with Martha often illustrating Bob’s numerous books and articles. In 2002, Perske was recognized by the American Bar Association as the only non-lawyer to ever receive the Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities.
The Perske Papers contains a fifty year record of published and unpublished writings by Bob Perske on issues surrounding persons with disabilities, along with correspondence, photographs, and other materials relating to the Perskes’ activism. The correspondence includes a particularly rich set of letters with a fellow advocate for persons with disabilities, Robert R. Williams.
- Mental retardation--Social aspects
- People with disabilities--Deinstitutionalization
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
- Perske, Martha
- Williams, Robert R.
Types of material
Radical Student Union Records, 1905-2006 (Bulk: 1978-2005).
Call no.: RG 045/80 R1
Founded by Charles Bagli in 1976, the Revolutionary Student Brigade at UMass Amherst (later the Radical Student Union) has been a focal point for organization by politically radical students. RSU members have responded to issues of social justice, addressing both local, regional, and national concerns ranging from militarism to the environment, racism and sexism to globalization.
The RSU records document the history of a particularly long-lived organization of left-leaning student activists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beginning in the mid-1970s, as students were searching for ways to build upon the legacy of the previous decade, the RSU has been a constant presence on campus, weathering the Reagan years, tough budgetary times, and dramatic changes in the political culture at the national and state levels. The RSU reached its peak during the 1980s with protests against American involvement in Central America, CIA recruitment on campus, American support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and government-funded weapons research, but in later years, the organization has continued to adapt, organizing against globalization, sweatshops, the Iraq War, and a host of other issues.
- Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts
- Central America--Foreign relations--United States
- College students--Political activity
- El Salvador--History--1979-1992
- Iraq War, 2003-
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Persian Gulf War, 1991
- Political activists--Massachusetts--History
- Student movements
- United States--Foreign relations--Central America
- United States. Central Intelligence Agency
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Progressive Student Network
- Radical Student Union
- Revolutionary Student Brigade
Types of material