University of Massachusetts Amherst
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African American history

Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905

Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905

The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, UMass has supported publication of three volumes of Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has digitized the papers and made them freely available on the internet while serving as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books. SCUA continues in its efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.

Every February, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass Amherst commemorate Du Bois’s birthday by co-sponsoring a public colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert and Bethina Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, Arnold Rampersad, and David Levering Lewis.

Significant collections (view all)

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American Express Company. Florence (Mass.) Office

American Express Company Florence Office Records
1867-1890
3 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 298

Records of express agent Watson L. Wilcox of Simsbury, Connecticut, and Florence, Massachusetts, documenting Wilcox’s work for the American Express Company and the evolution of the company from a small shipping business to a delivery organization whose services contributed to the growth of the local and regional economy. Records consist of agent books, receipt books, and waybills listing accounts of local companies and residents for the sending, receiving, and delivery of freight, telegraph messages, express cash, goods, and packages.

Subjects
  • American Merchant's Union Express Company
  • Express service--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • Florence (Mass.)--Economic conditions
  • Florence Manufacturing Company
  • Florence Sewing Machine Company
  • Hill, Samuel L
  • Industries--Massachusetts--Florence--History
  • New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company
  • Nonotuck Silk Company
  • Parsons, I. S
  • Simsbury (Conn.)--Economic conditions
  • Williston, A. L
Contributors
  • American Express Company (Florence, Mass.)
  • Wilcox, Watson L., 1832 or 3-1896

Center for Community Access Television (Amherst, Mass.)

Center for Community Access Television Records
1973-1989
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 293

Group comprised of students from the University of Massachusetts and community members who sought to develop and promote cultural, literary, charitable, educational and public affairs television programming. Records include by-laws, articles of organization, organizational histories, annual reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, program schedules, subject files, brochures, handbills, news clippings, and materials relating to a proposed merger with University of Massachusetts Cable Vision. In 1989, CCATV was renamed Amherst Community Television (ACT).

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Intellectual life--20th century
  • Cable television--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Public-access television--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Television programs--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
Contributors
  • Center for Community Access Television (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Handbills

Dana (Mass.)

Dana (Mass.) Collection
1801-1938
21 vols. (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 012

Situated in the northeastern reaches of the Swift River Valley in western Massachusetts, Dana was one of four towns inundated in the 1930s to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Rural and relatively sparsely populated, Dana’s economy centered on agriculture, leavened with manufacturing wood products and soapstone quarrying.

The Dana Collections include a comprehensive records of town meetings from incorporation through disincorporation (1801-1938), plus rich records for the Congregational Church and its affiliate organizations, the Ladies Aid Society, the Orthodox Congregational Society, and the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. Most of the materials listed in this finding aid are held at the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem, Mass., and were part of a cooperative digitization project centered on the records of the Quabbin towns.

Gift of Donald Howe, 1960
Subjects
  • Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Dana--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • Dana (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Dana (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
  • Dana (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Poor-Massachusetts--Dana
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Women--Massachusetts--Dana
  • Women--Societies and clubs
Contributors
  • Dana (Mass. : Town)
  • Dana (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor
  • First Universalist Church (North Dana, Mass.)
  • Ladies' Aid Society (Dana, Mass.)
  • Orthodox Congregational Church (Dana, Mass.)
  • Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor
Types of material
  • Church records

Easton (Mass.)

Easton (Mass.) Physician's Daybook
1831-1833
1 vol. (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 283 bd

The Bristol County, Massachusetts, towns of Easton and Norton had only a small number of trained physicians in the antebellum period tending to a growing population. During the 1830s, that number was probably less and ten, including those with allopathic medical degrees, alternative practitioners, and those who had irregular educations.

The unidentified physician who kept this daybook appears to have practiced in either Easton or Norton, Massachusetts, during the early 1830s. The daybook includes brief records of patient names and dates of visits, medical care dispensed, and minimal records of medical procedures.

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1989
Subjects
  • Physicians--Massachusetts
Types of material
  • Daybooks

Girls Club of Greenfield (Mass.)

Girls Club of Greenfield Records
1895-1995
21 boxes (27 linear feet)
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.

Subjects
  • 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
Contributors
  • Girls Club of Greenfield (Greenfield, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Great Barrington (Mass.)

Charles Taylor Collection
1731-1904
(5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 104

Collection of historical documents compiled by Charles Taylor, author of the 1882 town history of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Includes Court of Common Pleas cases, deeds, estate papers, indentures, land surveys, sheriff’s writs, town history reference documents, Samuel Rossiter’s financial papers, and genealogical research papers for over 40 families.

Subjects
  • Debt--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
  • Farm tenancy--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
  • Great Barrington (Mass.)--Economic conditions--18th century
  • Great Barrington (Mass.)--Genealogy
  • Great Barrington (Mass.)--History
  • Great Barrington (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Great Barrington (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Land use--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
Contributors
  • Ives, Thomas
  • Kellogg, Ezra
  • Pynchon, George
  • Pynchon, Walter
  • Root, Hewitt
  • Rossiter, Samuel
  • Taylor, Charles J. (Charles James), 1824-1904
Types of material
  • Deeds
  • Genealogies
  • Land surveys
  • Writs

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.

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Montague (Mass.) Nuclear Power Station

Montague Nuclear Power Station Environmental Report
1975
1 box (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 061

Planning for construction of a nuclear power plant in Montague, Mass., in 1973, Northeast Utilities was required to conduct an environmental impact survey of the site, building a 500-foot tall weather monitoring tower to gather data. Their plans, however, were thwarted by the rise of a powerful antinuclear opposition, symbolized by a renowned act of civil disobedience in February 1974. On Washington’s Birthday, a member of the Montague Farm commune, Sam Lovejoy, took down the tower using simple farm tools, turning himself in to the police immediately afterward. The ensuing trial, the effective organizing by his colleagues, and the success of their effort to prevent construction of the power plant is often regarded as a formative moment in the history of the modern antinuclear movement.

This environmental report for the proposed Montague Nuclear Power Station includes an accounting of the purpose of the facility, its environmental, archaeological, and social impact, and an analysis of the costs and benefits of operation.

Subjects
  • Antinuclear movement--United States
  • Lovejoy, Sam
  • Montague (Mass.)--History
  • Northeast Utilities
  • Nuclear power plants--Massachusetts

New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

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