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Chrisman, Miriam Usher

Miriam Chrisman Papers
1937-2007
13 boxes (9 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 128
Image of Miriam U. Chrisman, 1964
Miriam U. Chrisman, 1964

A noted scholar of the social impact of the German Reformation, Miriam Usher Chrisman was born in Ithaca, New York, on May 20, 1920. With degrees from Smith College, American University, and Yale, she served for over thirty years on the faculty of the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, becoming a well-loved professor and treasured mentor to a generation of students.

A faithful and colorful correspondent, the bulk of Miriam Chrisman’s papers consist of letters written to family and friends stretching from her college days at Smith through the year before her death. The bulk of the correspondence is with her husband, Donald Chrisman, an orthopedic surgeon who was enrolled at Harvard Medical School during their courtship. Soon after the Chrismans married in November 1943, Donald left for active duty in the Navy on the U.S.S. Baldwin. The couple’s war correspondence is unusually rich, offering insight on everything from the social responsibilities of married couples to their opinions on the progression of the war. Of particular note is a lengthy letter written by Donald during and immediately after D-Day in which he provides Miriam a real-time description of the events and his reactions as they unfold. Later letters document Miriam’s extensive travels including a trip around the world. .

Subjects
  • Smith College--Students
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Chrisman, Miriam Usher
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Eshbach, Charles E.

Charles E. and M. Sybil Hartley Eshbach Papers
1913-1963
14 boxes (7 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 886
Image of Charles Eshbach on pony, ca.1915
Charles Eshbach on pony, ca.1915

Charles Edgar Eshbach, Jr., a 1937 graduate of Massachusetts State College, and Maude Sybil Hartley met in late 1939, while she was a student at Simmons College and he was working for the New England Radio News Service, part of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. They soon began dating and in February 1941 were engaged. After graduating in 1942, Sybil lived at home in Rochester, Mass., and taught school. Charles was drafted and enlisted in the army December 30, 1942. Trained as a radio operator, he was assigned to the Army Air Force Technical Training Command’s 326th Signal Co. Wing. Charles and Sybil married in September of 1943, and by November, Charles was in England, part of the 67th Fighter Wing stationed at Walcot Hall in Lincolnshire. Although not in combat, Charles rose to the rank of Technical Sergeant. He returned to the U.S. in December 1945. He and Sybil moved to Weymouth and had four children. Charles was appointed professor of Agricultural Economics at UMass in 1959. The family moved to Amherst in 1964, as Charles’ department was transforming into the Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration Department. He taught at UMass until 1986, when he retired. He died in 1997. Sybil worked at the University store for thirty years and died in 2009.

Consisting chiefly of their letters to each other, the Eshbach Papers vividly document the courtship and early married life of Charles and Sybil, particularly during their long separation, against a wartime backdrop. The collection also contains diaries, photograph albums, loose photographs, histories and rosters from Charles’ army unit, and a variety of ephemera and memorabilia such as ration tickets, receipts, programs, and Charles’ army badges and dog tags.

Gift of Aimee E. Newell, Nov. 2015
Subjects
  • 4-H clubs
  • England--Description and travel
  • Simmons College (Boston, Mass.)
  • United States. Agricultural Marketing Service
  • United States. Army Air Forces. Technical Training Command
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Eshbach, M. Sybil Hartley
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Ephemera
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographs

League of Women Voters of Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)

League of Women Voters of Amherst Records
1939-2001
60 boxes (33 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 296

Non-partisan political organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts that influences public policy through education and advocacy by registering voters, organizing candidate forums, publishing voting guides, and disseminating general information on the legislative process and the functioning of government on the local, state, and federal levels.

Includes minutes, annual reports, financial records, publications, extensive files on specific programs, photographs, video- and audio-tapes, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings. Also contains information on two league members who rose to national prominence: Lucy Wilson Benson (Under Secretary of State in the federal government in 1977) and Jane F. Garvey (Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1997).

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Education--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Housing--Massachusetts--Amherst--History
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
Contributors
  • Benson, Lucy Wilson
  • Garvey, Jane F
  • League of Women Voters of Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Lyons, Louis Martin

Louis Martin Lyons Papers
1918-1980
9 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 002/3 L96
Image of Louis M. Lyons
Louis M. Lyons

As a journalist with the Boston Globe, a news commentator on WGBH television, and Curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, Louis M. Lyons was an important public figure in the New England media for over fifty years. A 1918 graduate of Massachusetts Agricultural College and later trustee of UMass Amherst, Lyons was an vocal advocate for freedom of the press and a highly regarded commentator on the evolving role of media in American society.

The Lyons Papers contain a selection of correspondence, lectures, and transcripts of broadcasts relating primarily to Lyons’ career in television and radio. From the McCarthy era through the end of American involvement in Vietnam, Lyons addressed topics ranging from local news to international events, and the collection offers insight into transformations in American media following the onset of television and reaction both in the media and the public to events such as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the war in Vietnam, and the social and political turmoil of the 1960s.

Subjects
  • Boston Globe
  • Civil rights movements
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Frost, Robert, 1874-1963
  • Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
  • Journalistic ethics
  • Journalists--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
  • Television
  • University of Massachusetts. Trustees
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975
  • WGBH (Television station : Boston, Mass.)
  • World War, 1914-1918
Contributors
  • Lyons, Louis Martin, 1897-
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Speeches

Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection

Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection
1797-1897
48 items (3 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 012
Image of John Metcalf
John Metcalf

Although printing requires a substantial capital investment in equipment before any hope of profitability can be entertained, there have been numerous attempts over the years to set up printing houses in communities with astonishingly small population bases. In even the most remote Massachusetts towns, people like John Metcalf (Wendell), Ezekiel Terry (Palmer), and John and Solomon Howe (Enfield and Greenwich) operated as printers during the nineteenth century, specializing in a quotidian array of broadsides, song sheets, almanacs, toy books, and printed forms, hoping to supplement, or provide, a decent living.

This small, but growing collection consists of materials printed prior to the twentieth century in small Massachusetts towns, defined as towns with populations less than about 2,500. Although few of these houses survived for long, they were important sources for rural communities. Typically simple in typography, design, and binding, even crude, the output of such printers provides an important gauge of the interests and tastes of New England’s smallest and often poorest communities.

Subjects
  • Children's books--Massachusetts
  • Printers--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Howe, John, 1783-1845
  • Howe, Solomon, 1750-1835
  • Metcalf, John, 1788-1864
  • Terry, Ezekiel, 1775-1829
Types of material
  • Almanacs
  • Broadsides

Slonecker, Blake, 1981-

Blake Slonecker Collection
2008
4 items (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 795

An historian of twentieth century social movements, Blake Slonecker received his doctorate at the University of North Carolina in 2009 and joined the history faculty at Waldorf College soon thereafter. In a dissertation examining the utopian impulses of the New Left (published in 2012 as A new dawn for the New Left: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the long sixties), Slonecker explored how the political and cultural activism of the 1960s helped reshape American political culture in the decade following.

In June 2008, Slonecker conducted oral historical interviews with four individuals who were part of the extended community centered on the Montague Farm and Packer Corners communes during the late 1960s: Tom Fels, Charles Light, Sam Lovejoy, and Richard Wizansky. In wide-ranging interviews, the former communards discuss topics ranging from the fraught politics of the era, political and cultural activism, gender roles and sexuality, and daily life on the communes.

Gift of Blake Slonecker, Aug. 2013
Subjects
  • Amherst College
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Clamshell Alliance
  • Green Mountain Post Films
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Musicians United for Safe Energy
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Contributors
  • Fels, Thomas Weston
  • Light, Charles
  • Lovejoy, Sam
  • Wizansky, Richard
Types of material
  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories (document genres)

Totman, Ruth J.

Ruth J. Totman Papers
ca. 1914-1999
6 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 097
Image of Ruth Totman and Jean Lewis, ca.1935
Ruth Totman and Jean Lewis, ca.1935

Trained as a teacher of physical education at the Sargent School in Boston, Ruth J. Totman enjoyed a career at state normal schools and teachers colleges in New York and Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College in 1943, building the program in women’s physical education almost from scratch and culminating in 1958 with the opening of a new Women’s Physical Education Building, which was one of the largest and finest of its kind in the nation. Totman retired at the mandatory age of 70 in 1964, and twenty years later, the women’s PE building was rededicated in her honor. Totman died in November 1989, three days after her 95th birthday.

The Totman Papers are composed mostly of personal materials pertaining to her residence in Amherst, correspondence, and Totman family materials. The sparse material in this collection relating to Totman’s professional career touches lightly on her retirement in 1964 and the dedication of the Ruth J. Totman Physical Education Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Supplementing the documents is a sizeable quantity of photographs and 8mm films, with the former spanning nearly her entire 95 years. The 8mm films, though fragile, provide an interesting, though soundless view into Totman’s activities from the 1940s through the 1960s, including a cross-country trip with Gertrude “Jean” Lewis, women’s Physical Education events at the New Jersey College for Women, and trips to Japan to visit her nephew, Conrad Totman..

Subjects
  • College buildings--Massachusetts--Amherst--History--Sources
  • Conway (Mass.)--Genealogy
  • Dairy farms--Massachusetts
  • Family farms--United States
  • Farm life--United States
  • Physical Education for women
  • Totman family
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
  • Women physical education teachers
Contributors
  • Drew, Raymond Totman, 1923-1981
  • Lewis, Gertrude Minnie, 1896-
  • Totman, Conrad D
  • Totman, Ruth J
Types of material
  • Genealogies

Vinal, William Gould, 1881-

William Gould Vinal Papers
1931-1963
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 138
Image of Cap'n Bill Vinal
Cap'n Bill Vinal

William “Cap’n Bill” Vinal was the first instructor in nature education at Massachusetts State College and a pioneer in the field. A graduate of Bridgewater State (1904), Harvard (MA 1907) and Brown (PhD, 1922), Vinal worked for several years as a camp director on his native Cape Cod and held a variety of university appointments in nature education before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College as Professor of Nature Education in the Nature Guide School in 1937. Spontaneous in the classroom and field, enthusiastic, and highly popular with his students, Vinal taught courses in conservation, outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation, and nature guiding, and was an important figure in the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the American Camping Association, the Camp Directors Association, and several conservation groups. After retiring from UMass in 1951, Vinal returned to his home in Norwell, Mass., remaining active as a nature writer and teacher until his death in 1973.

A valuable glimpse into the early growth of nature and conservation education, the Vinal collection includes dozens of scarce publications by the exceptionally prolific Cap’n Bill, along with a small quantity of correspondence, talks, and reports. As a collection, these document the origin and growth of the Nature Guide School and the program in nature recreation at MSC and UMass, and more generally the growth of nature, recreation, and conservation education in New England. Of local interest is an extensive report for the town of Amherst Recreation Survey Committee (1948) regarding recreational opportunities for youth. Nearly half of the collection consists of an extensive run of Vinal’s quirky, self-published Nature Guide Newsletter (1935-1951).

Subjects
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Conservation of natural resources--Study and teaching
  • Nature Guide Newsletter
  • Outdoor education--Massachusetts
  • Recreation--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nature Guide School
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Nature Recreation
Contributors
  • Vinal, William Gould, 1881-

Oral history

Class of 1889 in front of Durfee Greenhouse
Oral historian at the First National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, 1977. Photo by Diana Mara Henry

However rich our archival collections may be, there are always parts of the historical record that never make it onto the page. Memories, emotions, and attitudes are notoriously difficult to document, and there a variety of all-too human reasons that people choose not to write down every detail of their lives. As a result, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has been actively engaged in recording oral histories as a way of capturing a more complete record of the many voices and diverse experiences that comprise .

SCUA first ventured into oral historical work in the mid-1970s with efforts to document the history of the university prior to the massive expansion of the previous decade, and the department has subsequently engaged in oral historical projects to document the university’s 125th and 150th anniversaries. In the past decade, SCUA has extended its work to documenting the histories of persons represented in its collections and to a broader array of projects documenting the history and experience of social change and the people and cultures on New England. Furthermore, SCUA is the repository for hundreds of oral histories recorded by other people, ranging in scope from interviews with Franco-Americans in the 1980s, 20th century Argentine political figures, and former residents of the Quabbin towns in Western Massachusetts.

Many of SCUA’s oral histories are available online through our digital repository Credo. These include audio and video recordings and, in a few cases, they may be fully transcribed.

Supporting material

For donors of oral histories:

SCUA is happy to accept donations of oral histories that fit within its collection policy.

SCUA accepts materials in most audio and video formats — cassette, reel to reel, RDAT, VHS, Betacam, or digital — but in every case, we prefer to receive the interview in the format in which it was recorded and in the highest quality available. When possible, we prefer digital files that are uncompressed, however we appreciate receiving a compressed derivative (e.g., mp3 for audio, mp4 for video). When available, transcripts in print and electronic form are a very valuable addition.

Learn more:

Linguistic Atlas of New England

Linguistic Atlas of New England Records
1931-1972
40 boxes (19.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 330

The Linguistic Atlas of New England project, begun in 1889 and published 1939-1943, documented two major dialect areas of New England, which are related to the history of the settling and dispersal of European settlers in New England with successive waves of immigration.

The collection contains handwritten transcription sheets (carbon copies) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with some explanatory comments in longhand. Drawn from over 400 interviews conducted by linguists in communities throughout New England in the 1930s, these records document the geographic distribution of variant pronunciations and usages of spoken English. The material, taken from fieldworkers’ notebooks (1931-1933), is arranged by community, then by informant, and also includes audiotapes of follow-up interviews (1934); phonological analyses of informants’ speech; character sketches of informants by fieldworkers; fieldworkers’ blank notebook; and mimeograph word index to the atlas (1948).

Subjects
  • English language--Dialects--New England
Contributors
  • Linguistic Atlas of New England
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