Founded under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, UMass Amherst has long been dedicated to the study and teaching of agriculture and the natural sciences. One of two land grant institutions in the Commonwealth (along with MIT), the university has played an important role in the development of scientific agriculture in New England and has been a major factor in agricultural instruction through its classes and extension service.
SCUA’s collections contain a wealth of information on the history of agriculture and related fields, including horticulture, botany, entomology, animal husbandry, gardening, and landscape design. The strength of the collection lies in documenting the development of American agricultural sciences with an emphasis upon the northeastern states, but it is supplemented with numerous works on British, French, and German agriculture. Adding additional depth are the records of the several departments at UMass Amherst charged with instruction in the agricultural sciences and the papers of individual agricultural educators.
Currently, SCUA is particularly interested in documenting the growth of organic agriculture, heritage breeds, and the practices of sustainable living.
Significant Manuscript collections (view all)
- Agricultural education
- Papers of faculty members at Massachusetts Agricultural College and UMass Amherst, as well as educational organizations dedicated to instruction in the agricultural sciences. Among the individuals represented are the agricultural educator, Kenyon Butterfield; Levi Stockbridge, the first farm manager and long-time instructor at MAC; and William Smith Clark, William Penn Brooks, and William Wheeler, who were instrumental in the 1870s in establishing the agricultural college in Hokkaido, Japan.
- Farming and rural life
- Correspondence, farm accounts, and other records of farming and rural life, primarily in New England, as well as materials relating to the sociology of rural life.
- Botany and horticulture
- Collections relating to the scientific study of botany, horticulture, forestry, and related sciences.
- Landscape and gardening
- The papers and photographs of the landscape designer Frank Waugh, and other collections.
- Other natural sciences
- Including entomology and geology.
Printed works: Collecting areas
- Early works through the late nineteenth century on agriculture in America, Britain, and Europe, including those by John Fitzherbert, Thomas Hale, Arthur Young, “Columella,” John Smith, Gervase Markham, et al.
- Animal husbandry
- Works on sheep culture in the United States (Robert R. Livingston, Samuel Bard) and England (Lord Somerville, John Lawrence); dairy and beef cattle, horses, poultry science.
- Beekeeping and entomology
- Among the earliest rare books acquired by the Massachusetts Agricultural Library were a collections of rare books in beekeeping, including key works by Thomas Hill, John Keys, Daniel Wildman, Henry Eddy, from the late 17th through late 19th centuries. Works by Maria Sibylla Merian, John Curtis, Dru Drury, Johann Jakob Romer, Jacob l’Admiral
- Botany and Silviculture
- Important works on American botany by Frederick Pursh, Thomas Nuttall, Humphry Marshall’s Arbustrum Americanum, François André Michaux, early editions of Linnaeus
- Gardening and landscape design
- Three editions of Bernard M’Mahon’s American Gardener’s Calendar, William Cobbett, Alexander Jackson Davis, Humphry Repton, and others.
- Genetics, eugenics, animal breeding
- Essentially compete runs of Eugenics Quarterly, and key works in eugenics.
- Pomology, viticulture, and fruit culture
- William Prince, William Coxe, William Chorlton, et al.
Burgett-Irey Family Papers, 1832-2010 (Bulk: 1929-2008).
Call no.: MS 605
Born in 1908 to Louis and Sarah Kessel Burgett, Katherine grew up on the family farm outside of Oquawka, Illinois. In 1924 her parents purchased their own farm in Monmouth, which they later lost due to the devastating impact of the Depression on agriculture, and it was there that she first met her future husband, Kenneth Monroe Irey, a student at Monmouth College. The newlyweds moved to New Jersey in 1931 where Kenneth was transferred for work. As a chemical engineer, Kenneth enjoyed a successful career and comfortably supported his wife and two children. Retiring in 1970, he and Katherine spent their later years pursuing two passions: traveling and bird-watching. Kenneth and Katherine’s eldest daughter, June Irey Guild, spent most of her adult life in Massachusetts where she has married twice, raised six children, and operated her own business. During her retirement years, June focused on preserving her family’s history by collecting letters and recoding family narratives.
The Burgett-Irey Family Papers chronicle the changes that many twentieth-century American families experienced as the nation descended into an economic depression, entered into a world war, and emerged as one of the most powerful countries in the world. The collection, which will continue to grow, includes approximately 65 letters between Katherine Burgett Irey and her family. Most of the letters exchange family updates, particularly precious after Katherine relocated to New Jersey. Among the earliest letters is an account of Katherine and Kenneth’s first meeting described as “fast work,” since he asked her out on the spot. Also included are autobiographical writings by Kenneth describing his cross-country trip to California in 1927 and a brief history of his life and career.
- Bird watching
- Burgett family
- Irey family
- Marriage--United States
- Motherhood--United States--History--20th century
- Mothers--United States--History--20th century
- Women--United States--History--20th century
- Guild, June Irey
- Irey, Katherine Burgett
- Irey, Kenneth Monroe, 1905-1994
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Anthony Campano Papers, 1956-2007.
Call no.: MS 617
Anthony “Tony” Campano and Shizuko Shirai met by chance in January 1955 as Tony was passing through Yokohama en route to his new post in Akiya. Recently transferred to Japan, Tony enlisted in the U.S. Army a little over a year earlier, serving first in Korea. As their relationship blossomed, Tony and Shizuko set up housekeeping until his enlistment ended and he returned home to Boston. Determined to get back to Japan quickly and marry Shizuko, the two continued their courtship by mail, sending letters through Conrad Totman and Albert Braggs, both stationed in Japan. By the summer of 1956, Tony re-enlisted in the Army, this time stationed in the Medical Battalion of the 24th Division located in Seoul, Korea. There he remained until August 1957 when he was finally able to secure official authorization to marry Shizuko. Cutting their honeymoon short to deal with her medical emergency, Tony returned to his post in Korea. The couple reunited in November of that year after Tony secured a new assignment in Yokohama.
The letters of Tony Campano to Shizuko Shirai during the year or more they were separated document their unlikely romance. Soon after Tony returned home when his first enlistment ended, friends and family tried to discourage him from pursuing a relationship with Shizuko. Despite their age difference–Shizuko was eleven years older– and the language barrier, the two ultimately married. In addition to the couple’s long-distance courtship letters, the collection also contains about 100 letters exchanged between Campano and Conrad Totman, dating from their early days in the U.S. Army to the present; taken together they document a friendship of more than fifty years.
- Japan--Social life and customs--1945-
- United States. Army--Non-commissioned officers--Correspondence
- Campano, Anthony
- Campano, Shizuko Shirai
- Totman, Conrad D
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
William Smith Clark Papers, 1814-2003 (Bulk: 1844-1886).
Call no.: RG 003/1 C63
Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1826, William Smith Clark graduated from Amherst College in 1848 and went on to teach the natural sciences at Williston Seminary until 1850, when he continued his education abroad, studying chemistry and botany at the University of Goettingen, earning his Ph.D in 1852. From 1852 to 1867 he was a member of Amherst College’s faculty as a Professor of Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology. As a leading citizen of Amherst, Clark was a strong advocate for the establishment of the new agricultural college, becoming one of the founding members of the college’s faculty and in 1867, the year the college welcomed its first class of 56 students, its President. During his presidency, he pressured the state government to increase funding for the new college and provide scholarships to enable poor students, including women, to attend. The college faced economic hardship early in its existence: enrollment dropped in the 1870s, and the college fell into debt. He is noted as well for helping to establish an agricultural college at Sapporo, Japan, and building strong ties between the Massachusetts Agricultural College and Hokkaido. After Clark was denied a leave of absence in 1879 to establish a “floating college” — a ship which would carry students and faculty around the world — he resigned.
The Clark Papers include materials from throughout his life, including correspondence with fellow professors and scientists, students in Japan, and family; materials relating to his Civil War service in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry; photographs and personal items; official correspondence and memoranda; published articles; books, articles, television, and radio materials relating to Clark, in Japanese and English; and materials regarding Hokkaido University and its continuing relationship with the University of Massachusetts.
- Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
- Agricultural colleges--Massachusetts--History
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- Amherst College--Faculty
- Amherst College--Students--Correspondence
- Hokkaido (Japan)--History
- Hokkaid¯o Daigaku--History
- Hokkaid¯o Teikoku Daigaku--History
- Japan--Relations--United States
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
- Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
- Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o. President
- T¯ohoku Teikoku Daigaku. N¯oka Daigaku--History
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
- United States--Relations--Japan
- Universität Göttingen--Students--Correspondence
- Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. President
Types of material
Barrie B. Greenbie Papers, 1934-1997.
Call no.: FS 142
Barrie Barstow Greenbie was a key member of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at UMass Amherst from 1970-1989. In a long and remarkably diverse career, Greenbie worked as an artist with the Works Progress Administration, as a soldier and journalist, as a professor of theater, an architect, inventor, author, and landscape planner. After earning a BA in drama from the University of Miami (1953),he worked for several years in the theatre program at Skidmore College. While there, he added architecture to his array of talents, designing the East 74th Street Theater in New York in 1959, and founded a company to produce a “self-erecting” building designed to substitute for summer tent theaters. Two years after joining the faculty at UMass in 1970, he completed a doctorate in urban affairs and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin and continued with a characteristically broad array of creative pursuits, designing the William Smith Clark Memorial, among other things, and conducting an extensive aerial survey of the landscapes of the Connecticut River Valley. In monographs such as Design for Diversity and Spaces: Dimensions of the Human Landscape, Greenbie examined the interactions between humans and nature. He died at his home on South Amherst in 1998.
The Greenbie Papers document a long career as academic, writer, artist, architect, and theatrical designer. Of particular note is the extensive and engrossing correspondence, which extends from Greenbie’s years as a student at the Taft School in the late 1930s through his World War II service with the Sixth Army in the South Pacific and Japan, to his tenure at UMass Amherst (1970-1989). The collection also includes a small, but interesting correspondence between Greenbie’s parents (1918-1919).
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
- World War, 1939-1945
- Greenbie, Barrie B
Sandy Lillydahl Venceremos Brigade Photograph Collection, 1970-2005 (Bulk: 1970).
Call no.: PH 056
A 1969 graduate of Smith College and member of Students for a Democratic Society, Sandy Lillydahl took part in the second contingent of the Venceremos Brigade. Between February and April 1970, Lillydahl and traveled to Cuba as an expression of solidarity with the Cuban people and to assist in the sugarcane harvest.
The 35 color snapshots that comprise the Lillydahl collection document the New England contingent of the second Venceremos Brigade as they worked the sugarcane fields in Aguacate, Cuba, and toured the country. Each image is accompanied by a caption supplied by Lillydahl in 2005, describing the scene and reflecting on her experiences; and the collection also includes copies of the file kept by the FBI on Lillydahl, obtained by her through the Freedom of Information Act in 1975.
- Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)--Photographs
- Venceremos Brigade--Photographs
Types of material
William L. Machmer Papers, 1899-1953.
Call no.: RG 006/1 M33
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.
- 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
Madge McQueen Papers, ca.1935-2015 (Bulk: 1975-2015).
Call no.: MS 825
I was born in Washington, D.C., in an unwed mother’s home. I spent my earliest months living with my maternal grandmother and two teenage aunts–one of whom was abusive. My mother married my step-father in 1960; I was eleven years old when I discovered he was not my biological father. My mother suffered from psychotic schizophrenia; my step-father was frequently violent in our home; my younger, half-brother struggled with a severe learning disability, early drug addiction, and later untreated paranoid schizophrenia. After years of physical and sexual abuse, I escaped my destructive, troubled family when I was fourteen–having previously run away twice. I became a ward of the state of Maryland (my family had moved into Prince George’s County when I was much younger). I lived with three foster families until I was nineteen. I was determined to use education as a way out of poverty and violence. I attended Prince George’s Community College, then the University of Maryland in College Park where I earned a BA in Hearing and Speech Sciences in 1982. I worked at the radical Maryland Food Collective from 1981 to 1984 which profoundly impacted my life: politically, socially, and sexually. In 1985, I moved to Plainfield, Vermont, where I attended graduate school at Goddard College, receiving an MFA in Writing and Women’s Literature in 1987. After teaching for five years in Boston, at Fayerweather Street School and at the Jamaica Plain Community Centers–Adult Learning Program, I went to Massachusetts College of Art, earning a BFA in Three Dimensional Fibers in 1997. I lived for a year in Germany, 1980-1981, and in Honduras, 1997-1998, where I taught cognitively disabled adults and 8th graders, respectively. In 2002, after living in Boston for four more years, I moved to Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia. During my long membership, I left twice for extended periods. In 2006-2007, I traveled for eight months in the U.S. and in New Zealand. In 2014, I spent seven months in Amherst and in Boston working on my papers, followed by four months of travel across country and back visiting loved ones as I wrote my autobiography. In the beginning of 2015, I again made Twin Oaks my home.
My collection consists of nearly 300 journals (which include copies of my letters sent), all correspondence received since 1972, many of my artist books, as well as some of my other art work. My bequest is also comprised of my educational documents, my personal health records, my photographs, some family papers, Twin Oaks ephemera, a family tree, a friendship web, a few favorite books, two interviews, etc. What I have written and saved since I was twelve years old fills 84 linear feet: it is my life’s work. I have given, and will continue to give, my papers to UMass Amherst for safekeeping and so that my life–as an incest and battering survivor, as someone raised working class, as a daughter of a mentally-ill mother, as a radical feminist, as a diarist, as an avid letter writer, as an artist, as a bisexual, as a woman who chose neither to be a wife nor a mother, as an attentive niece, as a communitarian, as a traveler, and as a devoted friend–will not be erased.
- Adult children abuse victims
- Communal living--Virginia
- Family violence
- Twin Oaks (Louisa, Va.)
- Women artists
Types of material
- Artists' books (Books)
- Journals (Accounts)
- Textile art (Visual works)
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses over 35,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.
Beyond New England, SCUA has built strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the history of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to the culture of the Cold War: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.
All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog and summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles, are included in SCUA’s own online catalog, UMarmot.
Selected areas of collecting interest:
Agriculture, horticulture, natural history
The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, organic agriculture, pomology, sustainability, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Cookery in New England
The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.
European history and culture
Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).
Gay and Lesbian Literature
The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.
Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press, among others, as well as the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of William Morris and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers.
New England history and culture
Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.
Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.
Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.
View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).
Significant collecting areas
- Antinuclear movement
- New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
- Antiracism and civil rights
- The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
- Community organizations and charities
- SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
- Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the hsitory of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
- Intentional Communities
- Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
- Labor activism
- For more detailed information, see our research guide on Labor, work, and industry
- Peace Collections
- Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
- Political activism
- As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
- Social Justice
- Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.