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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

Learn more:

Riggs, Maida L.

Maida L. Riggs Papers
1925-2000
8 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 095
Image of Maida Riggs, ca.1944
Maida Riggs, ca.1944

Maida Leonard Riggs, class of 1936, taught women’s physical education at UMass before shifting to teacher preparation. Riggs was a beloved member of the UMass faculty for 28 years before her retirement. An adventurous spirit took Riggs around the globe: to Europe with the Red Cross during World War II; as a bicycling tour leader after the war; on a trek across Nepal at age 62; to Russia, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Uzbekistan. After retiring, Riggs, a self-described compulsive traveler, embarked on a more personal journey to explore her roots. Riggs transcribed more than 250 letters by her pioneer great-grandmother, Mary Ann Clark Longley, and published them under the title A Small Bit of Bread and Butter: Letters from the Dakota Territory, 1832-1869, an absorbing and sometimes heartbreaking account of life on the frontier. An avid photographer, Riggs took advantage of any opportunity to use her camera. These images, particularly from World War II, tell as many stories as do her correspondence. Her memoir, Dancing in Paratrooper Boots, contains typed copies of her letters from her days as a Red Cross volunteer during the war.

The Riggs Papers are a rich documentary history of the World War II era, both in America and Europe, as well as an engrossing study (in transcripts) of the American frontier. Included with extensive correspondence and photographs are published and unpublished prose, and Lovingly, Lucy: Vignettes of a Pioneer Woman’s Life, an essay on Riggs’s paternal grandmother, Lucy Dodge Riggs. Additional items in the collection include handwritten journals, one detailing a trip to China and Japan in 1982, and Riggs’s photographs of young children at play taken for her book on child development, Jump to Joy: Helping Children Grow Through Active Play. Riggs also took her genealogical research seriously, meticulously charting her family’s 1638 immigration from England to Massachusetts. With camera in hand, she later traveled to England in search of more evidence of the Longleys’ English roots.

Gift of Maida Riggs, 2000-2006
Subjects
  • China--Description and travel
  • Longley family
  • Riggs family
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Alumni and alumnae
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Physical Education
  • Women physical education teachers
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945--Women
Contributors
  • Riggs, Maida L.
Types of material
  • Photographs

Stone, George E. (George Edward), 1860-1941

George Edward Stone Papers
1890-1957
14 boxes (6.75 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 085

Professor of Botany, Massachusetts Agricultural College.

Correspondence, lecture notes, reports, notes on experiments, drawings depicting original apparatus, scrapbooks of printed botanical illustrations, student papers, genealogies, memorabilia, and photographs; together with papers reflecting administrative and official duties; correspondence, notes, and news clippings on psychic phenomena; and autobiographical notes, including reflections on Massachusetts Agricultural College and on Emily Dickinson.

Subjects
  • Botany--Massachusetts
  • Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886
  • Horticulture--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. Botany Department
  • Plant physiology--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Barlow, Waldo
  • Stone, George E. (George Edward), 1860-1941
Types of material
  • Herbaria
  • Photographs

Storrsville (Mass.) Lyceum Debating Society

Storrsville Lyceum Debating Society Minutebook
1842-1846
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 016 bd

Club that met weekly or bi-weekly in Storrsville, Massachusetts, to debate questions of local, national, and international interest including religion, abolition and slavery, human nature, penal reform, the lure of the West, intemperance, and war and peace. Single minutebook includes two versions of the constitution, proposed and debated questions, the teams, the outcome, and notations of any additional activities that took place during the formal meetings.

Subjects
  • Ciceronean Debating Club (Dana, Mass.)
  • Dana (Mass. : Town)--Intellectual life--19th century
  • Debates and debating--Massachusetts--Dana (Town)--History
  • Storrsville (Dana, Mass. : Town)--Intellectual life--19th century
  • Storrsville Lyceum Debating Society (Dana, Mass.)--Archives
Types of material
  • Minute books

Strong, Noah Lyman, 1807-1893

Noah Lyman Strong Account Book
1849-1893
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 187

Operator of a sawmill and gristmill in Southampton, Massachusetts, later an owner of tenements and other real estate in Westfield, Massachusetts. Includes lists of gristmill and sawmill products, the method and form of payment (cash, barter for goods, or services such as sawing or hauling), real estate records, and miscellaneous personal records (school, clothing, board, and travel expenses for his niece and nephew; accounts for the care and funeral of his father-in-law and the dispensation of his estate; a Strong family genealogy; town of Westfield agreements and expenses; a list of U.S. bonds that Strong bought; and money lent and borrowed, among others).

Subjects
  • Barter--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
  • Boardinghouses--Massachusetts--Westfield--History--19th century
  • Clapp, Anson--Estate
  • Fowler, Henry
  • Grist mills--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
  • Guardian and ward--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • House construction--Massachusetts--Westfield--History--19th century
  • Millers--Massachusetts--Southampton--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Railroad companies--United States--History--19th century
  • Sawmills--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
  • Southampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Strong family
  • Strong, Noah Lyman, 1807-1893--Finance, Personal
  • Westfield (Mass.)--History--19th century
  • Westfield (Mass.)--Social conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • Strong, Noah Lyman

Torrey, Ray Ethan, 1887-

Ray Ethan Torrey Papers
1832-1983
13 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: FS 121
Image of Ray Ethan Torrey. Photo by Frank A. Waugh
Ray Ethan Torrey. Photo by Frank A. Waugh

A plant morphologist and member of the Botany Department at Massachusetts Agricultural College, Ray Ethan Torrey was among the college’s most charismatic faculty members during the early twentieth century. Born in Leverett, Mass., and educated in the local public schools, Torrey graduated from MAC with the class of 1912, earning his PhD at Harvard six years later. After serving on the faculty of Grove City College and Wesleyan, he returned to his alma mater in 1919, where he remained for more than 36 years. A specialist in plant morphology and author or two widely used textbooks and numerous articles, Torrey’s introductory course in botany was among the most popular in the college. He was best known, however, for taking a broader, philosophical approach to science that encouraged students to explore the connections between philosophy, science, religion, and the humanities. Torrey died of leukemia in Boston on Jan. 16, 1956.

Correspondence, chiefly with former students and colleagues at other institutions; lecture notes and outlines; 27 pen and ink drawings; published writings and drawings; biographical material; class and laboratory notes taken by students; family and educational records (1832-1956); photographs, and other papers.

Subjects
  • Botany--Study and teaching
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Botany Department
Contributors
  • Torrey, Ray Ethan, 1887-
Types of material
  • Pen and ink drawings

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

Wilder, Robert W.

Robert W. Wilder Papers
1888-2013
2 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 884

Born in the Quabbin town of Enfield, Mass., Bob Wilder (1933-2015) rose from a life of poverty to a successful career in the Marine Corps and the aerospace industry. Becoming an avid local historian in his retirement, he drew upon his rural childhood while working later as an interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village and became a popular lecturer on topics in regional history.

This small collection consists of materials relating to Wilder’s family and his research into the history of the Swift River Valley and the Quabbin Reservoir. In addition to some Wilder family photographs, the collection includes hand-drawn maps, newspaper clippings, town reports, magazine articles, oral histories, and poems about the towns of the Swift River Valley. Of particular note are several video recordings of Wilder’s lectures and an extensive series of oral histories with Wilder recorded by Marc Peloquin.

Gift of Robert W. Wilder, Nov. 2015
Subjects
  • Enfield (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir (Mass.)--History
  • Swift River Valley (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Peloquin, Marc
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs

Brann, Clinton

Clinton Brann Papers
1891-1963
4 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 594
Image of Clinton Brann
Clinton Brann

In 1918, Clinton Melville Tilman Brann, a dentist by training, served with in the 17th Field Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, a unit cited for gallantry in five critical engagements of the First World War. During his time overseas, Brann maintained an intense correspondence with Rhea Oppenheimer, despite fears that their different religious (he Presbyterian, she Jewish) and family backgrounds would prove an obstacle. After demobilization, Brann returned home and on Sept. 17, 1919, married Rhea. He went on to build a successful practice in dentistry in Iowa, raising a son and daughter. Clinton Brann passed away on Sept 8, 1961, in Orlando, Fla., with Rhea following on December 29, 1987 in Winter Park, Fla.

In two regards, the Brann collection presents an unusual glimpse into families affected by the First World War. First, Brann’s letters home offer a sense of his unusual role in the service, as a junior officer and dentist, and second, his letters are marked by his unusual relationship with Rhea Oppenheimer and their concerns over the future prospects for a mixed marriage. The collection also includes a wealth of photographs of the Branns’ life together, a family scrapbook, and a handful of mementoes and miscellaneous documents.

Subjects
  • Brann family
  • Courtship
  • Dentists--Iowa
  • World War, 1914-1918--Medical care
Contributors
  • Brann, Clinton
  • Brann, Rhea Oppenheimer
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Campbell, Sadie

Sadie Campbell Papers
1812-2002
19 boxes (10.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 439
Image of Sadie Campbell and sons Harold and Robert Leslie
Sadie Campbell and sons Harold and Robert Leslie

A housewife, mother and active community member, Sadie Campbell was born in 1881 and lived at 1 Depot Street in Cheshire, Massachusetts for most of her life until she died in 1971. Sadie was closely tied to the Cheshire community where she had a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and was active in a a number of organizations, such as: the Cheshire Ladies Reading Club, the Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club, and the Cheshire Cash Tearoom.

The collection documents three generations of a western Massachusetts family. The variety and nature of the materials in this collection offer a good view into the local and social history of western Massachusetts through the lives of Sadie Campbell and her family.

Subjects
  • Cheshire (Mass.)--History
  • Cheshire Cash Tearoom
  • Family--Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Family--Massachusetts--History--20th century
  • Housekeeping--Massachusetts--Cheshire
  • Housewives--Massachusetts--Cheshire
  • Massachusetts--Social life and customs--19th century
  • Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club
  • Small business--Massachusetts
  • Tyrell, Augustus
  • Williams Manufacturing Company
  • Women--Societies and clubs--History--19th century
Contributors
  • Campbell, Sadie
Types of material
  • Account books
  • Invitations
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Recipes
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