from Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects and preserves textual, visual, and auditory materials of enduring historical value and makes them available to researchers at no charge.
The collections held by SCUA are rich and deeply interrelated, documenting four areas of historic and cultural interest: social change, New England, the University of Massachusetts, and innovation and entrepreneurship.
Among the distinguished collections held by SCUA are the records of:
- W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond (African American intellectuals and civil rights pioneers)
- The Africa America Institute
- The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (350 years of Quaker history in the region)
- The Hampshire Council of Governments (350 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts
- David Steindl-Rast (Benedictine monk, participant in interfaith dialogue, and student of the interaction between spirituality and science)
- Kenneth R. Feinberg (attorney and public figure)
- Congressman Silvio E. Conte and John Olver, Gov. Jane Swift, and state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (politicians)
- The Clarke School for the Deaf, International Center for the Disabled, Elmer C. Bartels, Fred Pelka and Denise Kurath, Lucy Gwin (advocates for people with disabilities)
- Benjamin Smith Lyman, William Smith Clark, and William Penn Brooks (natural scientists)
- Mark H. McCormack and Sidney Topol (innovators)
- William Lederer, Leonard Lewin, Jodi Picoult, Harvey Swados, Robert Francis, Charles Whipple (writers)
- Carl Oglesby, Eric Mann and Lian Hurst, Raymond Mungo, Anna Gyorgy, Mary Wentworth, Randy Kehler, the Liberation News Service, and the Alternative Energy Alliance (activists)
- Jeff Albertson, Burt Brooks, Alton H. Blackington, Lionel Delevingne, Thomas and Margaret Tenney, and Diana Mara Henry (photographers and photojournalists)
Information about all of our manuscript and photographic collections is included in UMarmot. Use the search box and menus to the right to navigate our collections and to locate collections of interest.
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Massachusetts Bay Warrants Collection, 1743-1767.
6 folders (0.15 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 089
On the eve of the Seven Years War in the Province of Massachusetts, town constables shouldered an array of public responsibilities, including announcing town meetings, serving writs for the town clerk, and collecting local taxes. Although they received a commission for the taxes collected, constables were also held personally responsible for any taxes unpaid, authorized by writ of the Provincial Treasurer and enforced by County Sheriffs.
The warrants in this collection, nearly all printed forms completed in manuscript, were issued by the Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts Bay Province, William Foye or his successor Harrison Gray, authorizing the Hampshire County Sheriff, Oliver Partridge, or Deputy Sheriffs Moses Miller or Ephraim Williams, to attach the goods of local constables in arrears: Brimfield, Greenwich, Sheffield, and Westfield, Mass., along with Somers and Suffield, now part of Connecticut. In instances where the taxes were not delivered, the Sheriff was empowered to “levy by Distress and Sale of the Estate real and personal” of the constable to make up the unpaid difference.
- Brimfield (Mass.)--History
- Greenwich (Mass.)--History
- Sheffield (Mass.)--History
- Somers (Conn.)--History
- Sufffield (Conn.)--History
- Taxation--Massachusetts--18th century
- Westfield (Mass.)--History
- Massachusetts. Treasurer and Receiver General
Types of material
Miscellaneous Manuscripts, 1717-2003.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 719
Miscellaneous Manuscripts is an artificial collection that brings together single items and small groups of related materials. Although the collection reflects the general collecting emphases in SCUA, particularly the history of New England, the content ranges widely in theme and format.
- Massachusetts--Economic conditions--18th century
- Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century
- Massachusetts--Politics and government
- Massachusetts--Social conditions--18th century
- Massachusetts--Social conditions--19th century
- Massachusetts--Social conditions--20th century
Types of material
- Account books
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records, 1654-2016.
(384.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 902
In 1661, less than a decade after the first Friends arrived in British North America, the precursor to the New England Yearly Meeting was organized as the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting. As one of approximately two dozen yearly meetings in the United States, the NEYM currently comprises eight quarterly meetings and approximately 85 monthlies, which are the basic unit of organization for the Society. Like many Yearly meetings, the NEYM has been diverse in spiritual practice, reflected in a history of separations and reunions. Most famously, Orthodox Friends in New England divided in the 1840s into the increasingly evangelically-oriented Gurneyites, who went by the name Yearly Meeting of Friends for New England (joining Friends United Meeting in 1902), and the Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends. In 1945, the disparate branches formally reunited.
Consolidated beginning in the 1960s, the NEYM collection contains the official records of the New England Yearly Meeting from its founding in the seventeenth century to the present, along with records of most of its constituent Quarterly, Monthly, and Preparative Meetings and records of Quaker schools and trusts. As varied as the Quaker practice they document, these records include minutes of meetings for business; committee records; newsletters, financial records; some personal papers; printed books and serials; and an assortment of photographs, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and electronic records. Of particular note are the vital statistics recorded by the Monthly Meetings, including general information on births, deaths, marriages, membership, and obituaries, and specifically-Quaker information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties Quakers suffered for following testimonies). The Archives Committee of the NEYM is a partner in records management and on-going documentation of the Meeting and its constituent bodies. The collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and several individual monthly meetings. The records of most monthly meetings in Maine are held at the Maine Historical Society, while important bodies of records are held at the Newport Historical Society (some Nantucket and Rhode Island Meetings) or at individual Monthly Meetings.
- Quakers--New England
- Society of Friends--New England--History
Digital (+)Finding aid
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Autograph Collection, 1783-1950.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 926
During the early twentieth century, the library at the Moses Brown School (formerly the Friends Boarding School) became an informal repository for Quaker manuscripts reflecting the history and work of the Society of Friends. Most of these materials were later transferred for custody to the school’s governing body, the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.
This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.” Many of the letters appear to have been retained as good examples of Quaker expression of family and friendly bonds or as documentation about significant periods in Quaker history, particularly the Gurneyite-Wilburite controversy of the 1840s, and several touch on Quaker involvement in the antislavery and peace movements. Of special note are four interesting letters from the Quaker minister and social reformer, Elizabeth Comstock, written during and just after the Civil War; a series of nine lengthy letters from a visiting English minister Isaac Stephenson, traveling through New England meetings; a substantial series of letters from prominent Friend Samuel Boyd Tobey; and three letters from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Sarah F. Tobey regarding attempts to connect Stowe with Alexander T. Stewart in hopes of raising funds for her plans for the education of women.
- Antislavery movements--United States
- Gurney, James Joseph
- Society of Friends--History
- Wilbur, John,
- Comstock, Elizabeth L.
- Stewart, Alexander Turney, 1803-1876
- Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
- Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867
Northampton Cutlery Company Records, 1869-1987.
113 boxes (55.75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 058
The Northampton Cutlery Company was among the major firms in a region known for high quality cutlery manufacture. Incorporated in 1871 with Judge Samuel L. Hinckley, its largest stockholder, as its first President, the company was located along the Mill River in Northampton, Massachusetts, where operations continued until its closing in 1987.
Records document company operations and technology used in the cutlery manufacturing process, as well as details about employment of immigrant and working class families in the region. Includes administrative, legal, and financial records; correspondence; personnel and labor relations files; and production schedules and specifications.
- Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--History
- Northampton Cutlery Company
Thomas Nye Cashbook, 1830-1842.
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 227 bd
Agent or part-owner of a firm, who may have been a ship’s chandler, from Fairhaven and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Includes personal expenses and business accounts (large bills for firms and small bills for labor, repairs, food, blacksmithing, and other items and services). Cash book is made up of six smaller cash books bound together; also contains lists of deaths in the family and notations of the lading of several ships.
- Fairhaven (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Merchants--Massachusetts--New Bedford--Economic conditions--19th century
- New Bedford (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Nye family
- Nye, Thomas, 1768-1842
- T. and A.R. Nye (Firm)
Types of material
Peck-Sisson-White Family Papers, 1772-1975 (Bulk: 1830-1875).
2 boxes (0.75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 933
Perez Peck (1786-1876) and Asa Sisson (1815-1893) of the village of Anthony (Coventry), R.I., were innovative machinists and manufacturers of cotton looms. Active members of the Society of Friends, they were supporters of the antislavery struggle and sent their children to the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I.
Although the Peck-Sisson-White family collection spans three families and three generations, the bulk of material is concentrated on the lives of Asa Sisson and his wife Mary Ann (Peck) and their daughter Emily, who married Willis H. White, with an emphasis on their poetry and their time at the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. The family also copied verse from other writers, including works from George Miller (not otherwise identified) extracting Anthony Benezet and “Remarks on encouraging slavery” and a “lamentation over New England” which touches on the execution of early Quakers in Massachusetts Bay.
- Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
- Friends Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
- Quakers--Rhode Island
- Peck, Perez, 1786-1876
- Sisson, Asa, 1815-1893
- Sisson, Mary Ann, 1816-1882
- White, Emily Sisson, 1856-1945
Types of material
William Putnam Papers, 1840-1886.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 014
For several decades in the mid-nineteenth century, William Putnam (1792-1877) and his family operated a general store in Wendell Depot, Massachusetts, situated strategically between the canal and the highway leading to Warwick. Serving an area that remains rural to the present day, Putnam dealt in a range of essential merchandise, trading in lumber and shingles, palm leaf, molasses and sugar, tea, tobacco, quills, dishes, cloth and ribbon, dried fish, crackers, and candy. At various times, he was authorized by the town Selectmen to sell “intoxicating liquors” (brandy, whiskey, and rum) for “Medicinal, chemical and mechanical purposes only,” and for a period, he served as postmaster for Wendell Depot.
The daybooks and correspondence of William Putnam record the daily transactions of an antebellum storekeeper in rural Wendell, Massachusetts. Offering a dense record of transactions from 1840-1847, the daybooks provide a chronological accounting of all sales and credits in the store, including barter with local residents of the community and with contractors for the new Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad. The last in the series of daybooks lists a surprisingly high percentage of Wendell’s residents (by name, in alphabetical order) who owed him money as of October 1846. The correspondence associated with the collection continues into the 1880s and provides relatively slender documentation of Putnam’s litigiousness, his financial difficulties after the Civil War, and the efforts of his son John William to continue the business.
- Consumer goods--Massachusetts--Wendell
- General stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
- Liquor stores--Massachusetts--Wendell
- Panama hat industry--Massachusetts--Wendell
- Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad
- Wendell (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Wendell (Mass.)--History--19th century
Types of material