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Geisha, from the Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers
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, Judi Chamberlin, 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, Andrew Coburn, Mary McGarry Morris, 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 Association of Extension Home Economists Records, 1930-1990

5 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 346
Holiday Inn greets the MAEHE, 1967
Holiday Inn greets the MAEHE, 1967

An outgrowth of the extension movement in Massachusetts aimed at assisting rural women in domestic work, the Massachusetts Home Demonstration Agents’ Association (later the Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists) was formed in 1930. Offering an opportunity for the sharing of resources, approaches, and information, the organization provided encouragement for its members to improve their skills as home economists and adult educators.

The MAEHE collection includes award applications, minutes, correspondence, newsletters, and membership files.


  • Home economics extension work--Massachusetts
  • Home economics--Massachusetts


  • Massachusetts Home Demonstration Agents Association
  • National Association of Extension Home Economists

Types of material

  • Photographs

Madge McQueen Papers, ca.1935-2015 (Bulk: 1975-2015)

(99 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 825
Madge McQueen and her papers <br> Photo by Laura Wulf
Madge McQueen and her papers
Photo by Laura Wulf

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
  • Diarists
  • Family violence
  • Twin Oaks (Louisa, Va.)
  • Women artists

Types of material

  • Artists' books (Books)
  • Correspondence
  • Journals (Accounts)
  • Photographs
  • Textile art (Visual works)

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Quaker History 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

Norfolk Prison Colony Collection, 1932-1934

1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 074
Howard B. Gill and daughter Joan, Mar. 1934
Howard B. Gill and daughter Joan, Mar. 1934

In the late 1920s, the sociologist and prisoner reformer Howard Belding Gill proposed building a “model community prison” at Norfolk, Mass., that would represent a radical new approach to dealing with crime and punishment. Integrating social work and sociological theory into the workings of the prison system, Gill reasoned that it would be possible to diagnose and treat the root problems that led to crime and redirect inmates toward constructive behaviors. Built by inmates themselves, the prison opened in 1932, but with opponents decrying the experiment as a “country club” that coddled prisoners, Gill was forced from the superintendency within just two years.

The collection consists of several drafts of a manuscript by a supporter of Gill’s, Thomas O’Connor, that was intended for publication in The Survey magazine, along with associated correspondence and photographs. Although The Survey’s editor, Arthur Kellogg, was sympathetic enough to pass through several drafts and seek opinions widely, the manuscript appears to have been rejected so as not to cause the governor undue political problems.


  • Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Norfolk
  • Prison reformers--Massachusetts
  • Prisons--Massachusetts--Norfolk


  • Gill, Howard B. (Howard Belding)
  • Kellogg, Arthur
  • O'Connor, Thomas
  • Parsons, Herbert Collins, 1862-1941
  • Wilkins, Raymond S.

Types of material

  • Photographs

Northeast Organic Farming Association Records, 1977-2007

12 boxes (6.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 461

The Northeast Organic Farming Association began as the vision of a New York City plumbing supplies salesman and has grown into a large association supporting information-sharing, education, collaboration, and certification. Increasingly influential non-profit organization with chapters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, NOFA has “nearly 4,000 farmers, gardeners and consumers working to promote healthy food, organic farming practices and a cleaner environment.”

The NOFA collection includes records, publications, ephemera, photographs, and other materials from NOFA chapters in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, along with material from the Interstate Council. The collection includes information on NOFA’s conferences and programs, educational work, lobbying, and their initiatives in organic certification and organic land care.


  • Agriculture--Massachusetts
  • Organic farming
  • Organic gardening
  • Sustainable agriculture


  • NOFA Massachusetts

Alida Perreault Papers, 1906-1957 (Bulk: 1928-1933)

2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 808

Alida Capistrant was the eleventh of twelve children in a large French-Canadian family in South Hadley, Massachusetts born on July 24,1914. Her parents both immigrated from Quebec in 1885. On September 30, 1895 they were married in South Hadley. The Capistrant family rented their home until 1912 when they purchased their first house in South Hadley. Alida had an active social life as a teenager and considered attending college or university, but did not pursue any further education until about 1943, when she studied at the Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Two years later she married James Perreault and the couple had two children, a daughter, Marcia (Perreault) Matthieu and a son, David James Perreault. They lived in South Hadley until 2003, when they moved to Chandler, Arizona to be near their daughter. Alida Perreault died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on April 7, 2006, and James died in 2008. Both are buried in Saint Rose Cemetery in South Hadley next to Alida’s family.

Alida’s correspondence during her high school years (1928-1932) reveal a young woman with a substantial network of friends and family. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from several friends, including two potential romantic interests. Letters document daily activities, family happenings, and later Alida’s interest in a career as a nurse and her leadership role in the South Hadley Women’s Club.


  • Capistrant family--Correspondence
  • Family--Massachusetts--History
  • High school students--Massachusetts
  • South Hadley (Mass.)--History
  • Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, Mass.)


  • Fogg, Esther
  • McEwan, William
  • Mitkiewitcz, Freddie A.

Types of material

  • Correspondence
  • Greeting cards
  • Invitations

Cynthia Shepard Perry Papers, 1946-2010

7 boxes (10.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 842
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986

An educator, diplomat, and expert on Africa, Cynthia Shepard Perry was the first recipient of a PhD from of the Program in International Education at UMass Amherst (1972). Born in Burnett, Indiana, in 1928, Perry was raising a family when she set a twenty-five year goal of earning doctorate and entering international service. One year after earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University in 1967, she arranged for her first trip to Africa, leading a secretarial training project at the University of Nairobi, and over succeeding decades, her connections to the continent deepened dramatically. On faculty at Texas Southern University (1971-1982), Perry served as Associate Director of the university’s Peace Corps Program, which resulted in her leading educational projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya. In demand for the expertise she had gained, she worked as a consultant to the US Information Service in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia and as Staff Development Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Having become a full professor and Dean of International Affairs, she left TSU in 1982 to take her first diplomatic post as an officer of the Africa Bureau of the US Agency for International Development, followed by successive appointments as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1986-1989) and Burundi (1989-1993), as Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, and finally an appointment as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank (1996-2001). Although officially retired, Perry remains active in supporting education and development in Africa from her home in Houston. Among many other awards she has received, Perry was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from UMass for her international work and was recognized by the Salute to Service Award.

A record of a life in international service in Africa, the Perry papers includes materials from Perry’s time as head of the African Development Bank and her two ambassadorial appointments, including speeches, some correspondence, and a handful of publications. The collection also includes a series of awards and plaques, some family photographs, and memorabilia.


  • Africa--Foreign relations--United States
  • Burundi--History
  • Sierra Leone--United States
  • United States--Foreign relations--Africa

Types of material

  • Memorabilia
  • Photographs

Polish Jubilee Catalogs and Souvenirs, 1906-1988

5 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 057

Includes booklets containing parish and community histories, photographs, and local advertisements celebrating Jubilee, other anniversaries, and events in over twenty Massachusetts Polish American parishes; booklets furnishing histories and names associated with Polish American groups (such as the Brotherly Aid Society and Polish American Veterans); an historical paper on the Chicopee Polish Community; a pamphlet including songs and recipes; photographs; a booklet; and two books.


  • Chicopee (Mass.)--History
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts
Votes for women, Enfield Collection
Votes for Women, ca.1919 (Enfield Collection)

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses approximately 40,000 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 developed strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the literature of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the Meiji era and the works of an eclectic assortment of poets and writers. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to Cold War culture: 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

Knox gelatin
The Collection

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.

Literary collections

Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press; records of the Cummington School for the Arts and Massachusetts Review; and 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 Charles Lamb, William Morris, and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers. We are stewards of the papers of several writers from New England and collect their works comprehensively, including Andrew Coburn, Mary Doyle Curran, Mary McGarry Morris, Raymond Mungo, Jodi Picoult, and Harvey Swados.

New England history and culture

Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard
Massachusetts Agricultural College postcard

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. The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends collection contains thousands of books, pamphlets, and periodicals relating to Quaker history from the seventeenth century to the present. With an emphasis on New England Quakerism, these collections include the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and libraries amassed by several monthly and quarterly meetings. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Social change

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.

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