Western Massachusetts was an early and important center of both industrialization and the development of organized labor, and in recent years, it has experienced many of traumatic effects of de-industrialization and economic transformation. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives seeks to document the history of organized labor, the experience of work, and business and industry in New England.
At the heart of the SCUA holdings is a suite of collections documenting the organized labor movement in New England. The official records of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, a large and important collection, is joined by records for trades ranging from clothing and textile workers to carpenters, electrical workers, and granite cutters.
Of particular note is the John W. Bennett Labor History Collection, a large assemblage of labor-related realia and ephemera, including hundreds of badges, pins, watch fobs, lighters, and other artifacts distributed to union members at annual conventions and other union events. The collection is a unique resource for study of the iconography of organized labor and includes items from representative unions and locals ranging from the Knights of Labor in the 1870s to the present. While centered on New England, the Bennett Collection extends nationally.
View our brochure on documenting labor, work, and industry (pdf).
- Organized Labor
- From the records of the Massachusetts State AFL-CIO to the papers of union locals and labor leaders.
- See all Business and industry
- The industrial heritage of New England is represented in collections ranging from the records of the Clement Co., Lamson and Goodnow, and the Northampton Cutlery Company (manufacturers of cutlery), the American Writing Paper Company, the Rodney Hunt Co. (a manufacturer of textile machinery and waterwheels), and Smith and Wesson. The most recent collection is the papers of Sidney Topol, CEO of Scientific-Atlanta, a corporation at the forefront of the growth of cable television in the United States.
- Merchants and mercantile exchange
- Account books and other business records for a number of New England merchants dating back to the eighteenth century, ranging from small scale traders to keepers of rural general stores to shipping merchants trading in the Atlantic economy.
Mary G. and Edward R. Landon Letters, 1836-1841.
Call no.: MS 038 bd
A native of Guilford, Conn., Edward Ruggles Landon emigrated to the Michigan Territory after graduating from Yale (1833) and receiving legal training in a New Haven law office. His time in the west, however, would prove difficult. Settling first in Detroit and then Tecumseh, Landon bore the full brunt of financial hardship, and after marrying in 1837 and losing both his wife and infant son the next year, he returned home to Guilford. Landon went on to enjoy a prominent career as attorney and judge of the New Haven County Probate Court.
The Landon collection consists entirely of typed transcripts of letters written by Mary Griswold Landon to her son Edward, during the few years he spent in Michigan. Filled with news of day to day life in Guilford, family and friends, domestic duties, financial challenges, and the occasional intervention of politics and national affairs, the letters are both a reflection of Edward’s experiences in the west and Mary’s strong personality and attitudes toward family and life in nineteenth-century Connecticut.
- Guilford (Conn.)--History
- Landon, Anna Theodora Lay, 1817-1838
- Lawyers--Michigan--19th century
- Landon, Edward Ruggles, 1812-1883
- Landon, Mary Griswold, 1786-1871
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Gertrude M. Lewis Papers, ca.1920-2001.
Call no.: FS 096
Overcoming a deeply impoverished childhood, Gertrude Lewis struggled to build a career in education, putting herself through college and graduate school. At the age of 32, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State, continuing on to a masters degree at New York University (1933), and finally, at age 51, a PhD from Yale (1947). For many years after receiving her doctorate, Lewis was employed as a Specialist for Upper Grades with the U.S. Office of Education in Washington. Among other career highlights, Lewis spent two years in Japan (1950-1951) as a Consultant in Elementary Education in the Education Section of the Allied Occupation government (SCAP). Lewis outlived her life partner, Ruth Totman, dying at home on December 10, 1996, a few months after her one hundredth birthday.
The Lewis Papers document the work and life of an educator of the masses, a traveler of the world, and a woman of the twentieth century. Documents pertaining to her work as an educator of both young students and veteran teachers show the changes within the theory and practice of pedagogy over time, over various geographic locales, and also highlight her role in that change. This collection also documents the numerous on-going side projects on which Lewis worked, including fostering creativity in schoolchildren, a biography of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, and her own poetry and prose.
- Education, Elementary--Japan
- Education, Elementary--United States--History
- Education--United States--History
- Health Education--United States
- Japan--Civilization--American influences
- Students--Health and hygiene
- Lewis, Gertrude Minnie, 1896-
- Totman, Conrad D
- Totman, Ruth J
Types of material
- Motion pictures (Visual work)
Sidney Lipshires Papers, 1932-2012.
Call no.: MS 730
Born on April 15, 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland to David and Minnie Lipshires, Sidney was raised in Northampton, Massachusetts where his father owned two shoe stores, David Boot Shop and The Bootery. He attended the Massachusetts State College for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago and was awarded a BA in economics in 1940. His years at the University of Chicago were transformative, Lipshires became politically active there and joined the Communist Party in 1939. Following graduation in 1941, he married Shirley Dvorin, a student in early childhood education; together they had two sons, Ellis and Bernard. Lipshires returned to western Massachusetts with his young family in the early 1940s, working as a labor organizer. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 working as a clerk and interpreter with a medical battalion in France for over a year. Returning home, he ran for city alderman in Springfield on the Communist Party ticket in 1947. Lipshires married his second wife, Joann Breen Klein, in 1951 and on May 29, 1956, the same day his daughter Lisa was born, he was arrested under the Smith Act for his Communist Party activities. Before his case was brought to trial, the Smith Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Disillusioned with the Communist Party, he severed his ties with it in 1957, but continued to remain active in organized labor for the rest of his life. Earning his masters in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1971, Lipshires taught history at Manchester Community College in Connecticut for thirty years. During that time he worked with other campus leaders to establish a statewide union for teachers and other community college professionals, an experience he wrote about in his book, Giving Them Hell: How a College Professor Organized and Led a Successful Statewide Union. Sidney Lipshires died on January 6, 2011 at the age of 91.
Ranging from an autobiographical account that outlines his development as an activist (prepared in anticipation of a trial for conspiracy charges under the Smith Act) to drafts and notes relating to his book Giving Them Hell, the Sidney Lipshires Papers offers an overview of his role in the Communist Party and as a labor organizer. The collection also contains his testimony in a 1955 public hearing before the Special Commission to Study and Investigate Communism and Subversive Activities, photographs, and biographical materials.
- Communism--United States--History
- Jews--Political activity--United States--History--20th century
- Labor movement--United States--History--20th century
- Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--Biography
- Lipshires, David M
- Lipshires, Joann B
- Lipshires, Sidney
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
John Manfredi Papers, 1938-1983.
Call no.: FS 148
One of four young sociologists who joined the faculty at UMass Amherst in the years after the Second World War, John Manfredi carried the entire load of teaching theory from 1948 to 1967. A native of Philadelphia and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (BA 1942), Manfredi came to Amherst after completing an MA at Harvard in 1948, teaching while simultaneously completing his dissertation, “The Relationship of Class-Structured Pathologies to the Contents of Popular Periodical Fiction, 1936-1940″ (Harvard, 1951). A specialist in social theory and cultural systems, he taught anthropology for several years and both his research and teaching revolved around the sociology of religion and art. His best know work, The Social Limits of Art, appeared in 1982, three years before his retirement. Manfredi died in February 1993.
Consisting of essays and course notes from his days as a graduate student at Harvard, the John Manfredi collection documents the training and early professional work of a sociologist. Notable among these are materials relating to classes offered by eminent figures such as Talcott Parsons, Carle C. Zimmerman, and P.A. Sorokin.
- Sociology--Study and teaching
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Sociology
- Manfredi, John, 1920-
- Parsons, Talcott, 1902-1979
- Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich, 1889-1968
- Zimmerman, Carle Clark, 1897-1983
Types of material
- Lecture notes
Robert James McFall Papers, 1918-1926.
Call no.: FS 133
A specialist in agricultural marketing, Robert J. McFall arrived at the Massachusetts Agricultural College in January 1920 to take up work with the Extension Service. A graduate of Geneva College and Phd from Columbia University (1915), McFall had worked with the Canadian Bureau of Statistics for two years before his arrival in Amherst.
The McFall collection includes a suite of published and unpublished works in agricultural economics, including an incomplete run of Economic Reports from MAC on business conditions (1921-1925), and papers on agricultural cooperation in Massachusetts, municipal abattoirs, business regulation in Canada, agriculture and population increase, and the New England dairy market. Of particular note is a monograph-length work co-authored by McFall and Alexander Cance, entitled “The Massachusetts Agricultural College in its Relations to the Food Supply Program of the Commonwealth.”
- Agricultural economics
- Cance, Alexander E. (Alexander Edmond), 1874-
- Dairy products industry--Massachusetts
- Food supply--Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of Agricultural Economics
- McFall, Robert James, 1887-1963
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)
Luther Mosely Daybook, 1842-1846.
Call no.: MS 249 bd
Homeopathic physician from Arlington, Vermont. Daybook contains patients’ names, including many women, identification of some cases (such as vaccination, extraction of teeth, treatment of swellings, fractures, and burns, and the delivery of babies), methods of treatment (such as purges, bleeding, cupping, and the use of blistering ointments), prices for his services, and method and form of payment (including goods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, clothes, and services such as butchering and timbering). Also contains personal entries and notation of goods he sold such as poultry, leathers, and fabrics.
- Arlington (Vt.)--Social conditions--19th century
- Canfield family
- Contraception--Vermont--Arlington--History--19th century
- Hard family
- Homeopathic physicians--Vermont--Arlington
- Matteson family
- Medicine--Practice--Vermont--19th century
- Milligan family
- Oatman family
- Purdy family
- Women--Medical care--Vermont--Arlington--19th century
- Mosely, Luther, 1807-
Types of material
- Account books
David Ledbetter Nanney Papers, 1948-2008.
Call no.: MS 592
The experimental ciliatologist David L. Nanney spent much of his career studying the protozoan Tetrahymena. Under Tracy M. Sonneborn at Indiana University, he completed a dissertation in 1951 on the mating habits of Paramecium, but soon after joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, he turned his attention to Tetrahymena. During his subsequent career in Ann Arbor (1951-1959) and at the University of Illinois (1959-1991), Nanney made a series of fundamental contributions to the cytology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolution of ciliates, influencing the work of other biologists such as Joe Frankel, Janina Kaczanowska, Linda Hufnagel, and Nicola Ricci. Since his retirement in 1991, Nanney has remained in Urbana.
The Nanney Papers include a dense run of professional correspondence with ciliatologists, geneticists, students and colleagues regarding his pioneering research on ciliates and other professional matters. Of particular note is an extensive correspondence with Sonneborn, accompanied by several biographical essays written after Sonneborn’s death, and a large body of correspondence of the controversial reorganization of the biological sciences departments at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. The collection also includes a selection of Nanney’s writings and a handful of photographs.
- Developmental biology
- Evolution (Biology)
- University of Illinois--Faculty
- Allen, Sally
- Bleyman, Lea K
- Corliss, John O
- Frankel, Joseph, 1935-
- Kaczanowski, Andrzej
- McKoy, J. Wynne
- Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-
- Nyberg, Dennis Wayne, 1944-
- Orias, Eduardo
- Ricci, Nicola
- Siegel, Richard
- Sonneborn, T. M. (Tracy Morton), 1905-