SCUA

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What we collect

Frank Waugh's doves
Garden (white fan tailed doves in bird bath) by Frank Waugh, ca.1920

“… there must come vast social change in the United States; a change not violent, but by the will of the people certain and inexorable; carried out ‘with malice toward none but charity for all’; with meticulous justice to the rich and complete sympathy for the poor, the sick and the ignorant; with freedom and democracy for America, and on earth Peace, Good Will toward men.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Chicago, June 29, 1951

In pursuit of our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are highly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds.

Our approach to collecting

Echoing the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois, SCUA collects original materials that document the histories and experiences of social change in America and the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social justice, human dignity, and equality. Our decision to adopt social change as a collecting focus emerged from considering one of Du Bois’s great insights: that the most fundamental issues in social justice are so deeply interconnected that no movement — and no solution to social ills — can succeed in isolation. Rather than focus on individual movements, we therefore focus on the connections between and among movements and the flow of people, organizations, and ideas, all in the hope of better representing the true histories of social engagement in America and laying the foundation for a deeper understanding of the experience of social change.

A related feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our commitment to documenting “whole lives and whole communities.” Rather than focus just on a person’s “significant” actions or ideas, our goal is to represent the person’s entire life in all its complexity: the person’s background, the events themselves, and the aftermath, as well as the range of colleagues and organizations engaged. Our goal is not to highlight simply the great achievements and great people, but to reveal the broad underpinnings of influences, interests, and organizations that shaped them and the communities in which they operated.

While not exhaustive, the following is a synopsis of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:

Social change

Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between social movements and centers of activist energy, SCUA collects materials from individuals and organizations involved in the struggles for peace and non-violence, social and racial justice, economic justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, alternative energy, organized labor, gay rights, disability rights, spiritual activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities. Our collections branch out to include anti-fluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).

  • African and African American history and culture: The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
  • Agriculture, horticulture, botany: Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
  • Antifluoridation movement: Including right-wing, left-wing, libertarian, popular, and scientific opposition to fluoridation of public water supplies.
  • Antinuclear movement: SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
  • Arts management and arts administration:
    In partnership with the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and several other arts agencies, SCUA documents the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state and national arts agencies, we will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.
  • Cold War Culture: The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
  • Disability: Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues: Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
  • Labor, work, and industry: Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
  • Peace: Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
  • Spiritual approaches to social change: Materials relating to people and organizations motivated to take social action through spiritual consideration.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

SCUA collects materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities and particularly social entrepreneurship. Representative collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

New England history and culture

The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.

  • Cookery and culinary history
    SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
  • Literature and the arts
    Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
  • Politics and political culture
    SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State Representative John Clark; and the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments and several individual towns.

University Archives collecting

Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, SCUA is steward for the official and unofficial records of the university that document the people, policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community. The collections are a rich record of administrative activity at all levels, from system to program, but they focus on documenting the lives and activities of individual administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Other areas

SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:

  • American Study of Japan and Asia
    American relations with Japan from the Meiji period to the present, and connections with China and other Asian countries.
  • Gravestone studies and death
    Materials relating to the history, culture, preservation, and interpretation of gravestones and related subjects.
  • Protistology
    Records of the scholarly study of the protista (protozoans).

Learn more:

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

Borkowski, Edward A.

Edward A. Borkowski Autobiography
ca.1980
1 folder (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 124 bd

124-page handwritten autobiographical account written in Polish by 100 year-old Edward A. Borkowski of Turner Falls, Massachusetts.

Subjects
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Turners Falls
  • Turners Falls (Mass.)--Social conditions
Contributors
  • Borkowski, Edward A
Types of material
  • Autobiographies

Buczko, Thaddeus

Thaddeus Buczko Photographs
ca.1960-1980
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 299

Former Massachusetts legislator, state auditor, and justice in the Essex Court, active in the Boston, Massachusetts-area Polish community. Fifty-five photographs including portraits of Judge Buczko with Pope John Paul II, Robert and Edward Kennedy, Carl Yastrzemski, Francis Sargent, Hubert Humphrey, and various Massachusetts politicians and friends.

Gift of John Buczko, 1990
Subjects
  • Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
  • John Paul II, Pope, 1920-
  • Kennedy, Edward Moore, 1932-
  • Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts
  • Sargent, Francis
  • Yastrzemski, Carl
Contributors
  • Buczko, Thaddeus
Types of material
  • Photographs

Dobrowski, Elaine

Elaine Dobrowski Boston Polish Community Collection
ca.1935-1995
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 376

Compiled by Elaine Dobrowski, this collection of photographs, printed materials, and news clippings documents the Polish community in Boston during the 1930s through the 1990s. Includes photographs of the Kosciusko Monument in the Boston Public Gardens, a children’s dance festival, and a Polish Women’s circle outing at Blinstrub’s Village as well as images of parades, receptions, and conventions.

Subjects
  • Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Dobrowski, Elaine

International Brotherhood of Paper Makers. Eagle Lodge

International Brotherhood of Paper Makers Local 1 (Eagle Lodge : Holyoke, Mass.) Records
1901-1978
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 081

First organized as Eagle Lodge in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the United Brotherhood of Paper Makers was granted a charter by the AFL in May 1883. Almost as soon as the union was established, however, it faced a serious struggle for power from within. Hoping to maintain their higher economic and social status, the machine tenders ultimately organized their own union, and the two remained separate for a number of years until they finally merged in 1902 as the International Brotherhood of Paper Makers.

The surviving records of the Eagle Lodge, Local 1 of the International Brotherhood of Paper Makers, include by-laws, minutes, correspondence, some contracts, a ledger, and three histories of the local and the early days of the union.

Subjects
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Paper industry workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Paper industry workers--Massachusetts--Holyoke
Contributors
  • United Paperworkers International Union
Types of material
  • Minutes (Administrative records)

Kopiecki, Sophie D. Zmijewski

Sophie D. Zmijewski Kopiecki Papers
ca. 1950-1990
8 boxes (12 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 553

An active member of a number of women’s Polish American clubs in Massachusetts, including the Massachusetts Federation of Polish Women’s Clubs, Sophie Kopiecki was a schoolteacher and mother in the eastern part of the state. Documenting her contributions to the various clubs of which she was a member as well as her activities as a teacher, this collection includes publications, programs, memorabilia, and student assignments.

Gift of Barbara Kopiecki Stathis, Apr. 2008
Subjects
  • Polish American friendly societies--Massachusetts
  • Polish Americans--Ethnic identity--History--20th century
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Kopiecki, Sophie D. Zmijewski

Kszepka, Joseph A., collector

Joseph A. Kszepka Collection
1906-1949
8 items (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 276

Collection of printed materials, primarily the constitutions and by-laws of Massachusetts Polish-American organizations, including publications of the Pilsudski Polish-American Citzens Club in Southbridge, St. Stanislaus’ Polish Lyceum in Three Rivers, and the Polish American Citizens’ Club also in Three Rivers, which contains study questions for the U.S. citizenship exam. Also a prayerbook (1906) and a textbook for parents and teachers, Masturbation in Men and Women and Its Effects (1912), translated to Polish from German.

Subjects
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Kszepka, Joseph A.

Lesinski-Rusin family

Lesinski-Rusin Family Papers
1908-1925
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 131
Image of Nun and two girls at first communion, ca.1920
Nun and two girls at first communion, ca.1920

Polish immigrants Jan Lesinski and his wife Weronika (Rusin) settled in Easthampton, Massachusetts, in 1909 and worked in the textile mills there for decades. Married in 1922, the couple raised a son and daughter in their home on Franklin Street. Weronika Lesinski died in Northampton in 1961, her husband following twelve years later.

The Lesinski and Rusin family collection reflect the lives of an average working-class Polish family from Easthampton, Mass., during the early twentieth century. Numerous family photographs document important occasions for the families, such as baptisms, first communions, and weddings, and the photographic postcards and commercial postcards document their relationships, interests, and travel.

Gift of Mary Ryan, June 1990
Language(s): Polish
Subjects
  • Lesinski family
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Easthampton
  • Rusin family
  • Soldiers--Massachusetts--Easthampton--Photographs
  • World War, 1914-1918--Photographs
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Scrapbooks

Libera, John

John Libera Collection
1934-1988
1 flat box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 048
Image of Polish Tigers baseball team, ca.1935
Polish Tigers baseball team, ca.1935

A member of the Polish community in Southbridge, Mass., John Libera (1919-2007) was a long-time employee of American Optical Company, but was best known as a promoter of polka music and dancing. A performer, song writer, and host of a radio show for over thirty years, Libera was inducted into the Polka Music Hall of Fame in 1982 and invited to perform at the American Folklife Festival in 1988.

The Libera collection consists of four photographs of the Polish community in Southbridge during the 1930s along with fourteen photos, a videotape, and some correspondence and ephemera relating to the American Folklife Festival.

Subjects
  • Baseball teams--Massachusetts--Southbridge--Photographs
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Southbridge--Photographs
  • Southbridge (Mass.)
  • Women--Societies and clubs--Massachusetts--Southbridge--Photographs
Contributors
  • Libera, John
Types of material
  • Photographs
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