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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

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Oral history

Class of 1889 in front of Durfee Greenhouse
Oral historian at the First National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, 1977. Photo by Diana Mara Henry

However rich our archival collections may be, there are always parts of the historical record that never make it onto the page. Memories, emotions, and attitudes are notoriously difficult to document, and there a variety of all-too human reasons that people choose not to write down every detail of their lives. As a result, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has been actively engaged in recording oral histories as a way of capturing a more complete record of the many voices and diverse experiences that comprise .

SCUA first ventured into oral historical work in the mid-1970s with efforts to document the history of the university prior to the massive expansion of the previous decade, and the department has subsequently engaged in oral historical projects to document the university’s 125th and 150th anniversaries. In the past decade, SCUA has extended its work to documenting the histories of persons represented in its collections and to a broader array of projects documenting the history and experience of social change and the people and cultures on New England. Furthermore, SCUA is the repository for hundreds of oral histories recorded by other people, ranging in scope from interviews with Franco-Americans in the 1980s, 20th century Argentine political figures, and former residents of the Quabbin towns in Western Massachusetts.

Many of SCUA’s oral histories are available online through our digital repository Credo. These include audio and video recordings and, in a few cases, they may be fully transcribed.

Supporting material

For donors of oral histories:

SCUA is happy to accept donations of oral histories that fit within its collection policy.

Although SCUA accepts materials in most audio and video formats — cassette, reel to reel, RDAT, VHS, Betacam, or digital — we typically prefer to receive interviews in the format in which they were recorded and in the highest quality available. When possible, we prefer uncompressed digital files, however we appreciate receiving a compressed derivative (e.g., mp3 for audio, mp4 for video). When available, transcripts in print and electronic form are a very valuable addition.

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Sarti, Roland, 1937-

Roland Sarti Papers

1964-2002
11 boxes 5.25 linear feet
Call no.: FS 011

Born in Montefegatesi, Italy, in April 1937, Roland Sarti began his academic career as a teaching assistant and instructor at Rutgers University from 1960-1964. In the fall of 1967, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Italian History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, becoming chair of the University Seminar on Studies in Modern Italy five years later. A scholar of the fascist movement in Italy, Sarti also wrote on topics ranging from rural life in the Apennines to the life of the revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini. During his tenure at UMass, he served on the Personnel, Curriculum, and Graduate Studies Committees, and played a prominent role in the Faculty Senate and the International Programs Office, particularly with respect to the summer programs in Italy. A past president of the New England Historical Society and the Society for Italian Historical Studies, he was a board member for the European History Quarterly and the H-Italy Network. He retired from active teaching in 2002.

The Sarti Papers document Sarti’s distinguished career as professor, author, and chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They consist of professional correspondence, history department records, records of major crises at the University, Italian studies newsletters, student publications, and historical society records. A significant amount of the materials, particularly among the correspondence and periodicals, are in Italian.

Subjects

  • Fascism
  • Italy--History--20th century
  • Italy--Politics and government--20th century
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History

Contributors

  • Sarti, Roland, 1937-
UMass Peacemakers

UMass Peacemakers Records

1965-1990 Bulk: 1983-1990
10 boxes 20 linear feet
Call no.: MS 309
Image of Peacemakers contingent at the Four Days in April protests, 1984
Peacemakers contingent at the Four Days in April protests, 1984

Although the precise origins of UMass Peacemakers are murky, by 1982, the group was an active presence on the UMass Amherst campus organizing opposition to militarism and the nuclear arms race and providing support for the nuclear freeze movement. Organizing vigils, demonstrations, informational workshops, and providing civil disobedience training, the Peacemakers were the most visible pacifist group on the UMass Amherst campus in the 1980s.

The UMass Peacemakers Records focus on the activities of the student group between 1983 and 1990, documenting their role in confronting the aggressive international expansionism of the Reagan administration and its “Star Wars” program, while also engaging at the local and national level by organizing rallies, lectures, poetry readings, and film screenings. At UMass, Peacemakers was part of the larger Progressive Student Network, and worked alongside other student organizations including the Radical Student Union.

Gift of Peacemakers through Peter Sakura, May 1991

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States
  • Disarmament--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Student movements--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • American Friends Service Committee
  • UMass Peacemakers

Types of material

  • Brochures
  • Photographs
Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter

Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter Records

1947-1973
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 303

Minutes and correspondence of the Executive Committee, correspondence and general files of chairmen Philip Eddy, David E. Matz, and Donn Kesselheim, as well as correspondence, briefs, and clippings related to legal cases and inquiries undertaken by the chapter.

Subjects

  • Civil rights--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter
  • Eddy, Philip
  • Kesselheim, Donn
  • Matz, David E
Massachusetts

Massachusetts Locales Collection

1905-1989
3 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 300

Materials, such as clippings, maps, and photographs, relating to Amherst, but also including items from other western Massachusetts towns. Topics covered include are Amherst writers such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, town history, trees and birds of Amherst, and Connecticut River Valley history.

Subjects

  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Massachusetts--History

Types of material

  • Maps
  • Photographs
Massachusetts

Massachusetts Agricultural Surveys

1910-1965
25 boxes 18 linear feet
Call no.: MS 261

Studies were conducted by departments of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, Massachusetts State College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in conjunction with various other college departments and agencies of the state and federal governments. The surveys encompass a number of agricultural study areas such as land use, business and farm management, dairy farm and cost of milk production, tobacco and onion production, and poultry and livestock disease surveys. Supplemental statistical information and aerial photographs are also included.

Subjects

  • Agriculture--Massachusetts
  • Land use--Massachusetts

Types of material

  • Aerial photographs
Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs

Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Posters Collection

1852-1860
19 items
Call no.: MS 169

With one of the first agricultural fairs in the country taking place in Massachusetts in 1807, the state has a special place in the history of agricultural fairs in the United States. Twenty antebellum posters promoting agricultural fairs in western Massachusetts, primarily from agricultural societies in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties.

Subjects

  • Agricultural exhibitions--Massachusetts--Posters
  • Agricultural exhibitions--Rhode Island--Providence--Posters
  • Agriculture--Social aspects--Massachusetts--History
  • Agriculture--Social aspects--Rhode Island--History

Types of material

  • Posters
Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists

Massachusetts Association of Extension Home Economists Records

1930-1990
5 boxes 2.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 346
Image of 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.

Subjects

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

Contributors

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

Types of material

  • Photographs
Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc.

Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test Records

1953-1959
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 082
Image of Terry B. Kinney at groundbreaking, July 1954
Terry B. Kinney at groundbreaking, July 1954

An early example of cooperative research between industry and academia, the Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc. was founded in 1954 to conduct tests to improve poultry productivity. Taking advantage of the professional skills of the staff and students in the Poultry Science Department at UMass Amherst, the Test facility was located adjacent to campus and over its five year course of operations, gathered scientific data on a number of variables, including rate of growth, rate of feathering, age of maturity, and egg production and hatchability.

The records of the Broiler Test consist of minutes, financial documents, correspondence, and test results.

Gift of Thomas W. Fox, 1987

Subjects

  • Chickens--Breeding
  • Poultry industry--Massachusetts
  • Turkeys--Breeding

Contributors

  • Massachusetts Chicken and Turkey Broiler Test, Inc

Types of material

  • Photographs