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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

Graphic showing SCUA major collecting areas

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:

Yeomans, Lawrence D.

Lawrence D. Yeomans Papers

1895-1946 Bulk: 1917-1919
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 873
Image of Lawrence D. Yeomans, nurse, and dog
Lawrence D. Yeomans, nurse, and dog

A native of Ontario, Lawrence D. Yeomans was working in New York when he volunteered for service in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the First World War. For eighteen months, Yeomans served as a chauffeur with the Signal Corps in France, driving senior officers around Paris and to and from the front.

This small collection documents Lawrence Yeomans’ time as a chauffeur with the Signal Corps during the First World War. In addition to a handful of official documents relating to his service, Yeomans held onto a few pieces of ephemera as souvenirs, some postcards, and a set of photographs, including three depicting him in uniform and ten showing a display of German war material confiscated at war’s end.

Gift of Leslie Button, June 2015

Subjects

  • World War, 1914-1918

Types of material

  • Ephemera
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
Abbe, Edward H.

Edward H. Abbe Papers

1828-2004
22 boxes 28.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 736
Image of Ed Abbe in Bora Bora, 1987
Ed Abbe in Bora Bora, 1987

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1915 and raised largely in Hampton, Va., Edward Abbe seemed destined to be an engineer. The great nephew of Elihu Thomson, an inventor and founding partner in General Electric, and grandson of Edward Folger Peck, an early employee of a precursor of that firm, Abbe came from a family with a deep involvement in electrification and the development of street railways. After prepping at the Rectory and Kent Schools, Abbe studied engineering at the Sheffield School at Yale, and after graduation in 1938, accepted a position with GE. For 36 years, he worked in the Industrial Control Division in New York and Virginia, spending summers at the family home on Martha’s Vineyard. After retirement in 1975, he and his wife Gladys traveled frequently, cruising both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Ranging from an extensive correspondence from his high school and college days to materials relating to his family’s involvement in engineering, the Abbe collection offers an in depth perspective on an educated family. An avid traveler and inveterate keeper, Ed Abbe gathered a diverse assemblage of letters, diaries, and memorabilia relating to the history of the Abbe, Peck, Booth, Gifford, and Boardman families. The collection is particularly rich in visual materials, including albums and photographs, depicting homes, travel, and family life over nearly a century.

Gift of Edward Abbe, Mar. 2012

Subjects

  • Abbe family
  • Boardman family
  • Booth family
  • Electrical engineers
  • General Electric
  • Gifford family
  • Kent School--Students
  • Peck family
  • Rectory School--Students
  • Yale University--Students

Contributors

  • Abbe, Edward H
  • Abbe, Gladys Howard
  • Abbe, William Parker
  • Peck, Edward F
  • Peck, Mary Booth

Types of material

  • Diaries
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs
Aczel, Tamas

Tamas Aczel Papers

ca.1950-1994
18 boxes 26 linear feet
Call no.: FS 031

Born on Dec. 1, 1921, to a middle class family, Tamas Aczel became affiliated with leftist politics in Hungary prior to the Second World War, joining the Party after. With degrees in literature from Peter Pazmany University (BA 1948) and Eotvos Lorent University (MA 1950), Aczel quickly established a reputation as a literary talent, publishing seven novels and winning the Kossuth Prize (1949) and Stalin Prize for Literature (1952). During this period, he became disenchanted with the Communist government and during the short-lived rebellion in 1956, he served as press secretary for Prime Minister Imre Nagy. When Nagy was deposed, Aczel escaped through Yugoslavia to Austria and then England. In 1966, he was invited to teach modern European literature at UMass, where he became Director of the MFA program (1978-1982). Aczel died in 1994, leaving his wife Olga A. Gyarmati (an Olympic gold medalist in the long jump, 1948) and son Thomas.

The Aczel collection consists primarily of numerous drafts of several novels, including The Hunt (1990), Illuminations (1981), and Ice Age (1965), along with other writing, translations, some student essays, and autobiographical material. Some material is in Hungarian.

Subjects

  • Authors--Massachusetts
  • Poets--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English

Contributors

  • Aczel, Tamas
Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. New England Joint Board

ACTWU New England Joint Board Records

1974-1987
8 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 241

Records of the New England Joint Board of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union include union administration files, company files, and publications. Company files document interactions between the union and companies such as Best Coat Co.; Healthtec, Inc.; Image Wear; M & M Pants Co.; Soloff & Son, Inc.; and Wear Well Trouser Co.

Subjects

  • Clothing trade--Labor unions--New England
  • Labor unions--New England
  • Textile workers--Labor unions--New England

Contributors

  • Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Local 125

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Local 125 Records

1928-1984
16 boxes 8 linear feet
Call no.: MS 001

Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Local 125 was a chapter of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) that worked to improve wages and hours of work, to increase job security, to provide facilities for advancing cultural, educational, and recreational interests of its members, and to strengthen the labor movement. Key figures in Local 125 included Aldo Cursi who, with Mamie Santora, organized the Connecticut shirtworkers and served as Manager from 1933 to 1954; John Laurie who served as Business Manager from 1933 to 1963; and Nick Aiello, Business agent in 1963 and Manager from 1964 to 1984.

The collection includes constitution, by-laws, minutes, contracts, piece rate schedules, accounts, subject files, scrapbooks, newsclippings, printed materials, photographs and a phonograph record. These records document the history of Local 125 from its founding in 1933 to 1984, when the Local office in New Haven was closed. Included also are correspondence and case materials pertaining to grievance and arbitration proceedings (access restrictions apply).

Subjects

  • Clothing trade--Labor unions--Connecticut
  • Labor unions--Connecticut
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Textile industry--Connecticut
  • Textile workers--Labor unions--Connecticut

Contributors

  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Local 125

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. New England Joint Board

ACWA New England Joint Board Records

1939-1976
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 193

Organized in Chicago in 1914, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was formed after a split in the United Garment Workers, and quickly became the dominant force for union in the men’s clothing industry. Within a decade of its founding, ACWA had more than 100,000 members across the U.S. and Canada.

Records of the New England Joint Board of ACWA consist of general correspondence, membership lists, press releases, and collective bargaining files for companies such as Arlan’s Department Stores, Bedford Shirtmakers Corporation, Ethan Ames Company, Holyoke Shirt Company, Lawrence Clothing Company, and Whitney Shirt Company.

Subjects

  • Clothing trade--Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Textile industry--Massachusetts
  • Textile workers--Labor unions--New England

Contributors

  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. New England Joint Board
Ambellan, Harold

Harold Ambellan Memoir

2005
1 item (75p.)
Call no.: MS 855

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., the expatriot sculptor Harold Ambellan was a participant in the Federal Art Project during the 1930s and a figure in the radical Artists’ Union and Sculptors Guild. After naval service during the Second World War, Ambellan left the United States permanently to escape the hostile climate of the McCarthy-era, going into exile in France. Although a friend of artists such as Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko, Ambellan’s work was primarily figurative and centered on the human form. His work has been exhibited widely on both sides of the Atlantic. He died at his home in Arles in 2006 at the age of 94.

In 2005, Victoria Diehl sat with her friend, Harold Ambellan, to record his memories of a life in art. Beginning with recollections of his childhood in Buffalo, N.Y., the memoir delves into the impact of the Great Depression, Ambellan’s experiences in the New York art scene of the 1930s and his participation in the leftist Artists’ Union, his Navy service, and his expatriate years in France from the 1950s-2000s. Ambellan’s memoir also includes extended discussion of his views of democracy, patriotism, and art, and his career as a sculptor.

Subjects

  • Artists--20th century
  • Democracy
  • Depressions, 1929
  • Expatriate artists--France
  • New Deal, 1933-1939
  • Sculptors--20th century
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Diehl, Victoria
  • Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967

Types of material

  • Memoirs
  • Oral histories
Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society

Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society Records

1986-2000
1 box 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 940
logo
Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society logo

Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society, (a.k.a. the Amelia’s) was a lesbian social club based out of Lebanon, N.H., serving the Upper Valley area of Vermont and New Hampshire, and beyond. Reachable via an unnamed post-office box, the club began in 1979 and provided members not only with much sought after social, leisure, and entertainment opportunities, but also a unique community of peers for discussion and activities around political, educational, health, and legal issues of importance to women and lesbians. Like their famous namesake, the Amelia’s did not shy away from risks in supporting women, the feminist movement, or actions promoting and educating about lesbians. The group often overlapped with feminist and lesbian print shop and publishing company, New Victoria Press, and the Amelia’s often used the New Vic building for their meetings.

The Amelia Earhart’s Underground Flying Society Records consist of over 25 issues of the “Amelia’s Newsletter” from 1986-2000; two clippings covering news related to the group, including the repeated vandalization of their “Upper Valley Lesbians” Adopt-A-Highway Program sign; a 1994 audiocassette of interviews for an oral history of the Amelia’s; and a VHS tape of a community event held in 2003 to reflect on the women’s movement in the Upper Valley in the 1970s and 1980s. The newsletter offers detailed documentation of the group and their concerns, including calendars of their social gatherings and other local, regional, and national events of interest, and recaps of relevant news to the lesbian community including updates about politics, legal issues, civil rights and benefits, marriage, discrimination cases, women’s health, education and school issues, and lesbian focused social and entertainment events.

Subjects

  • Feminism--New England--History
  • Lesbian community--New England
  • Lesbian community--New Hampshire
  • Lesbian community--Vermont

Contributors

  • Dingman, Beth

Types of material

  • Audiocassettes
  • Newsletters
  • VHS
Amherst (Mass.)?

Grocer's Daybook

1888-1890
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 137 bd

Unnamed grocer who was possibly from the town of Amherst in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Daybook includes customers’ names, their account numbers, and the items that they purchased whether food or supplies.

Subjects

  • Amherst (Mass.)--History
  • Consumers--New England--History--19th century
  • Groceries--New England--History--19th century
  • Grocers--New England--History--19th century
  • Grocery trade--New England--History--19th century

Types of material

  • Daybooks