Who can use the collections?
Special Collections and University Archives is open at no cost to researchers, regardless of affiliation, during normal business hours. SCUA staff are happy to assist in planning or conducting research and welcome inquiries from students interested in internships in archival and library studies.
Although research appointments are not required, advance notice will help our staff to locate and retrieve research materials. First-time researchers will be asked to register and to provide name, institutional affiliation (when applicable), and current address. At registration, researchers must present a valid form of identification, including a photograph.
In the reading room
- Please sign in at the front desk each visit
- Only pencils and laptop computers may be used for taking notes. Please do not use pens.
- Smoking, food, and drink are not permitted
- Cell phones should be switched off or set to silent mode; calls may be taken in the adjacent elevator lobby
- Care and handling of materials
- Please use care in handling manuscripts and books to prevent damage
- Use only a single box of manuscript or archival material at a time; take care to preserve the existing arrangement of files
- Photographs for research purposes are permitted; check with a staff member first
- Scans and photocopies are made by staff members in keeping with our copying policies
- Upon leaving for the day, please notify the staff whether you are finished with your material or wish to place it on hold for a return visit
Instruction in SCUA
Classes are welcome to visit SCUA to make use of our collections and to learn about archival and historical research. Our staff are available to provide introductions to archival research, overviews of specific areas of historical interest, information about the collections, and discussions of the history of UMass Amherst. In recent years, the staff have hosted classes from history and American culture, African American studies, English and comparative literature, art history, education, anthropology, politics, business, and library and information science, among other disciplines.
To avoid scheduling conflicts, class visits should be arranged ahead of time. Please include the following information when contacting SCUA:
- Name of instructor or contact
- Date(s) requested, with start and finish time
- Number of students
- Subject area and research interests
- Special requests (for collections)
Learn more about:
Walther R. Volbach Papers, 1897-1996.
Call no.: FS 087
Born in Mainz, Germany on December 24, 1897, the theater historian and stage director Walther R. Volbach began directing operas and plays at the age of 17. After his immigration to the United States in 1936, he worked for several colleges, coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for five years as a visiting professor following his retirement in 1965. Noted as a director of operas and plays and for his set design, Volbach was author of three books: The Problems of Opera Production (1953), Adolphe Appia : The Prophet of The Modern Theatre (1968), and Memoirs of Max Reinhardt’s Theaters (1972).
The Volbach collection includes personal and professional correspondence in English and German, mostly from Volbach’s later years, regarding family, publishing, lectures, and employment. The collection also includes photographs of set designs, an image of Volbach teaching a class, publications, and lecture and research notes on theater history.
- Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928
- Drama--Study and teaching
- Set designers
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
- Volbach, Walther R. (Walther Richard), 1897-
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives and the Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst co-sponsor an annual colloquium to commemorate W.E.B. Du Bois. Timed to coincide with the anniversary of his birth (February 23), the departments invite a distinguished Speaker to discuss Dr. Du Bois’ life, work, and legacy.
- Performer: Brian Richardson and Pulse Ensemble Theatre
- Title: “A Man for All Times: W.E.B. Du Bois”
This year’s Du Bois Birthday Celebration features performances of “A Man for All Times: W.E.B. Du Bois,” performed by the Pulse Ensemble Theatre. The one-hour one-man show of the 95-year-long life of W.E.B. Du Bois unfolds in a gripping performance by Brian Richardson, and a moving script by writer/director Alexa Kelly. Learn more about Great Barrington’s native son, civil rights leader, and visionary of equality and democracy at this free performance by Pulse Theatre Ensemble.
Additional free performances will be held on Saturday, February 22, 7:00 p.m., at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and on Sunday, February 23, 10:00 a.m., at St. John’s Congregational Church, Springfield, Massachusetts.
- Speaker: Arthur McFarlane II
- Title: “The Life of W.E.B. Du Bois and Its Relevance to Today
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Envrionment
McFarlane, the great-grandson of W.E.B. Du Bois, will discuss the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, civil rights activist, co-founder of the NAACP, and the first African American to receive a PhD from Harvard University.
- Speaker: Derrick Alridge
- Title: “Ideas Have Consequences: The Radical Pedagogy of W.E.B. Du Bois”
- Professor in the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Derrick Alridge is author of The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History, lead editor of Message in the Music: Hip Hop, History, and Pedagogy, and Distinguished Lecturer for the Association of the Study of African American Life and History. He is currently completing an intellectual history of Hip Hop as a social movement called The Hip Hop Mind: An Intellectual History of the Social Consciousness of a Generation (University of Wisconsin Press) and is conducting research for a book on the role of education in the civil rights movement.
An educational and intellectual historian, Alridge is associate editor of the Journal of African American History and served as Director of the Institute for African American Studies. Alridge’s areas of scholarship include the history of African America education, African American intellectual history and the history of ideas, and civil rights studies. His work has been published in the Journal of African American History, the Journal of Negro Education, and teh History of Education Quarterly, among others.
- Speaker: Bettina Aptheker
- Title: “W.E.B. Du Bois: Personal Stories/Political Reflections”
- Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies and History
University of California, Santa Cruz
Bettina Aptheker is Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies and History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she has taught for more than 30 years. Her most recent book is a memoir, Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech and Became a Feminist Rebel (2006). It contains many stories of her early friendship with W.E.B. and Shirley Graham Du Bois. Other major books include, The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis (1976; 2nd edition, 1999); Woman’s Legacy: Essays on Race, Sex, and Class in American History (1982) and Tapestries of Life: Women’s Work, Women’s Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989). She is the biographer of Shirley Graham Du Bois for Notable American Women, and is currently writing a critical essay on Graham Du Bois’ creative career as an opera composer, playwright, biographer, and novelist. She is also at work on a major research project: “Queering the History of the American Left: 1940s-1980s.”
- Speaker: Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
- Title: “The Many Lives of W.E.B. Du Bois in the New From Slavery to Freedom”
- Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham has been chair of the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard since 2006. She also served as Acting-Director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute in the Spring 2008. A prolific author, she is co-editor with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of the African American National Biography (2008)—a multivolume-reference work that presents African American history through the lives of people, and she and Gates also co-edited African American Lives (2004), which served as the forerunner to the AANB. Professor Higginbotham was the editor-in-chief of The Harvard Guide to African-American History (2001) with general editors Darlene Clark Hine, and Leon Litwack. She also co-edited History and Theory: Feminist Research, Debates and Contestations (1997).
Professor Higginbotham is the author of Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church: 1880-1920 (1993), which won numerous book prizes, most notably from the American Historical Association, the American Academy of Religion, the Association of Black Women Historians, and the Association for Research on Non-Profit and Voluntary Organizations. Righteous Discontent was also included among the New York Times Book Review’s Notable Books of the Year in 1993 and 1994.
- Speaker: Howard Dodson
- Chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
New York Public Library
A scholar, historian, educator, curator, consultant, and lecturer, Howard Dodson, has committed his professional life to the retrieval, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of the history and culture of African and African American peoples.
Since 1984, Dodson has served as chief of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the world’s leading and most prestigious repository for materials and artifacts on black cultural life. Under Dodson’s leadership, the Schomburg Center has developed into the world’s most comprehensive public research library devoted exclusively to documenting and interpreting African diasporan and African history and culture.
Dodson’s books include Becoming American: The African American Journey (Sterling Publishing, Inc., 2009), In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience (National Geographic Press, 2004), Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture (National Geographic Press, 2002), and The Black New Yorkers: Four Hundred Years of African American History (Wiley, 2000).
- Speaker: Arnold Rampersad
- Department of English, Stanford University
A distinguished biographer and literary critic, Arnold Rampersad is the Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English at Stanford University. A scholar of race and American literature and the Harlem Renaissance, Rampersad has written books on W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and most recently, Ralph Ellison. He has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and was a 1991 recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant.” He is a recipient of fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Professor Rampersad has recently published Ralph Ellison, a biography of the novelist (1914-1994). His other books include The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois (1976); The Life of Langston Hughes (2 vols., 1986, 1988); Days of Grace: A Memoir (1993), co-authored with Arthur Ashe; and Jackie Robinson: A Biography (1997). In addition, he has edited several volumes including Collected Poems of Langston Hughes; the Library of America edition of works by Richard Wright, with revised individual editions of Native Son and Black Boy; and (as co-editor with Deborah McDowell) Slavery and the Literary Imagination. He was also co-editor, with Shelley Fisher Fishkin, of the Race and American Culture book series published by Oxford University Press. His teaching covers such areas as nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature; American autobiography; race and American literature; and African-American literature.
- Speaker:James Turner
- Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University
- Poster (pdf)
- Speaker: Clayborne Carson
- Stanford University, editor, Papers of Martin Luther King
- Press release (pdf)
- Speaker: Robert Hill
- UCLA, editor, Papers of Marcus Garvey
- Press release (Word file)
- Speaker: John H. Bracey
- Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst
- Horace Clarence Boyer
- Music, UMass Amherst
- Esther Terry
- Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst
- Phil Zuckerman, “Du Bois, Religion, and The Souls of Black Folk“
- Sociology, Pitzer College
- David Blight, “A Poet’s Sense of the Past: The Souls of Black Folk as History”
- History, Yale University
- Ernest Allen, “The Education of Black Folk: The Educational Philosophies of W.E.B. Du Bois”
- Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst
- Gerald Friedman, “Reconstructing the Color Line: The New Economics of Race in the Post-bellum South”
- Economics, UMass Amherst
- Esther Cooper Jackson
- Co-founder, Freedomways
- James Jackson
- Editor, Daily Worker
- Abbott Simon
- Executive director, Peace Information Center and co-defendant with Dr. Du Bois
- Speaker: David Levering Lewis
- History, Rutgers University
- Speaker: Ruth Simmons
- President, Smith College
- Speaker: Ernest Allen
- Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst
- Speaker: Randolph W. Bromery
- President, Springfield College and former Chancellor, UMass Amherst
- Speaker: David Levering Lewis
- History, Rutgers University
- David Du Bois
- William Strickland
- Michael Thelwell
- Speaker: Herbert Aptheker
- Editor, Complete Published Works of W.E.B. Du Bois
- Listen to a recording of Aptheker’s lecture.
David Wangerin Soccer Collection, 1887-2012.
Call no.: MS 850
David Wangerin (1962-2012) was a noted soccer historian, writing for When Saturday Comes, a British soccer magazine, and authoring several highly-respected books on the history of soccer in America, including Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America’s Forgotten Game (2006) and Distant Corners: American Soccer’s History of Missed Opportunities and Lost Causes (2008). Born in Chicago and growing up in Wisconsin, Wangerin was a soccer enthusiast all his life and in 1978 helped to set up one of the first adult soccer leagues in the Jefferson County area. He also coached the first girls’ and boys’ soccer teams at Fort Atkinson High School in 1986. He moved to the U.K. in 1987, in part as a fan of Aston Villa Football Club, and was employed at an Edinburgh-based asset management firm. He passed away from cancer in 2012 at 50.
The Wangerin collection encompasses research materials for his books and articles, almost extensively photocopies of newspaper articles on American soccer matches, plus approximately 200 books on the history of soccer and the NFL. Wangerin plots the ebb and flow of American soccer through stories in major publications and, more significantly, small local newspapers. A rare collection of sources on a topic that can almost only be researched through the press it garnered, a selection of materials documents early St. Louis and Wisconsin soccer leagues.
- American Soccer League
- Major League Soccer (Organization)
- North American Soccer League
Frederick V. Waugh Collection, 1917-1919.
Call no.: PH 026
In July 1917, prior to the American entry in the First World War, Frederick Vail Waugh joined a group of about fifty residents of Amherst, Mass., who enlisted for duty in the Ambulance Service of the French Army. From August 1917 through April 1919, SSU 39 (Service Sanitaire Unis) — redesignated SSU 539 and transferred to the American Expeditionary Service in January 1918 — served among the trenches of northern France and Belgium. Known as the Black Cat squadron, they took part in three major offensives with the AEF, the Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, and Ypres-Lys. Waugh was among three members of the unit awarded the French Croix de Guerre for courage and energy during the last month of the war. After returning to the states, Waugh earned a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts Agricultural College (1922), where his father Frank A. Waugh was a Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, followed by an MA from Rutgers (1926) and PhD from Columbia (1929). He enjoyed a distinguished fifty year career as an agricultural economist with the US Department of Agriculture.
A snapshot of life in the First World War, the Waugh collection includes Frederick Waugh’s army jacket (with Croix de Guerre), helmet, and puttees, and a remarkable history of the unit and photo album, Being the Book of S.S.U. 539. A second book, I Was There with the Yanks in France (1919) has been transferred for shelving to the Rare Books stacks.
- Ambulance drivers--United States
- United States. Army Ambulance Service. Section 539
- World War, 1914-1918--Medical care
- Waugh, Frederick V. (Frederick Vail), 1898-1974
Tom Weiner Oral History Collection, 2004-2008.
Call no.: MS 729
Growing up in Elmont, Long Island and Teaneck, New Jersey, Tom Weiner attended Trinity College before facing the draft in 1971. After failing the physical and mental examination, Weiner studied alternative education in England, Europe, and Israel on a Watson Fellowship. Upon his return in 1972, he began study at NYU law school, but soon left the city for Northampton, Massachusetts. A life-long social justice activist, Weiner has worked as a sixth grade teacher for the past twenty-five years.
With a lottery number of 117, Tom Weiner knew for certain that he would be drafted immediately upon graduation from Trinity College. Decades later, Weiner was inspired to collect the stories of the men and women who came of age during the Vietnam War era. This collection consists of the oral history interviews, recordings and transcripts, Weiner collected, thirty of which appear in his book Called to Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam War Draft.
- Draft--United States--History--20th century
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Conscientious objectors
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Draft resisters
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Personal narratives
- Weiner, Tom M.
Types of material
- Oral histories
William Wells Papers, 1796-1863.
Call no.: MS 347
A prominent figure in the rural town of Shelburne, Mass., during the early nineteenth century, William Wells served for many years as a town selectman, representative in the state legislature, and captain of the militia. He died in Shelburne in July 1848, leaving behind his wife Prudence (May) and their nine children.
This tightly focused body of documents from William Wells represents a cross-section of public life in the town of Shelburne during the early decades of the nineteenth century, touching on the town’s finances, care for the church, school, highways, roads, and the local militia.
- Shelburne (Mass.)--History
- Wells, William
Wendell Post Collection, 1977-2001.
Call no.: MS 762
From 1977 through 2001, the Wendell Post newspaper was published by and for the residents of Wendell, Mass. With its distinctive local perspective, the Post covered local politics, people, and events, but also issues with national implications, including the anti-nuclear movement, environmental concerns, recycling, and peacework.
The Wendell Post collection contains nearly every issue of a community newspaper produced in a small, rural New England town. Most issues include reports on town meetings and elections, the schools, and public works, but the Post also carried news of the stuff of daily life such as births and deaths, high school graduations, anniversaries and Old Home Day, profiles of town residents and town history, and the crime report.
- New Salem (Mass.)--History
- Wendell (Mass.)--History
Western Massachusetts Regional Library System Records, 1957-2010.
Call no.: MS 671
The Western Massachusetts Regional Library System was formed in 1962 as the Western Regional Public Library System, one of two organizations that provided professional support for the public librarians of the Commonwealth. Through the years, the two regions increased to three and then six, with the west consistently serving as a voice for the many small libraries that comprise its membership. Supported by funds from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, WMRLS provided a range of services, including continuing education for librarians; bookmobiles, delivery services, and interlibrary loan; reference support; catalog support and online databases; and youth services; as well as a purchasing cooperative. Following the national economic crisis in 2008-2009, WMRLS was consolidated with the other five regional library systems in Massachusetts and in June 2010, merged into the Massachusetts Library System.
The WMRLS collection contains a complete run of its newsletter from 1962 to 2010, copies of newsletters for continuing education and youth services, and a small assortment of administrative documents relating to its history and the services it provided.
- Public libraries--Massachusetts
- Western Massachusetts Regional Library System
Westhampton Congregational Church Records, 1817-1970.
Call no.: MS 806
The Congregational Church in Westhampton, Mass., was formally organized on Sept. 1, 1779, with the installation of a young graduate of Yale, Enoch Hale, brother of the patriot Nathan Hale. At the end of Hale’s fifty years in the Westhampton pulpit, the church experienced a crisis that resulted in the separation of a portion of the membership as the Union Church, led by the charismatic evangelical preacher John Truair. The churches were reunited in 1850.
The records of the Westhampton Congregational Church document nearly two hundreds of religious life in a rural western Massachusetts community. Beginning with the founding of the church in 1779, the collection include a nearly unbroken record of church activities including thorough records of membership, transfers, marriages, baptisms, deaths, and church discipline, and for the latter century, a complete record of church finances. Of particular note is a volume recording the activities of the secessionist Union Church, 1829-1849.
- Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Westhampton
- Hale, Enoch, 1753-1837
- Second Great Awakening
- Truair, John, 1780-1845
- Westhampton (Mass.)--Religious life and customs
- Union Church (Westhampton, Mass.)
Types of material
- Account books