Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to the political, economic, spiritual, and social transformation of American society. Our intent in taking such a broad collecting scope is to view social change as a totality, rather than as isolated movements and to document how ideas about one set of social issues informs other issues, and how social causes cross-pollinate, organizationally and conceptually. By preserving a record of these activities, SCUA makes it possible for future scholars, activists, and members of the community to continue to engage with the ideas that have motivated so many.
Although our interests extend to any endeavors that reflect the efforts of individuals and groups promote social change, the collections in SCUA provide particularly valuable documentation of the movements for peace, social justice, and racial equality, environmentalism, labor activism, intentional communities, and gay rights.
View our brochure on documenting social change (pdf).
Significant collecting areas
- Antinuclear movement
- New England has been a hotbed of activity for the antinuclear movement, spawning groups such as the Clamshell Alliance, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Renewable Energy Media Service, and the Musicians United for Safe Energy.
- Antiracism and civil rights
- The Du Bois Papers document the lifelong commitment of W.E.B. Du Bois to addressing issues of racial and social injustice in the twentieth century, but SCUA houses a number of other collections that address various aspects of “the problem of the twentieth century,” and the varied approaches to its resolution. See also our research guide for African American history.
- Community organizations and charities
- SCUA houses the records of civic organizations involved in relief work, community assistance, and social justice.
- Collections relating to the history of the environment in New England and of environmentalism in the broad sense. SCUA is also interested in documenting the hsitory of land use, organic farming and sustainability, and similar topics.
- Intentional Communities
- Communes seemed to spring up everywhere in New England during the 1960s, but communes of various sorts have been part of our landscape for two centuries. In both its printed and manuscript collections, SCUA documents a wide variety of approaches to communal living and the cultural legacy of communes. The Famous Long Ago Archive focuses intensively on documenting a cluster of related communes in Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm.
- Labor activism
- For more detailed information, see our research guide on Labor, work, and industry
- Peace Collections
- Among the department’s collections documenting peace and antiwar movements, SCUA holds the records of several regional peace centers, the AFSC Western Massachusetts branch, and a number of peace activists.
- Political activism
- As part of its collections on political life and culture, SCUA houses collections for individuals and organizations working within the political system or against it, and several relating to Socialism and Communism and Cold-War era Eastern Europe.
- Social Justice
- Social justice is a catchall term that captures the complex relationships between and among a wide variety of movements for economic justice, social and civic equality. In addition to the other collecting areas listed elsewhere on this page, SCUA documents gay rights, Animal rights, prison issues, and social reform in its various guises.
Constitutionalism in American Life Conference Collection, 1986.
Call no.: MS 140
A conference hosted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst on November 7-9, 1986, that examined the impact of the Constitution on politics and government, foreign policy, race relations, and the economy, and also discussed the impact on the constitution of popular struggles and the emergence of “rights consciousness.” Includes papers presented at the conference that were to be subsequently published in a special bicentennial issue of the Journal of American History.
- Constitutional history--United States--Congresses
- Constitutional law--United States--Congresses
- Journal of American history
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
New York Farm Bureau Photograph Collection, 1915-1916.
Call no.: PH 053
Founded as a non-governmental, volunteer organization in 1911, the New York Farm Bureau offers resources to support and enrich rural life and encourages farmers to work collaboratively for better marketing and production.
This small collection of photographs documents inspection tours conducted by the New York Farm Bureau of farms, apparently in the Mohawk River Valley, in 1915-1916. The intent, as the caption of one photograph suggests, was to bring “science into the field.”
- Fort Plain (N.Y.)--Photographs
- Ilion (N.Y.)--Photographs
- Street-railroads--New York (State)--Photographs
Types of material
David M. Berke Collection of Nuremberg Trials Depositions, 1944-1945.
Call no.: MS 804
During the latter months of the Second World War, Edmund F. Franz served with the U.S. Army’s War Crimes Branch in Wiesbaden, Germany. Part of the team involved in war crimes investigation, Franz processed hundreds of pages of first-hand accounts by perpetrators, eye witnesses, concentration camp survivors, political prisoners, and prisoners of war that ultimately served the prosecution during the Nuremberg trials. At the war’s end, he returned home to Aurora, Ohio, eventually bequeathing a collection of depositions from his wartime work to a friend, David M. Berke.
The Berke Collection contains copies of approximately 300 pages of material gathered by U.S. Army investigators in preparation for the Nuremberg trials. The depositions, affidavits, and reports that comprise the collection are varied in scope, but most center on German maltreatment of prisoners — both political prisoners and prisoners of war — with a handful of items relating to larger issues in intelligence and counter intelligence. Gathered originally by the Office of Strategic Services, the Counter Intelligence Corps, and other Army units, the materials offer chilling insight into the brutality of the concentration camp system, “labor reform” prisons, and police prisons, and the sheer scale of wartime inhumanity.
- Buchenwald (Concentration camp)
- Dachau(Concentration camp)
- Flossenburg (Concentration camp)
- Innsbruck-Reichenau (Labor reform camp)
- Ravensbruck (Concentration camp)
- Sachsenhausen (Concentration camp)
- World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities
- World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons
- Franz, Edmund F.
- United States. Army. Counter Intelligence Corps
- United States. Army. Office of Special Services
Types of material
Joseph Laurence Black History of the Book Collection, 1789-1964.
Call no.: RB 023
A scholar of early modern British literature, Joe Black received his BA and PhD from the University of Toronto and taught for several years at the University of Tennessee Knoxville before joining the English faculty at UMass Amherst in 1994. Rooted in the history of the book, his research on seventeenth-century literature has examined the intersection between writing and the material and social context of production as well as the dialogue between print and manuscript culture.
The Black collection is an eclectic assemblage of American imprints designed to assist study and instruction in the history of the book. The collection includes two long runs of pulp novels, Beadle’s Frontier Series and the American Revolution-inspired Liberty Boys of ’76, examples of almanacs, prompt books, and works form the early national period in publishers’ bindings.
- Books--History--United States
- Dime novels, American
Types of material
William Smith Clark Papers, 1814-2003 (Bulk: 1844-1886).
Call no.: RG 003/1 C63
Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1826, William Smith Clark graduated from Amherst College in 1848 and went on to teach the natural sciences at Williston Seminary until 1850, when he continued his education abroad, studying chemistry and botany at the University of Goettingen, earning his Ph.D in 1852. From 1852 to 1867 he was a member of Amherst College’s faculty as a Professor of Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology. As a leading citizen of Amherst, Clark was a strong advocate for the establishment of the new agricultural college, becoming one of the founding members of the college’s faculty and in 1867, the year the college welcomed its first class of 56 students, its President. During his presidency, he pressured the state government to increase funding for the new college and provide scholarships to enable poor students, including women, to attend. The college faced economic hardship early in its existence: enrollment dropped in the 1870s, and the college fell into debt. He is noted as well for helping to establish an agricultural college at Sapporo, Japan, and building strong ties between the Massachusetts Agricultural College and Hokkaido. After Clark was denied a leave of absence in 1879 to establish a “floating college” — a ship which would carry students and faculty around the world — he resigned.
The Clark Papers include materials from throughout his life, including correspondence with fellow professors and scientists, students in Japan, and family; materials relating to his Civil War service in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry; photographs and personal items; official correspondence and memoranda; published articles; books, articles, television, and radio materials relating to Clark, in Japanese and English; and materials regarding Hokkaido University and its continuing relationship with the University of Massachusetts.
- Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
- Agricultural colleges--Massachusetts--History
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- Amherst College--Faculty
- Amherst College--Students--Correspondence
- Hokkaido (Japan)--History
- Hokkaid¯o Daigaku--History
- Hokkaid¯o Teikoku Daigaku--History
- Japan--Relations--United States
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
- Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
- Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o. President
- T¯ohoku Teikoku Daigaku. N¯oka Daigaku--History
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
- United States--Relations--Japan
- Universität Göttingen--Students--Correspondence
- Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. President
Types of material
Double Edge Theatre Records, 1970-2002.
Call no.: MS 455
Since its founding, Double Edge Theatre has embraced a two-fold mission: to develop and promote the highest quality of original theatre performance, and to create a permanent center of performance, practice, training research, and cultural exchange.
The collection documents the Theatre’s focus on research, international collaboration, and the elevation of artistic performance above and beyond stage work into the realm of cultural exchange.
- Experimental theater
- Theater and society
- Theatrical companies--Massachusetts
- Arnoult, Philip
- Double Edge Theatre
- Durand, Carroll
- Klein, Stacy
- Odin teatret
- Staniewski, Wlodzimierz
- Stowarzyszenie Teatralne "Gardzienice"
Types of material
Girls Club of Greenfield Records, 1895-1995.
Call no.: MS 379
Founded in 1895, the Girls Club of Greenfield provides high quality early care and educational services to the girls of Franklin County, Massachusetts, and advocates for the rights of children and their families. During the school year, the Club offers diverse programming, ranging from an infant room and preschool to after school activities that promote teamwork, community spirit, social skills, and confidence. Since 1958, they have also operated a summer camp, Lion Knoll, in Leyden.
The records of the Girls Club of Greenfield include by-laws, annual reports, reports and meeting minutes of the Board of Directors, correspondence, and ledgers and account books. Also contains program files for daycare, summer camp, education worker programs, and others, personnel records, membership and committee lists, newsletters, press releases, ledgers, account books, scrapbooks, news clippings, photographs, slides, and artifacts.
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social conditions
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Social life and customs
- Girls--Massachusetts--Greenfield--Societies and clubs--History
- Greenfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Greenfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Girls Club of Greenfield (Greenfield, Mass.)
Types of material
- Account books
Madeline and Winthrop Goddard Hall Papers, 1907-1957 (Bulk: 1907-1914).
Call no.: MS 603
Residents of Worcester, Mass., Madeline and Winthrop Goddard Hall were part of an extended community of young friends and family associated with the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions, including Charlotte and Edwin St. John Ward, Margaret Hall, and Ruth Ward Beach. From 1907 to 1914, Edwin Ward was sent as a missionary to the Levant, working as a physician and teacher at Aintab College in present-day Turkey and Syrian Protestant College in Beirut. Margaret Hall and Ruth Beach were stationed in China, teaching in Tientsin, at the Ponasang Women’s College in Fuzhou, and at the Bridgeman School in Shanghai.
The Hall Papers include 67 lengthy letters from the Ottoman Empire and China, the majority from Charlotte and Edwin Ward. Intimate and often intense, the correspondence provides insight into the social and family life of missionaries and gives a strong sense of the extended community of missionaries.
- American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
- Lebanon--Description and travel
- Missionaries--Middle East
- Turkey--Description and travel
- Beach, Ruth Ward
- Hall, Madeline
- Hall, Margaret
- Hall, Winthrop Goddard, 1881-1977
- Ward, Charlotte
- Ward, Edwin St. John
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Japan Occupation Collection, 1943-1983 (Bulk: 1945-1955).
Call no.: RB 027
For seven years after the end of World War II, the United States led an occupation force in Japan that oversaw comprehensive reforms of the country’s military, economy, politics, and social order. Under the direction of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (SCAP) dismantled and disarmed the military, conducted a series of war crimes trials, and undertook significant reforms in land tenure, industry, and the economy, culminating in the imposition of new pacifist constitution that shifted power from the Emperor to parliament. In the face of the rise of the Cold War and change in international priorities, the U.S. brokered a final peace settlement with Japan that formally ended the occupation in 1952, leaving American bases and bilateral security pact intact.
Focused on the period 1945-1952, this collection includes a sampling of printed materials aimed at average American servicemen and their dependents involved in the occupation and reconstruction of Japan. The collection includes histories and guidebooks, picture books aimed at tourists, and a few examples of instructional materials and propaganda.
- Japan--History--Allied occupation, 1945-1952
- Japan--Pictorial works
Types of material