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Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Company

Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Company Records
1799
1 vol. (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 088

Authorized in March 1799, the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Company constructed a toll road through miles of rough terrain and sparse settlements, connecting Leominster, Athol, Greenfield, and Northfield. Having opened areas to land travel that had previously been accessible only over rivers, the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike ceased operations in 1833 after years of declining revenues.

The collection consists primarily of one volume of records of the directors of the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike, including minutes of meetings, accounts of tolls collected, and drafts of letters.

Subjects
  • Toll roads--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Company

Florence Manufacturing Company

Florence Manufacturing Company Histories
1916, 1974
1 folder (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 380

Photocopies of two typescript company histories for the Florence Manufacturing Company: “50 Years of Brush Making (1866-1916)” and “50 More Years of Brush Making, 1916-1974.”

Subjects
  • Broom and brush industry--Massachusetts--History
  • Florence Manufacturing Company

George Cooley & Company

George Cooley & Co. Ledger
1843-1851
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 111

Ledger, begun by George Cooley in 1843 to record the accounts of his soapmaking business in the Cabotville section of Chicopee, continued by Titus Chapin, an ardent abolitionist, and Mordecai Cough who managed the business following Cooley’s death (or departure) in 1848. The 1843 date coincides with the coming of many small businesses to Cabotville in connection with the growth of industries there at the time.

Cooley accepted goods, services and cash as payment. The most frequently accepted goods had relatively obvious value to a soap maker: grease and ashes, tallow, pork, scraps and skins, and candles. Some of the services bartered were repairing wagon, shoeing horse, fixing wippletree, making 30 boxes, and covering umbrella. The business sold gallons, bars, and cakes of soap. Mount Holyoke Seminary bought 28 “fancy soaps”. Also listed were shaving soap and hard or hand soap. In addition, sales sometimes included candles, butter, mop handles, molasses, apples and potatoes, squashes, satinet, cheese, cord wood, paint, and rosin. Some of the listings were annotated with regard to the customer’s character: Ashad Bartlett was seen as “bad and poor and fights with his wife”‘ Norris Starkwether was “an honest man”; and Miss L.B. Hunt “eloped with a man”.

Subjects
  • Chicopee (Mass.)--History
  • Soap trade--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • George Cooley and Company

Keystone View Company

World War Through the Stereoscope Collection
ca. 1917-1923
2 boxes
Call no.: PH 077
Image of Stereoscope
Stereoscope

The Keystone View Company was founded in Meadville, Penn., by Pennsylvania native B. L. Singley (1864-1938), who had been a salesman for the stereographic producer and distributor Underwood & Underwood. The first prints sold under the Keystone name were Singley’s own photographs of the 1892 French Creek flood. Incorporated in 1905, Keystone opened its Educational Department, creating products designed for classroom use, with an emphasis on social studies, geography, and the sciences. As the company grew, with branch offices in several major cities and staff photographers all over the world, it acquired the stereographic inventories of several of its competitors, including Underwood & Underwood, becoming the largest company of its kind in the world. In 1932, Keystone launched its Stereophthalmic Department, which included stereoscopic vision tests and products for correcting vision problems. Singley retired as Keystone’s president in 1936 or 1937, and Keystone was bought by Mast Development Company in 1963.

This 1923 boxed set, World War Through the Stereoscope, part of the “Stereographic Library” and housed in a box imitating the look of a two-volume set of books, contains 100 images of World War I and just after, taken ca. 1917-1921. The stereographic prints are pasted onto Keystone’s distinctive grey curved mounts, with extensive descriptive information on the reverse of each mount. Prints are numbered with identifiers—those beginning with “V” were originally Underwood photographs—as well as numbers indicating the order in which they are to be viewed. The stereographs are accompanied by a viewer, also manufactured by Keystone.

Gift of Ed Klekowski, May 2017
Subjects
  • World War, 1914-1918
Contributors
  • Keystone View Company
  • Singley, B. L. (Benjamin Lloyd)
  • Underwood & Underwood
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Stereographs
  • Stereoscopes

Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, programs, and exhibitions to promote free inquiry; the production, exchange, and preservation of knowledge; and joy in learning.

Department history

African dancers
African dancers
From the Horace Mann Bond Papers

In 1931, nearly half a century after Librarian Henry Hill Goodell first authorized the permanent retention of the official records of Massachusetts Agricultural College, the Library established a College History Collection. Containing official records of the university’s administrators and faculty and reflecting the life of its students, the College History Collection grew steadily until in 1953, the Library dedicated a room named in honor of Dean William L. Machmer to serve as the first true home of the University Archives.

Goodell’s foresight in assembling the College archives coincided roughly with the university’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. As early as 1868 — just one year after the arrival of the first students — the college accepted the donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist (and state Adjutant General) Henry K. Oliver. By the time the college issued its first library catalog in 1875, rare books were a small, but notable part of the collections, closely focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. Included among the Library’s earliest acquisitions were the first London edition of William Bartram’s Travels Through North and South Carolina (1792), François Augier de Marigny’s The History of the Arabians (London, 1758), and early bee manuals by John Keys, The Practical Bee-Master (London, 1780) and The Antient Bee-Master’s Farewell (London, 1796) — both courtesy of Oliver. Each of these volumes remains part of the collections today.

David Axelrod, Class of 1965
David B. Axelrod, ca.1980, Class of 1965, poet, author of The Man who Fell in Love with His Chicken (1980)

From these beginnings, the collection of rare books and manuscripts has co-evolved with the university and its academic programs. In 1973, the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski marked an expansion of scope beyond into personal papers and organizational records of historical significance beyond the narrow confines of the university, and the arrival of the papers on W.E.B. Du Bois in that same year marked a turning point. The rare book and manuscript collections were merged with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

SCUA’s initial foray online came with a simple page on the library’s website in 1997, and by 2007, it had evolved into the UMarmot project, one of the earliest efforts to use freely-available software to create a comprehensive online archival catalog. SCUA launched its online digital repository, Credo in 2011, with the generous support of the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Available free to all researchers, Credo is now a robust and heavily used presence on the internet, containing hundreds of thousands of pages of content and dozens of complete collections, including every item in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond.

Mile markers

Each of the library’s million-volume milestones has been celebrated by the addition of a special volume to SCUA’s collections:

One millionth volume:
Jonathan Edwards, A careful and strict enquiry into the modern prevailing notions of that freedom of will; which is supposed to be essential to moral agency, vertue and vice, reward and punishment, praise and blame. Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754.
SCUA’s copy of this classic theological work on Free Will from the New Light minister from Northampton belonged to Rev. John Cleaveland of Ipswich, Mass., one of the subscribers. It is signed and dated by Cleaveland in several locations.
Two millionth volume:
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. London: A. Bell, 1773.
A classic of American literature written by a young woman enslaved in Boston, and the first book published by an African-American woman. Gift of Randolph W. Bromery.
Three millionth volume:
James Baldwin, Gypsy and other poems, with etched portraits by Leonard Baskin. Northampton, Mass.: Gehenna Press, 1989.
When Baldwin, a former faculty member at UMass Amherst, died unexpectedly, he was working with the great printer Leonard Baskin on a special volume of unpublished poems. Celebrating SCUA’s strengths in African American history literature and reflecting the fine-printing heritage in Massachusetts, SCUA’s copy includes a signed portfolio of etchings of Baldwin by Baskin, each signed. It is one of fifty copies bound specially by Daniel Gehnrich in leather and paste paper, made by Babette Gehnrich, over boards, and laid into a cloth traycase. Also laid in are Baskin’s proof, 1989, and touched proof, 1989, of two of the portraits. Gift of Lisa Baskin.
Four millionth volume:
The proclamation of emancipation of the President of the United States, to take effect January 1st, 1863. Boston: John Murray Forbes, 1862.
The first separate printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this volume was printed in miniature so that Union army troops in the south could more easily distribute it.

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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.

SCUA accepts materials in most audio and video formats — cassette, reel to reel, RDAT, VHS, Betacam, or digital — but in every case, we prefer to receive the interview in the format in which it was recorded and in the highest quality available. When possible, we prefer digital files that are uncompressed, 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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Portland Granite Company

Portland Granite Company Records
1836
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 648 bd

Three months after it was incorporated by the state of Maine in March 1836, the Portland Granite Company acquired 17 acres of land from Seth Clark in Westbrook, Me., and began its quarrying operation. With 160 shares of common stock, the company’s members elected a board of three directors (Henry Iseley, M.P. Sawyer, and George Clark), with Henry R. Stickney serving as Treasurer and Secretary.

Recorded in a bound ledger, the records of the Portland Granite Company provide slender, but critical documentation of the organization of a significant quarrying operation. Included are the formal act of incorporation for the company, a record of approval by the corporation to accept their charter; a list of company by-laws; approval for the distribution of stock to members of the company (160 shares); and an agreement with Seth Clark to purchase 17 acres in Westbrook for the operation. The records were apparently kept by Stickney.

Subjects
  • Granite industry and trade--Maine
  • Gravestones--Maine
Contributors
  • Stickney, Henry Rolfe, 1799-1887
Types of material
  • Ledgers (Account books)

Sears, Roebuck and Company

Sears, Roebuck and Company Catalog Collection
1929-1980
104 vols. (19.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 020

Sears, Roebuck and Company were pioneers in the concept of the mail order catalog. Beginning in 1894, company founder Richard Sears began sending thick catalogs offering a wild profusion of consumer goods, ranging from clothing and kitchen goods to toys, bicycles, furniture, and even homes themselves. With an affordable price tag, the catalogs became a staple in many homes, particularly in rural settings and locations with limited access to stores. Changes in the retail market and the country’s demographics led Sears to end publication of its “big book” catalogs in 1993, although the company continues to issue specialty and seasonal catalogs.

This collection contains over one hundred seasonal catalogs issued by Sears from its stores in Boston between 1929 and 1990.

Subjects
  • Department stores
  • Mail-order business
Types of material
  • Mail order catalogs

Stanze Monument Company

Stanze Monument Company Records
ca. 1921-1970
7 boxes, 13 drawers
Call no.: MS 734
Image of Stanze Monument Co. drawing
Stanze Monument Co. drawing

Established in 1921 in St. Louis Missouri, the Stanze Monument Company was family-owned and operated until it was sold in the mid-1980s. The company custom-cut gravestones for more than sixty years and was one of the last monument companies to cut gravestones by hand.

The collection consists of gravestone, monument, and mausoleum technical and architectural drawings. Most of the tracings and drawings of headstone patterns were used to make glass molds for sand-blasting granite headstones, while the rubbings represent reproductions of designs and font sizes and styles. Some of the architectural drawings depict conceptual plans for a typical forty-acre cemetery. The drawings were transferred from the Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum in Illinois; a small portion of the materials were identified as being part of the “Gustafson Collection.”

Subjects
  • Sepulchral monuments--Design
Contributors
  • Stanze Monument Company
Types of material
  • Architectural drawings (Visual works)
  • Technical drawings

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