The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses approximately 30,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.
Beyond New England, SCUA has built strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the history of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the 1870s. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to the culture of the Cold War era: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.
All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog. UMarmot includes summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles.
Selected areas of collecting interest:
Agriculture, horticulture, natural history
The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, pomology, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Cookery in New England
The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.
European history and culture
Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).
Gay and Lesbian Literature
The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.
Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press, among others, as well as the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of William Morris and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers.
New England history and culture
Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.
UMass Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment, 1882-2007.
Call no.: RG 15
During its first seventy five years, the mission of Massachusetts Agricultural College gradually expanded from its original focus on teaching the science of agriculture and horticulture. Coping with the changing demands of research and teaching in a disparate array of fields, responsibilities for the administration of University units were reorganized at several points, culminating in the formation of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment in 1993.
This record group consists of Dean’s annual reports, organizational charts, personnel lists, committee minutes, lecture materials, data sheets, maps and census statistics, conference proceedings, course catalogs, directories, publications, handbooks, records of the Agricultural Experiment Station, photographs and audio-visual materials, and other related materials.
Access restrictions: Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require advance notification for retrieval.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Agricultural Experiment Station
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Stockbridge School of Agriculture
The University Archives contains the official and unofficial records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst throughout its evolution from a small agricultural college into a dynamic and complex university. Within the archives are letters and artifacts, records, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the lives of its founders, the pursuits of its faculty, and the changing attitudes of its students and alumni, revealing what high quality public education means to our Commonwealth and nation.
Among the hundreds of discrete collections and over 13,000 linear feet of records are the official papers of Chancellors, Presidents, Trustees, and other administrators; information about the University’s academic units and student organizations; and the founding documents of our sister campuses at Worcester, Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth. The papers of faculty members add a wealth of information about the lives and intellectual pursuits of our campus community as well as their chosen academic disciplines.
Finding things in the archives
A comprehensive alphabetical index of UMass departments, programs, and other units, including acronyms. Each entry includes a reference to the archival Record Group where the records can be found.
YouMass is wiki devoted to the life and history of the campus community.
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
Edward H. Abbe Papers, 1828-2004.
Call no.: MS 736
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.
- Abbe family
- Boardman family
- Booth family
- Electrical engineers
- General Electric
- Gifford family
- Kent School--Students
- Peck family
- Rectory School--Students
- Yale University--Students
- Abbe, Edward H
- Abbe, Gladys Howard
- Abbe, William Parker
- Peck, Edward F
- Peck, Mary Booth
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Doris E. Abramson Papers, ca.1930-2007.
Call no.: FS 127
After earning her masters degree from Smith College in 1951, Doris Abramson (class of 1949) returned to UMass in 1953 to become instructor in the English Department, remaining at her alma mater through a long and productive career. An historian of theatre and poet, she was a founding member of the Speech Department, Theatre Department, and the Massachusetts Review. In 1959, a Danforth grant helped Abramson pursue doctoral work at Columbia. Published in 1969, her dissertation, Negro Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1925-1969, was a pioneering work in the field. After her retirement, she and her partner of more than 40 years, Dorothy Johnson, ran the Common Reader Bookshop in New Salem.
An extensive collection covering her entire career, Abramson’s papers are a valuable record of the performing arts at UMass, her research on African American playwrights, her teaching and directing, and many other topics relating to her diverse interests in literature and the arts.
- African-American theater
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
- Abramson, Doris E.
William A. Adams Daybook, 1876-1878.
Call no.: MS 624 bd
During the 1870s, William A. Adams maintained a blacksmithing shop close to the intersection of Walnut and Hickory Streets in Springfield, Mass. His trade ran from farriery to repairing iron work, wheels, and wagons, and situated as he was near the southern end of Watershops Pond, one of the industrial centers of the city, his customers ranged from local residents to manufacturing firms, the city, and the Armory.
The Adams account book contains approximately 150 pages containing brief records of blacksmithing work for a range of customers located in the immediate area. Among the more names mentioned are the grocers Perkins and Nye, W. and E.W. Pease Co., J. Kimberley and Co., and Common Councilman William H. Pinney and J. W. Lull, all of whom can be located within a few blocks of Adams’ shop.
- Springfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Adams, William A
Types of material
Benjamin Akin Daybook and Ledger, 1737-1764.
Call no.: MS 204 bd
A tanner, currier, and shoemaker, Benjamin Akin was born into a prominent Bristol County family in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, on May 18, 1715. With a prolific and well-connected family and successful in his own business endeavors, Akin attained some stature in Dartmouth. First appointed town clerk in 1745, he filled that office from 1754-1770 and again from 1776-1780, adding the title “Esq.” to his name by the 1760s. During the Revolutionary years, he served on the town’s public safety committee. He died on April 10, 1802.
The Akin ledger offers insight into the fortunes of an 18th-century artisan during the most productive years of his life, as well as into the structure of a local community in southeastern Massachusetts. The ledger includes accounts of with customers for tanning and currying of calf and sheepskin, day-book entries, and accounts with the Town of Dartmouth for services performed at Town Clerk.
- Dartmouth (Mass.)--History--18th century
- Akin, Benjamin, 1715-1802
- Akin, Eunice Taber, 1711-1762
Types of material
- Account books
Ebenezer Akin Account Book, 1842-1869.
Call no.: MS 220 bd
Businessman, town clerk, owner or part-owner of many ships, merchant, lawyer, and involved citizen in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Includes activities as town clerk, accounts for ships he may have owned, entries made as the executor of several estates, accounts of expenditures for clothing and incidentals, and accounts of lot purchases and loans. Also contains genealogical information about the Blossom family of Bridgewater and the family of Benjamin and Eunice Akin.
- Akin, Benjamin, 1715-1802
- Akin, Eunice
- Blossom family
- Clothing and dress--Prices--Massachusetts--Fairhaven
- Fairhaven (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Fairhaven (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
- Hesper (Bark)
- Napoleon (Ship)
- William Rotch (Ship)
- Winthrop (Bark)
- Akin, Ebenezer, 1816-
Types of material
- Account books
- Inventories of decedents estates
Dean Albertson Collection of Oral History Transcripts and Student Papers, 1975-1977.
Call no.: MS 224
Dean Albertson’s 384-level History classes at the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted interviews with social activists of the 1960s and early 1970s, participants and observers in the Springfield, Massachusetts North End riots of 1975, and war and nuclear power resisters. The collection includes transcripts of 15 interviews conducted during the years 1975-1977, as well as the students’ papers, which put the transcripts into context. See also the Dean Albertson Papers (FS 109).
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Attica Correctional Facility
- Civil rights--Massachusetts--Hampden County
- Hampden County (Mass.) Civil Liberties Union
- History--Study and teaching (Higher)--Massachusetts--Amherst
- Police shootings--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Political activists--Massachusetts
- Prison riots--New York (State)--Attica
- Puerto Ricans--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Selma-Montgomery Rights March, 1965
- Springfield (Mass.)--History
- Springfield (Mass.)--Race relations
- Springfield (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Springfield Area Movement for a Democratic Society
- Venceremos Brigade
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Weatherman (Organization)
- Welfare rights movement--Massachusetts--Springfield
- Westover Air Force Base (Mass.)
- Albertson, Dean, 1920-
- Lecodet, Rafael
Types of material
- Oral histories