The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, the University of Massachusetts has supported the publication of three volumes of Dr. Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has served as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books on Du Bois and his legacy. SCUA has also made efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.
Beyond Du Bois, significant collections in African American history include the papers of the abolitionist Hudson Family of Northampton, the expatriate playwright Gordon Heath, the sociologist, educator, and former president of Lincoln University, Horace Mann Bond.
Each February, in commemoration of Dr. Du Bois’s birthday, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass co-sponsor a colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, and David Levering Lewis.
- Antislavery Pamphlet Collection
- Several hundred pamphlets relating to political antislavery in the United States, with an emphasis opn New England.
- See our Antislavery pamphlets digital archive
- Aronson, James. Collection, 1946-1983
- Editor of the National Guardian
- Banks, Katherine Bell. Papers, 1926-1960.
- Letters from W.E.B. Du Bois to Banks, a family friend
- Bond, Horace Mann. Papers, 1830-1979
- Educator, President of Lincoln University
- Brown, John. Papers (microfilm), 1826-1942 (bulk: 1856-1859)
- Du Bois, W. E. B. Papers, 1868-1963
- Heath, Gordon. Papers, 1940-1991
- Expatriate writer, actor, director, and musician
- Hudson Family. Papers, 1780-1955
- Family papers of the antislavery activist Erasmus D. Hudson
- International Oil Working Group. Records, 1981-1986
- Massachusetts. Special Commission on Unequal Education Opportunities. Records, 1974-1978
- Obrebski, Joseph and Tamara. Papers, 1923-1974
- Anthropological field work in Jamaica, 1947-1948
- Urban League of Springfield (Mass.). Records, 1970s
- Trent, Lloyd A. Family Papers, 1850-1996
Peter Duus Papers, ca.1970-2008.
Call no.: MS 574
The William H. Bonsall Professor of History at Stanford University and a prolific scholar, Peter Duus has made significant contributions to the understanding of the development of Japanese imperialism and the emergence of the modern Japanese nation. Having received his doctorate from Harvard, Duus taught successively at Harvard, Washington University, and the Claremont Graduate School before arriving at Stanford in 1973. The recipient of numerous awards during his career, he has served in numerous positions within the field and as Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford.
The Duus Papers contain the professional correspondence, research notes, and other materials relating to the career of the eminent Japanologist, Peter Duus.
- Japan--History--20th century
- Stanford University--Faculty
- Stanford University. Department of History
- Duus, Peter, 1933-
To spark researchers’ imaginations and to celebrate the legacy of innovation and the activist spirit, SCUA pursues an ambitious program of collecting materials of enduring historical value and offers strong support for research and learning. Through its collections, programs, public events, and exhibitions, SCUA promotes meaningful engagement with the broad record of social change in America, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the varied histories of the people of New England and the UMass Amherst community. We embrace the university’s historic role as a center of knowledge for the people of the Commonwealth and are committed to providing free and unfettered access to our holdings for all who wish to use them, using the highest professional standards and practices and the best technologies available.
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. Documenting the activities of the administration and faculty and the life of its students, this 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.
The timing of Goodell’s proposal to preserve the College archives coincided roughly with the Library’s first efforts to assemble a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. Although the campus had no separate library building until 1885, the College accepted several significant gifts of books, beginning as early as 1868, when the apiarist and state Adjutant General Henry K. Oliver donated twenty scarce volumes on bee culture, followed by other donations of important works in agriculture, history, and science. By the time the library published its first catalogue in 1875, rare books were a small, but distinctive part of the collections. 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 two 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. All remain part of the collections today.
From its initial focus on agriculture, horticulture, and the natural sciences, the Library soon extended its collections to encompass the history and culture of New England. With the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski in 1973, the Library began to acquire collections of personal papers and organizational records of historical significance. The rare book and manuscript collections were combined administratively with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Today, SCUA oversees a growing research collection of primary materials that includes rare books and manuscripts, historic maps, photographs, prints, and the official records of the campus at UMass Amherst.
Sesquicentennial oral history project
Marking the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the University of Massachusetts, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is conducting an oral history project to capture the many voices and diverse experiences that make up our campus community. The anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the real achievements — and real challenges — of public higher education over the past century and a half, and a chance to consider where we would like to be in the future.
Over the course of eighteen months, the staff of SCUA and our associates will conduct one hundred and fifty interviews with an array of administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and university employees, as well as selected members of the local community. As they are completed, the interviews will be made available to the public through this website and Credo, SCUA’s digital repository.
If you are interested in participating in the project, please contact the SCUA staff.
As one of the main repositories documenting the history of western Massachusetts and New England, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.
Concentrated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 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. Among the more valuable collections for the political history of the region is the papers of Silvio O. Conte, Republican congressman from the First District of Massachusetts from 1959-1991. A member of the House Appropriations Committee (and its ranking minority member from 1979-1991), Conte is particularly remembered for his work in Health and Human Services, education, and the environment. SCUA also holds collections for state representatives John Haigis and Maurice Donahue, as well as other figures involved in political life in the Commonwealth.
Although the Department holds materials relating to individual communities in western Massachusetts, the history of the Quabbin watershed is a particular focal point. SCUA collects books printed in the Quabbin region and more generally, in rural New England prior to 1900, as well as manuscript, printed, and photographic collections relating to Quabbin towns.
- 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
- 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
Roscoe Wilfrid Thatcher Papers, 1900-1934.
Call no.: RG 3/1 T43
The agronomist Roscoe Thatcher served as the last president of Massachusetts Agricultural College and the first when the institution changed its name to Massachusetts State College in 1931. Before coming to Amherst, Thatcher had extensive experience in both agricultural research and administration, having served as director of the agricultural station for the state of Washington, as professor of plant chemistry at the University of Minnesota (1913-1917), and as dean of the School of Agriculture and director of the Minnesota Experiment Station (1917-1921), and as director of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva. Selected as President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1927, he helped expand the two year program in practical agriculture to become the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and oversaw curricular reform, orienting vocational training toward citizenship education. The student health service also started during his tenure. Thatcher resigned due to ill health in 1933. Although he returned to research in agricultural chemistry at the College in April 1933, he died in his laboratory on December 6, 1933.
Official and administrative correspondence, memos, and other papers, relating to Thatcher’s service as president of Massachusetts State College together with writing and biographical material.
- Massachusetts State College. President
- Thatcher, Roscoe Wilfrid, 1872-1933
Roger Allaway Collection, 1941-2010.
Call no.: MS 754
The journalist and writer, Roger Allaway is one of the preeminent historians of soccer in North America. Born in New York City in 1945, Allaway graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and worked in newspapers for over 30 years, including stints in Detroit, Toledo, and Philadelphia. From 2007, he was an historian at the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Allaway is author or co-author of numerous articles and books, including The Encyclopedia of American Soccer History (2001); The United States Tackles the World Cup (2002, updated 2011); Rangers, Rovers and Spindles (2005), and Corner Offices and Corner Kicks (2009).
The Allaway collection includes a variety of materials collected and used by Allaway in the course of his research. In addition to some research notes and a suite of books on the history of the game, the collection includes nearly 100 VHS tapes of international matches played by the men’s and women’s national teams, a selection of media guides from professional and national teams (1990s-2010), and photocopies of the exceptionally scarce Bill Graham Guides (1948-1972) and American Soccer League News (1941-1960).
- American Soccer League
- Major League Soccer (Organization)
Types of material
ACWA Boston Joint Board Records, 1926-1979.
Call no.: MS 002
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America originated from a split in the United Garment Workers in 1914 and quickly became the dominant force for union in the men’s clothing industry, controlling shops in Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York. The Boston Joint Board formed at the beginning of the ACWA and included locals from a range of ethnic groups and trades that comprised the industry. It coordinated the activities and negotiations for ACWA Locals 1, 12, 102, 149, 171, 172, 173, 174, 181,183, 267, and 335 in the Boston area. In the 1970s the Boston Joint Board merged with others to form the New England Regional Joint Board.
Records, including minutes, contracts, price lists, and scrapbooks, document the growth and maturity of the ACWA in Boston and the eventual decline of the industry in New England. Abundant contracts and price lists show the steady improvement of conditions for workers in the men’s clothing industry. Detailed minutes reflect the political and social influence of the ACWA; the Joint Board played an important role in local and state Democratic politics and it routinely contributed to a wide range of social causes including the Home for Italian Children and the United Negro College Fund. Minutes also document the post World War II development of industrial relations in the industry and include information relating to Joint Board decisions to strike. Minutes also contain information relating to shop grievances, arbitration, shop committees, and organizing. The records largely coincide with the years of leadership of Joseph Salerno, ACWA Vice President and New England Director from 1941 to 1972.
- Boston (Mass.)--Economic conditions--20th century
- Clothing trade--Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Labor unions--Massachusetts--Boston
- Textile industry--Massachusetts
- Textile workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts--Boston
- Textile workers--Massachusetts--Economic conditions--20th century
- Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Boston Joint Board
- Salerno, Joseph, fl. 1907-1972
Types of material
- Financial records
Katherine Bell Banks Papers, 1926-1960.
Call no.: MS 429
Collection of letters from Du Bois to various members of the Bell family, the earliest written in September 1926 to Katherine Bell and the latest written in December 1960 to Thomasina Bell Fitzroy. These letters offer a unique perspective of Du Bois’s personal life.
- African Americans--History--1877-1964
- Banks, Katherine Bell
- Bell, Thomas, d.1946
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
J. William Belanger Papers, 1932-1986.
Call no.: MS 117
A leader in organized labor, William Belanger began as an organizer for the AFL’s United Textile Workers in 1932, eventually becoming the New England Regional Director and International Vice President of the TWUA and in 1958, the first President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
The Belanger Papers provide insight into the long career in labor activism, and include correspondence, writings, subject files, and printed materials. Of particular interest is a series of four oversized scrapbooks that cover Belanger’s career from 1934 through his final position as Director of the Massachusetts Department of Employment Security. These are especially enlightening on labor’s political activities, the CIO’s success in thwarting anti-labor referenda in 1948, and the efforts to expel Communists from the labor movement.
- Elections--Massachusetts--History--20th century
- Labor leaders--New England--Biography
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1865-1950
- New England--Economic conditions--20th century
- Textile Workers Organizing Committee
- Textile Workers Union of America
- Textile industry--Massachusetts
- Textile workers--Labor unions--New England
- Belanger, J. William, 1907-1986
Types of material