To spark 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 and innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the varied histories of the peoples 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 using the highest professional standards and practices and the best technologies available to provide free and unfettered access to our holdings for all who wish to use them.
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.
Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except major holidays. SCUA will be closed on days when the W.E.B. Du Bois Library is closed.
If you are planning a visit from a distance, please contact us in advance to verify that the department will be open. A small number of collections are stored off site and advance notice will expedite service.
|New Year’s Day||Jan. 1||Jan. 1|
|Memorial Day||May 27||May 26|
|Independence Day||July 4||July 4|
|Labor Day||Sept. 2||Sept. 1|
|Thanksgiving Day||Nov. 28||Nov. 27|
|Christmas Day||Dec. 25||Dec. 25|
|Campus closure||Dec. 30-31||Dec. 30-31|
Location and contact information
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
154 Hicks Way
Amherst, Mass. 01003-9275
For directions to campus, see also the UMass Visitor’s Center Home Page. If you are driving, park in the Campus Center Parking Garage. When you emerge from the garage, the tall brick tower to the south is the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Inside the Library, take the elevators to the 25th floor.
Randy Kehler Papers, 1978-1997.
Call no.: MS 396
A veteran of the peace movement and founder of the Traprock Peace Center (1979), Randy Kehler was active in the National Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, the Peace Development Fund, and the Working Group on Electoral Democracy. Beginning in 1977, he and his wife became war tax resisters, withholding federal income tax to protest U.S. military expenditures, donating it instead to charity. As a consequence, their home was seized by the IRS in 1989, setting up a protracted legal struggle that resulted in Kehler’s arrest and imprisonment and the sale of the house. They remain tax resisters.
The Kehler Papers document the five year struggle (1989-1994) against the seizure and sale of the Kehlers’ home by the IRS. The collection includes meeting minutes, notes, correspondence, newspaper clippings; letters to the editor, essays, articles, plans and strategy documents for the vigil set outside the Kehler home; support committee information and actions; correspondence with government officials, the IRS, and the Justice Department; letters of support; documents from the legal proceedings; and political literature addressing the Kehlers’ situation.
- Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
- Argo, Ed
- Colrain (Mass.)
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Political activists--Massachusetts
- Tax collection--Massachusetts--Colrain
- Tax evasion--Massachusetts--Colrain
- Taxation--Law and Legislation
- Traprock Peace Center
- Valley Community Land Trust
- War tax resitance--Massachusetts--Colrain
- Withholding tax--Law and legislation
- Withholding tax--Massachusetts
- Corner, Betsy
- Kehler, Randy
- Link, Mary
- Mosely, Don
- Nelson, Juanita
Types of material
- Court records
- Legal documents
- Letters (Correspondence)
Arthur P. Mange Photograph Collection, 1965-2010.
Call no.: PH 044
Arthur P. Mange taught in the Biology Department at University of Massachusetts Amherst for 31 years before retiring in 1995. A co-author of numerous works in human genetics, Mange served on the chair of the Conservation Committee in Amherst, and currently serves on the Burnett Gallery Committee. In 1983, his New England images were featured in Across the Valley (from Cummington to New Salem) held at the Burnett Gallery. This exhibition was followed at the Hitchcock Center in 1984 with Delight in Familiar Forms (celebrating some well-known plants and animals), with Ring Bell to Admit Bird at the Jones Library and Net Prophet at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Architectural Sights — Big and Small, Mange’s most recent show (2002), appeared at the Burnett Gallery. In addition to exhibitions, Mange has also donated collections for fund-raising auctions at New York University, the Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center, the Amherst Historical Society, Jones Library, and the Amherst Community Arts Center.
His photographic collection spans more than half a century of subjects reflecting his varied interests in animals, plants, our region, gravestones, what he calls “whimsical signs,” and attention-grabbing shadows.
- Amherst (Mass.)--Pictorial works
- Cemeteries--Pictorial works
- Hadley (Mass.)--Pictorial works
- New England--Pictorial works
- New Salem (Mass.)--Pictorial works
- New York (N.Y.)--Pictorial works
Types of material
Kevin McVeigh Papers, 1974-2010.
Call no.: MS 668
A lifelong activist for social and environmental justice, Kevin McVeigh was among the founders of two prominent antinuclear and environmental organizations in Northern California, the Pelican Alliance (1978) and Interhelp (1981). After relocating to Massachusetts, he continued in environmental activism, founding the Green River Center in Greenfield in 1987, but in response to the intense public health crisis, he gradually shifted his focus to become an advocate for persons with HIV/AIDS. As a founder of the AIDS Community Group of Franklin County (Mass.), he has coordinated AIDS services for Tapestry Health, a not-for-profit organization providing affordable health care to in Western Massachusetts.
The McVeigh Papers document a career as a committed antinuclear activist and advocate for persons with HIV/AIDS. The collection includes organizational materials from each of the groups McVeigh helped found: The Pelican Alliance, Interhelp, the Green River Center, the AIDS Community Group of Franklin County, and Tapestry Health, as well as correspondence, newspaper clippings, journals and magazines related to the issues concerning, notes from HIV/AIDS caregivers’ conferences, materials relating to men’s support groups, and other material related to environmental protection and anti-war activism. Finally, the collection includes audio files of an oral history (approximately two hours) conducted with McVeigh in July 2010, and a small collection of antinuclear books from small publishing houses.
- AIDS (Disease)
- AIDS Community Group of Franklin County
- AIDS activists--Massachusetts
- Antinuclear movement--California
- Green River Center (Greenfield, Mass.)
- Pelican Alliance
- Public health--Massachusetts
- Tapestry Health
- McVeigh, Kevin
Types of material
- Oral histories
George Millman Papers, 1944-1945.
Call no.: MS 728
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1919, George Millman attended Massachusetts State College briefly, but was forced to drop out after his freshman year due to financial hardship. After attending a three-month intensive training course, Millman was employed by the War Department in 1941 as a civilian inspector in the munitions plant in New London, Connecticut. In the months that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor, he felt it was his patriotic duty to join the armed forces and enlisted on May 28, 1942. Called to active duty six months later, Millman was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps on April 29, 1943. Already dating his soon-to-be-bride Lillian, the couple decided to marry immediately before he could be sent overseas. Assigned to a class on the theoretical aspects of radar at Harvard University, Millman was ordered to report to the Army Air Force Technical School in Boca Raton in late 1943. On June 24, 1944, he received secret travel orders assigning him to the 5th Air Force Service Command in Brisbane, Australia. There he began training fighter pilots on the use and operation of the newly developed airborne radar, AN/APS-4. Throughout his tour in the Pacific, which ended in early 1946, Millman traveled throughout the region, including time in Australia, the Netherlands East Indies, the Netherlands New Guinea, and the Philippines.
Containing almost 400 letters written to his wife Lillian during World War II, Millman’s papers detail nearly every aspect of life in the service during wartime. From chronicling extreme environmental conditions to his feelings of frustration while awaiting assignment, Millman’s letters offer a personal perspective of the impact of war on an individual and his loved ones. While his letters carefully avoid any details about his work that could have been censored, they capture in extraordinary detail the day-to-day life of a serviceman in the Pacific theater during WWII. Millman published his letters to his wife in 2011 in a book entitled Letters to Lillian.
- World War, 1939-1945
- Millman, George H. (George Harold), 1919-
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
New WORLD Theater Records, 1979-2010.
Call no.: RG 025/F2/N4
New WORLD Theater was founded at UMass Amherst in 1979 by Roberta Uno with the mission of presenting innovative works of theater by contemporary artists of color, with the goal of fostering creative communities, promoting cultural equity, and embracing diverse cultural backgrounds, social engagement, and a commitment to justice. For more than thirty years New WORLD Theater produced many dozens of plays and other dramatic works representing new voices in the theater, as well as plays from the traditional multicultural repertory, and they have supported the arts through performance residencies, conferences and colloquia, and a variety of initiatives aimed at the diverse communities they serve, youth, and theater professionals. New WORLD Theater has contributed significantly to national conversations on cultural equity. After more than three decades of acclaim and recognition, New WORLD Theater was closed by UMass Amherst in summer 2010.
The bulk of the New WORLD Theater collection consists of administrative records documenting the day-to-day activities of the theater, however, it also contains an extensive and exceptionally rich archive of taped interviews, conferences, and theatrical productions. Taken together, the audiovisual material traces the history of New WORLD through the words and performances of artists who both contributed to and benefited from the theater.
- African Americans--Drama
- American drama--Minority authors
- Asian Americans--Drama
- Ethnic groups--United States--Drama
- Hispanic Americans--Drama
- Minorities--United States--Drama
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- New WORLD Theater
- Page, Priscilla
- Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
- Audiovisual materials
- Sound recordings
Northampton Domestic Partnership Coalition Collection, 1993-1995..
Call no.: MS 512
Established in 1995 to gain city-wide support for a domestic partnership ordinance, the Northampton Domestic Partnership Coalition’s campaign included fund raising and neighborhood canvassing. Their early efforts succeeded, and in May 1995, the Northampton City Council passed an ordinance recognizing domestic partnerships in the city allowing people of either gender to register as a couple and entitling them to visitation and child care rights in schools, jails, and health care facilities. After a summer of campaigning on both sides, the measure failed by fewer than one hundred votes.
Consisting chiefly of newspaper clippings covering both sides of the debate over Northampton’s domestic partnership ordinance, this collection includes perspectives extending from Northampton and Boston to Washington D.C. Among the publications represented are The Catholic Monitor, The Washington Blade, and Boston Magazine.
- Domestic partner benefits--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
- Gay couples--Legal status, laws, etc.--Massachusetts
- Lesbian couples--Legal status, laws, etc.--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Northampton (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Northampton Domestic Partnership Coalition
Types of material
- Clippings (Information artifacts)
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
Louise F. Shattuck Papers, 1881-2006.
Call no.: MS 563
A life-long resident of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, and a third-generation Spiritualist, Louise Shattuck was an artist, teacher, and noted breeder of English cocker spaniels.
Shattuck’s work as a teacher, writer, artist, and dog breeder are documented in this collection through decades of correspondence and diaries, artwork, publications, and newspaper clippings. Of particular note are the materials associated with the Spiritualist history of Lake Pleasant, including three turn of the century spirit slates, samples of Louise’s automatic writing, a ouija board and dowsing rods, and an excellent photograph album with associated realia for the Independent Order of Scalpers, a Lake Pleasant.
- English Cocker spaniels
- Lake Pleasant (Mass.)--History
- Montague (Mass.)--History
- Shattuck, Louise F
- Shattuck, Sarah Bickford
Types of material
- Photograph albums
- Spirit slates
- Spirit writing