Western Massachusetts was an early and important center of both industrialization and the development of organized labor, and in recent years, it has experienced many of traumatic effects of de-industrialization and economic transformation. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives seeks to document the history of organized labor, the experience of work, and business and industry in New England.
At the heart of the SCUA holdings is a suite of collections documenting the organized labor movement in New England. The official records of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, a large and important collection, is joined by records for trades ranging from clothing and textile workers to carpenters, electrical workers, and granite cutters.
Of particular note is the John W. Bennett Labor History Collection, a large assemblage of labor-related realia and ephemera, including hundreds of badges, pins, watch fobs, lighters, and other artifacts distributed to union members at annual conventions and other union events. The collection is a unique resource for study of the iconography of organized labor and includes items from representative unions and locals ranging from the Knights of Labor in the 1870s to the present. While centered on New England, the Bennett Collection extends nationally.
View our brochure on documenting labor, work, and industry (pdf).
- Organized Labor
- From the records of the Massachusetts State AFL-CIO to the papers of union locals and labor leaders.
- See all Business and industry
- The industrial heritage of New England is represented in collections ranging from the records of the Clement Co., Lamson and Goodnow, and the Northampton Cutlery Company (manufacturers of cutlery), the American Writing Paper Company, the Rodney Hunt Co. (a manufacturer of textile machinery and waterwheels), and Smith and Wesson. The most recent collection is the papers of Sidney Topol, CEO of Scientific-Atlanta, a corporation at the forefront of the growth of cable television in the United States.
- Merchants and mercantile exchange
- Account books and other business records for a number of New England merchants dating back to the eighteenth century, ranging from small scale traders to keepers of rural general stores to shipping merchants trading in the Atlantic economy.
Winston Lavallee Collection, 1937-2005.
Call no.: MS 796
A native New Englander, Winston Lavallee grew up in the Berkshires and attended UMass Amherst where he received his Ph.D. in entomology. He served as a professor for more than 35 years at Holyoke Community College and as a life-long advocate for the stewardship of natural resources and ecological sustainability. Lavallee is the author of several short stories and two novels: Tempest in the Wilderness and Dancing in the Dark, a novel about the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The collection consists of research notes, publications, photographs, and the recollections of men who Lavallee interviewed about their service in the Civilian Conservation Corps. These materials were first accumulated to record the conservation and plant pest control techniques employed in New England during the 1930s-1940s, but were later used during the preparation and writing of Dancing in the Dark. Altogether they offer rich historical background on the CCC and the men who were employed in the various jobs, such as road building, fire hazard reduction, and the development of recreational space, which constituted the program.
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)--New England--History
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)--Photographs
- New Deal, 1933-1939--New England--History
- Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
- Lavallee, Winston
Types of material
- Oral histories
John W. Lederle Papers, 1947-1983 (Bulk: 1960-1970).
Call no.: RG 3/1 L43
John Lederle played a large role in shaping the Amherst campus as it looks today, transforming UMass Amherst into a nationally respected research university and “great public center for excellence in higher education.” Born in Royal Oak, Michigan, Lederle received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1942. Admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1936, he worked with a Detroit law firm from 1936 to 1940 before joining the political science department at Brown University from 1941 to 1944. He returned to the University of Michigan in 1944, filling a number of positions until 1960, when the University of Massachusetts elected him President. Under Lederle’s leadership, the Amherst campus enjoyed its greatest period of growth. From 1960 to 1970, student enrollment more than tripled and faculty salaries nearly doubled. The academic program expanded greatly, particularly at the graduate level, and under his watch, the university instituted an academic press, a public radio station, and collaborative arrangements between the local colleges. The University system also evolved in the Lederle years, with the establishment of the Boston campus in 1964 and the medical school in Worcester in 1962.
The Lederle Papers include professional correspondence, administrative records, subject files, committee notes, reports, and clippings; Extra-University records that document Lederle’s involvement and interactions with governmental and non-governmental organizations at the state, regional, and national levels; personal correspondence, speeches, bibliographies of his writings, biographical information, a transcript of an oral history describing his administration, and materials relating to his professional activities that followed his presidency; and a series of confidential records.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. President
- Lederle, John William, 1912-
Sidney Lipshires Papers, 1932-2012.
Call no.: MS 730
Born on April 15, 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland to David and Minnie Lipshires, Sidney was raised in Northampton, Massachusetts where his father owned two shoe stores, David Boot Shop and The Bootery. He attended the Massachusetts State College for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago and was awarded a BA in economics in 1940. His years at the University of Chicago were transformative, Lipshires became politically active there and joined the Communist Party in 1939. Following graduation in 1941, he married Shirley Dvorin, a student in early childhood education; together they had two sons, Ellis and Bernard. Lipshires returned to western Massachusetts with his young family in the early 1940s, working as a labor organizer. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 working as a clerk and interpreter with a medical battalion in France for over a year. Returning home, he ran for city alderman in Springfield on the Communist Party ticket in 1947. Lipshires married his second wife, Joann Breen Klein, in 1951 and on May 29, 1956, the same day his daughter Lisa was born, he was arrested under the Smith Act for his Communist Party activities. Before his case was brought to trial, the Smith Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Disillusioned with the Communist Party, he severed his ties with it in 1957, but continued to remain active in organized labor for the rest of his life. Earning his masters in 1965 and Ph.D. in 1971, Lipshires taught history at Manchester Community College in Connecticut for thirty years. During that time he worked with other campus leaders to establish a statewide union for teachers and other community college professionals, an experience he wrote about in his book, Giving Them Hell: How a College Professor Organized and Led a Successful Statewide Union. Sidney Lipshires died on January 6, 2011 at the age of 91.
Ranging from an autobiographical account that outlines his development as an activist (prepared in anticipation of a trial for conspiracy charges under the Smith Act) to drafts and notes relating to his book Giving Them Hell, the Sidney Lipshires Papers offers an overview of his role in the Communist Party and as a labor organizer. The collection also contains his testimony in a 1955 public hearing before the Special Commission to Study and Investigate Communism and Subversive Activities, photographs, and biographical materials.
- Communism--United States--History
- Jews--Political activity--United States--History--20th century
- Labor movement--United States--History--20th century
- Labor unions--United States--Officials and employees--Biography
- Lipshires, David M
- Lipshires, Joann B
- Lipshires, Sidney
Types of material
Samuel A. Locke Account Book, 1821-1829.
Call no.: MS 168
Businessman from West Cambridge, Massachusetts with additional dealings in Charlestown, Quincy, Waltham, and Tyngsboro.
The volume includes lists of personal and business purchases, services provided for his family, and business services such as whitewashing, carting coal, sawing wood, carrying letters, collecting debts, relaying a brick fireplace, and “work loading Sloop Rapid,” and barter and cash transactions. References made to Locke’s involvement with Universalism and members of the Tufts family of Cambridge and Middlesex County.
- Arlington (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Building materials industry--Massachusetts--Arlington
- Building trades--Massachusetts--Arlington
- Charlestown (Boston, Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Quincy (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Tufts family
- Tyngsboro (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Universalist churches--United States--History--19th century
- Waltham (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Locke, Samuel A
Types of material
- Account books
Fall River Loom-Fixers' Association Records, 1895-1917.
Call no.: MS 003
Members of the Fall River Loom Fixers Association included some of the most skilled workers in the New England textile industry. The association, on behalf of its members, sought to improve poor working conditions, to provide assistance for members affected by pay reductions or layoffs, and to intervene in conflicts between members and management. The union also served a social function, organizing parades, social gatherings, and excursions. In the 1910s it became affiliated with the United Textile Workers for America.
Records of the Loom Fixers Association include executive committee minutes (1900-1901 and 1911-1917), a treasurer’s book (1901-1905), and six dues books (1895-1907).
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Textile workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts
Loomis Communities Records, 1902-2009.
Call no.: MS 685
In 1902, a group of residents of Holyoke, Mass., secured a charter for the Holyoke Home for Aged People, wishing to do “something of permanent good for their city” and provide a “blessing to the homeless.” Opened in March 1911 on two acres of land donated by William Loomis, the Holyoke Home provided long-term care of the elderly, and grew slowly for its first half century. After changing its name to Loomis House in 1969, in honor of the benefactor, Loomis began slowly to expand, moving to its present location in 1981 upon construction of the first continuing care retirement community in the Commonwealth. In 1988, the Board acquired a 27-acre campus in South Hadley on which it established Loomis Village; in 1999, it became affiliated with the Applewood community in Amherst; and in 2009, it acquired Reeds Landing in Springfield.
The Loomis Communities Records offer more than a century perspective on elder care and the growth of retirement communities in western Massachusetts. The collection includes a nearly complete run of the minutes of the Board of Directors from 1902 to the present, an assortment administrative and financial records, and some documentation of the experience of the communities’ residents, with the bulk of materials dating from the 1980s to the present. An extensive series of oral histories with residents of Loomis Village was conducted in 2010.
- Holyoke (Mass.)--History
- Holyoke Home for Aged People
- Loomis Communities
- Loomis Village
- Older people--Care--Massachusetts
- Retirement communities--Massachusetts
Benjamin Smith Lyman Japanese Book Collection, 1664-1898.
Call no.: Rare Book Collections
A prominent geologist and mining engineer, Benjamin Smith Lyman traveled to Japan in the 1870s at the request of the Meiji government, helping introduce modern surveying and mining techniques. Omnivorous in his intellectual pursuits, Lyman took an interest in the Japanese language and printing, collecting dozens of contemporary and antiquarian volumes during his travels.
Lyman’s book collection begins with his background in the natural sciences, but runs the gamut from language to literature, religion, the arts, and culture. With several hundred volumes, the collection includes a number of works dating to the eighteenth century and earlier, and while the majority were printed in Japan, a number, particularly of the older works, are in Chinese.
- Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers, 1831-1921.
Call no.: MS 190
A native of Northampton, Massachusetts, Benjamin Smith Lyman was a prominent geologist and mining engineer. At the request of the Meiji government in Japan, Lyman helped introduce modern geological surveying and mining techniques during the 1870s and 1880s, and his papers from that period illuminate aspects of late nineteenth century Japan, New England, and Pennsylvania, as well as the fields of geology and mining exploration and engineering. From his earliest financial records kept as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy through the journal notations of his later days in Philadelphia, Lyman’s meticulous record-keeping provides much detail about his life and work. Correspondents include his classmate, Franklin B. Sanborn, a friend of the Concord Transcendentalists and an active social reformer, abolitionist, and editor.
The papers, 1848-1911, have been organized into nine series: correspondence, financial records, writings, survey notebooks, survey maps, photographs, student notes and notebooks, collections, and miscellaneous (total 25 linear feet). A separate Lyman collection includes over 2,000 books in Japanese and Chinese acquired by Lyman, and in Western languages pertaining to Asia.
- Geological surveys--Alabama
- Geological surveys--Illinois
- Geological surveys--India--Punjab
- Geological surveys--Japan
- Geological surveys--Japan--Maps
- Geological surveys--Maryland
- Geological surveys--Nova Scotia
- Geological surveys--Pennsylvania
- Geological surveys--Pennsylvania--Maps
- Geologists--United States
- Geology--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
- Geology--Japan--History--19th century
- Japan--Description and travel--19th century
- Japan--Social life and customs--1868-1912
- Mining engineering--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs
- Mining engineering--Japan--History--19th century
- Mining engineers--United States
- Lyman, Benjamin Smith, 1835-1920
- Sanborn, F. B. (Franklin Benjamin), 1831-1917
Types of material
- Account books
- Book jackets
- Field notes
- Letterpress copybooks
- Trade catalogs
Perry Marshall Papers, 1902-1929.
Call no.: MS 493
A minister, published poet, and physician from New Salem, Massachusetts, Perry Marshall carried on a lively correspondence with Dorothy Bullard, also from New Salem, from 1927 until 1929.
Although personal in nature, Marshall’s letters are not romantic, but are written from the perspective of an older gentleman who late in life has come to admire, and perhaps adore, a young woman. Bullard, a lively and thoughtful young woman, clearly returns the admiration, if not the affection. The collection also includes several of Marshall’s published works.
- New Salem (Mass.)--History
- Bullard, Dorothy
- Marshall, Perry
Types of material