University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College

Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

A steward of the past for generations to come, SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, 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.

Learn more:

Slonecker, Blake, 1981-

Blake Slonecker Collection, 2008
4 items (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 795

An historian of twentieth century social movements, Blake Slonecker received his doctorate at the University of North Carolina in 2009 and joined the history faculty at Waldorf College soon thereafter. In a dissertation examining the utopian impulses of the New Left (published in 2012 as A new dawn for the New Left: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the long sixties), Slonecker explored how the political and cultural activism of the 1960s helped reshape American political culture in the decade following.

In June 2008, Slonecker conducted oral historical interviews with four individuals who were part of the extended community centered on the Montague Farm and Packer Corners communes during the late 1960s: Tom Fels, Charles Light, Sam Lovejoy, and Richard Wizansky. In wide-ranging interviews, the former communards discuss topics ranging from the fraught politics of the era, political and cultural activism, gender roles and sexuality, and daily life on the communes.

Subjects
  • Amherst College
  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Clamshell Alliance
  • Green Mountain Post Films
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Musicians United for Safe Energy
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Contributors
  • Fels, Thomas Weston
  • Light, Charles
  • Lovejoy, Sam
  • Wizansky, Richard
Types of material
  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories (document genres)

Polish Women’s Club of Three Rivers (Mass.)

Polish Women's Club of Three Rivers Records, 1924-1994
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 391

Polish-American women’s club located near Palmer, Massachusetts, that aims to encourage Polish women to become United States citizens and provide them with classes in the English language; to take an active part in local, state and federal politics; to support local Polish-owned businesses; to preserve and integrate Polish culture with those of other ethnicities present in the United States; to encourage higher education in the Polish-American community.

Includes meeting minutes (primarily in Polish), histories, anniversary programs, town and state citations, and government publications, documenting the activities, membership, and national recognition of the club over a period of seventy years.

Subjects
  • Americanization--History--20th century
  • Palmer (Mass.)--Ethnic relations--20th century
  • Palmer (Mass.)--Social conditions--20th century
  • Poles--Cultural assimilation--Massachusetts--History--20th century
  • Polish American friendly societies--Massachusetts--Palmer--History
  • Polish Americans--Ethnic identity--History--20th century
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Palmer
  • Polish Americans--Political activity--History--20th century
Contributors
  • Massachusetts Federation of Polish Women's Clubs
  • Polish American Women Citizens Political Club of Three Rivers and Thorndike (Palmer, Mass.)
  • Polish Women's Club of Three Rivers (Palmer, Mass.)
Types of material
  • Programs

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Alumni

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Alumni, 1871-2007
(146.25 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 050

This record group contains materials that document alumni and alumni activities throughout the history of the Amherst campus. Included are annual reports, constitutions and by-laws, board and committee minutes, cash books and financial statements, correspondence, alumni directories, class lists, obituaries, biographies, bibliographies of alumni writings, photographs, alumni periodicals, brochures from alumni events, newsclippings, handbooks and manuals, reunion and dinner programs, scrapbooks, memorabilia and artifacts.

Subjects
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Alumni
Contributors
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Alumni Office
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Scrapobooks

University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment

University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Natural Resources and the Environment, 1882-2007
(53.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 015

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.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • 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

University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Physical Education

University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Physical Education, 1868-2000
(18 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 018

Physical education was required of all students during the early years of Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC), enforced through required courses in the Department of Military Science and Tactics. Although intermural competition began shortly thereafter with a loss by the Wilder Baseball Association (Mass Aggies) to Amherst College 57-38, athletics were slow to catch on, due largely to a lack of student interest and faculty opposition. By 1909, a formal department of Physical Education and Hygiene was established to provide fitness training and coordinate the sports teams, with a separate women’s program following in 1940, however unlike most other universities, athletics were de-emphasized at UMass for many years, remaining more or less stagnant until the post-1960 expansion of the University.

This record group consists of annual reports, Athletic Board records, committee meeting minutes, policies, financial statements (1911-1921), histories, handbooks, Varsity “M” Club records, Hall of Fame records, athletic field records, correspondence and memoranda, curriculum and teacher training courses, colloquia and conference materials, schedules and scores (1871-1923), newsletters and newsclippings, media programs and guides, brochures and catalogs, pamphlets and fliers, and related materials.

Subjects
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Sports
Contributors
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Athletic Board
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Physical Education

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students

University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Publications Collection, 1869-2011
University of  Massachusetts Amherst Student Publications Collection image
Collegian editorial staff, 1921-1922

Since almost the time of first arrival of students at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1867, the college’s students have taken an active role in publishing items for their own consumption. Beginning with the appearance of the first yearbook, put together by the pioneer class during their junior year in 1870 and followed by publication of the first, short-lived newspaper, The College Monthly in 1887, students have been responsible for dozens of publications from literature to humor to a range of politically- and socially-oriented periodicals.

This series consists of the collected student publications from Massachusetts Agricultural College, Massachusetts State College, and UMass Amherst, including student newspapers, magazines, newsletters, inserts, yearbooks, and songbooks. Publications range from official publications emanating from the student body to unofficial works by student interest groups or academic departments. Links to digitized versions of the periodicals are supplied when available.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Students
  • Massachusetts State College--Students
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
Types of material
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers

Valley Women’s Union

Valley Women's Union Records, 1974-1976
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 201

The Valley Women’s Union was established in 1974 by members of the Valley Women’s Center, Northampton, Massachusetts, who were committed to political change benefiting women. They were concerned that the Valley Women’s Center had become a static umbrella organization and that many of its formerly vital functions had been absorbed by local social service agencies The VWU sought to unify groups that were working for political change beneficial to women.

Records include newsletters, agendas for meetings, reports, position papers, and mailings.

Subjects
  • Feminism--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
  • Feminists--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity--History
  • Social change--Political activity--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--History
  • Women--Massachusetts--Pioneer Valley--Political activity --History
Contributors
  • Valley Women's Union (Northampton, Mass.)

League of Women Voters of Central Berkshire

League of Women Voters of Central Berkshire Records, 1959-2001
9 boxes (4 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 478

First founded as a chapter for Pittsfield and later for all of central Berkshire county, this local league is one of many Massachusetts chapters of the national non-partisan political organization, League of Women Voters, that influences public policy through education and advocacy by registering voters, organizing candidate forums, publishing voting guides, and disseminating general information on the legislative process and the functioning of government on the local, state, and federal levels.

The bulk of the collection documents the activities and topics of interest to members of the League of Women Voters of Central Berkshire during the last three decades of their work before disbanding in 2001. The chapter consistently served to educate the public on voter registration, the voting process, and on the functioning of local and state government. Other issues of importance included child care and rights, prison reform, clean water, and health care.

Subjects
  • Berkshire County (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Drinking water--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • Prisons--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • League of Women Voters of Central Berkshire

Antislavery

Antislavery Pamphlet Collection, 1725-1911
(7.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 003

The Antislavery Collection contains several hundred printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. The holdings include speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.

Subjects
  • Abolitionists--Massachusetts
  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Slavery--United States
Contributors
  • American Anti-Slavery Society
  • American Colonization Society
Restrictions: Collection currently unavailable due to renovations in SCUA

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