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Mission and history

Mission

Cattle judging at Mass. Agricultural College
Judging cattle at Mass. Agricultural College

SCUA inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity, and positive social change, SCUA acts through its collections, services, 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:

Morehouse, Ward, 1929-

Ward Morehouse Papers

ca.1950-2012
120 boxes 180 linear feet
Call no.: MS 764
Image of Ward Morehouse at his desk in the Educational Resources Center, New Delhi, 1966
Ward Morehouse at his desk in the Educational Resources Center, New Delhi, 1966

A writer, educator, and activist for human rights and social justice, Ward Morehouse was a prominent critic of corporate power and globalization. Raised in a family of progressive political economists and academics in Wisconsin, Morehouse began his research in international political economy while a student at Yale (BA 1950, MA 1953) and embarked on a standard academic career path. After teaching political science at New York University for a time, he became director of international education at the Center for International and Comparative Studies in 1963, building a particularly strong program in India. However in 1976, conservative opposition to his political views led Morehouse to leave for a new post as president of the Council on International and Public Affairs (CIPA), a human rights organization he had helped found twenty years before. Throughout, he remained an activist at heart. Galvanized by the 1984 industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, he organized the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, and went on to form or work with many other organizations seeking to resist corporate power and build democracy, including the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and the Permanent People’s Tribunal, operating the radical Apex Press. Morehouse died in June 2012 at the age of 83.

The Morehouse collection is a massive archive documenting six decades of research, writing, and activism. A prolific writer and editor, Morehouse left a deep record of his activities, his research and writing on corporate power, and the full breadth of his commitments in labor relations, alternative economics, “people’s law,” and peace.

Gift of Ward Morehouse and Carolyn Oppenheim, Nov. 2013

Subjects

  • Anti-globalization movement
  • Bhopal Union Carbide Plant Disaster, Bhopal, India, 1984
  • Economics
  • India--Economic conditions

Contributors

  • Apex Press
  • Center for International and Comparative Studies
  • Council on International and Public Affairs
  • Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
  • Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy
Morris, Mary McGarry

Mary McGarry Morris Papers

1958-2012 Bulk: 1987-2012
25 boxes 31.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 912

When her first novel, Vanished, was published in 1988, Mary McGarry Morris was immediately celebrated as a haunting and powerful writer of character-rich novels. A finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Vanished was followed by seven more acclaimed novels: A Dangerous Woman (1991; released as a feature film in 1993), Songs in Ordinary Time (1995; a selection of Oprah’s Book Club), Fiona Range (2000), A Hole in the Universe (2004), The Lost Mother (2005), The Last Secret (2009), and Light from a Distant Star (2011). Morris was born in Connecticut, grew up in Rutland, Vermont, and with her lawyer husband, Michael, has long lived—and raised five children—in Andover, Massachusetts. In her forties when Vanished was published after years of writing in near-secret, Morris has a gift for illuminating and shading the banalities, the urges, and the often fragile relationships that define and disrupt her characters’ lives and the fictional New England towns they inhabit. Her work has drawn comparisons to Steinbeck and McCullers.

The Mary McGarry Morris Papers consist of numerous drafts of her novels, including many handwritten pages and notes, as well as correspondence, book covers, clippings, and other material relating to the publication and promotion of her works. In addition, there are many early stories and some poems.

Gift of Mary McGarry Morris, 2016

Subjects

  • Fiction--20th century--Stories, plots, etc
  • Fiction--21st century--Stories, plots, etc

Contributors

  • Morris, Mary McGarry
Morris, William, 1834-1896

William Morris, The friendship of Amis and Amile

ca.1894
1 item 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 362 bd

A leader in the English Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris translated the ancient French romance, Amis and Amile, in 1894, one of a number of romances he published in his literary efforts to restore the middle ages.

This holograph copy of Morris’s short story was prepared for the Kelmscott Press in 1894 and printed in a run of 500. The first American edition appeared later that year, published by Thomas Bird Mosher.

Subjects

  • Kelmscott Press

Contributors

  • Morris, William, 1834-1896

Types of material

  • Holographs (Autographs)
Mosely, Luther, 1807-

Luther Mosely Daybook

1842-1846
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 249 bd

Homeopathic physician from Arlington, Vermont. Daybook contains patients’ names, including many women, identification of some cases (such as vaccination, extraction of teeth, treatment of swellings, fractures, and burns, and the delivery of babies), methods of treatment (such as purges, bleeding, cupping, and the use of blistering ointments), prices for his services, and method and form of payment (including goods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, clothes, and services such as butchering and timbering). Also contains personal entries and notation of goods he sold such as poultry, leathers, and fabrics.

Subjects

  • Arlington (Vt.)--Social conditions--19th century
  • Canfield family
  • Contraception--Vermont--Arlington--History--19th century
  • Hard family
  • Homeopathic physicians--Vermont--Arlington
  • Matteson family
  • Medicine--Practice--Vermont--19th century
  • Milligan family
  • Oatman family
  • Pessaries
  • Purdy family
  • Women--Medical care--Vermont--Arlington--19th century

Contributors

  • Mosely, Luther, 1807-

Types of material

  • Account books
  • Daybooks
Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-

David Ledbetter Nanney Papers

1948-2008
13 boxes 6.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 592
Image of Tracy M. Sonneborn
Tracy M. Sonneborn

The experimental ciliatologist David L. Nanney spent much of his career studying the protozoan Tetrahymena. Under Tracy M. Sonneborn at Indiana University, he completed a dissertation in 1951 on the mating habits of Paramecium, but soon after joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, he turned his attention to Tetrahymena. During his subsequent career in Ann Arbor (1951-1959) and at the University of Illinois (1959-1991), Nanney made a series of fundamental contributions to the cytology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolution of ciliates, influencing the work of other biologists such as Joe Frankel, Janina Kaczanowska, Linda Hufnagel, and Nicola Ricci. Since his retirement in 1991, Nanney has remained in Urbana.

The Nanney Papers include a dense run of professional correspondence with ciliatologists, geneticists, students and colleagues regarding his pioneering research on ciliates and other professional matters. Of particular note is an extensive correspondence with Sonneborn, accompanied by several biographical essays written after Sonneborn’s death, and a large body of correspondence of the controversial reorganization of the biological sciences departments at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. The collection also includes a selection of Nanney’s writings and a handful of photographs.

Subjects

  • Developmental biology
  • Evolution (Biology)
  • Protozoans--Genetics
  • Tetrahymena--Genetics
  • University of Illinois--Faculty

Contributors

  • Allen, Sally
  • Bleyman, Lea K
  • Corliss, John O
  • Frankel, Joseph, 1935-
  • Kaczanowski, Andrzej
  • McKoy, J. Wynne
  • Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-
  • Nyberg, Dennis Wayne, 1944-
  • Orias, Eduardo
  • Ricci, Nicola
  • Siegel, Richard
  • Sonneborn, T. M. (Tracy Morton), 1905-
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Portsmouth Branch (Portsmouth, N.H.)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Portsmouth Branch (Portsmouth, N.H.) Records

1963-1966
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1006

The first New Hampshire branch of the NAACP was formed in Portsmouth in 1958, meeting initially in the home of its first president, the local businessman Thomas Cobbs. Growing steadily during the 1960s, the Portsmouth membership were engaged in addressing local concerns over discrimination in housing and employment and were stalwart supporters of the national civil rights struggle.

This small collection of records from a local New England branch of the NAACP consists of minutes of meetings between 1963 and 1966 and a relatively miscellaneous assortment of fliers and other materials from the national organization. Although the collection is slight, it includes records NAACP actions in Portsmouth and, notably, the minutes were kept by Betty Hill and her husband Barney, who became well known for their claim to having an encounter with a UFO.

Subjects

  • African Americans--New Hampshire
  • Civil rights movements--New Hampshire
  • Discrimination in housing--New Hampshire

Contributors

  • Cobbs, Thomas
  • Hill, Barney, 1922-1969
  • Hill, Betty (Eunice)

Types of material

  • Minutes (Administrative records)
National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts Collection

1965-2016
5 boxes 7.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 686
Image of

Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

In contributing to the National Arts Policy Archive and Library (NAPAAL), the NEA allowed SCUA to digitize publications on the arts and arts management since its inception. The collection reflects the impact of the arts (including music, literature, and the performing arts) on everyday lives of Americans and include materials intended to support individual and classroom education, information on arts management, reports on the status of the arts, histories of the organization, and much more. All items are cataloged in the UMass Amherst Libraries online catalog and are included in the Internet Archive, where they are available for full-text searching.

Subjects

  • Art and State
  • Arts--Management
  • Government aid to the arts
Natural Farmer

The Natural Farmer

1999-2005
26 items (digital)
Call no.: Digital

Published quarterly by the Northeast Organic Farming Association, The Natural Farmer is a widely circulated newspaper devoted to the support of organic farming. These files are made available courtesy of the editors, Jack Kittredge and Julie Rawson of NOFA Massachusetts.

Subjects

  • Farming--United States
  • Organic farmers
  • Organic farming

Contributors

  • Northeast Organic Farming Association
New England Agricultural Economics Council

New England Agricultural Economics Council Records

1955-1966
2 boxes 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 031

After dissolution of the New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply in 1955, a group of agricultural economists from the six state universities in New England formed the New England Agricultural Economics Council to carry on with the mission of promoting education and research on economics and the social problems relating to the production, marketing, and consumption of agricultural products.

Concentrated on the first ten years of the NEAEC, the collection include organizational materials, correspondence, minutes and proceedings, financial records, and newsletters.

Subjects

  • Agricultural economics--New England
  • Dairy products--Marketing--New England
  • Food industry and trade--New England
  • Food--Marketing--New England

Contributors

  • New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply

Types of material

  • Newsletters