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Mission and history

Mission

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

A home for discovery and intensive research, SCUA cares for a record of the pasts we share with generations to come. 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 preserve the memory of human endeavor and experience, with an emphasis on New England . As a collaborator in fulfilling the university’s role as a center for the production of knowledge, SCUA uses the highest standards and practices and best technologies available to provide free and unfettered access to its holdings.

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. As the official record of the activities of the university’s administrators and faculty and a reflection of 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.

Goodell’s initiative to assemble the College archives coincided roughly with the Library’s first efforts to build a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. Although the College had no separate library until 1885, its administrators nevertheless accepted several significant gifts of books, beginning with the 1868 donation of twenty scarce volumes on bee culture from the apiculturist and state Adjutant General Henry K. Oliver. By the time the library published its first catalog in 1875, rare books formed a small, but notable part of the collections, focused on the primary academic interests of the early college: agriculture, horticulture and botany, and the natural sciences. 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. All remain 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 collections of rare books and manuscripts have evolved in concert with the evolution of the university and its academic programs. 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, 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 combined administratively 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, but by 2007, 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, thanks to generous support from the Verizon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. The papers of W.E.B. Du Bois led SCUA’s way into the digital realm, followed by the papers of Horace Mann Bond, and then dozens of of other collections.

Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Finding aid

Samuel E. Murray Papers, ca.1945-1989.

14 boxes (7 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 568
Samuel Murray, 1966
Samuel Murray, 1966

One of the pioneers in the ephemera trade, Samuel E. Murray (1906-1989) was a long time antiquarian bookman, based at his home in Wilbraham, Mass. Born on Christmas Day, 1906, Murray interrupted his college studies to go to sea, but after the Depression left him unemployed, he landed a position as sales representative for McGraw-Hill and, later, G. & C. Merriam and other firms. Always an avid book collector, Murray left the publishing industry in 1970 to become a full time bookseller. Without ever advertising or issuing catalogs, he developed a wide reputation among dealers and collectors for his keen eye and perspicacity with rare and uncommon books. A generalist by trade, Murray had a particular fondness for colorplate books and travel literature, but was renowned both for his extensive reference library and for recognizing early on the value of ephemera. After a lengthy bout with myelofibrosis, Murray died at home on June 4, 1989.

The Murray Papers contain correspondence between Murray and a range of his fellow booksellers and clients, as well as his extensive card files on fellow book dealers and wants lists. The collection offers insight into the operations of a well known antiquarian bookman during the 1970s and 1980s.

Subjects

  • Antiquarian booksellers--Massachusetts
  • Book collecting
  • Books--Want lists
  • Printed ephemera--Collectors and collecting--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
  • Ephemera Society of America
  • Murray, Samuel E., 1906-1989

Peasley, Alonzo A.

Finding aid

Alonzo A. Peasley Diaries, 1861-1863.

2 vols. (0.2 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 608 bd
Fragments of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry flag
Fragments of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry flag

Born in Dorchester, Mass., Alonzo A. Peasley enlisted in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry in May 1861, only weeks after the outbreak of the Civil War. Sent almost immediately southward, Peasley’s regiment was deployed in the Battles of Glendale and First Bull Run in July, and served with the Army of the Potomac throughout the Peninsular Campaign, Frederickbsurg, and Chancellorsville. As part of the 2nd Division, 3rd Army Corps on July 2, 1863, the 1st Massachusetts suffered a 40% casualty rate during fierce fighting along the Emmitsburg Road in Gettysburg, with Peasley sustaining serious wounds. Hospitalized for several months, he was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps to serve out his enlistment. In later life, Peasley worked as a letter carrier in Boston.

Exceptionally well-written, observant, and above all active, Peasley’s diaries offer a fine account of a private’s life in the Civil War. The two volumes include detailed descriptions of life in the 1st Massachusetts Infantry covering the entire period from the day the regiment left the state in June 1861 until the time of Peasley’s wounding at Gettysburg in July 1863. Among the highlights are a minutely detailed, thoroughly extended account of Peasley’s first major engagements (Blackburn’s Ford and First Bull Run), excellent account for the Peninsular Campaign, and a stunning account of the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Subjects

  • Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861
  • Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862
  • Peninsular Campaign, 1862
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States. Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 1st (1861-1864)

Contributors

  • Peasley, Alonzo A

Types of material

  • Diaries

Pelczynski, Walter, 1916-2000

Finding aid

Walter Pelczynski Papers, 1983.

1 envelope (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 148 bd

Walter Pelczynski was a native of Adams, Massachusetts and the second native-born American to be ordained by the Congregation of Marians, which has its roots in Poland. He served as head of the Marians at Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for many years.

Included in this small collection is a photocopy of Pelczynski’s typewritten memoirs, written in 1983, that cover the years 1934 to 1983.

Subjects

  • Catholic Church--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--History
  • Marian Fathers. St. Stanislaus Kostka Province
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Stockbridge
  • Stockbridge (Mass.)--Biography
  • Superiors, Religious--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--Biography

Contributors

  • Pelczynski, Walter, 1916-2000

Types of material

  • Autobiographies

Perreault, Alida

Finding aid

Alida Perreault Papers, 1906-1957 (Bulk: 1928-1933).

2 boxes (1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 808

Alida Capistrant was the eleventh of twelve children in a large French-Canadian family in South Hadley, Massachusetts born on July 24,1914. Her parents both immigrated from Quebec in 1885. On September 30, 1895 they were married in South Hadley. The Capistrant family rented their home until 1912 when they purchased their first house in South Hadley. Alida had an active social life as a teenager and considered attending college or university, but did not pursue any further education until about 1943, when she studied at the Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Two years later she married James Perreault and the couple had two children, a daughter, Marcia (Perreault) Matthieu and a son, David James Perreault. They lived in South Hadley until 2003, when they moved to Chandler, Arizona to be near their daughter. Alida Perreault died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on April 7, 2006, and James died in 2008. Both are buried in Saint Rose Cemetery in South Hadley next to Alida’s family.

Alida’s correspondence during her high school years (1928-1932) reveal a young woman with a substantial network of friends and family. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from several friends, including two potential romantic interests. Letters document daily activities, family happenings, and later Alida’s interest in a career as a nurse and her leadership role in the South Hadley Women’s Club.

Subjects

  • Capistrant family--Correspondence
  • Family--Massachusetts--History
  • High school students--Massachusetts
  • South Hadley (Mass.)--History
  • Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, Mass.)

Contributors

  • Fogg, Esther
  • McEwan, William
  • Mitkiewitcz, Freddie A.

Types of material

  • Correspondence
  • Greeting cards
  • Invitations

Perry, Cynthia Shepard

Finding aid

Cynthia Shepard Perry Papers, 1946-2010.

7 boxes (10.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 842
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986

An educator, diplomat, and expert on Africa, Cynthia Shepard Perry was the first recipient of a PhD from of the Program in International Education at UMass Amherst (1972). Born in Burnett, Indiana, in 1928, Perry was raising a family when she set a twenty-five year goal of earning doctorate and entering international service. One year after earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University in 1967, she arranged for her first trip to Africa, leading a secretarial training project at the University of Nairobi, and over succeeding decades, her connections to the continent deepened dramatically. On faculty at Texas Southern University (1971-1982), Perry served as Associate Director of the university’s Peace Corps Program, which resulted in her leading educational projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya. In demand for the expertise she had gained, she worked as a consultant to the US Information Service in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia and as Staff Development Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Having become a full professor and Dean of International Affairs, she left TSU in 1982 to take her first diplomatic post as an officer of the Africa Bureau of the US Agency for International Development, followed by successive appointments as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1986-1989) and Burundi (1989-1993), as Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, and finally an appointment as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank (1996-2001). Although officially retired, Perry remains active in supporting education and development in Africa from her home in Houston. Among many other awards she has received, Perry was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from UMass for her international work and was recognized by the Salute to Service Award.

A record of a life in international service in Africa, the Perry papers includes materials from Perry’s time as head of the African Development Bank and her two ambassadorial appointments, including speeches, some correspondence, and a handful of publications. The collection also includes a series of awards and plaques, some family photographs, and memorabilia.

Subjects

  • Africa--Foreign relations--United States
  • Burundi--History
  • Sierra Leone--United States
  • United States--Foreign relations--Africa

Types of material

  • Memorabilia
  • Photographs

Pictou, Louis, collector

DigitalFinding aid

Louis Pictou Mi'kmaq Manuscript, Prior to 1903.

1 vol., 140 p. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 342 bd

The Pictou family were prominent members of the Bear River Band of the Mi’kmaq nation in Nova Scotia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Notably, Chief Benjamin Pictou (1830-1931) lived for over a century, witnessing the evolution of the Mi’kmaq economy from hunting, fishing, and trapping to include guiding and attempts at agriculture, and was listed by the anthropologist Frank G. Speck in 1922 as having a hunting allocation near Sporting Lake, southwest of the Bear River.

An extensive, unidentified manuscript written in Mi’kmaq (Micmac) language, using the “hieroglyphic” (pictographic) writing system. At one time, the manuscript was apparently in the possession of Louis Pictou, an “Indian guide” on the Bear River, who stating that the manuscript was written by his “ancestors.”

Subjects

  • Indians of North America--Nova Scotia
  • Micmac Indians--Manuscripts

Contributors

  • Pictou, Louis

Prescott (Mass.)

DigitalFinding aid

Prescott (Mass.) Collection, 1822-1952.

8 vols. (digital) (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 021

Rural and sparsely populated, Prescott, Massachusetts, was founded in 1822 along the ridge separating the West and Middle branches of the Swift River. Its three villages (North Prescott, Atkinson Hollow, and Prescott Hill) never amounted to more than a few houses each, and the town’s total population never exceeded 500. Prescott became the first of four towns to vacate after the Swift River Valley was ordered cleared and dammed to create the Quabbin Reservoir, ceding its administration to the state in 1928 before formally disincorporating in 1938.

The records of Prescott, Mass., document the history of the smallest of the four towns inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Held by the Swift River Valley Historical Society, the materials in this collection consist of records of town meetings and of the activities of the town Selectmen, 1822-1938, as well as sparser records of the School Committee, the Treasurer, and Overseers of the Poor.

Subjects

  • Education--Massachusetts--Prescott--History
  • Poor--Massachusetts--Prescott--History
  • Prescott (Mass.)--Appropriations and expenditures
  • Prescott (Mass.)--History
  • Prescott (Mass.)--Politics and governmen
  • Prescott (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
  • Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--Social life and customs

Contributors

  • Prescott (Mass. : Town)
  • Prescott (Mass. : Town). Overseers of the Poor

Types of material

  • Account books
  • School records

Rand, Frank Prentice, 1889-

Finding aid

Frank Prentice Rand Papers, 1905-1976.

5 boxes (2.5 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 083
Frank Prentice Rand
Frank Prentice Rand

Playwright, poet, historian, student theater director and professor of English, University of Massachusetts.

Correspondence, speeches, lectures, drafts of writings, reviews, publicity material, programs and playbills, scrapbooks, grade books (1917-1959), newsclippings, memorabilia, and other papers, relating to Rand’s teaching career, his writing of poetry, plays, and history, and his activities, as a dramatic coach and director. Includes material relating to the dedication of Rand Theater.

Connect to another siteListen to oral history with Rand's wife:
Oral history, part 1
Oral history, part 2

Subjects

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History

Contributors

  • Rand, Frank Prentice, 1889-

Types of material

  • Oral histories
  • Scrapbooks

Rotundo, Barbara

Digital (+)Finding aid

Barbara Rotundo Photograph Collection, ca.1970-2004.

9 boxes (10 linear feet).
Call no.: PH 050

A long-time member of the English Department at the University of Albany, Barbara Rotundo was a 1942 graduate in economics at Mount Holyoke College. After the death of her husband, Joseph in 1953, Rotundo became one of the first female faculty members at Union College, and after earning a master’s degree in English at Cornell University and a doctorate in American Literature from Syracuse University, she served as an associate professor of English at the University of Albany, where she founded one of the first university writing programs in the United States. Avocationally, she was a stalwart member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, helping to broaden its scope beyond its the Colonial period to include the Victorian era. Her research included the rural cemetery movement, Mount Auburn Cemetery, white bronze (zinc) markers, and ethnic folk gravestones. Her research in these fields was presented on dozens of occasions to annual meetings of AGS, the American Culture Association, and The Pioneer America Society. In 1989, after residing in Schenectady for forty-six years, she retired to Belmont, NH, where she died in December 2004.

Consisting primarily of thousands of color slides (most digitized) and related research notebooks, the Rotundo collection is a major visual record of Victorian grave markers in the United States. The notebooks and slides are arranged by state, with an emphasis on the eastern states, and white bronze (zinc) markers also are represented in photographs and a separate research notebook. The collection also includes several rare or privately published books.

Subjects

  • Cemeteries--New York (State)
  • Gravestones--New Jersey
  • Gravestones--New York (State)
  • Gravestones--Pennsylvania

Contributors

  • Rotundo, Barbara

Types of material

  • Photographs