Alton H. Blackington Photograph Collection, 1898-1943.
15 boxes (4 linear feet).
Call no.: PH 061
A native of Rockland, Maine, Alton H. “Blackie” Blackington (1893-1963) was a writer, photojournalist, and radio personality associated with New England “lore and legend.” After returning from naval service in the First World War, Blackington joined the staff of the Boston Herald, covering a range of current events, but becoming well known for his human interest features on New England people and customs. He was successful enough by the mid-1920s to establish his own photo service, and although his work remained centered on New England and was based in Boston, he photographed and handled images from across the country. Capitalizing on the trove of New England stories he accumulated as a photojournalist, Blackington became a popular lecturer and from 1933-1953, a radio and later television host on the NBC network, Yankee Yarns, which yielded the books Yankee Yarns (1954) and More Yankee Yarns (1956).
This collection of Blackington’s glass plate negatives was purchased by Robb Sagendorf of Yankee Publishing around the time of Blackington’s death. Reflecting Blackington’s photojournalistic interests, the collection covers a terrain stretching from news of public officials and civic events to local personalities, but the heart of the collection is the dozens of images of typically eccentric New England characters and human interest stories. Most of the images were taken by Blackington on 4×5″ dry plate negatives, however many of the later images are made on flexible acetate stock and the collection includes several images by other (unidentified) photographers distributed by the Blackington News Service.
- Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933--Photographs
- Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937--Photographs
- Maine--Social life and customs--Photographs
- Massachusetts--Social life and customs--Photographs
- New England--Social life and customs--Photographs
- New Hampshire--Social life and customs--Photographs
- Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945--Photographs
- Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921--Photographs
Types of material
Boston & Albany Railroad Engineering Department Map Collection, 1833-1920.
Call no.: MS 130
The Boston and Albany Railroad was formed between 1867 and 1870 from the merger of three existing lines, the Boston and Worcester (chartered 1831), the Western (1833), and the Castleton and West Stockbridge (1834). The corporation was a primary east-west transit through the Commonwealth, with branches connecting towns including Athol, Ware, North Adams, and Hudson, N.Y.
The nineteen atlases comprising this collection include detailed plans documenting the location and ownership of rights of way, land-takings, and other land transfers to or from the railroad company. Dating from the early years of operation for the corporation to just after the turn of the century, the atlases include maps of predecessor lines (Boston and Worcester Railroad Corporation and Western Rail-Road), as well as the Grand Junction Railway Company (Charlestown, Somerville, Everett, and Chelsea), the Ware River Railroad, and the Chester and Becket Railroad.
- Boston and Albany Railroad Co.--Maps
- Boston and Worcester Railroad Corporation--Maps
- Chester and Becket Railroad--Maps
- Grand Junction Railway Company--Maps
- Real property--Massachusetts--Maps
- Ware River Railroad--Maps
- Western Rail-Road Corporation--Maps
- Boston & Albany Railroad Company. Engineering Department
Types of material
Brookfield (Mass.) Records, 1736-1795.
1 box (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 595
Settled in 1660 and incorporated in 1718, the town of Brookfield (Worcester County) straddles the Boston Post Road, one of the major arteries during the colonial period connecting Boston with the towns of the Connecticut River Valley and New York.
This assemblage of documents from the town of Brookfield consists primarily of warrants for town meetings, many with agendas, issued through the local constable. Concentrated in the 1770s, these warrants provide relatively detailed information on matters of local importance, including town finances, tax assessments, contributions to the poor house, roadways, and property disputes. During the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary years, however, issues of interest to the town were often wrapped up in regional or national political issues. Town freeholders, for example, were called to consider requests to “come into any Vote or Resolve Respecting the East India Company Tea,” the encouragement of manufacture of firearms, smallpox inoculation, and pay for the town’s Minute Men.
- Brookfield (Mass.)--History--18th century
- United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
Types of material
Burt V. Brooks Photograph Collection, 1889-1934.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: PH 060
The artist Burt Vernon Brooks was one of the outstanding chroniclers of daily life in the Swift River Valley before it was inundated to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Born in Brimfield, Mass., in 1849 and raised in Monson, Brooks moved to Greenwich with his family in the 1870s, where he worked on the family farm. At some unclear point before he turned 40, Brooks became active as an artist, painting local homes and scenery and taking photographs of the landscape, residents, and daily life in the Quabbin region. A prolific photographer, he was, in the words of historian Donald W. Howe, “hardly ever seen without his camera strapped to his back,” remaining active for decades. Three years after following his second wife to the west, Brooks died in Los Angeles in 1934.
The great majority of the 92 photographs in this collection are 5×7″ dry plate glass negatives taken by Brooks in the earliest years of the twentieth century, documenting the houses and people of Greenwich. Brooks’ work includes landscapes, houses, and a significant series of images of the Hillside School, but some of his best works are studio portraits, images of people at home or with their carriages, and posed scenes of children at play or at work. The collection also includes eight images by Brooks at Enfield, Greenwich, and Dana that are the property of the Swift River Valley Historical Society, and six images taken by Chetwynd and Pike in the Quabbin region to document properties slated for removal.
- Carriages and carts--Massachusetts--Greenwich--Photographs
- Dana (Mass.)--Photographs
- Enfield (Mass.)--Photographs
- Greenwich (Mass.)--Photographs
- Hillside School (Marlborough, Mass.)
- New Salem (Mass.)--Photographs
- Prescott (Mass.)--Photographs
Types of material
- Dry plate gelatin negatives
- Gelatin silver negatives
William Penn Brooks Papers, 1863-1939.
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 003/1 B76
Two years after graduating from Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1875, William Penn Brooks accepted an invitation from the Japanese government — and his mentor, William Smith Clark — to help establish the Sapporo Agricultural School. Spending over a decade in Hokkaido, Brooks helped to introduce western scientific agricultural practices and the outlines of a program in agricultural education, and he built a solid foundation for the School. After his return to the states in 1888, he earned a doctorate at the University of Halle, Germany, and then accepted a position at his alma mater, becoming a leading figure at the Massachusetts Experiment Station until his retirement in 1921.
Brooks’ papers consist of correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, an account book, and translations which provide rich detail on Brooks’ life in Japan, the development of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University), and practical agricultural education in the post-Civil War years.
- Agricultural colleges--Japan--History
- Clark, William Smith, 1826-1886
- Hokkaido (Japan)--History
- Hokkaid¯o Daigaku
- Japan--Description and travel--19th century
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--History
- Massachusetts State Agricultural Experiment Station
- Sapporo N¯ogakk¯o--History
- Sapporo-shi (Japan)--History
- Brooks, William Penn, 1851-
Types of material
David and Marshall Calkins Account Books, 1848-1855.
3 vols. (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 178
These three accounting volumes of Monson, Massachusetts physicians David and Marshall Calkins encompass the period May 1848–December 1855. Medically, these volumes reflect a growing understanding of the human body and the analysis and treatment of its ailments. Additionally, these account books reflect a period of growing prosperity for Monson through the birth of stream powered milling industries.
- Monson (Mass.)--History--19th century
- Calkins, David
- Calkins, Marshall
Types of material
Cemetery Inscriptions Collection, 1902-2005.
4 boxes (6 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 669
Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the Association promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives. To raise public awareness about the significance of historic gravemarkers and the issues surrounding their preservation, the AGS sponsors conferences and workshops, publishes both a quarterly newsletter and annual journal, Markers, and has built an archive of collections documenting gravestones and the memorial industry.
Consisting of self-published and limited-run compilations of gravestone transcriptions from historical cemeteries, the AGS Cemetery Inscriptions Collection offers rich documentation of epitaphs and memorial language, with an emphasis on colonial and early national-era in New England and Ohio. The collection is arranged by state and town.
- Association for Gravestone Studies
Stanley Charren Papers, 1973 (Bulk: 2000).
3 boxes (4.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 900
Called “the Howard Hughes of the wind business,” Stanley Charren played a crucial role in the development of the modern wind power industry. A native of Providence, R.I., and an engineering graduate of Brown University (BS 1945) and Harvard (MS 1946). After marrying Peggy Walzer in 1951, who later became famous as founder of Action for Children’s Television, Charren embarked on a career that merged a penchant for innovation with an entrepreneurial streak, working with Pratt and Whitney, Fairchild, and Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton before becoming CEO of Pandel-Bradford (later Compo). Although he successfully developed products such as the swim spa and carpet squares, Charren is best remembered for his role in commercializing wind power. Taking an interest in wind during the Nixon-era energy crisis, he and his partner Russell Wolfe founded US Windpower in 1974, working on the idea of linking arrays of intermediate-sized windmills into a single power plant tied to the grid. US Wind built the world’s first wind farm in 1978, consisting of 20 units at Crotched Mountain, N.H., and after relocating to northern California in 1980 and changing name to Kenetech in 1988, the company emerged as the largest wind energy firm in the world. However the collapse of oil prices in the 1980s and federal regulatory hostility to alternative energy seriously impinged upon the company’s growth, ultimately contributing to its bankruptcy in May 1996. Charren retired from Kenetech in 1995.
The Charren Papers include scattered but valuable materials on the founding and operations of US Windpower and Kenetech, including early business plans, correspondence, technical reports, and informational brochures, along with materials documenting some of the legal challenges they faced in the 1980s and 1990s. The collection also contains ephemera relating to some of Charren’s work outside of the windpower industry.
- U.S. Windpower
- Windpower industry
Orton Loring Clark Papers, 1910-1922.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 047
Orton Loring Clark was an associate professor of botany and biology at the University of Massachusetts. After earning his B.A. in 1908 from the University, then the Massachusetts Agricultural College, Clark studied at the University of Strasbourg, where he earned his doctorate. He joined the faculty of his alma mater in 1913, specialized in plant physiology, and taught until his retirement in 1946. Known as a great teacher and fine artist, Clark was active in Amherst town politics. He passed away in 1965 at the age of 79.
Orton Loring Clark’s collection includes several notebooks of research notes, data, and hand-drawn field diagrams. The notebooks date from his student years in Germany to his first several years on the faculty at the Massachusetts Agricultural College. The collection also includes one letter from 1922.
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Botany Department
Robert L. Coffin Ornithological Journal, 1912-1922.
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 593 bd
Robert L. Coffin (1889-1976) began a long association with the Massachusetts Agricultural College when he arrived on campus in 1912 to begin work as an assistant photographer for the East Experiment Station. His skill as a technical photographer and his artistic eye, however, soon made him a valuable commodity on campus and within a few years of his arrival, Coffin had branched out to work for a wide range of departments across campus and, in the late 1920s, for the US Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well. An avid birder and naturalist, Coffin was particularly known for his nature photography, using a battery of different cameras to capture everything from scenic vistas to photomicrographs. Although he established a commercial photographic studio in Amherst in 1931, Coffin continued to accept a wide range of assignments at UMass, earning recognition as the unofficial campus photographer. He remained active almost to the time of his death in 1976 at the age of 86.
Containing the meticulously detailed records of an avid birder, the Coffin journal contains records of sightings and first and last occurrences of birds observed in the years 1912 and 1917-1922. The records in the journal reflect Coffin’s many birding trips in western Massachusetts, mostly in the Connecticut River Valley, however the journal also contains records from the Swift River Valley, the Harvard Forest, the Boston area, and the Connecticut coast. In a few cases, Coffin recorded the numbers of birds observed.
- Bird watching--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
Types of material