The University Archives contains the official and unofficial records of the University of Massachusetts Amherst throughout its evolution from a small agricultural college into a dynamic and complex university. Within the archives are letters and artifacts, records, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the lives of its founders, the pursuits of its faculty, and the changing attitudes of its students and alumni, revealing what high quality public education means to our Commonwealth and nation.
Among the hundreds of discrete collections and over 13,000 linear feet of records are the official papers of Chancellors, Presidents, Trustees, and other administrators; information about the University’s academic units and student organizations; and the founding documents of our sister campuses at Worcester, Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth. The papers of faculty members add a wealth of information about the lives and intellectual pursuits of our campus community as well as their chosen academic disciplines.
Finding things in the archives
A comprehensive alphabetical index of UMass departments, programs, and other units, including acronyms. Each entry includes a reference to the archival Record Group where the records can be found.
YouMass is wiki devoted to the life and history of the campus community.
Roberta Uno Collection of Asian American Women Playwrights' Scripts, 1924-2005.
Call no.: MS 345
Roberta Uno was the founder and long time artistic director of the New WORLD Theater at UMass Amherst, a theater in residence dedicated to the production of works by playwrights of color.
Established by Uno in 1993, the Asian American Women Playwrights Scripts Collection contains manuscripts of plays, but also production histories, reviews, and articles, along with biographies and audio and videotaped interviews with playwrights. Among the individuals represented are Brenda Wong Aoki, Jeannie Barroga, Marina Feleo Gonzales, Jessica Hagedorn, Velina Hasu Houston, Genny Lim, le thi diem thuy, Ling-Ai Li, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Nobuko Miyamoto, Bina Sharif, and Diana Son.
- Asian American women authors
- New WORLD Theater
- Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
- Scripts (Documents)
Rae Unzicker Papers, 1979-1997.
Call no.: MS 818
Rae Unzicker’s exposure to the psychiatric system began at a young age. Growing up in an abusive home, her parents sent her to psychiatrists off and on for years before she was involuntarily committed. While there, she was quickly introduced to the chaotic and damaging atmosphere of a psychiatric institution, exposing her to mandatory drugs, seclusion rooms, forced feeding, and work “therapy” that required her to wash dishes six hours a day. Once she was release, Unzicker’s road to recovery was long, but after several suicide attempts and stays at other treatment facilities, she ultimately counted herself–along with her friend Judi Chamberlin, an early leader in the movement–a psychiatric survivor. Like Chamberlin, Unzicker embraced her role as an advocate of patient’s rights and for the radical transformation of the mental-health system. In 1995, President Clinton appointed her to the National Council on Disability; two years later she was elected president of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). Unzicker was widely known for her public appearances, conferences and speeches, and her writings, including numerous articles and contributions to the book Beyond Bedlam: Contemporary Women Psychiatric Survivors Speak Out. A survivor of cancer of the jaw and breast, Rae Unzicker died at her home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 22, 2001 at the age of 52.
Although a small collection, Rae Unzicker’s papers document her activities as a leading advocate for the rights of mental health patients, including transcripts of speeches and videotaped appearances, correspondence and feedback related to workshops and conferences, press kits, and newspaper clippings. The most important materials, however, are her writings. It is through her poems and her full-length memoir, You Never Gave Me M & M’s, that Unzicker’s story and voice are preserved.
- Ex-mental patients
- People with disabilities--Civil rights
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
- Unzicker, Rae
Types of material
Upholsters International Union Local 58 Minutebooks, 1901-1939.
Call no.: MS 018
Upholsterers were among the earliest trades in the United States to organize into a national union, with the first efforts dating to the 1850s. The most successful of their unions, the Upholsterers International Union of North America, was founded in Chicago in 1892 and affiliated with the American Federation of Laborers in 1900. One year later, UIU Local 58 was established to organize workers in Washington, D.C.
The minutebooks of UIU Local 58 document the history of the union from its formation in 1901 through the late 1930s.
- Labor unions--Washington (D.C.)
- Upholsterers--Labor unions
- Upholsters International Union
Types of material
Valley Women's Union Records, 1974-1976.
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.
- 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
- Valley Women's Union (Northampton, Mass.)
Ralph Van Meter Papers, 1919-1958.
Call no.: RG 003/1 V36
Ralph Van Meter, the first president of the University of Massachusetts after it changed its name from Massachusetts State College in 1947, spent nearly 40 years learning, teaching, and leading on the Amherst campus. A graduate of Ohio State University (B.S., 1917), he came to the Massachusetts Agricultural College as a specialist in Food Conservation in 1917, serving in the Pomology Department first as a professor, and then as the head from 1936 to 1948. The Board of Trustees appointed Van Meter as Acting President in 1947 and President in 1948. He was responsible for a number of innovations, including the creation of the position of Provost (first held by John Paul Mather) and the establishment of new schools of business administration and engineering.
Correspondence, memos, reports, clippings, and other papers, relating to matters at issue during Van Meter’s presidency of University of Massachusetts including the building program, World War II veterans, accreditation, and the university seal; together with published writings, biographical material, military records, and material from Van Meter’s inauguration as university president.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. President
- Van Meter, Ralph Albert, 1893-
Who can use the collections?
Special Collections and University Archives is open at no cost to researchers, regardless of affiliation, during normal business hours. SCUA staff are happy to assist in planning or conducting research and welcome inquiries from students interested in internships in archival and library studies.
Although research appointments are not required, advance notice will help our staff to locate and retrieve research materials. First-time researchers will be asked to register and to provide name, institutional affiliation (when applicable), and current address. At registration, researchers must present a valid form of identification, including a photograph.
In the reading room
- Please sign in at the front desk each visit
- Only pencils and laptop computers may be used for taking notes. Please do not use pens.
- Smoking, food, and drink are not permitted
- Cell phones should be switched off or set to silent mode; calls may be taken in the adjacent elevator lobby
- Care and handling of materials
- Please use care in handling manuscripts and books to prevent damage
- Use only a single box of manuscript or archival material at a time; take care to preserve the existing arrangement of files
- Photographs for research purposes are permitted; check with a staff member first
- Scans and photocopies are made by staff members in keeping with our copying policies
- Upon leaving for the day, please notify the staff whether you are finished with your material or wish to place it on hold for a return visit
Instruction in SCUA
Classes are welcome to visit SCUA to make use of our collections and to learn about archival and historical research. Our staff are available to provide introductions to archival research, overviews of specific areas of historical interest, information about the collections, and discussions of the history of UMass Amherst. In recent years, the staff have hosted classes from history and American culture, African American studies, English and comparative literature, art history, education, anthropology, politics, business, and library and information science, among other disciplines.
To avoid scheduling conflicts, class visits should be arranged ahead of time. Please include the following information when contacting SCUA:
- Name of instructor or contact
- Date(s) requested, with start and finish time
- Number of students
- Subject area and research interests
- Special requests (for collections)
Learn more about:
Otto Vogl Papers, 1970-1998.
Call no.: FS 161
A native of Traiskirchen, Austria, Otto Vogl (b. 1927) earned an international reputation as a polymer scientist while working with the Polychemicals Department at Du Pont. In June 1970, he was recruited to join the relatively new Program in Polymer Science and Engineering at University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he has continued research on the structure and organic chemistry of polymers, focusing on macromolecular architecture and macromolecular asymmetry (chirality), among other topics. A prolific scholar, he has contributed over 630 articles, received nearly fifty U.S. and foreign patents, and among many other honors, has won election to the Austrian and Swedish Academies of Science.
The Otto Vogl Papers consist primarily of scholarly writings and professional correspondence, along with numerous master’s theses and doctoral dissertations completed under Vogl’s supervision and books written by Vogl’s wife, Jane C. Vogl.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Polymer Science and Engineering
- Vogl, Otto, 1927-
Walther R. Volbach Papers, 1897-1996.
Call no.: FS 087
Born in Mainz, Germany on December 24, 1897, the theater historian and stage director Walther R. Volbach began directing operas and plays at the age of 17. After his immigration to the United States in 1936, he worked for several colleges, coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for five years as a visiting professor following his retirement in 1965. Noted as a director of operas and plays and for his set design, Volbach was author of three books: The Problems of Opera Production (1953), Adolphe Appia : The Prophet of The Modern Theatre (1968), and Memoirs of Max Reinhardt’s Theaters (1972).
The Volbach collection includes personal and professional correspondence in English and German, mostly from Volbach’s later years, regarding family, publishing, lectures, and employment. The collection also includes photographs of set designs, an image of Volbach teaching a class, publications, and lecture and research notes on theater history.
- Appia, Adolphe, 1862-1928
- Drama--Study and teaching
- Set designers
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
- Volbach, Walther R. (Walther Richard), 1897-
Lloyd E. Walsh Papers, 1917-1936.
Call no.: MS 541
In June 1917, Lloyd Walsh volunteered for duty in the American Field Service, and for three months, he served as an ambulance driver for Service Section 68 (S.S.U. 68), a unit that included a number of Amherst College students. When the United States entered the war later in the year, however, most AFS units were transferred to the American Expeditionary Forces or disbanded, and Walsh transferred to ambulance duty with the American Red Cross. He continued to serve with the Red Cross after war, stationed in Vienna, eventually rising to the rank of Captain.
The collection includes a thorough paper trail of Walsh’s work as a volunteer with the AFS and Red Cross during and after the First World War, along with a capsule service record, correspondence, and news clippings that flesh out his experiences. Adding to the picture is Walsh’s decorated Red Cross footlocker, three German helmets (including a Pickelhaube), his own helmet, an American Model 1917 trench knife, and two Hungarian posters.
- Ambulance drivers
- American Field Service
- American Red Cross
- World War, 1914-1918--Medical care
- Walsh, Lloyd E
Types of material
- Trench knives