To spark imagination and celebrate the legacy of innovation and the activist spirit, SCUA pursues an ambitious program of collecting materials of enduring historical value and offers strong support for research and learning. Through our collections, programs, public events, and exhibitions, SCUA promotes meaningful engagement with the record of social change in America and innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the histories and cultures of the peoples of New England and the UMass Amherst community. We embrace the university’s historic role as a center of knowledge for the people of the Commonwealth and are committed to using the highest professional standards and practices and the best available technologies to provide free and unfettered access to our holdings for all.
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. Documenting the activities of the administration and faculty and 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.
The timing of Goodell’s proposal to preserve the College archives coincided roughly with the Library’s first efforts to assemble a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. Although the campus had no separate library building until 1885, the College accepted several significant gifts of books, beginning as early as 1868, when the apiarist and state Adjutant General Henry K. Oliver donated twenty scarce volumes on bee culture, followed by other donations of important works in agriculture, history, and science. By the time the library published its first catalogue in 1875, rare books were a small, but distinctive part of the collections. 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 two 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.
From its initial focus on agriculture, horticulture, and the natural sciences, the Library soon extended its collections to encompass the history and culture of New England. 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. 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. Today, SCUA oversees a growing research collection of primary materials that includes rare books and manuscripts, historic maps, photographs, prints, and the official records of the campus at UMass Amherst.
Ward Morehouse Papers, ca.1950-2012.
Call no.: MS 764
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.
- Anti-globalization movement
- Bhopal Union Carbide Plant Disaster, Bhopal, India, 1984
- India--Economic conditions
- Apex Press
- Center for International and Comparative Studies
- Council on International and Public Affairs
- Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
- Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy
Mount Toby Meeting of Friends Collection, 1977-1991.
Call no.: MS 694
The Northampton Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (later the Middle Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting) was formally established in 1939, bringing together the small community of Friends in Western Massachusetts. In 1959, the small preparative meetings in Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton, and South Hadley agreed to consolidate to create a more vital gathering. After five years without a fixed location, a Friend was moved to donate three acres of land on Long Plain Road in Leverett on which to build a proper meetinghouse. When that building opened in 1964, the meeting was renamed the Mt Toby Meeting.
Reflecting a strong history of promoting peace social justice, the Mt. Toby collection documents Friends’ involvement in a wide variety of issues ranging from war tax resistance (Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner), the “Colrain action” when the Kehler/Corner house was seized by the IRS), peace education and civil disobedience, refugee resettlement, the Sanctuary movement, and support for LGBT issues and racial equality. The collection consists largely of fliers and newsletters, ephemera, and newspaper clippings.
- Corner, Betsy
- Kehler, Randy
- Mount Toby Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
- Peace movements--Massachusetts
- Sanctuary movement
- War tax resistance--Massachusetts
Ambrose Nichols Account Book, 1890-1830.
Call no.: MS 210 bd
A cartwright from Cohasset, Massachusetts. Account book includes the types of activities and services Ambrose Nichols performed (working on wagons, wheels, sleds and carts, mending roofs, plowing, raking) and a few entries recording the means by which debts were paid.
- Agricultural wages--Massachusetts--Cohasset--19th century
- Carriage and wagon making--Massachusetts--Cohasset--19th century
- Carriage industry--Massachusetts--Cohasset--Employees--19th century
- Cohasset (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Cohasset (Mass.)--History--19th century
- Wheelwrights--Massachusetts--Cohasset--19th century
- Nichols, Ambrose, 1760-1833
Types of material
- Account books
Northampton Cutlery Company Records, 1869-1987.
Call no.: MS 058
The Northampton Cutlery Company was among the major firms in a region known for high quality cutlery manufacture. Incorporated in 1871 with Judge Samuel L. Hinckley, its largest stockholder, as its first President, the company was located along the Mill River in Northampton, Massachusetts, where operations continued until its closing in 1987.
Records document company operations and technology used in the cutlery manufacturing process, as well as details about employment of immigrant and working class families in the region. Includes administrative, legal, and financial records; correspondence; personnel and labor relations files; and production schedules and specifications.
- Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--History
- Northampton Cutlery Company
John Olver Papers, ca.1990-2012.
Call no.: MS 748
John Olver served as representive from the 1st Congressional District in Massachusetts for over two decades. Born in Honesdale, Pa., on Sept. 3, 1936, Olver began an academic career at UMass Amherst shortly after earning his doctorate in chemistry at MIT in 1961. In 1969, however, he resigned his position to pursue a career in politics. Winning election to the Massachusetts House in 1969 as a Democratic representative from Hampshire County, Olver went on to the state Senate in 1973, and finally to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991, where he followed 17-term Republican Congessman Silvio O. Conte. Olver was a progressive voice for a district stretching from the Berkshire Hills through northern Worcester and Middlesex Counties, enjoying consistently strong support from his constituents for his support for issues ranging from national health care to immigration reform, regional economic development, human rights, and opposition to the wars in Iraq. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he held seats on the Appropriations Committee and subcommittees on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, Energy and Water Development, and Homeland Security. With the redistricting process in Massachusetts in 2011, Olver announced that he would not seek reelection in 2012.
The Olver papers contain thorough documentation of the congressman’s career in Washington, including records of his policy positions, committee work, communications with the public, and the initiatives he supported in transportation, economic development, the environment, energy policy, and human rights. Material in the collection was drawn from each of Olver’s three district offices (Holyoke, Pittsfield, and Fitchburg), as well his central office in Washington.
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- United States--Politics and government--1989-
- United States--Politics and government--2001-2009
- United States. Congress. House
- Olver, John
Barbara Parker History of the Book Collection, 1508-1905.
Call no.: RB 007
A long-time librarian at UMass Amherst and Brown University, Barbara Parker became an avid collector of rare books. Interested in the history of printing, binding, and book design, and herself a bookbinder, Parker collected widely, from early printing to the Victorian book artists of the Chiswick Press.
The Parker Collection contains an eclectic mix of books to illustrate various aspects of the history of the book through 1900. The collection includes eight volumes printed prior to 1600, a fine leaf from the Nuremberg Chronicles, and a strong collection of the work of Charles Whittingham and the Chiswick Press. In addition to fine examples of binding and illustration, the collection includes works printed by Elsevier, Gregorium de Gregoris, and Domenico Farri, five by Joseph Barbou, and two each by the Aldine Press, Simon Colin, and John Baskerville.
- Parker, Barbara
Alonzo A. Peasley Diaries, 1861-1863.
Call no.: MS 608 bd
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.
- 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)
- Peasley, Alonzo A
Types of material
|Cox, Robert (Head, SCUA)||firstname.lastname@example.org||413.545.6842|
|Kay, Kirstin (Mark H. McCormack Sport Innovation Archivist)||email@example.com||413.545.6843|
|Kovacs, Danielle (Curator of Collections)||firstname.lastname@example.org||413.545.2784|
|Moore, Anne L. (Special Collections Librarian)||email@example.com||413.545.6888|
|Robinson, Steve (Special Collections Assistant)||firstname.lastname@example.org||413.545.0274|
|Rubinstein, Aaron (University and Digital Archivist)||email@example.com||413.545.7963|
|Smith, Jeremy (NEH-Du Bois Project Coordinator)||firstname.lastname@example.org||413.545.6729|
|Van Patten, Kristin (NEH-Du Bois Metadata Specialist)||email@example.com||413.545.6729|
|White, Caroline (Kenneth R. Feinberg Archivist)||firstname.lastname@example.org||413.545.9637|
Robert and Martha Perske Papers, 1964-2005.
Call no.: MS 772
While serving with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II, the teenaged Bob Perske became aware of the vulnerable and disabled in society and turned his life toward advocacy on their behalf. Studying for the ministry after returning to civilian life, Perske was appointed chaplain at the Kansas Neurological Institute, serving children with intellectual disabilities for 11 years, after which he became a full-time street, court, and prison worker — a citizen advocate — laboring in the cause of deinstitutionalization and civil rights of persons with disabilities, particularly those caught in the legal system. After Bob married his wife Martha in 1971, the two became partners in work, with Martha often illustrating Bob’s numerous books and articles. In 2002, Perske was recognized by the American Bar Association as the only non-lawyer to ever receive the Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities.
The Perske Papers contains a fifty year record of published and unpublished writings by Bob Perske on issues surrounding persons with disabilities, along with correspondence, photographs, and other materials relating to the Perskes’ activism. The correspondence includes a particularly rich set of letters with a fellow advocate for persons with disabilities, Robert R. Williams.
- Mental retardation--Social aspects
- People with disabilities--Deinstitutionalization
- People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
- Perske, Martha
- Williams, Robert R.
Types of material