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Manuscript collections

Geisha, from the Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers

Geishas,
from Benjamin Smith Lyman Papers

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects and preserves textual, visual, and auditory materials of enduring historical value and makes them available to researchers at no charge.

The collections held by SCUA are rich and deeply interrelated, documenting four areas of historic and cultural interest: social change, New England, the University of Massachusetts, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

Among the distinguished collections held by SCUA are the records of:

  • W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond (African American intellectuals and civil rights pioneers)
  • The Africa America Institute
  • The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (350 years of Quaker history in the region)
  • The Hampshire Council of Governments (350 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts
  • David Steindl-Rast (Benedictine monk, participant in interfaith dialogue, and student of the interaction between spirituality and science)
  • Kenneth R. Feinberg (attorney and public figure)
  • Congressman Silvio E. Conte and John Olver, Gov. Jane Swift, and state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (politicians)
  • The Clarke School for the Deaf, International Center for the Disabled, Elmer C. Bartels, Fred Pelka and Denise Kurath, Judi Chamberlin, Lucy Gwin (advocates for people with disabilities)
  • Benjamin Smith Lyman, William Smith Clark, and William Penn Brooks (natural scientists)
  • Mark H. McCormack and Sidney Topol (innovators)
  • William Lederer, Leonard Lewin, Jodi Picoult, Andrew Coburn, Mary McGarry Morris, Harvey Swados, Robert Francis, Charles Whipple (writers)
  • Carl Oglesby, Eric Mann and Lian Hurst, Raymond Mungo, Anna Gyorgy, Mary Wentworth, Randy Kehler, the Liberation News Service, and the Alternative Energy Alliance (activists)
  • Jeff Albertson, Burt Brooks, Alton H. Blackington, Lionel Delevingne, Thomas and Margaret Tenney, and Diana Mara Henry (photographers and photojournalists)

Information about all of our manuscript and photographic collections is included in UMarmot. Use the search box and menus to the right to navigate our collections and to locate collections of interest.

Learn more:

Marino, Michella M.

Michella Marino Oral History Collection, 2011-2012
23 items
Call no.: MS 812

Michella Marino received her doctorate from the Department History of at UMass Amherst in May 2013. Her dissertation, Sweating femininity: women athletes, masculine culture, and American inequality from 1930 to the present, drew on extensive oral historical and archival research to examine how feminist women negotiated the cultural boundaries surrounding gender to carve out identities as women, athletes, and mothers. Focusing on women’s participation in two sports, basketball and roller derby, Marino wrote that her goal was to “explain the tension between women’s representation and agency, between cultural constructs and women’s lives, between images of women and their individual identities.”

The Marino Collection consists of 23 oral historical interviews with female and male participants in roller derby and basketball.

Gift of Michella Marino, Feb. 2014
Subjects
  • Roller derby
  • Sex discrimination in sports--History
  • Sports for women
  • Women athletes
  • Women's basketball
Types of material
  • Oral histories

Meier, August, 1923-2003

August Meier Collection, 1837-1984
3 boxes, 329 titles (34.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 844
August Meier Collection image

A pioneer in African American history, August Meier was a model of an engaged academic, a prolific writer, active participant in the civil rights struggle, and staunch member of the NAACP, SNCC, and CORE. While pursuing graduate work at Columbia under Henry Steele Commager, Meier taught at a succession of Historical Black Colleges, including Tougaloo (1945-1949), Fisk (1953-1956), and Morgan State (1957-1964). His dissertation, completed in 1957, became the first of eleven books he wrote or edited, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915 (1963), with much of later work conducted in collaboration with Elliott Rudwick and John Bracey. Meier joined the faculty at Kent State University in 1967 and remained there until his retirement in 1993. His much-anticipated monograph on the history of the NAACP had not been completed at the time of death in 2003.

Organized in two discrete parts, the Meier collection bookends a long career in the study of African American history. The first part of the collection is centered on Meier’s association with the Pioneer Youth summer camp in Rifton, N.Y., and his growing consciousness of the fundamental problems of race and class in American society, with some materials from his wartime years as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. The second part of the collection includes books collected by Meier during his academic career, mostly on African American history and culture. Titles range from works on the Civil Rights movement to literature and poetry of the late nineteenth century and Harlem Renaissance, works on slavery and antislavery, race theory, the South, and African American education and religion.

Subjects
  • African Americans--History
  • Antislavery movements
  • Camps--New York (State)
  • Civil rights movements
  • Communists--United States
  • Depressions--1929
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt),1868-1963
  • Oberlin College--Students
  • Pioneer Youth of America
  • Race relations
  • World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
  • Braunthal, Gerard, 1923-
Types of material
  • Newsletters
  • Songbooks

Memory Corps

Memory Corps oral histories, 2011-2012

Memory Corps was launched in 2011 to collect brief oral histories of the alumni of UMass Amherst. Interviews will include alumni from throughout the history of the university and center on memories of their experiences at UMass and their careers since.

Subjects
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Alumni
Types of material
  • Oral histories

Meyer, Richard E., 1939-

Richard E. Meyer Collection, 1948-2007 (Bulk: 1980-2007)
31 boxes (15.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 072
Richard E. Meyer Collection image

A member of the English and Folklore faculty at Western Oregon University, Richard E. Meyer studied at Northwestern University and the Universities of Washington and Oregon. A prolific author, he has published on topics ranging from British and American literature to American folklore, but particularly on the culture and history of the American cemetery and gravemarkers. A founder of the Cemeteries and Gravemarkers section of the American Culture Association (1986) and longtime member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, serving as editor of its journal, Markers, for twelve years, Meyer has delivered dozens of talks on the subject, is co-author (with Peggy McDowell) of The Revival Styles in American Memorial Art (1994), and editor of Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture (1989) and Ethnicity and the American Cemetery (1993).

During the course of his extensive research in cemeteries throughout the United States and Europe, Meyer documented over 20,000 grave monuments. His collection consists of over 16,000 color slides and 200 black and white photographs, all meticulously well-identified, of gravestones and cemeteries. Meyer also collected ephemera and realia relating to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to commemoration of the dead of the First World War.

Gift of Richard E. Meyer, May 2016
Subjects
  • Cemeteries
  • Gravestones
  • Sepulchral monuments
  • Soldiers' monuments
  • Tomb of the Unknowns (Va.)
Types of material
  • Photographs

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

National Arts Policy Archive & Library (NAPAAL)

National Arts Policy Archive and Library, 1965-2013
National Arts Policy Archive and Library image

The National Arts Policy Archive and Library is a collaborative project initiated by SCUA, the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service, and several partners in arts agencies intended to document the history of arts administration in America. Collecting the records of state-level and national arts agencies, NAPAAL will provide a foundation for research into the evolution of arts policy, strategies for supporting the arts, and the economic and cultural impact of the arts on our communities.

Constituent collections include:

Subjects
  • Art and state
  • Arts--Management
  • Government aid to the arts
Contributors
  • Americans for the Arts
  • National Asssembly of State Arts Agencies
  • National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts Collection, 1965-2016
5 boxes (7.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 686
National Endowment for the Arts Collection image

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 history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

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