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Friends genealogy

Genealogists are the largest single group of researchers using the Friends records, but they often meet with frustration. One common misconception is that these records are neatly organized and indexed. While William W. Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy provided thorough indexes for the records of many yearly meetings, including New York, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the New England records have never been completely indexed. The only access to information on New England Friends is usually through a search of the records, either on microfilm or in the original. Here are some important points to remember for typical genealogical problems.

  1. It is important to know both place and time. If an individual moved around New England, it will be very helpful to sketch out a chronology of their travels.
  2. All vital records are recorded by the Monthly Meeting. You will need to determine which monthly meetings your ancestor belonged to. If there is no monthly meeting named after their town, look it up in the index in the back of this book. The town may have held smaller meetings that were part of a larger nearby monthly meeting.
  3. If their town is not indexed, examine the maps on pages 12 to 14 of this guide. Were there any meetings nearby? Until the age of automobile travel, it is unlikely that many practicing Friends lived more than a few miles away from at least a worship group. Even if they did maintain the “Discipline” of Friends in a distant town, their vital records would prob- ably not be recorded by a Monthly Meeting.
  4. If a probable Monthly Meeting can be determined, look at that meeting’s entry in the monthly meeting section. Check for vital records in the listing at the bottom of this entry. Are there any birth, death, marriage or membership records? Removals and denials are also useful (see glossary). Minutes are less useful for genealogy, but sometimes include marriage information, and occasionally memorials to the deceased.
  5. If the records that you want have been microfilmed, this will be indicated in the last column: “Film#”. This is the microfilm number at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library. An asterisk indicates that it can also be found at the Maine Historical Society Library, and a plus sign indicates that it can be ordered from the Family History Centers operated by the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). An @ symbol indicates that the film is available through the Nantucket Historical Association.
  6. If the records have not been microfilmed, you will need to consult the original. The location of originals is given in the “Loc.” column. Most of them are on deposit at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library, which houses the official Archives of New England Yearly Meeting.
  7. If you are researching early Friends (pre-Revolutionary), it is likely that you will not discover anything new in the vi- tal records. Friends records have always been a major resource for colonial genealogy, and have been consulted for most of the major reference works that you have already looked at. It is, however, possible to find new information in meeting minutes, to verify membership or residence in a location.

For further information, Our Quaker Ancestors: Finding Them in Quaker Records by Ellen Thomas Berry and David Allen Berry (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987) is a book-length treatment of general approaches to Quaker genealogy.

Friends Records

The Records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (NEYM) offer rich documentation of three and half centuries of Quakers in our region and the culture in which they lived. The heart of the collection are the records of the Yearly Meeting itself, but most Quarterly and Monthly meetings are represented as are some Quaker schools and other organizations, and there is a substantial library of Quaker books and periodicals, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown.

This volume is a guide for any researcher interested in the records of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in New England. In addition to providing a comprehensive list of the official records created by New England Quakers, it also gives a brief history of each meeting.

The bulk of the guide is arranged by meeting. To use it, a basic understanding of the administrative structure of the Society of Friends would be very helpful. The largest body is the Yearly Meeting. For many rather confusing reasons, there have been several different yearly meetings active in New England. The largest, New England Yearly Meeting, has covered almost the entire region since 1661. The yearly meeting has been composed of quarterly meetings since the early 18th century. They in turn are composed of monthly meetings, which are the basic administrative unit of the Society of Friends. Almost all of the membership information is recorded on the monthly meeting level. The monthly meeting is sometimes subdivided into smaller meetings: preparative meetings, which prepare business for the monthly meetings; and meetings for worship, which generally create no records.

The records of the yearly meetings appear first in this guide, then the quarterly meetings, then monthly meetings. There are no separate entries for preparative meetings or meetings for worship; they are discussed under the appropriate monthly meeting.

The entries for each meeting include the following information:

Name. If a meeting changed names over the years, only one entry is made, under the name the meeting held for the longer time. “See…” references are made under all other known names. If two meetings merged to form a new meeting, all three are given entries. If the name of one of the merging meetings was retained, however, it is not given a new entry.

Place. The place given is the town the monthly meeting was based in for most of its life. It is mainly provided to give a general idea of a meeting’s region; many meetings met on a rotating basis in several locations. For quarterly meetings, the states which it covers are listed. This can help narrow down a search for a specific area.

A brief history of the meeting. For monthly meetings, this history will generally describe the meetings for worship that preceded the monthly meeting, tell where the meeting was set off from, list name changes, and describe which monthly meetings were set off or joined to the meeting. The history will also try to explain any confusing circumstances regarding the structure of the meeting. However, the histories generally make no effort to explain where the meetings met, or when meeting houses were built. Nor do these histories describe prominent members or dramatic events. This would be impossible to do well in a volume of this size. Published histories are available for many of the older meetings, and these are mentioned in the notes when possible.

Quarterly meetings (given only for monthly meetings). Since 1705, all monthly meetings in N.E.Y.M. have been con- stituent parts of a quarterly meeting. Before 1699, they were direct constituents of the Yearly Meeting.

Constituent meetings. Many different sorts of smaller meetings are listed here. This information is provided mainly as a way to determine where residents of a certain town may have attended monthly meeting at a specific date. The information is somewhat unreliable, especially regarding dates.

Formally constituted preparative meetings met for business, and reported monthly to their monthly meetings. Their dates, except in very early meetings, are generally easy to discern from monthly meeting minutes. Sometimes, a monthly meeting would have only one preparative meeting, or none. Generally, preparative meetings named after their monthly meetings are not listed. One problem is that there was no formal provision for preparative meetings between 1901 and 1950. Many preparative meetings continued to meet for business during this time, usually under the heading of “particular meeting”, and are listed as preparative meetings.

Other sorts of meetings may or may not have been formally connected to their monthly meetings, and include particular meetings, meetings for worship, indulged meetings, worship groups, allowed meetings and midweek meetings. No attempt has been made to distinguish between these types of meetings, which are all listed as “W.G”. The dates are often impossible to determine, as they kept no records, and monthly meetings have not always kept track of their existence. However, they are important, being at the center of the spiritual life of Friends. Generally, any meeting for business is also a meeting for worship, but is not listed separately as such.

Records. These tables show all the records of each meeting known to be in existence. For many of the newer meetings, no records have yet been sent to the archives; as a rule, very recent records can often be obtained only through the clerk of the meeting. The records are arranged in the following order: men’s minutes; women’s minutes; joint minutes; rough minutes; vital records; ministry and counsel or equivalent; committee records; miscellaneous loose papers; newsletters.

The information given includes the type of record, the dates covered by each record, the quantity, the location of the original, and the microfilm number (if any). See the glossary and list of abbreviations for details. All of the records with microfilm numbers are available on film at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library. In addition, those with asterisks are available at the Maine Historical Society, those with plus signs are available through the Family History Centers, and those with an @ symbol can be found at the Nantucket Historical Association. In some cases, records have been missing for many years, have never been sent to the Archives, and are presumed to be irretrievably lost; an effort have been made to show this. Researchers should know that meeting minutes are generally closed for a period of twenty years before being open to the public, except for the printed Yearly Meeting minutes.

Gates, John Edward

John Edward Gates Papers, 1982-1991.

2 boxes (3 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 518

Lexicographer and former English faculty at Indiana State University, John Edward Gates is the author of numerous scholarly articles on idiomatic phrases and the principles and practice of dictionary making, as well as the co-editor of the Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf. Reflecting his work as a lexicographer, this collection consists of research notes and proofs of articles and book reviews.

Subjects

  • Lexicography
  • Linguistics

Contributors

  • Gates, John Edward

Gittings, Barbara and Kay Tobin Lahusen

Gittings-Lahusen Gay Book Collection, ca.1920-2007.

ca.1,000 items
Call no.: RB 005

Barbara Gittings and her life partner Kay Tobin Lahusen were pioneers in the gay rights movement. After coming out during her freshman year at Northwestern University, Gittings became keenly aware of the difficulty of finding material to help her understand her gay identity. An inveterate organizer, she helped found the New York chapter of the early Lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) in 1957, and she became well known in the 1960s for organizing the first gay rights demonstrations at the White House and Independence Hall. Gittings later worked with organizations from the American Library Association to the American Psychiatric Association to address systematic forms of anti-gay discrimination.

The Gittings-Lahusen Gay Book Collection contains nearly 1,000 books on the gay experience in America collected by Gittings and Lahusen throughout their career. The contents range from a long run of The Ladder, the DOB magazine co-edited by the couple, to works on the psychology and sociology of homosexuality, works on religious and political issues, novels and histories by gay authors, and examples of the pulp fiction of the 1950s and 1960s.

Subjects

  • Gay rights
  • Homosexuality

Goodale, Hubert Dana, 1879-1968

Finding aid

Hubert Dana Goodale Papers, 1918-1978.

1 box (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 918
Brass mouse head
Brass mouse-head stencil used in genetics work at Mount Hop Farm

An applied geneticist associated with Massachusetts Agricultural College and Mount Hope Farm, Hubert Dana Goodale made important contributions in poultry and dairy science.

The Goodale Papers contain correspondence written to Goodale, primarily by his friends and colleagues in poultry science, Al Lunn (Oregon Agricultural College), Loyal F. Payne (Kansas State), and John C. Graham (Mass. Agricultural College). Mixing both personal and professional content, the letters touch on academic life in post-World War I period and a variety of issues in poultry husbandry and genetics.

Subjects

  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
  • Mount Hope Farm (Williamstown, Mass.)
  • Poultry--Breeding
  • Poultry--Genetics

Contributors

  • Graham, John G.
  • Lunn, A. G. (Alfred Gunn), 1883-
  • Payne, Loyal F. (Loyal Frederick), 1889-1970
  • Prentice, E. Parmalee (Ezra Parmalee), 1863-1955

Types of material

  • Stencils

Gordon, Ann

Ann Gordon Papers, 1986-1989.

1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 016

Ann Gordon served as the editor of the Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton papers as a member of African American Studies department from 1982 until the project’s conclusion in 1989. While at the University, Gordon, along with John Bracey, Joyce Berkman, and Arlene Avakian planned a conference discussing the history of African American Women voting from the Cady Stanton’s meeting at Seneca Falls to the Voting Rights Act. The conference, called the African American Women and the Vote Conference, was held in 1988.

The collection is comprised of proposals, reports, meeting transcripts, and correspondence from Gordon’s work planning the 1988 African American Women and the Vote Conference. Also included is preliminary work by Gordon to organize the papers given at the conference into book form.

Subjects

  • African American women
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American Studies

Contributors

  • Gordon, Ann

Greenough, James C.

James C. Greenough Papers, 1854-1887.

1 box (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 003/1 G74
James C. Greenough
James C. Greenough

James C. Greenough was born in 1829 in Wendell, Massachusetts. After working as a schoolteacher in Heath, Massachusetts, from 1854 to 1856, Flint returned to the State Normal School at Westfield to become assistant principal, leaving there in 1871 to become principal of the Rhode Island Normal School. In 1883, Greenough came to the Massachusetts Agricultural College to become president, serving for three years. During his tenure, he was noted for raising academic standards, extending the course of study, and guiding a transition from a small vocational college to a more comprehensive institution supporting agriculture and extension services. Greenough saw the construction of the college chapel and the establishment of the Experiment Station before finishing his term in 1886.

The Greenough collection includes 3 letters (1885-1921); biographical materials; a published letter to alumni (1884); photocopy, and an Annual Report (1883).

Subjects

  • Massachusetts Agricultural College. President

Contributors

  • Greenough, James C

Grout, Aldin

DigitalFinding aid

Aldin Grout papers, 1833-2002 (Bulk: 1833-1894).

1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 797
Rev. Aldin Grout
Rev. Aldin Grout

Aldin Grout was among the first American missionaries to the Zulu nation. After experiencing a religious conversion in his early twenties, Grout dedicated his life to the ministry, studying at Amherst College (1831) and Andover Theological Seminary (1834) before accepting an appointment from the American Board of Christian and Foreign Missions. In Nov. 1835, Grout and his new wife Hannah sailed for South Africa, arriving in Port Natal in June, and building their first outpost among the Zulu, who were in a temporary lull in their long war with Boer settlers. Although Hannah died barely a year later, Grout and his second wife Charlotte remained at the mission station at Umlozi for over thirty years. After settling into retirement in Springfield, Mass., in 1870, Grout took part in the ABCFM effort to translate the Bible into Zulu (1883) and wrote about his missionary experiences for a general audience. Aldin Grout died in Springfield on 1894.

In nearly fifty letters to his in-laws, Grout provided a remarkable commentary on his missionary activities in colonial South Africa, his personal religious convictions, and the lives of the Zulus to whom he ministered. The collection also includes a handful of fragmentary autobiographical and historical sketches written after Grout’s retirement, a handful of letters from his wives and fellow missionary workers, Hannah and Charlotte, and some photographs of Groutville, S.A., and other materials from Grout’s great-great-granddaughter Norine Lee (formerly Phillips).

Subjects

  • American Board of Christian and Foreign Missions
  • Dingane, King of the Zulu, approximately 1793-1840
  • Missionaries--South Africa
  • South Africa--Description and travel--19th century
  • South Africa--History--19th century
  • Zulu (African people)--History

Contributors

  • Grout, Charlotte Bailey
  • Grout, Hannah Davis

Types of material

  • Photographs

Gyorgy, Anna

Anna Gyorgy Papers, 1974-1988..

6 boxes (6.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 631
No Nukes
No Nukes

As a member of the Montague Farm community, Anna Gyorgy became a leader in the movement against nuclear energy. In 1974, she helped organize the Alternative Energy Alliance in Montague, Mass., and two years later, she was part of the coalition that founded the Clamshell Alliance. An author, ecofeminist, and peace activist, she has lived In Ireland, West Africa, and Germany since 1985 and remains deeply involved in international movements for justice and peace.

Tightly focused on Anna Gyorgy’s activism from the mid-1970s through late 1980s, the collection contains important documentation on the early antinuclear movement in western Massachusetts with some material on the international movement in the 1980s. In addition to a small run of correspondence, the collection includes writings, news clippings, publications, and ephemera relating to antinuclear activism during the 1970s and 1980s and to other related causes, including the Rainbow Coalition and Jesse Jackson’s run for the presidency in 1984.

Subjects

  • Alternative Energy Coalition
  • Antinuclear movement
  • Clamshell Alliance

Contributors

  • Gyorgy, Anna

Types of material

  • Photographs

Hagar, Joseph A. (Joseph Archibald), 1896-1989

Joseph A. Hagar Papers, 1897-1976 (Bulk: 1930-1965).

6 boxes (7.92 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 743
Hudsonian godwit hatchlings
Hudsonian godwit hatchlings

An ornithologist and conservationist for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Joseph A. “Archie” Hagar’s career was rooted in the generation of naturalists such as William Brewster, Edward Howe Forbush, and Arthur Cleveland Bent. Born in Lawrence, Mass., on May 13, 1896, Hagar’s undergraduate career at Harvard was interrupted by service in the First World War, after which he completed his studies at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, graduating with the class of 1921. An expert field biologist and ecologist, he was appointed State Ornithologist in the Department of Fish and Game in November 1934 serving in that position for almost twenty five years. A specialist in waterfowl and raptors, Hagar was deeply involved in early conservation efforts in New England, noted for his work on wetland conservation and for linking the use of DDT with eggshell thinning in peregrine falcons, and he was famously at the center of a dispute with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the design of the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. Never a prolific writer, he was an active member of the American Ornithological Union, the Nuttall Ornithological Club, the Wildlife Society, and other professional organizations, and after retirement, he was specially cited for his work in waterfowl conservation by Ducks Unlimited. Active until late in life, he died at home in Marshfield Hills on Dec. 17, 1989.

The Hagar Papers are a deep and valuable resource for the study of New England birds and the growth of modern conservation biology. With abundant professional correspondence, field notes on shorebirds and raptors, and drafts of articles, the collection documents the full range of Hagar’s activities as State Ornithologist, including a particularly thick run of material for the controvery over the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. Hagar also acquired a set of field notes, 1897-1921, from the Harvard ornithologist John E. Thayer.

Subjects

  • Birds--Massachusetts
  • Black duck
  • Conservationists--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Alumni and alumnae
  • Ornithologists--Massachusetts
  • Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Contributors

  • Hagar, Joseph A. (Joseph Archibald), 1896-1989

Types of material

  • Field notes
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs
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