Founded in 1953 by a multi-racial collective of educators including Horace Mann Bond, then President of Lincoln University, and William Leo Hansberry, a professor of history at Howard University, the Africa American Institute has encouraged and supported African students in pursuit of higher education in the United States. From its early years, AAI provided financial and social support for African students studying in the U.S., but it has expanded its activities in scope with the goal of helping to building leadership for Africa within the academic, professional, business, and policy making classes. It has become a vibrant intellectual center for developing human capacity, drawing together thought leaders, researchers, and entrepreneurs interested in issues relating to the continent.
A massive body of material documenting the history of the AAI from its founding in the early 1950s to the present, the collection is a remarkable resource for study of American relations with Africa as the continent emerged from colonial domination. With a focus on the history of educational support and exchange between the continents, the collection contains a vibrant record of the growth of leadership in Africa.
The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, UMass has supported publication of three volumes of Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has digitized the papers and made them freely available on the internet while serving as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books. SCUA continues in its efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.
Every February, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass Amherst commemorate Du Bois’s birthday by co-sponsoring a public colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert and Bethina Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, Arnold Rampersad, and David Levering Lewis.
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A poet and translator of Kashmiri descent, Agha Shahid was raised in a household where poetry was recited in Persian, Urdu, Hindi, and English. Born in New Delhi on February 4, 1949, he was educated at the University of Kashmir, Srinagar, and University of Delhi, earning earned a doctorate in English from Pennsylvania State University in 1984 and an MFA from the University of Arizona in 1985. The author of nine volumes of poetry, and widely anthologized, Ali was on faculty in the MFA Program at University of Massachusetts Amherst, when he died of brain cancer in December, 2001.
This small collection contains copies of Ali’s first two books, Bone-Sculpture (1972) and In Memory of Begum Akhtar (1979), a self-produced chapbook, and a rough manuscript of poems. All are inscribed to his colleague and friend Zabelle Stodola.
Founded under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, UMass Amherst has long been dedicated to the study and teaching of agriculture and the natural sciences. One of two land grant institutions in the Commonwealth (along with MIT), the university has played an important role in the development of scientific agriculture in New England and has been a major factor in agricultural instruction through its classes and extension service.
SCUA’s collections contain a wealth of information on the history of agriculture and related fields, including horticulture, botany, entomology, animal husbandry, gardening, and landscape design. The strength of the collection lies in documenting the development of American agricultural sciences with an emphasis upon the northeastern states, but it is supplemented with numerous works on British, French, and German agriculture. Adding additional depth are the records of the several departments at UMass Amherst charged with instruction in the agricultural sciences and the papers of individual agricultural educators.
Currently, SCUA is particularly interested in documenting the growth of organic agriculture, heritage breeds, and the practices of sustainable living.
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A tanner, currier, and shoemaker, Benjamin Akin was born into a prominent Bristol County family in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, on May 18, 1715. With a prolific and well-connected family and successful in his own business endeavors, Akin attained some stature in Dartmouth. First appointed town clerk in 1745, he filled that office from 1754-1770 and again from 1776-1780, adding the title “Esq.” to his name by the 1760s. During the Revolutionary years, he served on the town’s public safety committee. He died on April 10, 1802.
The Akin ledger offers insight into the fortunes of an 18th-century artisan during the most productive years of his life, as well as into the structure of a local community in southeastern Massachusetts. The ledger includes accounts of with customers for tanning and currying of calf and sheepskin, day-book entries, and accounts with the Town of Dartmouth for services performed at Town Clerk.
Businessman, town clerk, owner or part-owner of many ships, merchant, lawyer, and involved citizen in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Includes activities as town clerk, accounts for ships he may have owned, entries made as the executor of several estates, accounts of expenditures for clothing and incidentals, and accounts of lot purchases and loans. Also contains genealogical information about the Blossom family of Bridgewater and the family of Benjamin and Eunice Akin.
A long-time faculty member at UMass Amherst, Dean Albertson was a twentieth century U.S. historian with a specialty in oral history. A veteran of the Second World War, Albertson received his BA from University of California Berkeley (1942) and doctorate from Columbia (1955), joining the Department of History at UMass in 1965 after several years at Brooklyn College. Interested throughout his career in new methods in research and teaching history, he was author of books on Dwight Eisenhower, Claude Wickard (Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture), and the student movements of the 1960s. Albertson died at his home in Longmeadow, Mass., on March 31, 1989, at the age of 68.
The Albertson Papers consist of the records of three summer institutes in history at UMass run during the summer 1966-1968, and funded by the National Defence Education Act (NDEA). Aimed at high school teachers of social sciences and history in western Massachusetts, the institutes were designed to provide in-service training and to expose teachers to newer material and techniques in teaching U.S. history. See also Dean Albertson’s collection of oral histories.
Born in Reading, Mass., on Sept 13, 1948, Jeff Albertson was still a student at Boston University, working on the staff of the BU News, when he was hired as a photographer by the Boston Globe. Reflecting the youth culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s, his photographs earned him positions with several prominent Boston alternative media outlets. Covering news, music, and the political interests of his generation, he served as photo editor for the Boston Phoenix and associate publisher for the Real Paper, and his work appeared regularly in mainstream publications such as Rolling Stone, People, and Boston Magazine. After becoming photo editor for the Medical Tribune News Group and moving to New York City in the 1980s, he met and married Charlene Laino. In later years, he became involved in early efforts to create websites devoted to issues surrounding health. Albertson died in 2008.
As a photographer, Albertson covered a wide range of subjects, with particular focus on music and social change. The many thousands of prints, slides, and negatives in the collection include stunning shots of Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and John Lee Hooker, activists such as Abbie Hoffman, politicians, and public personalities. The collection also includes several photographic essays centered on poverty, old age, fire fighting in Boston, and prisoners in Massachusetts (among other issues) along with a wide array of landscapes and street scenes.
Mark Bartlett Aldrich was employed for many years at the Montague Rod and Reel Co. in Montague City. His grandfather, Eugene Bartlett, was the founder of the firm, which made split-bamboo fishing rods. He owned and operated Aldrich’s New England store from 1948 until selling it in 1962. Aldrich then sold cars for Spenser Brothers Ford in Northfield until he and his wife Edith moved to Florida in 1964.
The collection consists primarily of family records relating to the wedding, anniversaries, and funerals of Edith and Mark Aldrich. The Aldrich Family Papers are organized into three series: Wedding and Anniversaries, Funeral and Legal, and Personal.