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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

Learn more:

New England Homestead

New England Homestead Farm Accounts Collection
1883-1884
2 vols. (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 113

The New England Homestead, a magazine published in Springfield, Massachusetts from 1842 to 1969, conducted a contest in 1884 to which farmers submitted notebooks recording their farm accounts for the one year period, April 1, 1883 to March 31, 1884.

The collection includes bound and unbound farm accounts submitted as entries to the contest contest. The Library holds The New England Homestead, 1842-1850 on microfilm, and 1894-1968 in bound volumes.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Accounting--Competitions--New England
  • Agriculture--Economic aspects--New England--History--19th century
  • Agriculture--New England--Accounting--History--19th century
  • Contests--New England
  • Farm management--Competitions--New England
  • Farm management--New England--History--19th century
  • Farmers--Competitions--New England
  • Farmers--New England--Economic conditions--19th century
  • New England--Economic conditions--19th century
Contributors
  • New England Homestead

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League Records
1893-1977
9 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 331

When Charles Marsters founded the Boston Lacrosse Club in 1913, the club was the only one in New England to play teams from outside of the region. Under Marsters’s leadership, however, participation in the sport rose steadily at both the high school and collegiate level, helping establish New England as one of the centers of the American game. In 1935, he and Tom Dent founded the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League (NEILL) to continue to build the sport.

The NEILL records document the growth of lacrosse from informal club team play to a more regulated, interscholastic and intercollegiate varsity sport. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, minutes, and agendas kept by co-founder Charles Marsters and a handful of other NEILL officers, but with material documenting the growth of the sport at UMass Amherst from the 1950s onward and the addition of women’s lacrosse as a collegiate sport. The collection also includes some printed material (including rulebooks), news clippings, and photographs.

Subjects
  • College sports--New England
  • Lacrosse for women--United States
  • Lacrosse guide
  • Lacrosse--New England--History
  • School sports--New England
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Sports
Contributors
  • Boyden, Frank L. (Frank Learoyd), 1879-1972
  • Marsters, Charles E
  • New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Labor and Community Network

New England Labor and Community Newsletters
1979-1984
1 envelope (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 202

Includes eleven of the thirteen newsletters published by the Labor and Community Network, a group of academics and trade unionists interested in labor issues in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Subjects
  • Labor--New England--Periodicals
  • New England--Social conditions--Periodicals
  • Working class--New England--Periodicals
Types of material
  • Newsletters

New England Post-War Marketing

New England Post-War Marketing Plans Collection
1937-1950
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 083

Includes reports, addresses, articles, proposals, memos, and correspondence regarding post-war marketing plans in New England for agricultural products in general, and for dairy products in particular, including the Every Other Day Milk Delivery campaign.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Economic aspects--New England--20th century
  • Dairy products--New England--Marketing--History--20th century
  • Farm produce--New England--Marketing--History--20th century
  • New England--Economic conditions--20th century

New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Regional Planning Commission Collection
1935-1943
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 069

Organized in March 1934, the New England Regional Planning Commission was a coalition of state planning boards intended as a permanent, non-partisan, representative body. Charged with the continuous coordination, review, and revision of state plans, the Commission coordinated research and physical planning relating to transportation (including the highway system and airports), interstate water resources, land utilization, conservation of forests and wildlife, and recreational facilities.

This small collection consists of printed reports, bulletins, and minutes from the NERPC from its founding through middle of the Second World War. Ephemeral in nature, the reports chart the growth of regional cooperation in planning in the use of water and land resources and the transportation system, spurred by the federal New Deal.

Subjects
  • Airports--New England
  • New England--Economic conditions
  • Regional planning--New England
  • Roads--New England
  • Transportation--New England
  • Water-supply--New England
Contributors
  • New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply

New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply Records
1922-1955
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 028

The New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply was established after a 1922 meeting in which Lloyd Tenny of the Agricultural Economics Bureau disclosed that federal money was available for research in marketing. He requested that an advisory council be organized to prevent the duplication of research. The group’s charge was to stimulate and coordinate the studies of economic problems connected with the supply of foods and other agricultural products of New England. Membership of the council was comprised of representatives from institutions and agencies actively involved in prosecuting such economic studies. A number of faculty at the Massachusetts Agricultural College helped to shape the council in its early years, including Kenyon Butterfield and Alexander Cance. The council dissolved in 1955, and the New England Agricultural Economics Council was formed in its place.

The collection contains the records of the NERC from its formation in 1922 until its dissolution in 1955. Included are the council’s constitution adopted in 1922 and unaltered throughout the life of the organization, proceedings of annual meetings, publications, and reports on such topics as milk marketing and fruit and vegetable marketing.

Subjects
  • Agricultural economics--New England
  • Dairy products--Marketing--New England
  • Food industry and trade--New England
  • Food--Marketing--New England
Contributors
  • Butterfield, Kenyon L. (Kenyon Leech), 1868-1935
  • Cance, Alexander E
  • New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply

New England Telephone and Telegraph Company

Western Massachusetts Ice Storm Photograph Collection
1942
1 envelope (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 354 bd
Image of Ice damage near Becket
Ice damage near Becket

Approximately every twenty years, western New England suffers from devastating ice storms, leaving heavy ice coating on trees and buildings and hazardous conditions. Major storms struck in 1921, 1942, 1961, 1983, 1998, and 2008, with the storm of December 29-30, 1942, disrupting power and closing roads throughout a broad swath of the northeast. In northern New York state, ice depths reached six inches.

The collection includes twenty six of an original thirty eight photographs depicting ice storm damage to power lines in the Pittsfield District (Windsor, Middlefield, Washington Mountain to Becket) resulting from the storm in December 1942. The collection also includes a cover letter pertaining to photos (not included) documenting a similar situation in Northampton, affecting the New England Power Service Co.

Subjects
  • Electric lines--Massachusetts--Photographs
  • Electric power systems--Natural disaster effects --Massachusetts--Photographs
  • Ice storms--Massachusetts--Photographs
Contributors
  • New England Power Service Company
Types of material
  • Photographs

New England Telephone Workers’ Strike

New England Telephone Workers Strike Collection
1989
1 folder (0.15 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 323

In 1989, almost 60,000 telephone workers in New England and New York waged a successful fifteen week strike against Nynex to protest a new contract that threatened cuts to medical benefits.

This small collection includes three handouts and a bulletin documenting the four-month labor strike carried out by New England telephone workers (represented by the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unions) against the NYNEX corporation.

Subjects
  • NYNEX Corporation
  • New England--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Strikes and lockouts--Telephone companies--New England --History
  • Telephone companies--Employees--Labor unions--New England--History
Contributors
  • Communications Workers of America
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Types of material
  • Handbills

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records
1654-2016
(384.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 902

In 1661, less than a decade after the first Friends arrived in British North America, the precursor to the New England Yearly Meeting was organized as the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting. As one of approximately two dozen yearly meetings in the United States, the NEYM currently comprises eight quarterly meetings and approximately 85 monthlies, which are the basic unit of organization for the Society. Like many Yearly meetings, the NEYM has been diverse in spiritual practice, reflected in a history of separations and reunions. Most famously, Orthodox Friends in New England divided in the 1840s into the increasingly evangelically-oriented Gurneyites, who went by the name Yearly Meeting of Friends for New England (joining Friends United Meeting in 1902), and the Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends. In 1945, the disparate branches formally reunited.

Consolidated beginning in the 1960s, the NEYM collection contains the official records of the New England Yearly Meeting from its founding in the seventeenth century to the present, along with records of most of its constituent Quarterly, Monthly, and Preparative Meetings and records of Quaker schools and trusts. As varied as the Quaker practice they document, these records include minutes of meetings for business; committee records; newsletters, financial records; some personal papers; printed books and serials; and an assortment of photographs, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and electronic records. Of particular note are the vital statistics recorded by the Monthly Meetings, including general information on births, deaths, marriages, membership, and obituaries, and specifically-Quaker information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties suffered by Quakers for following testimonies). The Archives Committee of the NEYM is a partner in records management and on-going documentation of the Meeting and its constituent bodies. The collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and several individual monthly meetings. The records of most monthly meetings in Maine are held at the Maine Historical Society, while important bodies of records are held at the Newport Historical Society (some Nantucket and Rhode Island Meetings) or at individual Monthly Meetings.

An overview of the NEYM collections and a comprehensive inventory and finding aid prepared by Richard Stattler in 1997 at the Rhode Island Historical Society are available online. Stattler’s inventory includes materials in the NEYM Collection at UMass, as well as NEYM materials held at other institutions. SCUA’s updated inventory will follow in 2017.

Subjects
  • Quakers--New England
  • Society of Friends--New England--History
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