The Department of Special Collections and University Archives houses approximately 30,000 volumes reflecting an evolving history of collecting at UMass Amherst. Beginning in the late 1860s with a focus on agriculture and the natural sciences, SCUA has developed into a resource for the study of regional and local history in New England, emphasizing our varied cultural, social, religious, and political histories.
Beyond New England, SCUA has built strength in several distinct areas, ranging from the history of social change to the extraordinary collection of Japanese rarities collected by the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman during the 1870s. Other noteworthy collections include those pertaining to the culture of the Cold War era: a growing collection of books printed in East Germany and one of the largest collections of materials in the United States from the Solidarity movement in Poland.
All books and periodicals held by SCUA are cataloged in the Library’s online catalog. UMarmot includes summary descriptions of most major book collections, but not individual titles.
Selected areas of collecting interest:
Agriculture, horticulture, natural history
The library holds key works in apiculture, entomology, gardening, landscape design, pomology, and viticulture, with numerous works in animal husbandry. Materials date back to the 16th century, however the strength of the collections lies in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Cookery in New England
The collections of Beatrice A. McIntosh, Athena Savas, and Lynette Foucher, among others, include books, pamphlets, and ephemera relating to the culinary history of New England, including many thousands of cookbooks published by church and community organizations.
European history and culture
Diverse collections ranging from materials on Revolutionary-era Europe, 1789-1848 (the Binet and Brabançonne Collections); Anglo-American Political Economy; twentieth century German history (the Harold Gordon Collection on the Interwar period and the Hans Joachim Ring Collection on East German cinema); and Communist-era Poland (Basia Jakubowska Schlatner Solidarity Collection).
Gay and Lesbian Literature
The centerpiece extensive of our holdings is the collection of gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen, which includes books on the history of homosexuality in America, works by and about gay writers, gay activism, and related topics.
Books by and about Robert Francis, Archibald MacLeish, William Manchester, William Lederer, and the Broadside Press, among others, as well as the poetry libraries of Francis, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Halley. Although the literary collections focus largely on New England writers, SCUA houses fine collections of the works of William Morris and William Butler Yeats, signed first editions of works by Thomas Mann, and collections of French and Scottish writers.
New England history and culture
Local and regional histories, novels, and other writing about Massachusetts from the eighteenth century to the present. These include an array of election, ordination, installation, dedication, fast-day, mission, farewell, and funeral sermons; Fourth of July orations; and addresses to or by benevolent, cultural, and civic organizations in the Commonwealth. SCUA also collects works printed in small towns and rural districts of Massachusetts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Valuable collections for the history of antislavery in New England and politics of the left. The John P. Roche and Steven Siteman Collections focus on the American left from the late 19th century through the 1950s, with some European materials and materials from the political right.
Jane M. Rausch Papers, 1968-2009.
Call no.: FS 146
A long-time historian at UMass Amherst, Jane Meyer Rausch was widely recognized for her work on the frontier history of Colombia. A graduate of DePauw University (1962), Rausch joined a growing program in Latin American studies at UMass in 1969, shortly after receiving her doctorate in comparative tropical history from the University of Wisconsin Madison. The recipient of a Fulbright Award in 1987, she taught widely in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean, and wrote four major monographs on the Colombian frontier in the colonial and national periods: A Tropical Plains Frontier : the Llanos of Colombia, 1531-1831 (1984); The Llanos Frontier in Colombian history, 1830-1930 (1993); Colombia : Territorial Rule and the Llanos Frontier (1999); and From Frontier Town to Metropolis: A History of Villavicencio, Colombia, Since 1842 (2007).
Centered on the research and teaching, this collection documents the career of Jane Rausch from her days as a graduate student in the late 1960s through her retirement. In addition to a range of professional correspondence, unpublished works, teaching materials, and student notes, the collection includes several hundred 35mm slides taken by Rausch while traveling in Colombia.
- Latin America--History
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of History
- Rausch, Jane M., 1940-
Marvin Rausch Papers, 1988-2006.
Call no.: FS 092
After completing postdoctoral work in Germany under Nobel laureate E.O. Fischer, Marvin Rausch joined the Chemistry faculty at UMass Amherst in 1963. A scholar in organometallic chemistry of the transition metals, Rausch wrote over 150 articles during his career, and became one of the first chairs of the Organometallic Subdivision of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Inorganic Chemistry as well as the Permanent International Secretary of the International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry. A passionate collector of minerals and fan of the basketball team, he remained in Amherst until his death in May 2008.
The Rausch Papers document the latter part of Rausch’s long career as an organic chemist and Professor of Chemistry at UMass. In addition to extensive notes for research and teaching, Rausch’s papers include his professional and personal correspondence, committee notes, patents, and annual performance reports. Also included among the papers are research progress reports, information regarding a NATO grant awarded in 1995, and several molecular models that represent some of Rausch’s work in organic chemistry.
- Chemistry, Organic
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Chemistry
- iversity of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- Rausch, Marvin
Ray Family Papers, 1898-1953 (Bulk: 1911-1944).
Call no.: MS 432
Herman Edgar Ray, son of Fred Jackson Ray and Mabel Cosella Merriam Ray, was born in Westminster, Massachusetts on May 28, 1911. Herman Edgar married Anita Crabtree on May 4, 1934 in Gardner, Massachusetts. The family remained in the area throughout the 1950s as indicated by their correspondence.
The collection consists primarily of family photographs spanning three identifiable generations of the Ray family, and contains photograph albums, formal portraits, and miscellaneous photographs. Additional material includes postcards, correspondence, and hand-made greeting cards. The materials document the childhood of Herman Edgar Ray. His extended family includes: Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Ray, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ray, Ray Fenno, Mary Emergene Fenno, Mr.and Mrs. Charles A. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis, Helen Gates, Mary Russell, and Eleanor Howe.
- Massachusetts--Description and travel
- Portraits--History--20th century
- Westwinster (Mass.)--History
- Ray, Herman Edgar
Types of material
- Photograph albums
Regional Dairy Marketing Program Records, 1946-1960.
Call no.: MS 070
Founded in the 1940s, the Northeast Dairy Conference was “an association of more than 40 organizations of dairy farmers in thirteen states from Maine to West Virginia”. Its members, ranged from individual farmers and cooperatives to the Department of Agriculture and “state … Milk Control Boards.” “Hundreds of dairy plants and … thousands of workers” depending on them, the NDC devised numerous strategies to ensure the success of the “principle agricultural industry in the Northeast.” The Northeast Dairy Conference acted as “an agency of contact” for the dairy industry, a liaison between farmers and markets, state and federal departments. The most influential of the NDC strategies were its Cooperative Regional Projects. Funded by various state grants, the projects studied changing market patterns, production and consumption levels, as well as the worth of “non-fluid” milk.
The Regional Dairy Marketing Program collection contains meeting proceedings, annuals reports, research project statements, and detailed accounts of the Northeast Dairy Conference’s Cooperative Regional Projects from 1946 to 1960.
- Dairy products industry--New England--Marketing--History--20th century
- Northeast Dairy Conference
As one of the main repositories documenting the history of western Massachusetts and New England, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.
Concentrated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 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. Among the more valuable collections for the political history of the region is the papers of Silvio O. Conte, Republican congressman from the First District of Massachusetts from 1959-1991. A member of the House Appropriations Committee (and its ranking minority member from 1979-1991), Conte is particularly remembered for his work in Health and Human Services, education, and the environment. SCUA also holds collections for state representatives John Haigis and Maurice Donahue, as well as other figures involved in political life in the Commonwealth.
Although the Department holds materials relating to individual communities in western Massachusetts, the history of the Quabbin watershed is a particular focal point. SCUA collects books printed in the Quabbin region and more generally, in rural New England prior to 1900, as well as manuscript, printed, and photographic collections relating to Quabbin towns.
- 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
- 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
Henry Gustave Reinsch Papers, 1942-1960.
Call no.: MS 527
Born in Germany in 1888, Henry Gustave Reinsch became an American citizen in 1912, serving in the military during the First World War, marrying an American girl, and starting a family. In 1942, however, two FBI agents showed up at Reinsch’s office, and a year later, Reinsch’s citizenship was revoked when he was accused by the U.S. government of living a double life — publicly loyal to America, privately loyal to Germany. Reinsch appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court and won. His citizenship was reinstated in 1945.
The Reinsch Papers contains newspaper clippings, personal and business correspondence, and official documents pertaining to both citizenship trials, that tell of uncommon wartime experiences.
- Citizenship, Loss of--United States
- Fascists--United States
- German Americans--Washington
- Silver Shirts of America (Organization)
- World War, 1939-1945--German Americans
- Reinsch, Bernice
- Reinsch, Henry Gustave
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
The SCUA staff have assembled a series of introductory guides to assist researchers in navigating through our collections. These guides provide a broad overview of our collections for the history of social change; labor, work, and industry; agriculture; and the regional history of New England, and intended for use in conjunction with the descriptions in UMarmot and our finding aids.
On the right side of this page, UMarmot sports several features to help you locate individual manuscript and archival collections: from top to bottom, you may search collections by entering any term in the search box; browse by general category using the drop down menu; or browse alphabetically by clicking on the appropriate letter.
We encourage researchers with more specialized interests or who require more in-depth work with our collections to consult with our staff.
Using the collections?
Special Collections and University Archives is open at no cost to all researchers, regardless of affiliation.
First-time researchers will be asked to register and to provide name, institutional affiliation (when applicable), and current address. At the time of registration, researchers must present a valid form of identification including a photograph.
In the reading room
- Please sign in each day at the front desk
- Only pencils and laptop computers may be used for taking notes. Please do not use pens.
- Smoking, food, and drink are not permitted
- Cell phones should be switched off or set to silent mode; calls may be taken in the adjacent elevator lobby
- Care and handling of materials
- Please use care in handling manuscripts and books to prevent damage
- Use only a single box of manuscript or archival material at a time and preserve the existing arrangement of files
- You may be permitted to photograph items for research purposes; check with a staff member first
- Scans and photocopies are made by staff members in keeping with our copying policies
- Upon leaving for the day, please notify the staff whether you are finished with your material or wish to place it on hold for a return visit
Iona Mae Reynolds Papers, 1927-2002.
Call no.: FS 012
After receiving her B.S. from Massachusetts State College in 1941 and M.S. in microbiology from UMass in 1957, Iona Mae Reynolds embarked upon a teaching career of over 30 years in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, later serving as the school’s Assistant Director. In 1985 Reynolds was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for her service to the University as a faculty member and her many years on the associate alumni Board of Directors.
The Reynolds Papers include reunion materials, photographs, and writings, as well as a small collection of UMass memorabilia.
- Massachusetts State College--Alumni and alumnae
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Stockbridge School of Agriculture
- Reynolds, Iona Mae
Types of material