In keeping with our mission, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects materials of enduring historical and cultural value relating to four major thematic areas: the history and experience of social change in America; the histories and cultures of New England with an emphasis on Massachusetts; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the broad community associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our collections are tightly integrated and span all formats, including personal papers and organizational records, books and periodicals, maps, photographs, audio and video recordings, and digital materials of all kinds, and they currently include over 35,000 printed items, approximately 30,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival materials, tens of thousands of photographs, and a burgeoning array of digital assets.
Following in the footsteps of W.E.B. Du Bois, we recognize the inherent interconnectedness of a broad range of issues in social justice and collect original materials that document the organizational, intellectual, and individual ties that unite disparate struggles for social equality, human dignity, and justice. In adopting social change as a primary collecting focus, we hope to move beyond viewing social and political movements in isolation and toward a vision that acknowledges the connections between and among them. Ultimately, we wish to lay a foundation for examining the larger histories of social engagement in America and the broader experience of social change that is difficult to encapsulate within a single social movement.
A distinctive feature of SCUA’s approach to collecting is our effort to include “whole lives and whole communities,” to provide a robust basis for interpreting the background of the persons and organizations we document, their influences, interests, and the communities in which they operate.
While not comprehensive, the following includes a brief synopsis of some of the primary focal points for SCUA’s collections:
Special Collections interests
- Social change and movements for social change
Emphasizing the cross-fertilization between several social movements and centers of activist energy, including peace, social and racial justice, agricultural reform, environmentalism, sustainability, labor activism, gay activism, antinuclear activism, and intentional communities, but branching out to include antifluoridation activism, campaigns for voting rights and clean elections, community and charitable organizations, and the history of revolutionary-era Europe (1789-1848).
- African American history and culture
The history of race and ethnicity in America, with particular emphasis on the struggle for racial equality and social justice.
- Agriculture, horticulture, botany
Including agricultural science and practice, horticulture, animal husbandry, natural history, organic farming, sustainable living, and heritage breeds.
- Antinuclear movement
SCUA holds numerous collections documenting grassroots opposition to nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
- Cold War Culture
The culture of the Cold War, with an emphasis upon East Germany, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Among other areas, SCUA has a strong interest in the Solidarity movement and in partnership with the DEFA Film Library, in East German cinema and graphic arts.
Organizational records and collections of personal papers documenting the history of disability and disability rights in the United States.
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues
Materials relating to the history and experience of the LGBTQ community and liberation struggles.
- Labor, work, and industry
Organized labor, industrialization, manufacturing, business history, and the experience and culture of labor and working people.
Materials relating to the peace and antiwar movements and non-violence, with an emphasis on New England.
- African American history and culture
- New England history and culture
The social, political, cultural, intellectual, literary, and economic life, with an emphasis upon western New England. The department houses thousands of books on New England cookery, with a particular emphasis on charitable and community cookbooks and cookbooks and ephemera published by corporations and the food industry.
- Cookery and culinary history
SCUA has thousands of cookbooks and other materials on New England regional cuisine, including community and charitable cookbooks, commercial cookbooks by New England authors, corporate cookbooks, and culinary ephemera.
- Literature and the arts
Emphasizing poets and writers, playwrights, and the performing arts in New England.
- Politics and political culture
SCUA has rich collections documenting the history and politics of the Commonwealth, including the papers of Congressmen Silvio O. Conte and John Olver, State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, and State rep John Clark.
- Cookery and culinary history
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
Materials that document innovative and entrepreneurial activities, and particularly social entrepreneurship. The collections in SCUA include the papers of Mark H. McCormack (a pioneer in sport and entertainment marketing), Carl C. Harris (inventor and President of Rodney Hunt Co.), and numerous collections that document our region’s distinctive history of innovation in manufacturing and technology.
- UMass Amherst
SCUA makes an effort to document the histories of the entire UMass community. Our holdings include the comprehensive official records of the University since its founding in 1863, papers of faculty, staff, and students, official and unofficial publications, oral histories, and a wide range of other collections that reflect on our history as the Commonwealth’s land grant institution.
- Other areas
SCUA has developed depth in a handful of other collecting areas, including:
University Archives interests
Serving as the memory of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University Archives collects, preserves, and makes available official and non-official records documenting the policies, programs, facilities, and activities of the campus community, including its administration, departments and programs, faculty, and staff. The Archives also avidly collects materials that reflect the lives and experiences of its students and alumni.
Constitutionalism in American Life Conference Collection, 1986. 1 box (0.25 linear feet).
A conference hosted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst on November 7-9, 1986, that examined the impact of the Constitution on politics and government, foreign policy, race relations, and the economy, and also discussed the impact on the constitution of popular struggles and the emergence of “rights consciousness.” Includes papers presented at the conference that were to be subsequently published in a special bicentennial issue of the Journal of American History.
- Constitutional history--United States--Congresses
- Constitutional law--United States--Congresses
- Journal of American history
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
Silvio O. Conte Papers, 1950-1991. 389 boxes (583.5 linear feet).
Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts’s First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.
Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.
- Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
- Massachusetts. Senate
- United States--Politics and government--20th century
- United States. Congress. House
- Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991
- Sound recordings
Robert Francis Papers, 1891-1988. 17 boxes (8.25 linear feet).
The poet and essayist Robert Francis settled in Amherst, Mass., in 1926, three years after his graduation from Harvard, and created a literary life that stretched for the better part of half a century. An associate of Robert Frost and friend of many other writers, Francis occasionally worked as a teacher or lecturer, including a brief stint on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College, but he sustained himself largely through his writing, living simply in “Fort Juniper,” a cottage he built on Market Hill Road in North Amherst. A recipient of the Shelley Award (1939) and the Academy of American Poets award for distinguished poetic achievement (1984), Francis was a poet in residence at both Tufts (1955) and Harvard (1960) Universities. He died in Amherst in July 1987.
The Francis Papers contains both manuscript and printed materials, drafts and finished words, documenting the illustrious career of the poet. Of particular note is Francis’s correspondence with other writers, publishing houses, and readers, notably Paul Theroux. Also contains personal photographs and Francis family records and a small number of audio recordings of Francis reading his poetry. Letters from Francis to Regina Codey, 1936-1978, can be found in MS 314 along with two typescript poems by Francis.
- Amherst (Mass.)--History
- University of Massachusetts Press
- Brown, Rosellen
- Ciardi, John, 1916-
- De Vries, Peter
- Fitts, Dudley, 1903-
- Francis, Robert, 1901-1987
- Hall, Donald, 1928-
- Humphries, Rolfe
- Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972
- Moss, Howard, 1922-
- Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972
- Theroux, Paul
- Wilbur, Richard, 1921-
- Phonograph records
Barrie B. Greenbie Papers, 1934-1997. 17 boxes (19.5 linear feet).
Barrie Barstow Greenbie was a key member of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at UMass Amherst from 1970-1989. In a long and remarkably diverse career, Greenbie worked as an artist with the Works Progress Administration, as a soldier and journalist, as a professor of theater, an architect, inventor, author, and landscape planner. After earning a BA in drama from the University of Miami (1953),he worked for several years in the theatre program at Skidmore College. While there, he added architecture to his array of talents, designing the East 74th Street Theater in New York in 1959, and founded a company to produce a “self-erecting” building designed to substitute for summer tent theaters. Two years after joining the faculty at UMass in 1970, he completed a doctorate in urban affairs and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin and continued with a characteristically broad array of creative pursuits, designing the William Smith Clark Memorial, among other things, and conducting an extensive aerial survey of the landscapes of the Connecticut River Valley. In monographs such as Design for Diversity and Spaces: Dimensions of the Human Landscape, Greenbie examined the interactions between humans and nature. He died at his home on South Amherst in 1998.
The Greenbie Papers document a long career as academic, writer, artist, architect, and theatrical designer. Of particular note is the extensive and engrossing correspondence, which extends from Greenbie’s years as a student at the Taft School in the late 1930s through his World War II service with the Sixth Army in the South Pacific and Japan, to his tenure at UMass Amherst (1970-1989). The collection also includes a small, but interesting correspondence between Greenbie’s parents (1918-1919).
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
- World War, 1939-1945
- Greenbie, Barrie B
Michael Haley Papers, 1968-2003. 18 boxes (27 linear feet).
An actor and motion picture assistant director and producer, Michael Haley was born in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1942. While an undergraduate student at UMass Amherst, Haley became involved in theater, joining the avant garde Buffalo Meat Company that performed original works in Massachusetts and New York City. Following a chance call from a producer looking for local help in 1969, Haley worked on his first film, the low-budget crime drama, Honeymoon Killers. After work on several other film and television productions, Haley was among ten people selected for the Directors Guild of America’s Assistant Directors Training Program. During his forty year career, Haley’s credits have included work with a number of noted directors, including Sidney Lumet, Barry Levinson, and Penny Marshall, and he has enjoyed a particularly long and productive association with Mike Nichols. His films have included The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Stepford Wives, Biloxi Blues, True Colors, A League of Their Own, Groundhog Day, Primary Colors, and Closer. He was the recipient of two Humanitas Prizes (for Wit and Angels in America), and among others awards, the Christopher Award (for Wit), the Directors Guild of America award, Producers Guild of America award, and an Emmy (for Angels in America), a Directors Guild of America plaque (Working Girl), and the Berkshire International Film Festival Life-Time Achievement Award. He was named Artist of the Year at UMass and has been selected for a Bateman Fellowship.
Reflecting a diverse career in film, the Haley collection consists of scripts, photographs, memorabilia, and diaries, with a small quantity of notes and correspondence. The scripts, approximately 110 of them, are from films ranging from the Godfather II to Charlie Wilson’s War and Angels in America, may include several drafts. The photographs are both numerous and particularly rich, including some particularly interesting candid shots taken on film sets, as well as official shots taken by photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark.
- Motion picture producers and directors
- Motion pictures
- Nichols, Mike
- Haley, Michael
Beth Hapgood Papers, 1789-2005. 67 boxes (35 linear feet).
Daughter of a writer and diplomat, and graduate of Wellesley College, Beth Hapgood has been a spiritual seeker for much of her life. Her interests have led her to become an expert in graphology, a student in the Arcane School, an instructor at Greenfield Community College, and a lecturer on a variety of topics in spiritual growth. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hapgood befriended Michael Metelica, the central figure in the Brotherhood of the Spirit (the largest commune in the eastern states during the early 1970s) as well as Elwood Babbitt, a trance medium, and remained close to both until their deaths.
The Hapgood Papers contain a wealth of material relating to the Brotherhood of the Spirit and the Renaissance Community, Metelica, Babbitt, and other of Hapgood’s varied interests, as well as 4.25 linear feet of material relating to the Hapgood family.
- Brotherhood of the Spirit
- Channeling (Spiritualism)
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Hapgood family--Correspondence
- Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
- Nineteen sixties--Social aspects
- Occultism--Social aspects
- Popular culture--History--20th century
- Renaissance Community
- Rock music--1971-1980
- Warwick (Mass.)--History
- Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
- Boyce, Neith, 1872-1951
- Hapgood, Beth--Correspondence
- Hapgood, Charles H
- Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds
- Hapgood, Hutchins, 1869-1944
- Hapgood, Norman, 1868-1937
- Metelica, Michael
Gordon Heath Papers, 1913-1992. 44 boxes (22.75 linear feet).
African American expatriate, stage and film actor, musician, director, producer, founder of the Studio Theater of Paris and co-owner of the nightclub L’Abbaye. Includes personal and professional correspondence, scrapbooks containing photos and clippings from assorted television and film productions in addition to songs, poetry, and reviews of plays or playbills from productions he attended.
The Papers also contain art work, sheet music, personal and production photographs, and drafts of his memoirs.
- Abbaye (Nightclub : Paris, France)
- African American actors--France--Paris--History
- African American singers--France--Paris--History
- African Americans in the performing arts--History
- African-American theater--History--20th century
- Baldwin, James, 1924-
- Chametzky, Jules
- Dodson, Owen, 1914-
- Expatriate musicians--France--Paris--History
- Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
- Musicians--United States--History
- Paris (France)--Intellectual life--20th century
- Payant, Lee--Correspondence
- Primus, Pearl
- Rive gauche (Paris, France)--Intellectual life--20th century
- Studio Theater of Paris
- Theater--Production and direction--France--Paris--History
- Abramson, Doris E
- Heath, Gordon, 1918-1991
- Sheet music
Aurin F. Hill Papers, 1885-1929. 5 boxes (3 linear feet).
The self-styled “insane architect” Aurin F. Hill (b. 1853) was a free thinking carpenter and architect in Boston who waged a concerted campaign for his vision of social reform at the turn of the twentieth century. A Spiritualist, social radical, and union man, Hill carried the torch for issues ranging from the nationalization of railroads and corporations to civil rights and women’s rights, and joined in opposition to vaccination, Comstockery and censorship, capital punishment, and lynching. A writing medium, married to the Spiritual evangelist Izetta Sears-Hill, he became President of the National Spiritual Alliance in 1915, a Spiritualist organization based in Lake Pleasant, Mass.
Esoteric, rambling, and often difficult to follow, the Hill papers provide profound insight into the eclectic mind of an important Boston Spiritualist and labor activist at the turn of the twentieth century. Whether written as a diary or scattered notes, a scrapbook, essays, or letters to the editor, Hill’s writings cover a wide range of topics, from spirit influence to labor law, from his confinements for insanity to police strikes, hypnotism, reincarnation, and housing. More than just a reflection of one man’s psychology, the collection reveals much about broader social attitudes toward gender and race, sexuality, urban life, politics, and religion, and the collection is a particularly important resource for the history of the American Spiritualist movement between 1890 and 1920.
- Boston (Mass.)--History
- Carpenters--Labor unions
- Labor unions--Massachusetts
- Lake Pleasant (Mass.)--History
- Montague (Mass.)--History
- National Spiritual Alliance
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
- Hill, Aurin F.
- Sears-Hill, Izetta B.