Manuscript Collections

Below is a list of major manuscript collections, some with links to finding aids. However, this list is by no means exhaustive; hundreds of smaller collections, not listed here, are indexed and described in a card catalog in the department.

Title and Description

Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) Collection

The Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) Collection consists of 25 archival boxes and remains in a semi-processed state. AWA has been a part of the Amherst community since the 1980s and Pat Schneider’s approach to leading writing workshops, known as the “AWA Method”, fostered the development of strong, diverse communities of writers in Amherst and Western Massachusetts. Today, it is an organization with national and international influence, with affiliates using the AWA Method to lead workshops all over the globe. The AWA collection chronicles this work.

Baker, Ray Stannard ("David Grayson"), 1870-1946

Ray Stannard Baker was a muckraking journalist and pastoral essayist who won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Woodrow Wilson and who achieved lasting popular fame for his quiet essays on simple rural life, written under the pseudonym “David Grayson.” The Ray Stannard Baker Collection primarily contains personal and family items and writings, correspondence, and other material relating to his David Grayson books, but letters and publications of his journalistic articles also figure significantly. Baker’s long residency in the town of Amherst and particular connection with the Jones Library are also made clear by the contents of the collection.

Boltwood, Lucius Manlius, 1825-1905

Lucius Manlius Boltwood was born in Amherst in 1825. After attending Amherst College, he studied at Andover Theological Seminary. The collection includes over 1,000 items in seventeen boxes, about the history and genealogy of Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. They contain vital statistics, town records, and genealogical notes that Boltwood collected when he was preparing the genealogies for Judd's History of Hadley (1863) and his own Noble Genealogy (1878). Since many of the original sources are no longer extant, the papers are of great value.

Broad/Brown/Gaskill Family

The Broad/Brown/Gaskill Family Collection contains photographs, school notebooks, postcards, and other papers. Family members represented in the collection include Edwin Gaskill, Parsons Broad, Anna Broad, and Florence Jones Gaskill.

Burgess, John William, 1844-1931 and Ruth Payne, 1865-1934

The Burgess Collection contains letters, papers, photographs and other ephemera from Columbia University Professor of Political Science John William Burgess and his second wife Ruth Payne Burgess, as well as a large amount of Ruth’s artwork. Burgess’s first wife was Augusta Jones, sister to Samuel Minot Jones, and the Burgess family retained ties to the Jones Library throughout their lives.

Dakin, Winthrop S. and Janet Wilder Papers

The Dakin papers are a collection of material on the lives and civic activities of both Winthrop and Janet Dakin. Winthrop Dakin was a Northampton lawyer from 1937 until 1974, and also a founding trustee of Hampshire College, a trustee of the Clarke School for the Deaf, and an Amherst town moderator. His service in World War II is well documented by a diary. After earning a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1939, and teaching at her alma mater (Mount Holyoke) for two years, Janet Wilder Dakin married and moved to Amherst, where she pursued lifelong interests in Morgan horses and conservation projects.

Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886

Emily Dickinson, one of the world's foremost poets, was born on December 10, 1830, the daughter of Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson of Amherst, Massachusetts. Though she wrote many letters, notes, and poems to her friends and neighbors, very few were published during her lifetime and all were published anonymously. It was only after her death on May 15, 1886 that Emily Dickinson became widely known as a poet. This collection is unique among other Dickinson collections because it places the poet within the context of her community in Amherst, Massachusetts during the mid-nineteenth century. The collection consists of approximately 7,000 items, including original manuscript poems and letters, Dickinson editions and translations, family correspondence, scholarly articles and books, newspaper clippings, theses, plays, photographs, and contemporary artwork and prints.

Dziekanowksi Farm Records

Chester Sr. and Rose (Wysocki) Dziekanowski purchased their farm, formerly located on North Pleasant Street, in 1932 and built a successful commercial dairy operation. The Dziekanowski heirs sold the property to the North Amherst Community Farm in 2005, who then leased the property to Simple Gifts Farm on a long-term lease. This collection primarily contains financial records from the Dziekanowski farm and one box of personal items, including family correspondence, personal papers, World War II ration books, and photographs.

Field Family Papers, 1820-1949

The Field family has ties to Amherst and the Samuel Minot Jones family. Roswell and Eugene Field were both authors and our collection includes some original manuscripts, correspondence, and other family papers. Although the Field family lived in Vermont and in the Midwest, their connections to Amherst and the Jones family forms the basis of our collection.

First Congregational Church

This collection documents 250 years in the life of the First Congregational Church of Amherst. The records held in the collection start from when the church was called the Church of Christ in Hadley Third Precinct, through the incorporation as the First Parish in Amherst, and past the incorporation as the First Congregational Church of Amherst. The materials include church records, meeting records, financial materials, hymnbooks, newspaper clippings and photographs.

​Fort River Elementary School Khmer TBE Program

The Fort River Elementary School Khmer TBE (Transitional Bilingual Education) Program Records document the program and include many teaching materials used with Cambodian students in the 1980s as well as information about Cambodia and stories from Cambodian refugees who settled in Amherst.

Francis, Robert, 1901-1987

Robert Churchill Francis was a poet who moved to Amherst in 1926 to teach high school English. After teaching for a year he stopped and pursued writing, which became his life's work. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors throughout his writing career. His home in North Amherst, Fort Juniper, is now used as a writing retreat for poets. Our collection includes books written by him, his personal library, correspondence and original writings.

Frost, Robert, 1874-1963

Distinguished poet, lecturer, and teacher, Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes over the course of his career, and was by his death in 1963 considered to be one of the best known American poets of his day. The Robert Frost Collection contains some 12,000 items, and as one of the first collections of Robert Frost material brought together, this collection represents not just Frost's life as a professional poet, but also his life as a public figure. In particular, the collection documents Frost's nearly lifelong connection with the town of Amherst both as a professor at Amherst College and as a part-time resident.

Garden Club of Amherst

The Garden Club of Amherst records compiles a variety of administrative documents, photos, slides, and achievement awards of the Garden Club as well as the club’s published work Trees of Amherst.

Goodell/Goodale Family Papers, ca. 1750-1905

The Goodell/Goodale Family Papers consist of some 630 items, including account books, deeds, letters and other papers. Of particular interest is the correspondence of Ira Chaffee Goodell, describing his work as an artist in New York in the nineteenth century. His account book fills in many details of that work. Nathaniel Dudley Goodell's letters describe his journeys through the jungles of Panama and life in California during and after the gold rush of 1849. The large collection of deeds delineates land transaction patterns of an established family in Belchertown and Amherst. The collection is important not only for the papers of Goodells who left western Massachusetts, but also for the light shed on the area and its life in the nineteenth century. Note: The variant spelling of the name is not unusual for the period. Both forms are commonly used by all members of the family, sometimes in the same document.

Green, Charles R., 1876-1968

The Charles R. Green collection is devoted to the development of the art of the printed word in all its forms from the inception of printing in the fifteenth century to the present. Under five general headings, it attempts to exhibit the crafts and techniques of papermaking, printing and binding from their historical origins.

Greenbaum, Louis

The Louis Greenbaum Papers include files from when Greenbaum served on the Amherst Historical Commission and the Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies. The papers also consist of information regarding lawsuits for construction of One East Pleasant Street and a planned West Hill Subdivision.

Hardy, Donald E., 1883-1979

Donald Egbert Hardy was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont on December 4, 1893. He was the son of Audubon Levi and Gertrude Maria Allis Hardy. The family arrived in Amherst in 1898, when Audubon Hardy became superintendent of schools of Amherst and Pelham, a post which he occupied until 1915. His collection includes materials on Amherst College, Amherst High School, correspondence, and family photographs.

Howes Brothers

See Photograph Collections

Howland Family Photographs

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Jackson, Helen Hunt, 1830-1885

This collection follows Helen Hunt Jackson’s life beginning when she was seven years old living in Amherst, Massachusetts through her final days in Colorado and California and into the years following her life as her writings continued to be read and cherished. Helen Hunt Jackson’s life was celebrated by Amherst, Massachusetts, and Colorado Springs, the two places that meant the most to Helen in her lifetime. The collection includes original manuscripts, poems, and letters, correspondence about publications of her works, scholarly articles, newspaper clippings, ephemera for her novel Ramona and subsequent film versions of the novel, and ephemera from centennial celebrations remembering her birth and death, and photographs and illustrations.

Johnson, Clifton

Clifton Johnson (1865-1940) was a prolific artist, writer, and photographer from Hadley, Massachusetts. In addition to diaries, correspondence, and artwork, the Clifton Johnson Collection contains several thousand photographs and negatives taken by Johnson throughout the continental United States, Canada, and several European countries.

Jones Family Papers 

The Jones Family Collection contains photographs, letters, documents and memorabilia of Samuel Minot Jones, and of the Jones family of Amherst, Massachusetts.

Jones Library Collection

Established in 1919, The Jones Library is the public library for the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts. The Jones Library Collection covers a wide range of topics including the history of the Jones Library as well as its finances, programming, art collection, Directors, Friends group, and the building that houses it. This collection contains various materials relating to the Jones Library including photographs, correspondence, financial documents, news clippings, scrapbooks, and ephemera, among other materials.

Kanegasaki Sister City Committee

The Kanegasaki Sister City Committee Records includes administrative documents, gifts, and photos from throughout the sister city relationship.

Kenseth, Arnold

A Congregational minister, published poet, teacher and activist in the local affairs of Amherst, the Arnold Kenseth collection includes biographical materials; correspondence; and poetry worksheets, galley proofs and other materials related to his published and unpublished poetry.  Also included are materials related to Kenseth's position as curator of the Harvard Poetry Room (1938-1941), and as pastor of South Congregational Church, including correspondence and audiotapes of selected Sunday services (1969-1989).

Landis, Edward

The Edward Landis Papers include documents, photographs, and a scrapbook belonging to Edward Landis, who grew up in Amherst. Edward Landis was born Edward Labrovitz and his family was the only Jewish family in Amherst until after World War I. The collection primarily documents Edward’s time at the Massachusetts Agricultural College and also includes photographs of Amherst High School students and correspondence with Edward Prindle.

Lankes, J. J., 1884-1960

J. J. Lankes was an artist who worked primarily in woodblock printing. Our collection revolves around his work and collaborations with Robert Frost and his correspondence with Charles Green, our first director, regarding our Frost Collection. Included are original woodblocks and hand pulled prints as well as books written by Lankes.

Lester, Julius, 1939-2018

Julius Lester was a prolific writer, popular professor, and well-respected Jewish lay leader. He lived in the Amherst-Belchertown area for nearly 50 years and in 1994 decided to donate his papers to the Jones Library. The collection encompasses his entire life history from growing up the son of a well-respected Methodist minister through his early involvement in the fledgling black power movement, successful career as an author of children’s books, many years teaching at the University of Massachusetts, and adult conversion to Judaism and involvement in area Jewish communities.

McClung, Robert M., 1916-2006

Robert McClung was a local children’s book writer and illustrator whose primary subject matter was flora and fauna. He was involved in town politics and helped to establish The Kestrel Trust which works to preserve the natural landscapes in the area.

Mitten Family Collection

The Mitten Family owned the Henry Adams & Co. drug store and the Adams drug store here in Amherst. Maude & Albert Mitten had three children, Elizabeth, Albert T., and Charles Dickinson. The collection includes correspondence (mostly postcards), photographs and Elizabeth Mitten’s passport.  Correspondence is primarily addressed to Elizabeth Mitten and her father Albert.

Nutting Family Papers, 1833-1957

The Nutting Family lived in Amherst and then moved to settle in Ohio. The collection includes two major items: a series of letters and two account books. The children of George Nutting wrote the letters as the family moved westward. These letters provide important insight into the family and to the history of northeastern Ohio. The fifty-five letters, dating from 1836 to 1857, also provided information on South Amherst and its people.

Puffer, Stephen

See Photograph Collections

Rand, Frank Prentice, 1899-1971

See Photograph Collections

Scott, Edgar, 1858-1940

See Photograph Collections

South Congregational Church

The South Congregational Society was formed in 1824 to provide a meetinghouse in South Amherst closer to home for its members than the First Church in Amherst Center. The South Congregational Church Collection extends from 1824 to the present. Material includes bound volumes of church records beginning in 1825; early documents, such as the deed of land from Nathaniel Dickinson and the first subscription list; financial and committee records; records from the 1974 addition; bulletins; memorabilia of events; histories of the church; clippings; and photographs of the building and church members.

Stone Family Papers

The bulk of the collection consists of the personal papers of Harlan Fiske Stone (1872-1946), the American jurist and Supreme Court Justice, including correspondence, writings, speeches, photographs (both formal and candid), two newsreel films, and memorabilia; there are also numerous clippings and articles about Justice Stone's life and career. (The judicial papers of Justice Stone are kept at the Library of Congress.) Also included in the collection are materials about H. F. Stone's brother Winthrop E. Stone, particularly relating to his career as president of Purdue University and his death in a mountain-climbing accident; the papers of their father Frederick L. Stone, relating to his farm in Amherst and his other local investments and activities; and the papers of David F. Stone, including records, photographs and scrapbooks relating to his military service during World War I (1915-1985). The collection also contains a small amount of material on Marshall H. Stone and Agnes H. Stone (the wife of Harlan F. Stone), as well as family photographs and genealogical information on the Stone family.

Tiffany, Alice C. Scrapbooks

This collection contains nine scrapbooks created by Alice C. Tiffany, primarily containing newspaper clippings related to South Amherst, including obituaries, birth notices, wedding announcements, and stories of important events. Two photograph albums (numbered 3 and 6) include photographs of the Tiffany family, the South Amherst 4th of July parade, and the South Congregational Church.

Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, 1894-

It is believed that Unitarians and Universalists have lived in Amherst as early as the 1820s. They first organized in 1887 with the founding of the First Universalist Parish of Amherst, with Rev. James Harry Holden as its first minister. In 1893 a meetinghouse, designed by architects Loring and Phipps, was constructed on Pleasant Street. First Universalist disbanded circa 1897 after the Massachusetts General Universalist Convention withdrew its financial assistance. The building was bought by the American Unitarian Association in 1898, and in the same year the fellowship was incorporated as Unity Church of Amherst. Major physical plant changes were made in 1924-25 (prompted by an extensive fungus growth that had attacked the floors and beams of the building), and again in 1959. In 1961 the American Unitarian Association merged with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. In 1962 the name of the local community was changed to The Unitarian Society of Amherst. In May 1985 it became known as The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst.

Walker Family Collection

In 1876, the Reverend Charles Swan Walker and his wife Alice Morehouse Walker arrived in Amherst to fill the pulpit of the South Congregational Church.  Rev. Walker was pastor of the church from 1876 to 1879 and 1881 to 1886 and became college chaplain and professor of political science at Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1886 where he remained until 1906.  After leaving the college he was a full-time writer. Alice M. Walker was a poet of note, an essayist, and an historian. She wrote several excellent studies of Amherst and of the neighboring towns. Their son Claude was only a child and student in Amherst, and his autobiography shed great light on South Amherst.

Waugh Family Papers

The Waugh Family Papers focus on the lives of Frank (1869-1943) and Alice Vail Waugh (1871-1947) and their six children: Dan (1894-1956), Dorothy (1896-1996), Frederick Vail (1898-1974), Esther (1900-1973), Albert (1902-1985), and Sidney (1904-1963). Highlights of the collection include family photographs, posters for the National Park Service created by well-known commercial artist Dorothy, and sketches of various pieces created by world-renowned sculptor Sidney.

Webster, Noah, 1758-1843

The Noah Webster Papers consist of thirty-one letters written by Webster in the period 1787 to 1843 which relate to his work as an author and as a driving force behind the foundation of Amherst College.  In the collection is a single entry from the original manuscript of his dictionary and a number of deeds either for Webster's property or executed by him as a justice of the peace in Connecticut. There are also prints, engravings, clippings and critical studies as well as approximately 125 volumes of his publications.

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