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.

Major Manuscript Collections

Amherst Record Photograph Archive
This collection contains several thousand photographs taken by and for the Amherst Record newspaper during the mid-20th century. Local events, businesses, town government, and are among the topics represented. 

 Amherst Writers & Artists 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") Papers
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.

Barnes, Lincoln Photograph Collection
Lincoln W. Barnes (1879-1966), born in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, was a professional photographer with a studio on Main Street in Amherst from 1920 to about 1955. He also copied and restored old photographs and was an official photographer for Amherst College.

The Barnes Photograph Collection documents architecture of Amherst and surrounding towns, including the building of the Jones Library. He also photographed local residents and their homes, local clubs and organizations, and local events such as the Hurricane of 1938.

Boltwood, Lucius Manlius Collection
Lucius Manlius Boltwood was born in Amherst in 1825. After attending Amherst College, he studied at Andover Theological Seminary.

The collection includes 1,050 items in nineteen 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 Papers
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 and Burgess, Ruth Payne Collection
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 represent a collection of material on the lives and civic activities of Amherst residents Winthrop S. Dakin and Janet Wilder Dakin.

Dickinson, Emily Collection
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.

Dziekanowski 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. They had two sons: Chester Jr., who became a Professor of Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and Edwin, who remained on the farm after his father passed. 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 farmThere is also one box of personal items, including family correspondence, personal papers, World War II ration books, and photographs.

Field Family Papers
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 family connections to the town and the Jones family forms the bases for our collection.

Francis, Robert Papers
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 Collection
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 Records
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.

Gates, Winifred Carpenter Photograph Collection
This collection consists of one album and multiple loose cyanotypes, photographs, and negatives donated by Winifred Carpenter Gates. Though the subjects are primarily Winifred’s family and friends, the album in particular provides many images of the Amherst area in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Goodell/Goodale Family Papers
The Goodell/Goodales were an important family in the history of both Amherst and Belchertown. Moses Goodell (d. 1854) and his wife Susanna (d. 1848) had eleven children, several of whom had fascinating careers outside of this area. Ira Chafee Goodell (1800-1877) moved to New York City where he became a well-known artist in oils. Nathaniel Dudley and Noble T. Goodell ventured through the Isthmus of Panama to seek their fortunes in the California gold fields. The remainder of the children lived and worked in Belchertown and Amherst for many years. 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.

Grayson, David see Baker, Ray Stannard

Green, Charles R. Collection
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 Papers
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. Papers
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 Photograph Collection
From their home in Ashfield, Mass, the Howes Brothers traveled the area in the late 19th-century photographing house exteriors, often capturing the current residents as well. This collection consists of copies of those photographs and is of particular interest to those doing house research or studying a particular street or neighborhood.

Howland Family Photograph Collection 
The Howland Family Photographs collection contains photographs by Florence Howland of Conway, Massachusetts and photographs of the Francis Howland family of Conway, the Henry Clay Dickinson family of South Amherst, and the Nina Thayer family of Easthampton. Some family letters, postcards, and newsclippings are also included.

Jackson, Helen Hunt Papers
Helen Hunt Jackson was a writer born in Amherst in 1830. As a young girl she was influenced by her orthodox Calvinist parents. Her father was a minister who also taught at Amherst College. Our collection includes multiple editions of her books, including her most famous book, Ramona.

Johnson, Clifton Collection
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
Incorporated in 1919, The Jones Library is the public library for the Town of Amherst. The 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. Materials consist of 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 Papers
A Congregational minister, published poet, teacher and activist in local affairs of Amherst, MA 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 Papers
Edward Landis was born Edward Labrovitz and his family was the only Jewish family in Amherst until after World War I. The collection includes documents, photographs, and a scrapbook belonging to Landis and primarily documents Edward’s time at the Massachusetts Agricultural College. It also includes photographs of Amherst High School students and correspondence with Edward Prindle.

Lankes, J. J. Collection
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 Papers
Julius Lester was born in 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of a black Methodist minister. He grew up in the Mid-west and the South. As a child, he discovered he was the great grandson of Adolph Altshul, a Jewish peddler who had immigrated from Germany and had married an ex-slave named Maggie Carson. Mr. Lester graduated from Fisk University in 1960 and moved to New York City in 1961. He was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement throughout the 1960s, both in New York and in the South.

After having been a member of the Amherst community for twenty-two years, Mr. Lester began transferring his archives and personal papers to the Jones Library in 1993.  The Julius Lester Collection is comprehensive in scope and of enormous importance for the study of major twentieth century writers and activists.  It comprises personal and business correspondence, as well as correspondence with other significant writers; original manuscripts, galley proofs and signed first editions; translations; Mr. Lester's music and photography; essays and reviews written by him; and essays and reviews about Mr. Lester's life and work.

Lovell, John L. Photograph Collection 
John Lovell was a prolific late 19th-century Amherst photographer, whose images of Amherst Center and Amherst College give a valuable window into Amherst at the dawn of the 20th century. Lovell also did studio portraits, several hundred of which are included in the collection.

McClung, Robert M. Papers
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 Kestral Trust which works to preserve the natural landscape 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
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.

Scott, Edgar Photograph and Postcard Collection
Edgar Scott was an Amherst photographer best known for his “picture postcards” of the area taken mostly between 1890 - 1930. We have both a Postcard Collection and a Photograph Collection which includes glass plate negatives.

South Congregational Church Records
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 Frederick L. Stone, the father of H. F. and W. E. 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); and The collection 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.

Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst Records
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, Frank Photograph Collection 
Frank Waugh, Professor of Landscape Gardening at MAC, enjoyed photography as a hobby. This collection includes over 100 portraits of early 20th-century Amherst residents and MAC faculty.

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 Collection
Born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1758, Noah Webster was raised and educated in the Hartford area before receiving a B.A. from Yale College. He briefly studied law before switching his focus to teaching, which he pursued along the Atlantic Coast for many years. Webster moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1812 to a home on Main Street, across from the present site of Town Hall. He farmed and became involved in local and state politics. He was instrumental in the founding of Amherst College. In 1822, Webster returned to New Haven to be near Yale College and its library. He died on May 28, 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, 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.