UMass Oral History Collection

150 interviews
Call no.: RG 001/207
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To commemorate its 150th anniversary in 2013, UMass Amherst authorized an oral history project to record and preserve our unwritten recent history. Coordinated by the Libraries' Department of Special Collections and University Archives and under the guidance of a committee drawn from long-time members of the faculty and staff, the project set the goal of recording 150 interviews representing a broad cross-section of the university committee, including administrators and faculty, alumni, students, staff, and members of the local community.

The 150 interviews that comprise the Sesquicentennial Oral History Project are organized into seven series: Academics, Administration, Alumni and students, the Libraries, Marching Band, Staff, and University Press. Interviews range in length from roughly half an hour to over three hours: all are available in audio format with some also available in video.

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Background on Oral History at UMass

An image of: George Beatty Jr., Vice Chancellor ofAdministration and Finance, being interviewed

George Beatty Jr., Vice Chancellor of

Administration and Finance, being interviewed

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Massachusetts Agricultural College in 2013, UMass Amherst authorized an oral history project to record and preserve its recent history. Documentary projects tied to previous anniversaries had yielded a relatively robust understanding of how a small agricultural college had been transformed into a modern research university; however memories of the period since the university's centennial were captured only sparingly. During that half century, the university had witnessed the explosive growth in size and in its built environment; a radical expansion of its curriculum; extraordinary academic achievement; economic, academic, and social ferment; and an ongoing evolution in both student expectations and in the ideals on which public higher education is founded.

Coordinated by the Libraries' Department of Special Collections and University Archives and guided by a committee including Nancy Buffone, Carol Connare, Robert Cox, David Glassberg, Joel Martin, W. Brian O'Connor, Bruce Wilcox, and Ruth Yanka, the Sesquicentennial Oral history project planned to conduct 150 interviews beginning in July 2012, with the goal of sampling a broad cross-section of the campus community, taking advantage of important anniversaries for the Department of Music and Dance and the College of Nursing to explore those units in particular detail.

Among the guiding principles of the project was the desire to create a balanced portrait of the experiences of a diverse community. In addition to recording the history of the university as seen from the highest echelons -- the central administration and faculty -- the project hoped to include voices representing the fuller depth and breadth of our community, including alumni, students, and people employed in non-academic positions throughout the university.

Scope of collection

Beginning in the mid-1970s, several oral history projects have been undertaken at UMass Amherst to enrich the documentary record for the university. Over the years, both the Program in Public History and the University Archives have coordinated At both the 125th and 150th anniversaries of the founding of the Massachusetts Agricultural College

Series descriptions

Among the specific projects was a series of interviews organized by the University Archives and conducted by Julie E. Melrose to document the campus community in the years before Massachusetts Agricultural College began its transformation into a university. The interviewees included members of MAC classes from 1911-1934, as well as members of the humanities faculty offering reflections on prominent faculty members, student life, women at MAC, the curriculum, and the growth and development of the college.

1988 July-Aug.
RG 1/207/1988

For the 125th Anniversary of UMass in 1988, Prof. of History David Glassberg arranged for UMass students to conduct a series of oral histories under the aegis of a course, History 371U. The subjects of interviews ranged from former chancellors and faculty to a long-time administrators, a clerk, and a Sergeant in the UMass Police Department.

The 150 interviews that comprise the Sesquicentennial Oral History Project are organized into five series: Academics (and by College or School within), Administration, Alumni and students, Amherst Community, and Staff and non-academic units. Interviews range in length from roughly half an hour to over three hours: all are available in audio format with some also available in video.


UMass Amherst Oral Histories
RG 1/207

Interview with retired faculty member: entomology and zoology; Amherst in the early days; development of the Department of Entomology.

Interview with members of class of 1928 (and Prof. of English) and 1934, respectively. Impressions of Ray Torrey, Frank Prentice Rand; Elsworth's work as Ombudsman in the 1970s.

Interview with members of class of 1919, including:

Mary E. Garvey

Willard K. French

Anna Liebman Shore

E. Sidney Stockwell

Interview with wife of President Ralph Van Meter: memories of Amherst when she arrived (1917); First and Second World War on campus; Ralph Van Meter's presidency; struggles with legislature over funding; Van Meter's illness and death; duties as wife of college president; president's house; GI Bill and construction of new (cheap) buildings; letters from first two women to graduate from MAC.

Interview with Dean of Women (1945-1973); women at MAC; Edna Skinner and Kenyon Butterfield; duties of Dean of Women; post-World War II at UMass; development of women's residential area on north campus; women in engineering, sciences; women's dormitories, house councils; women's student government; student life; honors societies; admissions and affirmative action; returning students and continuing education; pregnancies and "sex problems"; student health and mental health services; alcohol abuse; danger to women and changes after open dorms instituted in 1969.

Interview with non-traditional student who entered UMass in 1951 at 45; entering the university; physical education requirement; Helen Curtis; professors and coursework.

Interview with former Professor of German; dismissal of Miss Hicks during the Depression; women on faculty and in classroom; construction of gym and athletic fields; Frank Waugh's courses; development of foreign language program; Mather and Baker; music department; lack of interest by legislature; change from Mass State to UMass; graduate program; growth of library collections; publish or perish; rivalry between Amherst and UMass.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1928) and Emeritus Commonwealth Professor of Humanities: encouragement by Robert Patterson to pursue graduate study in English; graduate study at Yale; impact of the Depression; discrimination and return to Mass. State; change from Mass. Agricultural College to Mass State; Mass Action; adviser to student publications; work with Collegian and troubles; the Inkhorne and literary magazines; Kenyon Butterfield and agricultural spirit at MAC; Robert H. Patterson; evolution of curriculum; Committee of Post-War Adjustments; GI Bill, returning veterans, and growth of campus; campus apathy of 1950s and energy of 1960s; Frank Prentice Rand; Walter "Bull" Prince; Ray Ethan Torrey; Guy Crampton; Jewish fraternity and life on campus; Jewish faculty; growth of liberal arts on campus; student pranks; Jewish fraternities in 1920s and Intercollegiate Menorah Society; changes in Jewish presence on campus; Hillel movement; Jewish life on campus in 1940s-1950s; Jean Paul Mather.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1920) and later Extension Service; curriculum at MAC; struggles with legislature over funding; background in Extension; extension work in the field; trustees; change in name from MAC to Mass. State College and opposition from agricultural interests; difficulties with space for veterans; honor system; hazing and inter-class competition; lack of African American students; conflict with private businesses over selling college farm produce.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1926); athletic background; unity of spirit in small college; building of women's dormitory (Abigail Adams House); social life on campus; Ray Ethan Torrey's influence; Kid Gore; Frank Prentice Rand; memories of rope pull; class activities (sings); dances in Memorial Hall; ROTC; the infirmary; the library and its little use; Kenyon Butterfield.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1913) and Extension worker; work as Extension Agent; education at MAC; scarlet fever and diphtheria epidemics; Brooks House; the MAC library and its use; fraternities; student protest over volunteer work; international students; no racial problems; change in character of school after First World War; belittling of agricultural studies; athletes highly regarded on campus; weather flags on South College.

Interview with Hadley native; family and farm (in Russelville, North Hadley); neighbor Levi Stockbridge.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1911) and Professor of Botany; memories of MAC; life as a freshman; pond parties; student pranks and customs; Professor Hasbrouck; Frank Waugh; fraternities; short rations; Ray Ethan Torrey; working through college; the farm; student entertainments; alcohol not a big part of student life; military duties, ROTC; rifle team; becoming lab assistant, instructor; the library; attitudes toward faculty much more respectful; quality of education.

Interview with Dean of Home Economics: background at Mt Holyoke College and Yale; return to MAC and Dean of Home Economics; the Homestead and Stockbridge House; receipt of honorary degree; study of nutrition in Hokkaido.

Interview with wife of Frank Prentice Rand: arrival in Amherst with husband in 1916; Roister Doisters; the Schubernachadie; plays and visiting poets; Cornelia Otis Skinner; Carl Sandburg; Robert Frost; Archibald MacLeish; Kenyon Butterfield and family; Frank Waugh and family; Ray Stannard Baker; Ray Ethan Torrey; Faculty Women's Club; George Cutler; life in Amherst; Amherst Women's Club.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1934) and later instructor at Fort Devens (English); change from agricultural college to university; Ray Ethan Torrey; Torrey's Friday night meetings; Ellsworth Barnard; Fred Troy; Fritz Ellert; college highjinks; student support for changing from agricultural college; teaching at Fort Devens; low salary at UMass and Devens.

Interview with Simmons, alumnus (Class of 1916), and Jones (Class of 1916): student highjinks (Night Shirt Parade, rope pull, pond parties, arena parties etc.); compulsory chapel; roughhousing; Burnham Declamation Prize; social activities; town and gown tensions; Billy Hasbrouck; Clarence Gordon; scarlet fever epidemic, YMCA; campus events; work on campus; Kenyon Butterfield; Murray D. Lincoln.

Interview with Professor of English at Mass State and UMass: arrival in 1938 hurricane; Amherst community; personalities in the department; Walter Prince; Ray Ethan Torrey; Torrey's discussion group; academic culture at UMass; Orchard Hill residential area (Varley was master there from 1964-1968); relations between UMass and Hokkaido University.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1916): women at MAC; Kenyon Butterfield and family; women's social lives and studies; MAC professors; Hasbrouck.

125th Anniversary Oral History Project
150 items
RG 1/207/1988

Interview with instructor in Russian, graduate of Bryn Mawr (1968).

Interview with Dean of Stockbridge School and poultry farmer, 62, native of Harrison, Me., regarding agricultural education, Stockbridge School.

1988 July 19
00:43:09 and 00:43:27

Interview with Staff Assistant and Accreditation Manager in Dept. of Public Safety and Sergeant, University Police.

Interview with alumnus (Class of 1969), originally a student in Math, later History major, and administrator at Everywoman's Center.

1988 Aug. 11
00:43:22, 00:45:51, and 00:46:23

Interview with Hite, 34, alumnus (Class of 1978).

Interview with Kaplan, Professor of History.

Interview with Melley, alumnus (class of 1956) and Office of University Relations.

00:45:36 and 00:18:29

Chancellor, former Executive Vice Chancellor, and former Provost, offering highlights of his time at UMass, positive and negative.

Interview with retired clerk at UMass.

Sesquicentennial Oral History Project
150 items
RG 1/207/2103
Commonwealth College
College of Education
College of Engineering

Interview with faculty member in the Wind Energy Program, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Using mathematics degree after undergraduate study; Peace Corps; doctorate in Engineering Economic Systems at Stanford on climate change economics policy; arrival at UMass; status of women in engineering; industrial engineering; work in climate change policy and relation to wind energy; program in engineering, environmental science, and policy (IGERT: Integrative Graduate Education Research and Teaching) within wind program; interdisciplinarity at UMass; memorable students, colleagues.


Interview with graduate and faculty member in the Wind Energy Program, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Interest in renewable energy; education at MIT and UMass; challenges of off shore wind energy; grant writing; UMass and wind power legacy; teaching; Dutch and wind power; Cape Winds Associates and opposition to offshore wind energy in Massachusetts; logistics of wind power.

Interview with graduate and faculty member of the Wind Energy Program, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering: coming to UMass and introduction to engineering and wind power; starting graduate study in renewable energy with Bill Heronemus and Jim McGowan; Wind Furnace 1 (WF-1) and work on systems design; "sabbatical" in Nicaragua working on hydropower and wind projects; Silvio Conte and support in funding Wind Energy Program at UMass; relations with the state and offshore wind energy; wind energy education at UMass; offshore wind and Cape Wind project; work on Wind Furnace; Bill Heronemus.

Interview with Jon McGowan, early member of the Wind Energy Center at UMass: arrived at UMass in 1967 after working at Dupont. Early impressions of UMass in rapid growth. Interest in thermodynamics and energy conversion; introduction to Bill Heronemus and renewable energy. Early grants for ocean thermal energy and wind energy and creation of the "Solar house," putting together the equipment to create wind. Silvio Conte and grant. Work in Cuba and Ivory Coast.

College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Music and Dance
College of Natural Sciences
College of Nursing

Interview with Goodman (former Interim Dean of Nursing) and Alexander (alumnus), both on faculty at Worcester.

Interview with Asselin (RN to BSN graduate Class of 1974; Clinical Assistant Professor in RN-BSN program) and Bailey (Nursing alumnus and staff member from 1969-2014, becoming Coordinator for Student Support Services).

2013 May 16

Interview with member of first graduating class at UMass School of Nursing (1958).

Interview with alumni of School of Nursing Cancellieri (Class of 197), Grodin (Class of 1977, instructor 1991-1998, manager of Hospice and Palliative Care at Cooley-Dickinson Hospital); Thomson (Class of 1973; MS in Nursing Administration, 1991; Chair of Alumni Board); and Cancellieri (Class of 1975; career in Navy).

Interview with 1983 graduate of School of Nursing, recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award at UMass, 1998, Honorary Doctorate, 2003. Chaffee is Commander in US Navy Nurse Corps and Senior Health Program Analyst in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in TRICARE Management Activity

2013 May 6
00:16:03 and 00:26:32

Interview with Chandler (Assoc. Professor in doctoral and BNP program) and Zucker (Assoc. Professor and expert in communicable disease prevention and behavioral modification for persons with substance abuse

2012 Dec. 7

Interview with first African American graduate of Nursing (Class of 1972); native of Antigua, racism in Boston schools. ODWIN program (Open Doors Wider in Nursing); applying to UMass; leaving nursing for the ministry.

Conlin, Genevieve: oral history with Robert S. Cox (Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Boston, Mass.)
2013 Aug. 06

Interview with alumna (1993): choice of Nursing as a profession; arrival at UMass; student years; budgetary problems at UMass; Student Nurse Association; work on Alumni Board.

Interview with two of the first professors in the UMass School of Nursing: Tina DiMaggio (Pediatric and Maternal) and Helming (Medical and Surgical), Sheridan (Pediatric). Beginnings in nursing; early years of UMass program; early faculty; Mary Maher.

2012 Aug. 20

Interview with former Dean of Nursing at UMass. Nurse Scientist traineeships and federal support for career in nursing research; doctorate in anthropology and fieldwork in Jamaica and arrival on faculty at UMass (1973). Merger of Nursing and Public Health at UMass.

Interview with alumni of School of Nursing: Dubiel (Class of 1961B) and Moeller (Class of 1964).

2013 Mar. 20

Interview with nursing faculty member, discussing choice of nursing as profession; education from high school (in Baltimore) through diploma at Mass. General; Columbia Teachers' College. Marriage to Harvey Friedman. Arrival at UMass. Unionization efforts in nursing profession, collective bargaining. Sabbatical in England; nursing in England. International programs.

2013 Aug. 1

Interview with Professor and Dean of Nursing at UMass Amherst (1981-2000); graduate of Newton Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing (1956), Boston University (BSN, 1960), UConn (MSN, 1981) , UMass Amherst (EdD, 1989).

Reid-Ponte, Patricia: oral history with Robert S. Cox (Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Boston, Mass.)

Interview with Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services at Dana-Farber Cancer Center and alumnus (Class of 1976). School of Nursing in mid-1970s; clinical experiences.

Interview with alumnus of UMass Amherst School of Nursing (BSN, 1969) and Boston University (MS, 1983); held positions at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston (1969-1994) Chief Nursing Officer at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, (1994-2005) Senior Director of Clinical and Professional Development at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston (2006- ).


Interview with graduate of the RN to BS program, Clinical Nurse Leader program, and Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

2013 July 10

Interview with alumna of UMass Amherst School of Nursing (1962, 1974G, 1990 PhD) and faculty member. Family background (parents were graduates of Mass. State); undergraduate life in early 1960s, psychiatric clinical experiences at Northampton State Hospital, diploma students versus BSN students during clinicals; psychiatric nursing in Springfield; work at American International College.

2013 Oct. 9

Interview with PhD graduate of UMass Amherst, faculty member (1989- 2005), and former Director of the Office of Nursing Scholarship (2003-2005), Director of Collaborative PhD in Nursing Program (2003-2004); Director of PhD in Nursing Program (2004-2005); and President of the Faculty Assembly (2003-2005).

2013 Aug. 1

Interview with UMass Amherst alumnus; former undergraduate in graphic design (BFA, 1987) and architecture, instrument (harp) maker; returned to college in nursing via Springfield Technical Community College. UMass in the 1980s; work with architectural firm and change of career; harp making and transition to nursing; education at UMass in accelerated degree nursing program; work at Dartmouth, Springfield.

Amherst Community
Staff and non-academic units
Marching Band

Graduate student in English; adjunct staff in UWW; involved in jazz at UMass.


Administrative information


The collection is open for research.


Interviews conducted by SCUA staff and others, 2012-2014.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Jan. 2014.



Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: UMass Oral History Collection (RG 001/207/2013). Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries.

Search terms


  • Dana (Mass.)--History
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. College of Nursing
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst [main entry]
  • Cox, Robert S., 1958-
  • Adamites, Jessica
  • Annis, Rusty
  • Chard, Dan
  • Rubinstein, Aaron

Genres and formats

  • Audiocassettes
  • Oral histories

Link to similar SCUA collections