The bulk of the subject files in Series 1 pertains to Machmer's activities as Dean at the University of Massachusetts during the 1920s through 1953, and particularly his oversight of the changing curriculum and student academic success. From the controversy over introducing an BA degree (as opposed to the BS formerly granted to agricultural students) to the introduction of new ideas in how best to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth, the series documents the slow and sometimes agonizing reorganization of the university.
Machmer was a strong proponent of student academic standards, and his files from his work on the Scholarship Committee (reviewing the academic standing of students), his annual reports as Dean, statistical summaries of student standing, and reports from various other committees provides a sense of academic life at the university during the 1930s and 1940s. To a lesser degree, the series also documents aspects of student non-academic life.
The impact of World War II on the University can be seen throughout the series in terms of the dramatic impact on a student body mobilizing for war and the equally dramatic impact of integrating veterans back into the university following demobilization. Of particular note are a fine series of letters written by former Mass. State students in the service (filed under "Letters from soldiers") and a poignant file of requests from Japanese American students from the western states seeking to continue their education. In most cases, Machmer responded to say that while the university was willing to admit Japanese American students, the already strained facilities at Mass. State would not permit them to admit additional out of state students.