An old faded photo of Walker Hall, a church-like building with spires and high windows

Bicentennial News

Read the latest Bicentennial-related news stories from around campus, including the Commencement of the Bicentennial Class, a 1896 baseball game with future Hall of Famers and excerpts from Eye, Mind, Heart: A View of Amherst College at 200.

Sonia Sanchez, the first Black woman faculty member at Amherst, teaches a class in the early 1970s

Black Women of Amherst: A Storytelling Project

Hear the untold stories of Black women of Amherst and tell your own story. This project celebrates alumnae, students, faculty, staff, potential students and future generations. 

Mammoth Trails

A aerial photo of the Amherst College sanctuary in fall.
Renewing the Amherst College sanctuary trails system and developing annual programing that brings groups to the trails ensures that all Amherst community members have access to the mental and physical health benefits they provide. While community members who are familiar with exploring forest land and reading trail signs may not think twice about entering the trails, the fear of getting lost, encountering an area that is not accessible, or accidentally trespassing can keep many community members away from the trails.

Under the supervision of Katherine Sims, Associate Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, we have refreshed the trail system, cleared away brush, added signage and wayfinding and integrated the system into the online campus map. Our vision is of a trail system that is welcoming and well-marked, as well as physically accessible by virtually all members of the community.

Visit the Mammoth Loop Trail Tour

Visit the Book & Plow Trail Tour

Visit the Pond Loop Trail Tour

Upcoming Bicentennial Projects

A photo of a bench overlooking the Mount Holyoke range
200 Years of Indigenous History at Amherst College

Project Sponsors: Sara Montoya ’21 and NISA, the Amherst College Native and Indigenous Student Association; Lisa Brooks, Professor of English and American Studies; Associate Professor of American Studies, and Mike Kelly, Head of Archives & Special Collections 

On the College's 200th anniversary, it is important to recognize both the Indigenous history in Western Massachusetts and the Indigenous history at Amherst College. This project will introduce a land acknowledgment plaque to campus. An equally important part of the project is an event to dedicate the plaque that would include Indigenous people from the area as well as a panel with Native alumni, students, and faculty. The land acknowledgment is a starting point on our path to support Indigenous communities.

People looking at display cases in the Amherst library
Archives Display Cabinets

Project Sponsors: Mike Kelly, Head of Archives & Special Collections

One of the goals of the Archives is to raise community awareness of the contours of Amherst College history. Frost Library is a community hub that hosts everyone from students and faculty to alumni and high school students touring the campus. Exhibition spaces in Frost Library, especially those on the first floor, have excellent visibility and present an opportunity to reach a wide range of audiences. For the Bicentennial, the Archives received an additional display case and will change displays more frequently to feature a wide range of archival materials that document and celebrate College history. 

The exterior of the Amherst College Alumni Gym
Athletics Lobby Refresh

Project Sponsor: Gregg DiNardo ’01, Associate Athletic Director

The Athletics lobby of the Alumni Gym, and particularly the trophy cases on either side of the lobby, will receive a light renovation to refresh and brighten the space. Ultimately, the renovated cases will be curated and offer the College an opportunity to tell the story of the achievements, growth, and commitment of 200 years of Amherst athletics. Unbeknownst to many, Amherst College has the oldest athletics program in the nation: as early as 1860, the College held a compulsory physical fitness regimen required of all students. Amherst’s athletic tradition is rich and full of stories that deserve to be told; these cases will visually present a more inviting and inclusive view of them.

A bed with a table next to it filled with hand-written letters
Emily Dickinson Museum

Overview: The Emily Dickinson Museum will offer several programs that highlight the Dickinson family’s important role in the College’s history, and demonstrate the impact of Emily Dickinson’s vital legacy in Amherst today.

“The Dickinsons of Amherst College,” a themed Museum tour: Museum staff will create a tour of the Homestead and the Evergreens that interprets the family’s multi-generational involvement with the College and the impact of the College on the life of one of America’s greatest poet, Emily Dickinson. 

“Cordially Invited,” a commencement tea at the Homestead: Edward Dickinson, the poet’s father, hosted an annual commencement tea at the family homestead. In 19th-century Amherst, College commencement was one of the biggest events of the year. We hope to revive this tradition with an outdoor reception in the Dickinson garden.

“Domestic Servants of the Dickinson Family,” a themed Museum tour: Museum staff will create a tour of the Homestead and the Evergreens that interprets the lives and labor of the family’s domestic servants. Of those individuals in the historical  record, several who served the Dickinson family also worked at Amherst College.

2021 Tell It Slant Poetry Festival: In fall 2021, the Emily Dickinson Museum’s Poetry Festival will be in its ninth year, celebrating the poetic legacy of Emily Dickinson and the contemporary creativity of the Pioneer Valley and beyond. The Festival’s new name was selected in homage to Dickinson’s poem, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”, underscoring the revolutionary power of poetry to shift our perspective and reveal new truths. In honor of the Bicentennial, the 2021 Festival will feature Amherst College alumni poets as headlining readers and masterclass facilitators, affirming Amherst’s identity as “The Writing College”.

The Homestead, a One-Act Opera about Emily Dickinson

Project Sponsor: Dana Kaufman ’12

Dana Kaufman will compose a new chamber opera--The Homestead (working title)--about Emily Dickinson, which will take place in various rooms of the Emily Dickinson Homestead/Museum. The opera will be 30 minutes in length and scored for a small ensemble that allows for portability so that each scene can occur  in different rooms. The thematic basis of The Homestead is Emily Dickinson’s limited world as a queer woman: the story of her purported romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. It would not only feature Emily Dickinson’s poetry and text from her written correspondence with her sister-in-law, but also a linear, biographical portrait that would acquire a particularly powerful meaning in this specific physical space.

A photo of a symphony with an audience in the foreground
Women in Music at Amherst College

Project Sponsor: Arianne Abela, Director of Choral Program; Amy Coddington, Assistant Professor of Music; Suzette Farnham, Academic Department Coordinator; Klára Móricz, Professor of Music; Alisa Pearson, Manager of Concert Programming, Production & Publicity

This project will celebrate Amherst’s Bicentennial, as well as the centenary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which gave women the right to vote. The Amherst College Choral Society, Amherst College Symphony Orchestra, and Amherst College Jazz Ensemble will join forces to premiere a 30-minute work by Indian-American composer Reena Esmail in the fall of 2021, consisting of settings of poems by contemporary female poets.

Amherst Uprising

Project Sponsor: Andrew Smith ’18

In the fall of 2020, the Bicentennial supported a series of three virtual events marking and exploring the five-year anniversary of the Amherst Uprising. This project also supported the Amherst Uprising Digital Memorial website to create a lasting online installation that features oral histories, written reflections, photographs, and documents detailing the legacy of Amherst Uprising.