Amherst Magazine

Much about History

By Emanuel Costache '09

Longtime Amherst public affairs officer Douglas C. Wilson ’62 is the editor of a new book, Passages of Time: Narratives in the History of Amherst College, published in November by Amherst College Press. The volume is the first wide-ranging book about Amherst history to appear in more than 50 years.

Most of the selections in the anthology are narrative chapters of Amherst history. Essays by 21 authors include “The Coeducation Debate of 1871,” by best-selling novelist Chris Bohjalian ’82, and “The Mischief of Robert Frost,” by critic William H. Pritchard ’53, the Henry Clay Folger Professor of English.

Pritchard describes Wilson’s assemblage of writings as “splendidly imaginative” and says the book is “exactly what this history-minded reader has been waiting for.” Readers can learn about the college’s anti-slavery effort and Civil War casualties, about the Amherst of Julian Symons and Emily Dickinson and about longtime football coach James Ostendarp.

Wilson contributed several articles to the collection. He worked for 27 years in the publications office at Amherst, retiring in 2002. His responsibilities included editing Amherst magazine, where most of the selections in Passages of Time first appeared. In 2003, he was awarded the Medal for Eminent Service for extraordinary devotion to his alma mater.

Wilson majored in history at Amherst and was chairman of The Amherst Student. He received a master’s degree in international studies from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1964. He worked as a reporter at The Providence Journal for 13 years, first in Rhode Island and later in Washington, D.C. He received the Merriam Smith Memorial Award from the White House Correspondents’ Association for breaking the story that President Nixon was about to resign. Wilson’s historical essay “Web of Secrecy: Goffe, Whalley and the Legend of Hadley” received the 1986 Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Colonial History from the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.

Wilson and his wife, Cheryl, live in Amherst, where they raised their three children. Passages of Time is available for $25. To place an order, call (413) 542-2321 or e-mail press@amherst.edu.