Bicentennial

Since 1821, Amherst has prepared critical and creative thinkers for lives of purpose and discovery. That tradition continues; today, academic and inclusive excellence readies our students to tackle the complex challenges of the 21st century.

Amherst College Bicentennial 1821 2021

We embarked on planning for the College's 200-year birthday nearly two years ago. While the Bicentennial celebration kicked off quite differently than we'd imagined, this website offers an engaging, physically distanced way to enjoy the Bicentennial and the history of Amherst right now. Enjoy this site as a starting point from which to explore some of Amherst's past, learn more about Amherst today, and glimpse our aspirations for our third century.


Amherst College Timeline

  • Click and drag the timeline (at the bottom) to the decade you wish to view.
  • Click the magnifying glass to expand the spacing between the years and make the items easier to read.
  • Click the icon in the upper right corner to expand the timeline to a full-screen view.
  • We have also prepared a web-accessible version of this timeline.

Note: This timeline isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list but rather a sample of Amherst events and happenings. If you are interested in learning more about Amherst’s history, please visit the Amherst College Archives or explore the many sources of information on Amherst College Digital Collections.


A photo of Biddy Martin speaking at a podium Amherst has been here for 200 years, cheerleading in its own way for reason, understanding, conversation and community. It will continue to give students an unrivaled opportunity to absorb the ideas and the values essential not only to personal success but also to creating the world we say we want.”
— BIDDY MARTIN, President of Amherst College

Latest from the Bicentennial

A green sweatshirt that looks like the doors of Johnson Chapel next to the doors of Johnson Chapel

The Bicentennial Collection

For the Bicentennial, we explored the College’s extensive archives for beautiful, interesting and fun designs. We hope you enjoy these reimagined items and the Amherst history that inspired them.

See the photos & read the stories

The logo for Amherst at 200

The Bicentennial Podcast

Amherst at 200: Celebrating Mind, Heart, and Community, narrated by Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Wright ’87, showcases the stories of graduates from 70 years ago until the present.

Learn more & subscribe


A row of people bathed in purple light watching a fireworks show

Bicentennial Events

We planned a series of Bicentennial events this year, including The Bicentennial Party, which provided an opportunity for our community to celebrate this historic milestone for the College!

Architecture: Making Time Visible

November 9, 2021

What do the buildings at Amherst College tell us about the values and visions of their creators? Follow Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin ’79 as he takes us on a historical and philosophical tour of campus.

Bicentennial Essays & News

Slices of nine photos showing people, an illustration and a house

Nine Writers on What Amherst Means to Them

For the fall 2021 issue of Amherst magazine, commissioned nine essays from alumni authors about the College’s influence on their lives. Travel back in time to the seconds after a hard row, to a Cuban meal cooked with two professors, to a treasured year in the land of open doors, and more.

More News Stories

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.

Read the News


A wide black and white photo of hundreds of people eating under a large pent

To See Amherst Feeling at Its Flood-Tide

Read the story behind the College’s 1921 Centennial celebration, which, at 7,000 atendees, was the biggest event in Amherst’s history.

A black and white photo of a man in glasses wearing a graduation cap

The Three Prophecies of Alexander Meiklejohn

Robert Howard '76 looks back at June 22, 1921, to a remarkable speech given at Amherst’s centennial celebration by the college’s then-president, Alexander Meiklejohn.

Examining our Past

From laying the South College cornerstone in 1820, to weathering the hurricane of 1938, to voting in favor of coeducation in 1974 and beyond, Amherst’s history has been marked by meeting the challenges of its time.

A black and white photo of a group of young men and one woman around a large computer

Explore Our Archives & Photo Sliders

Find student newspapers, audio recordings, speeches and more from our extensive archives. And look back at some of the ways the College has changed over 200 years—and some ways it’s stayed the same—with our Then & Now photos.

Looking to our Future

In celebrating our past, we also look ahead. As was true at its founding, Amherst’s commitments to opportunity and quality education continue to depend upon vision, curiosity, diversity and willingness to face the challenges of a changing world.

A large stage in purple light with the word "promise" projected on a big screen Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century

The Promise campaign promotes the enduring values of liberal arts education. It seeks, as well, to reinvent aspects of the liberal arts to meet the needs of current and future generations of students.

Learn More & Give

The Amherst College Science Center A Changing Campus

From new building projects across campus to a Climate Action Plan that aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, see how Amherst is well-positioned to preserve liberal arts education in the 21st century and beyound.

See the Transformation


A photo of eight squares, six with question marks in them and two with cartoon mammoths

Games and Quizzes

Test your Amherst knowledge and have some fun with interactive Bicentennial games!