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Archives & Special Collections Celebrates 150

An Exhibition of Materials from the Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
John William Ward Exhibition Room, Frost Library, 2001




The Archives & Special Collections:
A Chronology

1826

The Trustees direct the Secretary to record in the "Book of College Records" the College charter and the constitution of the Charity Fund

1833

In order to preserve College records from destruction by fire and other accidents, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees is required to make a duplicate of each meeting's minutes, and to lodge some with the President

1836

The Trustees vote to transcribe a manuscript history of Amherst College prepared for them by Noah Webster

1838

In February 1838 a fire in Amherst town center which included the offices of the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Lucius Boltwood, destroyed College materials. An iron safe preserved some books and papers of the College

1851

The Faculty vote to accept a plan created by Professors C. B. Adams and George Jewett to collect and preserve "all documents pertaining to the history of the college including all literary published productions of the officers and alumni." They constitute Professor Adams a committee of one to carry out the plan

1858

The President and Treasurer are voted by the Trustees to be a committee to collect and transcribe in whole or part all documents and papers relating to the foundation and endowment of Amherst College, with authority to employ necessary help, at the expense of the Corporation. Joseph Vaill (the Charity Fund's chief fundraiser) was later added to this committee

1859

The Trustees vote that former College President Heman Humphrey and Joseph Vaill provide facts and reminiscences relating to the origins and early history of the College. President Humphrey's sketch was published in 1905. Vaill's was recorded as "not available"

1862

The Trustees vote to place the manuscripts by Noah Webster and Heman Humphrey relative to the history of the College with the President

1866

The Trustees vote that the Presidential Committee be authorized to purchase an iron safe, to be kept in the Library, or other convenient place, under the care of the President, for the preservation of the records and other valuable documents of the College

1882

Walker Hall burns for the second time. Only items in the vault were saved. Among the items lost was the second volume of the "Records of the Board of Trustees" containing the minutes of their meetings between Commencement 1868 and Commencement 1881. Only scattered portions of draft minutes were found anywhere else

c. 1900

Edward "Doc" Hitchcock (AC 1849), Professor of Hygiene and Physical Education took an increasingly active interest in developing a memorabilia collection for the College. Before his death in 1911 he did more than any other individual to collect and to encourage others to contribute to the College's collections

c.1917-1934

The College Memorabilia Collection is housed in the basement of Converse Library

1935

The Edward Hitchcock Memorial Room provides a new home for the Memorabilia Collection. Conceived of by President Stanley King and funded by Arthur N. Milliken (AC 1880), the empty stacks in the rear of Morgan Hall are converted to a mahogany-paneled room with storage space below

1942

The Trustees vote that the curator of the Edward Hitchcock Memorial Room shall be the official custodian of all books, pamphlets, and manuscripts on the campus belonging to the College and dealing with the history of the College

1966

The Memorabilia Collection is moved to the new Robert Frost Library and combined with the newly created Special Collections Department

1979

The Board of Trustees issue a mandate creating the official Amherst College Archives for the permanent preservation of records of academic programs and courses, official records of administrators and administrative offices, and those materials with permanent historical value. The mandate also provides guidelines for deposit, retention and access

2001
Happy 150th!




Sketch of the Early History of Amherst College
by Noah Webster, ca. 1836 (transcript)

 
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Heman Humphrey, Sketches of the Early History of Amherst College, 1860

 
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Sketches of the Early History of Amherst College, prepared by President Heman Humphrey, 1860. This is the 1905 printed edition.



Adams and Jewett, "Plan for the Collection of books, pamphlets, and other documents," 1851
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Here Professors Adams and Jewett lay out plans to collect and preserve materials documenting the history of the College. These were subsequently approved at meetings of the Faculty in September 1851.



Charles Baker Adams (Class of 1834)

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Adams was Professor of Zoology and Astronomy at Amherst from 1847 to 1853.



George Baker Jewett (Class of 1840)

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Jewett was Professor of Latin and Modern Languages at Amherst from 1850 to 1855.


Faculty Minutes of September 11 and 17, 1851
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September 11, 1851
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September 17, 1851
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At these meetings the Faculty voted to accept a plan created by Professors C. B. Adams and George Jewett to collect and preserve "all documents pertaining to the history of the college including all literary published productions of the officers and alumni." They constituted Professor Adams a committee of one to carry out the plan.



Request to alumni from Assistant Librarian Edward Marsh, 1881

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Edward "Doc" Hitchcock (Class of 1849), father of the modern archives

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Edward "Old Doc" Hitchcock (AC 1849), son of geologist and Amherst College President Edward Hitchcock, served on the faculty as Professor of Hygiene and Physical Education for fifty years, beginning in 1861. He took an increasingly active interest in developing a memorabilia collection for the College. Before his death in 1911 he did more than any other individual to collect and to encourage others to contribute to the College's collections.



"Doc" Hitchcock's letter to Professor Charles Garman, 1900
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"Doc" Hitchcock's appeal for alumni memorabilia, 1902
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"Doc" Hitchcock's appeal for alumni memorabilia, published in The Amherst Student in 1902
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"Doc" Hitchcock's letter to the Class of 1883 asking for memorabilia, 1908
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In this six-page letter to the "Boys of '83," Hitchcock reports on some recent innovations at Amherst and, on page 4, writes, "I only want to beg of you to send Mr. Fletcher [the Librarian] or myself any printed memorabilia about yourself that we may have ... and also remember that we have the alcove where we place ... every production of yours, whether it is be a bound volume or a newspaper scrap."

He explains that this material "not only the future historian will want, but ... every newspaper reporter will consult for his material."



Index and chronology of pamphlets in the Memorabilia Collection
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First page of the list of pamphlets prepared by Edward "Doc" Hitchcock.



The Hitchcock Memorial Room, Morgan Hall

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After 18 years in the basement of Converse Library, the Edward Hitchcock Memorial Room in Morgan Hall provided a new home for the Memorabilia Collection in 1935. Conceived of by President Stanley King and funded by Arthur N. Milliken (AC 1880), the empty stacks in the rear of Morgan Hall were converted to a mahogany-paneled room with storage space below.



Memorabilia Classification Scheme
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"Vote by the Board of Trustees With Respect to the College Archives," April 21, 1979

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Rare Book Room, Converse Memorial Library

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The Rare Book Room in Converse Memorial Library is shown here in a 1940 photograph.



Original Archives and Special Collections Reading Room, Robert Frost Library

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Upon completion of the Frost Library in 1965, the contents of the Hitchcock Memorial Room in Morgan Hall and the Rare Book Room in Converse Memorial Library were combined to create the College Archives and Special Collections.


Rare Book Room, Robert Frost Library
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With the renovation of the Robert Frost Library in 1994-95, it became possible to remove all of the collections to stack areas, and to separate the reading and exhibition functions of the department. In addition, a new College History Room (above right) was the gift of Judith and George W. Carmany III '62. The new reading room (above center) was named for the donor, Albert E. Barnett, M.D. '52.

 

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