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Scenes of Amherst Life, Part 3

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An Exhibition of 10 Photographs from the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

 


The installation of these photographs in Porter Lounge was made possible by
the support of the President's Office, Amherst College.


C. Scott Porter, Class of 1919
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From the 1952 Olio - Archives and Special Collections

A graduate of the class of 1919, Charles Scott Porter returned to his alma mater in 1924 to teach mathematics. In 1931 he became dean of the College, a position he held until 1966. At Amherst, he was an institution for 35 years, known by his colleagues as "dean of deans." Serving under four presidents, Porter was noted for his insistence on proper procedure and high, impartial standards, but was also known as a compassionate man. After his death in 1966, a student recalled that the dean's younger colleagues "would throw you out with a smile; Porter let you stay with a frown." In 1956, on the 25th anniversary of his appointment as dean, the College awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. On June 7, 1969, the Porter Memorial Room was dedicated, and in 1972, the C. Scott Porter '19 Memorial Fellowship was established for graduate study by an Amherst student.


The First Conversation, 1994
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(Photograph by Geoffrey Bluh, 1994 - Public Affairs)

In February 1994, President-elect Tom Gerety met informally with the College community in Johnson Chapel for the first time. With that meeting he began the conversations he felt were to be a vital part of an Amherst education. In his 1994 inaugural address, Tom Gerety shared more formally his vision of teaching and learning at Amherst: "...we in the liberal arts colleges believe that teacher and student must stand face to face in the many conversations that are the work of both; we believe in teaching as conversation because the best teaching is conversation; except by dialogue we cannot do our work." He then defined this conversation: "Ultimately, ours is a conversation about who we are and what we can do in our world. It is about freedom and what we can make of it. It is about reality and how we can understand it. It is about the imagination and how it can draw us towards wisdom and towards one another."


The Five College Bus
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(From a 1977 photograph - Archives and Special Collections)

The Five College transportation system is a very visible aspect of Five College cooperation. As early as 1956, the colleges recognized that "one of the major difficulties in the way of cooperative action is the matter of transportation." Formally instituted in the fall of 1967, the Five College bus system was organized to overcome this difficulty and facilitate travel by students, faculty and staff among Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and the University of Massachusetts, enabling them to easily attend classes and other events at all institutions. Eventually, through arrangements with the PVTA, the free bus service was extended to allow access for everyone, not just members of the academic communities.


Converse Memorial Library
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(Photograph by Frank Ward, 1990)

Built in 1917 and designed by the major architectural firm of McKim, Mead &White, Converse served as the college library for almost fifty years. The building was the gift of Edmund G. Converse, in memory of his older brother James Blanchard Converse AC 1867. A major partner in the firm, William Rutherford Mead AC 1867, said he designed the building "with real affection, for James was a warm friend of mine in college days." Another Amherst graduate, James Kellum Smith AC 1915, served as the architect for the addition built in 1938. After its library function was replaced by the Robert Frost Library in 1965, Converse became a major administrative and classroom building.


Mineralogy Class, 1891
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From an 1891 photograph by R. B. Ludington, AC 1891 -
Archives and Special Collections

Benjamin Kendall Emerson, Class of 1865, was considered one of Amherst's greatest teachers. Following in the footsteps of geologist and College president Edward Hitchcock, Emerson spent fifty years as professor at the College, most of that time as chair of mineralogy and geology. Described as an "enthusiastically-liked" teacher at Amherst and at Smith College, Professor Emerson often took his students out in the field to explore the geological features of the Connecticut River Valley. This photograph from a trip in the spring of 1891 was taken by a student in the class. Emerson was known as a "maker of geologists" because many of his students went on to distinguished careers in geology.


Inaugural Procession, 1912
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(From a 1912 postcard - Archives and Special Collections)

On a beautiful October day in 1912, Alexander Meiklejohn became the eighth president of Amherst College. Meikeljohn used his inaugural address to define his ideas on education and to describe his vision and plans for Amherst. In it he asked: "What do our teachers believe to be the aim of college education? There is but one contention that is always in the foreground, namely, that to be liberal, a college must be essentially intellectual." He went on to say: "The college is primarily not a place of the body, nor of the feelings, nor even of the will; it is, first of all, a place of the mind." A philosopher by training, and a teacher first, Meiklejohn was famous among the students for reading Epictetus in chapel regularly. Meiklejohn served as president until 1924.


The 1890 Athletic Team
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From an 1890 Class Album - Archives and Special Collections
This team, posed before the painted background of College Row in 1890, would be known today as the track team. This winning team included members from the classes of 1891, 1892, and 1893. Of the eighteen events in the New England Intercollegiate Athletic Association meet in May 1890, Amherst won 10 first prizes and 4 second prizes, and set new records in 6 events, trouncing -- among others -- Williams, Wesleyan and Trinity. Events included running, bicycling, pole vaulting, high jumping, hammer throwing, shot putting, hurdling, broad jumping and a tug-of-war.

Porter House, ca. 1920s

Originally built as the second house for the Delta Upsilon fraternity, Porter House sits on Boltwood Avenue, on the east side of the Amherst town common. It was built in 1916 by the architects Putnam & Cox in Georgian colonial style. C. Scott Porter was a graduate of the class of 1919 and member of Delta Upsilon while an Amherst student. The fraternity had a ceremony honoring the deceased dean on the occasion of the 50th reunion of his class. It was held on the front lawn of the house during commencement weekend 1969; a stone bearing Porter's name was installed and a shade tree was planted. The former fraternity house was renamed in honor of Porter in 1984, when the era of fraternities at Amherst had ended.


Student Room in Delta Upsilon, 1910
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Although Amherst's Delta Upsilon chapter was founded in 1847, it did not have its own house until 1882, when it purchased a former student boarding house on the corner of South Pleasant Street at the east end of what is now Hitchcock Road. It stood between Professor Kingman's house and Professor Packard's house, until 1916 when it was sold to the College and then razed to put in Hitchcock Road. This student room from 1910 reflects the unidentified student's devotion to Amherst as well as his interests and tastes. Amherst pillows, scrapbooks and other memorabilia serve as decorations.


President Olds Inaugural Dinner, 1924
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Photograph by Lincoln Barnes - Archives and Special Collections

When George D. Olds was inaugurated on November 14, 1924, the formal dinner was held in Pratt Gymnasium. Guests were tucked into every corner, including the visitors gallery and around the track that ran above the main gymnasium floor. Though elegantly decorated for the occasion, the gymnasium trappings of Amherst's athletic victories were still very visible and included a championship banner on the wall, a bicycle from the 1890s, and the questionably identified "practice shell of the winning crew in 1872" suspended from the ceiling.