A guide to some of the significant book holdings in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Amherst College holds a notable collection of published works by Native American Indian authors. In addition to the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection, we hold books collected by Joseph Bruchac and others. We are activily adding materials in this area. A selection of the books in the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg collection have been digitized and are available on the Amherst College Digital Collections site.
We have extensive holdings of books by and about Robert Frost, including first editions, association copies, anthologies, translations, and biographical/critical works. These volumes complement Amherst's Robert Frost Collection, which includes manuscripts, correspondence and a substantial number of audio recordings of the poet. For information on some of our copies of Frost's books, see: Books by Robert Frost in the Archives.
Amherst has a major and growing collection of books, periodicals and recordings by or about poet Richard Wilbur, class of 1942.
A major collection of books by and about William Wordsworth. Books in this collection were published between 1793 and circa 1935. Most of the collection came from the library of Cornelius H. Patton, Class of 1883, and author of the Wordsworth Descriptive Bibliography. Amherst College also holds the manuscripts of 14 sonnets, which were donated by Mrs. Marie H. Clemens as a memorial to her husband, Dr. James Brentano Clemens. Archives and Special Collections also holds significant Wordsworth works outside of the formal Wordsworth Collection, additional items may be found using the library's online catalog.
Books published by Noah Webster during his lifetime and books given by Noah Webster to the Amherst College Library. Also of interest are the Noah Webster Family Papers and a recent exhibition celebrating the 250th anniversary of Noah Webster's birth.
One of the most comprehensive collections of angling literature, comprised of approximately 2200 books donated by Frederick Lane, Class of 1936. The bulk of the collection focuses on fly fishing, but in addition to angling books, the collection also includes a number of books on fish in general, natural history and outdoorsmanship. Tyler S. Wick, Class of 1992, wrote an article on the Lane Angling Collection in the 1993-94 Newsletter of the Friends of the Amherst College Library. The books in this collection can be found in the library catalog.
Amherst has particularly strong theatrical holdings. In addition to the two collections listed below is the William Britton Stitt (Class of 1918) Eugene O'Neill Collection. Notable are a bound set of Lacy's editions, one of the most complete in existence; the manuscripts and promptbooks of Augustin Daly; and the Plimpton Collection of Dramas, composed of around 1400 plays from early nineteenth century theater in America and Britain. These collections are augmented by the extensive archive of Amherst College theatrics in the Dramatic Activities Collection.
In addition to the collections listed below, the Archives and Special Collections holds substantial runs of "Harper's Weekly" and "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper." Also notable are first editions of Jane Austen, Charles Darwin, and Charles Dickens, including the original unbound installments of Bleak House and Little Dorritt, and a first edition, first state Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
A representative but incomplete collection of the "Collection of British and American Authors," a reprint series published in Leipzig, Germany by the firm of Bernhard Tauchnitz from 1841 to 1939. The series was a familiar source of popular reading for English-speaking travelers on the continent of Europe throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These inexpensive paperbound editions, a direct precursor to mass-market paperbacks, eventually ran to over 5,000 volumes.
This collection comprises the books listed in the first printed catalog of the college library, published in 1827.
Manuscripts bound in book format. Amherst holds 24 codex manuscripts.
Books printed before 1501. Amherst holds 30 incunabula.
A collection of Greek letter printing presented to the library by Professor Harry DeForest Smith upon his retirement in 1939. Includes a broad representation of the various styles of Greek letter printing.
The bulk of this collection is made up of books about the Southern Appalachian region -- its history, culture, economics, and perhaps most of all its physical features and the beauty of the mountains. Regional literature also plays a significant role in the collection including holdings of writers such as "Charles Egbert Craddock" (pseudonym of Mary Noailles Murfree), Olive Tilford Dargan, James Lane Allen, and John Fox, Jr.
Amherst College was one of the first in the nation to have a formal physical education program. For many years the Physical Education and Hygiene department was run by Doctor Edward Hitchcock, Jr. The Archives and Special Collections holds a large quantity of books and pamphlets from his personal and departmental libraries. The books and pamphlets cover a wide variety of athletic, health and lifestyle subjects from the 1850s to 1900s. Related manuscript collections include the Edward (AC1849) and Mary Judson Hitchcock Family Papers and the Department of Physical Education and Hygiene Records.