There are a wide variety of primary and secondary sources available for conducting research on the history of our campus architecture. 

Primary Sources:

  • Buildings and Grounds Collection
    This is the major source of archival information about all aspects of the physical plant of Amherst College. It includes architectural plans, photographs, financial records, and documents related to groundbreaking, construction, dedication, and remodeling.  
  • College Photographer's Negatives Collection
    Primarily 35 mm black and white negatives documenting Amherst College events, people and places taken by the College Photographer for the Office of Public Affairs, ca. 1962-2005.
  • Amherst College Class Albums Collection, 1853-1909
    Students' personal photograph albums, which often include important views of campus and buildings.
  • Kennedy Convocation Collection
    President John F. Kennedy visited Amherst in October 1963 to give a speech and receive an honorary degree at the annual Convocation ceremony, and also to participate in the groundbreaking of the new Rogbert Frost Library. This collection documents those events.
    finding aid | web exhibit

Secondary Sources:

Note: the following published sources and several more can be found in the library's online catalog by searching for "Amherst College - Buildings" as a subject.

  • Stanley King, "The Consecrated  Eminence": The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College (1951)
    Now a bit dated, but this is an exhaustively researched history of the buildings and grounds of the college by one of its former presidents.
    Available on
    Copies also available in Archives, Frost Reference and Main stacks [LD153 .K5]

  • M. Barnes Taft (AC 1957) updated The Consecrated Eminence in 2007 by re-compiling historical data on all college buildings.
    [PDF - 9.6 MB]
  • Paul J. Bigelow, The Stone Quarry Industry: Pelham, Massachusetts (1998).
    [File / TH5401 .B53 1998]
    A history of the quarries that supplied the Pelham gneiss used for the foundations and, in some cases, the exterior of many early Amherst College buildings.

  • Amherst College : Photographic Views of all the College Buildings: with Description, Together with Some of the Principal Streets and Public Buildings of the Town of Amherst (1894)
    Available online at Hathi Trust
    [LD154.5 A427 1894]
  • Amherst College Real Estate (1911). [Archives Ref.]
    A photographic compendium of real estate held by the college as of 1911.
  • New Names for Student Houses at Amherst (1984) [Archives Ref.]
    Available as a PDF
    A brief guide to the former fraternity houses that were converted to dormitories after the Trustees' abolishment of fraternities in 1984.
  • Amherst College Annual Catalogs, 1822-present
    The annual catalogs often include a campus map and can therefore be useful in tracing the development of the campus over time.

Additional Archival Sources

The following are additional archival sources that may be useful to consult. See an archivist to request material.

  • Photographic Images Collection
    Generally, photographs of the college campus and buildings are found in the Buildings and Grounds Collection. The Photographic Images Collection contains all other types of photographic subjects related to the history of the college. Subjects include student life, academics, fraternities, commencement, and reunions.
  • Alumni Biographical Files / Non-Alumni Biographical Files
    An important source for background information on persons after whom buildings are named,  benefactors, etc.
  • General Files
    Subject files related to the history of the college.