The preservation copies of all Amherst College student theses are kept in Archives and Special Collections. Theses have enduring value as records of original research and are actively read and referred to by Amherst students, outside researchers, and relatives of alumni. They are considered part of the official student record.
In addition to documenting the scholarly output of Amherst College students, theses provide a snapshot of what students were interested in at various points in Amherst's history. Researchers can use this information to track intellectual ideas or the development of academic disciplines, to identify historical trends, or to provide support for scientific research. In addition, the seeds of what became the life work of notable alumni such as Debby Applegate (1989), Marshall Bloom (1966), James Merrill (1947) David Suzuki (1958) and David Foster Wallace (1985) can be found in their senior honors theses.
Many senior theses have made use of Amherst College's rare books, literary manuscripts, and archival collections. Primary source material from Archives and Special Collections may be especially useful to current thesis writers involved in original research. Many of these theses are about aspects of Amherst College history and student life. Others relate to subject areas well represented in our collections, including literature, diplomacy and government service, local history, missionary history, natural history and social activism, among others. See a list of past theses which drew on our collections here (pdf):
Access and Use
The earliest Amherst College theses in our collection are Master’s theses, and date from 1911 to 1966. Senior theses date from 1934 to the present. The print copies of theses maintained by the Archives can be read during regular hours in the Archives reading room. Basic records exist for all theses in the Frost Library online catalog. Full cataloging of theses is ongoing and has been completed for the years 1992-present.
Theses (with the exception of bibliographic references) cannot be duplicated without express written consent of authors. Researchers wishing to obtain a copy of a thesis must complete a request form detailing the intended purpose and use of the thesis. Please contact Archives and Special Collections for further information.
Policies for format and preparation
For information about the policies and specifications that must be followed to comply with Amherst College regulations and to ensure long-term preservation of your thesis, see the “Requirements for Format and Deposit of Theses for Honors” set by the Registrar's Office.