Many books and articles have been written about Amherst College over the past 200 years. This page is an attempt to gather a selection of materials freely available online; it is not a comprehensive bibliography of works about Amherst. Many recent books and articles are still covered by copyright and are only available through the library's subscription databases, such as “The Making of the Victorian Campus: Teacher and Student at Amherst College, 1850-1880” by J. M. Opal in History of Education Quarterly (vol. 42, no. 3, 2002, pp. 342–367) via JSTOR. Books published in the United States before 1924 are in the public domain, so the majority of the items on this list are from the nineteenth century, hosted online by the Internet Archive.
Much more material has been digitized and added to Amherst College Digital Collections.
Amherst in the World. Martha Saxton, ed. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.11873533
In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Amherst College, a group of scholars and alumni explore the school’s substantial past in this volume. Amherst in the World tells the story of how an institution that was founded to train Protestant ministers began educating new generations of industrialists, bankers, and political leaders with the decline in missionary ambitions after the Civil War. The contributors trace how what was a largely white school throughout the interwar years begins diversifying its student demographics after World War II and the War in Vietnam. The histories told here illuminate how Amherst has contended with slavery, wars, religion, coeducation, science, curriculum, town and gown relations, governance, and funding during its two centuries of existence. Through Amherst’s engagement with educational improvement in light of these historical undulations, it continually affirms both the vitality and the utility of a liberal arts education.
Exercises at the Semi-Centennial of Amherst College. Springfield, Mass.: Samuel Bowles & Company, 1871.
This collection of speeches delivered at the July 12, 1871 celebration of the college’s semi-centennial would quickly be superseded by Tyler’s massive history published in 1873, but this slim volume shows how the college celebrated its first milestone birthday.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/exercisesatsemic00amhe/page/n9/mode/2up
William S. Tyler. History of Amherst College During its First Half-Century. 1821-1871. Springfield, MA: Clark W. Bryan and Company, 1873.
Dedicated: “To the Alumni of Amherst College, at whose instance this work was undertaken, and who must always chiefly make the history of the college, this history of its first half century is affectionately dedicated by their friend and brother, the Author.” Commissioned for the Semi-Centennial Celebration in 1871, Tyler explains that his own ill health was chiefly responsible for the delay in publication to May 1873. One benefit of that delay is that Tyler’s book included a full account of the celebrations and speeches of 1871 among its 700 pages. Tyler also includes extensive biographical sketches of prominent trustees, faculty, and others associated with the progress of the school in its early years.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/historyofamherst00tyle
William S. Tyler. A History of Amherst College During the Administrations of its First Five Presidents from 1821 to 1891. New York: Frederick H. Hitchcock, 1895.
A new edition of Tyler’s history appeared in 1895. The “Preface” explains that the new edition brings the history up-to-date completing the account of the Stearns presidency and covering the whole of President Seelye’s administration. The new edition is also much shorter than the original, weighing in at just 312 pages compared to the 671 pages of the 1873 edition.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/historyofamherst02tyle
Claude Fuess. Amherst: The Story of a New England College. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1935. Although not available online, Fuess’s one-volume history of the college covers 1821 through the start of Stanley King’s Presidency in 1932. Although he brings the history up to date, he relies heavily on Tyler’s account for 1821-1891, and his research on more recent events is frequently inaccurate. Modern critics charge Fuess with willfully ignoring the darker aspects of his subjects in his many political biographies, including Calvin Coolidge and Daniel Webster. A breezy and celebratory account of the college.
Not currently available online.
Stanley King. A History of the Endowment of Amherst College. Amherst, Mass.: Amherst College, 1950.
Stanley King. The Consecrated Eminence: The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College. Amherst, Mass.: Amherst College, 1951.
Stanley King served as President of Amherst College from 1932 until 1946; he produced two books that function as a detailed examination of the college’s finances and physical plant up to the middle of the 20th century. Until the publication of Blair Kamin’s survey of college architecture in 2020, The Consecrated Eminence was the most reliable reference on the subject.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/historyofendowme00king/page/n5/mode/2up
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/theconsecratedem00king/page/n5/mode/2up
Noah Webster. A Plea for a Miserable World. An Address, delivered at the laying of the corner stone of the building erecting for the charity institution in Amherst, Massachusettes, August 9, 1820. Boston, Mass.: Ezra Lincoln, 1820.
Noah Webster was a major supporter of the “charity institution” that would become Amherst College. In this speech delivered at the laying of the cornerstone of South College he articulated the mission of the college thus: “The object of this institution, that of educating for the gospel ministry young men in indigent circumstances, but of hopeful piety and promising talents is one of the noblest that can occupy the attention and claim the contributions of the Christian public.”
Amherst College Digital Collections: https://acdc.amherst.edu/view/asc:905776
Edward Hitchcock. Reminiscences of Amherst College: Historical Scientific, Biographical And Autobiographical: Also, of Other And Wider Life Experiences. Northampton, Mass.: Bridgman & Childs, 1863
It is difficult to overstate Edward Hitchcock’s influence on the survival and expansion of the college in its early decades. He arrived as Professor of Chemistry and Natural History in 1825 then served as the third President from 1845-1854. He remained at Amherst as Professor of Natural Theology and Geology until his death in 1864. This book is full of details of college history, including many informative charts, but it is an idiosyncratic work with a significant autobiographical bias. A unique and valuable work by a major figure in college history reflecting on nearly five decades of service to Amherst.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/reminiscencesofa00hitc
Heman Humphrey. Sketches of the Early History of Amherst College. Northampton, Mass.: Kingsbury Box & Printing Co., 1905.
Although he likely wrote it during his term as the second President of Amherst College (1823-1845), this brief history of the college was not published until 1905. Humphrey is often overshadowed by Edward Hitchcock and this book provides us with his personal perspective on the first two decades of the college.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/sketchesofearlyh00humprich/page/n3/mode/2up
George Cutting. Student Life at Amherst College. Its Organizations, Their Membership and History. Amherst, Mass.: Hatch & Williams, 1871.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/studentlifeatamh00cuttrich/page/n10/mode/2up
Songs of Amherst. Northampton, Mass.: Metcalf & Company, 1860.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/songsamherst00phipgoog/page/n8/mode/2up
Allan Benjamin MacNeill and John Mantel Clapp. Amherst Memories: a Collection of Undergraduate Verse of Amherst College. Springfield, Mass.: Springfield Print and Binding Company, 1890.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstmemories00collgoog
An Amherst Book; A Collection of Stories, Poems, Songs, Sketches and Historical Articles by Alumni and Undergraduates of Amherst College. New York: The Republic Press, 1896.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstbookcolle00rile
Walter Savage Ball. Amherst Life: Selections from the Undergraduate Publications at Amherst College. Amherst, Mass.: William Carpenmter Howland, 1896.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstlifeselec00ball
Max Shoop. Sabrina : The Class Goddess of Amherst College. Amherst, Mass.: Max Shoop, 1910.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/sabrinaclassgodd00shoo
Winthrop Hiram Smith, Halvor Richardson Seward, and John Graham Gibson. Sabrina; Being a Chronicle of the Life of the Goddess of Amherst College. Concord, NH: The Rumford Press, 1921.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/sabrinabeingchro00smitrich/page/n6/mode/2up
Walter L. Tower. “A Glance at Amherst Athletics" (1935)
Amherst website: https://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/sources-on-college-history-/virtual-history-bookshelf/etext-tower
Outline of the system of instruction recently adopted in the college at Amherst, Mass. 1827. Amherst: Carter and Adams, 1827.
Amherst College Digital Collections: https://acdc.amherst.edu/view/asc:919962
The Substance of Two Reports of the Faculty of Amherst College, to the Board of Trustees. Amherst, Mass.: Carter and Adams, 1827.
Amherst College Digital Collections: https://acdc.amherst.edu/view/asc:919673
Addresses at the dedication of the new cabinet and observatory of Amherst College, June 28, 1848. Amherst: J. S. & C. Adams, 1848.
Amherst College Digital Collections: https://acdc.amherst.edu/view/asc:920129
Charles H. Hitchcock. The Visitor’s Guide to the Public Rooms and Cabinets of Amherst College : With a Preliminary Report. Amherst, Mass.: Amherst College, 1862.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/visitorsguidetop00hitc
Nathan Allen. Physical Culture in Amherst College. Lowell, Mass.: Stone and Huse, 1886.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/101158737.nlm.nih.gov
Opening of Walker Hall, Amherst College, Amherst, Mass., Oct. 20, 1870. Boston: Rand, Avery & Frye, 1871.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/openingofwalkerh00steauoft
Edward Hitchcock. A Manual of the Gymnastic Exercises as Practised by the Junior Class in Amherst College, Amherst, Mass. Boston, Mass.: Ginn, Heath & Company, 1884.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/manualofgymnasti00hitcrich
The Amherst Graduates' Quarterly was the first alumni magazine produced for the college, launched in October 1911. AGQ was created for and largely by the alumni of Amherst College, edited and printed by Amherst College. Several volumes of AGQ are freely available online. In 1949 AGQ ceased publication and was replaced by Amherst Alumni News (1949-1970).
Volume 1 (1911-1912) Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstgraduates01amheuoft/page/n5/mode/2up
Volume 2 (1912-1913) Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/amherstgraduates02amheuoft#page/n11/mode/2up
Volume 3 (1913-1914) Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstgraduates03amheuoft/page/n13/mode/2up
Volume 4 (1914-1915) Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstgraduates04amheuoft/page/n13/mode/2up
Volume 6 (1916-1917) Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstgraduates06amheuoft/page/n19/mode/2up
Volumes 7-9 (1917-1920) Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstgraduates09amheuoft/page/n7/mode/2up
Volumes 10-11 (1920-1922) Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/amherstgraduates11amheuoft/page/n7/mode/2up
Index to the complete Amherst Graduates' Quarterly, Volumes 1-38, 1911-1948 (AC website)
Amherst magazine replaced Amherst Alumni News and reports on the College and its community. Issues from 1998 to the present are available online.
Amherst College website: https://www.amherst.edu/news/magazine/issues
Index on AC website: https://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/sources-on-college-history/amherst-magazine-index
Biographical Record of the Alumni of Amherst College, During its First Half Century, 1821-1871. Edited by W. L. Montague, Class of '55 with an Introduction by Professor W. S. Tyler. Amherst, Mass., 1883.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/biographicalreco00amheuoft
Biographical Record of the Alumni and Non-Graduates of Amherst College, 1871-1896. Compiled and Edited by W. L. Montague, Class of '55. Amherst, Mass.: Carpenter & Morehouse, 1901.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/biographicalreco02amheuoft
Edward P. Crowell Record of the Services of Graduates and Non-Graduates of Amherst College, in the Union Army or Navy during the War of the Rebellion. Amherst, Mass.: Amherst College, 1905.
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/recordofservices00crow/page/n5/mode/2up