Archives & Special Collections

Johnson Chapel, Amherst College

Robert Sweeney, Johnson Chapel
Buildings and Grounds Collection Box 10, Folder 57a
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections

Archives & Special Collections houses Amherst College's rare books, literary manuscripts, written materials of unique value, historic photographs, sound recordings, moving image recordings, and a large collection of objects. It serves as the official repository for the records of Amherst College, including those pertaining to academic programs and departments, College administration, and student activities. The department collects a wide range of historical and biographical materials relating to alumni, alumnae, faculty and other individuals connected with the College.

The print holdings of Archives & Special Collections contain over 80,000 books and 11,000 linear feet of archival materials. The department houses major collections of Emily Dickinson’s books and manuscripts, along with extensive holdings of other poets and writers. The history of Amherst College and the local community is extensively documented through books, manuscripts, photographs, film, and objects. Other strengths of the collections include natural history, especially ornithology; missionary activity; travel literature; theater; international politics and diplomacy; and social justice and activism.

Archives & Special Collections within Amherst College Digital Collections holds hundreds of digitized objects selected from the print holdings of the department. All Archives & Special Collections material in ACDC is in the public domain, or else the rights are held by Amherst College, which chooses to make the material freely available to the public. The criteria for selecting materials for digitization from Archives & Special Collections are based on the materials’ copyright status, their scholarly and cultural significance, the impact of digitization on user access to materials, the materials’ preexisting organization and metadata, relationships to other collections, and funding sources. See the Digital Programs Department’s Digital Collection Development Policy and the Archives & Special Collections’ General Collection Development Policy for more information.

Archives & Special Collections material within Amherst College Digital Collections:

  • Image of Amherst College annual report to secondary schools and report on admission to Amherst College, 1947

    Admission Office, Annual Reports to Secondary Schools
    Reports by the Office of Admission at Amherst College for the use of secondary schools. The reports present statistics on the incoming freshman class and information for secondary school principals and guidance counselors, and span 1947 - 2012.

  • Amherst College Administrative Publications Collection (Selections)

    Amherst College Administrative Publications Collection (Selections)
    This collection contains the College's Student Handbook (1825 - 2009) and Student Handbook In Brief (2010 - 2017). It also contains the Announcement of Courses (1900 - 1976), which was published in addition to the College Catalog for many years, and listed upcoming courses when that information was not fully detailed in the Catalog.

  • Amherst College Catalog 1971-1972

    Amherst College Catalogs
    The Amherst College Catalog includes information such as the academic calendar, course offerings, faculty, and awards for each academic year.

  • Amherst College Commencement Program June 19, 1933

    Amherst College Commencement Collection (Selections)
    The Commencement Collection contains programs, news articles, speeches, schedules of events, and other items relating to commencements, though only the programs have been selected for digitization. Commencement programs give an overview of the commencement ceremony at Amherst College from 1822 to 2016. Contents of the commencement programs vary by year, but often include information such as the names and hometowns of the graduates, names of speakers at the ceremony, and lists of members of honors societies.

  • Volume of records kept by John Leland regarding Amherst College finances and funds, 1821-1835

    Amherst College Early History Collection
    Printed material, legal documents, financial records, correspondence and other papers from 1815 - 1891 documenting the history of Amherst Academy, the Charity Fund, and the inception and founding of Amherst College.

  • Circular regarding Amherst College on letterhead with printed lithograph of campus, 1820-1843

    Amherst College Early History Manuscripts and Pamphlets Collection
    This collection contains correspondence, petitions, pamphlets and other printed material documenting the early history of the College.

  • Amherst College Olio 1889

    Amherst College Olios
    Complete editions of the Olio, Amherst College's annual yearbook, spanning 1859 to 2012.

  • Photographs of Black Alumni Weekend, 1988 April 8-10

    Amherst College Photographer Records (Selections)
    A selection of photographs taken by the College Photographer for the Office of Public Affairs, approximately 1965 - 2005. Photos include portraits, events such as commencement and reunion, sports games, landscape shots of campus, and John F. Kennedy's 1963 visit to campus for the dedication of Frost Library.

  • Amherst College Scrapbooks Collection (Selections)

    Amherst College Scrapbooks Collection (Selections)
    Scrapbooks containing programs, souvenirs, photographs, newspaper clippings, college papers, letters and ephemera relating chiefly to student life at Amherst. Includes a four volume scrapbook assembled by William Belcher Whitney ‘1887 covering his years at Amherst and at Harvard Law School.

  • Photo of cover of Scrutiny, 1979 spring edition

    Amherst College Student and Alumni Publications Collection (Selections)
    A collection of literary, humor and news publications, largely written and edited by Amherst College students and alumni, but also including Five-College publications and publications edited by the college for students and alumni.

  • Amherst Student, 1964 September 14

    Amherst Student
    Includes individual issues of the Amherst Student, the College’s student newspaper, from 1959 to 1977.

  • Image of Amherst College faculty administrative records book, 1826 to 1842

    Dean of Faculty Records, Public Minutes (Selections)
    Public minutes of faculty meetings, 1825 - 1969. Committee of Six meeting minutes 1932 - 1969. Minutes of these meetings are restricted until 50 years after their date of creation.

  • Historical model of Taiso Denshujo Taisojo

    Doshisha University Collection (Selections)
    Materials documenting the long-standing connection between Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan and Amherst College. Bulk of the collection consists of photo albums documenting student life on the Doshisha University campus.

  • Fossil footprints by Edward Hitchcock

    Edward & Orra White Hitchcock Papers
    Correspondence, sermons, drawings, drafts of unpublished and published work, articles, artwork, and images relating to the professional activities and personal life of Edward Hitchcock, the third President of the College and noted geologist and minister, and his family.

  • Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson Collection
    Manuscript holdings, letters, and objects relating to the life of Emily Dickinson. Primary strength of the collection is the rough drafts of poetry. Large collection of published works and Dickinson-Related materials.

  • Henry John Van Lennep watercolor painting of a woman wearing a yashmak

    Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers
    Papers of Henry J. Van Lennep (Class of 1837), a missionary. Most of the collection consists of pencil sketches and watercolors of scenery, people and objects, chiefly Turkish but also some American. In addition, a small amount of personal papers include passports related to his travel as a missionary in Turkey, a notebook of sermons written by Van Lennep in Armenian, and portrait photographs.

  • General Sir Jeffery Amherst

    Jeffery Amherst Collection
    Collection documenting the military career of Jeffrey Amherst in the British Army, including correspondence, portraits, news clippings, bills, and medals. The bulk of the collection spans 1757-1797.

  • Justin Perkins (AC 1829) Papers (Selections)

    Justin Perkins (AC 1829) Papers (Selections)
    Perkins was an educator, minister and missionary to Persia beginning in the 1830s. The collection includes rich correspondence between Perkins and other missionaries.

  • Karl Loewenstein office diary, 1945 August 7 to 1946 August 21

    Karl Loewenstein Papers (Selections)
    Materials produced by Karl Loewenstein over the course of his career as a political scientist, professor, lawyer, and government advisor. Bulk of the collection comes from Loewenstein’s academic career and work for the U.S. Office of Military Government for Germany (OMGUS).

  • Photographs of John F. Kennedy visit to Amherst College, 1963 October 26

    Kennedy Convocation Collection (Selections)
    Photographs from President John F. Kennedy's visit to Amherst College for the groundbreaking ceremony for Robert Frost Library and a special convocation on October 26, 1963.

  • Horae, Dominican and Roman use

    Manuscript Collection
    Includes handwritten and illuminated 15th and 16th century religious and philosophical manuscripts, as well as the diary of a 19th century missionary to Armenia and a manuscript essay written by John Burroughs and edited by Walt Whitman.

  • Horae, Dominican and Roman use

    Nelson Family Juvenilia Collection of Pamela Russell and Murray McClellan
    Small, handwritten and illustrated works created by the three Nelson brothers during their pre-teen and teenage years growing up in Goshen, New Hampshire in the 1890's. Works include periodicals, books, catalogs and maps.

  • Drawing of octopus devouring a ship

    Orra White Hitchcock Classroom Drawings
    Collection of drawings by Orra White Hitchcock, wife of Edward Hitchcock, for use in Hitchcock’s geology and natural history classes.

  • Photograph Albums of the Great Mino-Owari and Great Kanto Earthquakes

    Photograph Albums of the Great Mino-Owari and Great Kanto Earthquakes
    Two bound albums of photographs documenting the aftermath of the Nobi Earthquake (1891) and the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), two of Japan's deadliest and most powerful recorded earthquakes.

  • Image of Sidney Brooks letter to Obed Brooks, 1840 November 7

    Sidney Brooks (AC 1841) Papers
    Sidney Brooks of Harwich attended Phillips Academy in Andover before attending Amherst College from 1837 to 1841. His papers include thirty-five letters, a ledger of his expenses, and writings from his school days.

  • Walt Whitman

    Walt Whitman Collection (Selections)
    Contains manuscripts, correspondence, galley proofs, portraits, notes and printed material of Walt Whitman. Collected by William E. Barton (1861 – 1930).

  • William Wordsworth

    William Wordsworth Manuscript Collection (Selections)
    Contains manuscripts, correspondence, portraits, drafts and autographs of William Wordsworth. Collected by Cornelius H. Patton, Amherst class of 1883.

  • The Middle five: Indian boys at school

    Younghee Kim-Wait (Class of 1982)/Pablo Eisenberg Collection of Native American Literature
    Includes works by Native American authors dating from 1772 to the present day. The collection encompasses a wide range of subjects, from fiction and poetry to philosophy and tribal histories.

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