The Early Amherst College Curriculum

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Introduction to the Visualization

As you might expect, the curriculum at Amherst in the 1830s was vastly different from the contemporary curriculum. Much of the coursework was not necessarily in the form of courses as we understand them today, but rather of specific books for study each term. For example, a freshman at Amherst in 1838 would follow the following course of study in their first term:

Freshman Courses in 1838
Click the image to explore the 1838-39 catalog further on Amherst College Digital Collections!

Notice that each of these are specific texts or editions, not general course titles–rather than a course on rhetoric, we see Porter’s Analysis of Rhetorical Delivery:


For the purposes of this visualization, which deals specifically with the late 1830s-early 1840s, we won’t go into much more detail about the curriculum at early Amherst, but there’s a lot more to learn about how it evolved over the first several decades.

Even with this cursory examination of the curriculum, however, it is clear that it was quite book-centric. Considering this, navigate to the visualization to examine how closely the curriculum reflected the College Library.