• 1860 map

    1860 Map

    The Amherst of the mid-19th Century differed quite a bit from the Amherst of today; yet, most of its early buildings and landmarks are still an integral part of contemporary town and college life.

What does Amherst College mean to you?

Is it a place, a time in your life, a group of people, a collection of ideals? From its humble beginnings the college was defined by the vision of its founders, its physical and cultural positioning within New England, and the vibrant life of its students and faculty. It is the hope of this website to offer perspectives on the first forty years of Amherst College with the twin goals of expanding an understanding of its history and also contextualizing the institution in its modernity. Through examinations of its physical and intellectual environment, we aspire to offer you a glimpse into what life at nineteenth-century Amherst was like.

However, it is only a glimpse. There is much still to be uncovered in regards to Amherst’s collective identities, struggles, and failures in its early history. The information on this site is positioned within an outdated mores, and as such fails in many ways to capture the inclusivity and ideals of the college and broader society today. As you navigate the site, be mindful of the biases- both within our source materials and imposed unknowingly by ourselves- that shape your experience.