Library Project Documentation

From early on in the summer I was very interested in Amherst’s original library–I’d worked in the Archives and Special Collections as a student here, and always thought it was so unique and interesting that Amherst still had its original library intact in the special collections. When I learned that student literary societies also had…Continue Reading Library Project Documentation

Greek Testament

Combining the theological purpose of the school with its emphasis on ancient languages, the Greek Testament was a text well-suited to translation exercises by Amherst College students. It was also often expected to be part of a student’s preparation for admission into the institution.  …Continue Reading Greek Testament


During Amherst College’s brief venture into dual tracks of study, a variety of Spanish and French literature books were taught to students, much as the Iliad was taught to them in Greek. One of these texts was Voltaire’s Henriade, a lengthy poem about Henry the Fourth….Continue Reading Henriade

Porter’s Analysis

Composition and rhetoric were a critical part of an 19th century student’s life. In addition to studying the great orators of the past, such as Cicero and Sallust, students prepared and delivered original compositions every week. Outside of the prescribed curriculum, students still showed interest in improving their rhetorical skills; the literary societies were particularly…Continue Reading Porter’s Analysis

Say’s Political Economy

Listed in the course catalog as Say’s Political Economy, this translated version of the French economical treatise offered students a critical examination of the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. It was one of the few social science classes offered at Amherst during its first few decades….Continue Reading Say’s Political Economy


Little explication is needed for Homer’s Iliad except to say that it was a lovely bridge between the study of ancient languages and the study of composition and rhetoric. Like thee written translations from Latin and Greek that freshmen were required to do every week, the study of the Iliad was aimed to develop both the students’ prowess…Continue Reading Iliad

Eschenberg’s Manual

Similar to how the Graeca Majora had several sections that spanned a variety of disciplines, Eschenberg’s Manual, translated by Fiske, was taught in a variety of parts. Classical Geography, Grecian Antiquities, Roman Antiquities, Archaeology of Art, and History of Classical Literature are some of classes taught with Eschenberg’s Manual at early Amherst College….Continue Reading Eschenberg’s Manual

Hedge’s Logic

Hedge’s Logic was the definitive nineteenth century text on logic and was standard fare for Amherst College students. The book begins by stating that “the purpose of logic is to direct the intellectual powers in the investigation of truth and in the communication of it to others,” and deals with a broad variety of subjects. For…Continue Reading Hedge’s Logic

Graeca Majora

A staple of the early Amherst College curriculum was the Graeca Majora, a collection of classic Greek texts with the non-Greek portions written in Latin. Students might read from a variety of collections: the philosophers, the historians, the tragic poets, the orators. As such, it is a prime example of the intersecting disciplines found in…Continue Reading Graeca Majora