Olmsted’s Philosophy

Like Day’s Mathematics, Olmsted’s Philosophy, another mainstay in the Amherst College curriculum, was written by a Yale professor. The text was divided into several different courses, including Astronomy, Mechanics, and Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Electricity, Magnetism and Optics, taught often in the junior year….

Fluxions

Until 1833, “fluxions” is a common course for juniors at Amherst College. In 1833, fluxions begins to be called by its modern name– calculus. Other mathematic subjects taught to students include spherical trigonometry, isoperimetry, and Day’s Mathematic: Navigation and Surveying….

The Curious Case of 1828

Something curious happened to Amherst College’s curriculum from 1827 to 1829. According to the 1828 catalog, “two parallel courses of Study have recently been established, in of which Ancient, and in the other Modern Languages and Literature, receive particular attention.” But there was more to the new modern track than simply French and Spanish. Those…

The Literary Societies and Their Libraries

Introduction to the Visualization Like the College Library, the Athenian and Alexandrian Societies were established during the founding year of the College, in 1821, and one year later, in 1822, the societies established a library collection, initially shared between the two groups (1). Eventually, the societies split the original library into two separate collections, and by the mid-1830s,…

Comparing the Early College Curriculum and Library Contents

Though the fraction of content in the curriculum and library is similar for a few subjects–like Natural Sciences and History and Biography–on the whole, the distribution of subject matter in the library is vastly different from that of the curriculum. Despite the fact that the curriculum in the 1830s was centered around specific books, the…

Early College Library History

A Brief Timeline Though its collection was relatively modest in early years, the Library was founded with the College in 1821. At that time, it was housed on the first floor of South College, the first building on campus, and consisted of about nine hundred volumes. Soon after, in 1822, the library was moved to the forth floor of North College….

The Early Amherst College Curriculum

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…

Comparing Faculty and Student-Assembled Library Collections

  There are several distinctions to be made between college and student library collections from this visualization, but most evident is that the student libraries contained far more robust fiction and literature collections than the college library. This is in line with nineteenth century commentary on the libraries. On early college books, college president Edward Hitchcock…

Paley’s Evidences

Natural theology: or, Evidences of the existence and attributes of the Deity, collected from the appearances of nature by William Paley, well known enough to simply be listed as Paley’s Evidences in the catalogs, was a mixture of theology and science– a combination very common in the 1800s. In the image below, the chain from anatomy to botany…