Home > Genealogy > Amherst College Biographical Record >
Amherst College Biographical Record, Centennial Edition (1821-1921)
Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What and where is Amherst College?
  2. Who has attended Amherst College?
  3. What is the Biographical Record?
  4. What is the format of entries?
  5. How big are the indices?
  6. How do I create a hyperlink to a specific alumnus's biography?
  7. I found a person I'm interested in, but the entry isn't typed in...
  8. I found information about a person I'm interested in, and want more...
  9. Can I get a photocopy of...?
  10. I found an error/inconsistency. Can you fix it?
  11. Can I help with the project?


1. What and where is Amherst College?

Amherst College is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is the third oldest college in Massachusetts, after Harvard College (1636) and Williams College (1793). It was an outgrowth of Amherst Academy (1814-1868), which was attended by Emily Dickinson, among others, and it was intended to be the successor of Williams College. (In 1818, Williams president Zephaniah Swift Moore threatened to resign if Williams College was not moved from the godforsaken tundra of northwestern Massachusetts, and the town of Amherst wanted a college. So, in 1821, Moore and twenty percent of Williams' student body (15 students) moved to Amherst. Unfortunately for society, Williams managed to survive, but generations of Williams alumni are no doubt pleased that they were accepted somewhere.)

In 1836-37, with an aggregate of 259 students, Amherst was the second largest college in the United States, second only to Yale. While Harvard and Yale later underwent expansion, Amherst remained a small liberal arts institution, which it remains today.

If you'd like to read more about Amherst's history, let me recommend William S. Tyler's A History of Amherst College During the Administrations of its First Five Presidents (1821-1891). Tyler also produced a much longer history book covering the first half century of Amherst's existence. If the shorter book ever gets appreciable traffic, I will put the longer book online.

Incidentally, Amherst College is named for the town of Amherst, hence only indirectly named for Lord Amherst of the smallpox blankets.

[ Top of Page ]

2. Who has attended Amherst College?

Notable Amherst alumni from the first hundred years include

The Summer 1998 issue of Amherst (the alumni magazine) has a story mentioning that William Raymond ex 1838 was a tutor for the Africans who mutinied on the Amistad, and he returned with them to Sierra Leone in 1841. (The article mentions his maltreatment by Amherst College.)

Notable Amherst alumni from the past seventy years include

Two of the more famous professors at Amherst this century were Robert Frost and Henry Steele Commager.

[ Top of Page ]

3. What is the Biographical Record?

Since 1883, Amherst College has been publishing Biographical Records, which contain biographical information about the graduates and non-graduates of the College. Since 1963, these books have been published every 10 years:

YearCoverPage sizeNumber of pagesComments
1993White8.5" x 11.0"xvii and 860Edited by H. M. Smith 1957. Contains the classes of 1822 to 1996. Focuses on living alumni only, with each biography on a triple-columned page. If an alumnus is dead, their name appears in a list of deceased alumni, on a quintuple-columned page, with the date of death shown only if it was not shown in the previous Record. Includes an alumni name index, a town-of-residence index (for living alumni), and an occupation index (for living alumni).
1983??? 
1973??? 
1963Maroon7" x 10.5"lxii and 899Edited by J. A. Guest 1933. Contains the classes of 1822 to 1966. All alumni are given essentially equal treatment, with the classes up to 1883 indexed separately from the classes of 1884 to 1966. Triple-columned pages. Includes an alumni name index, a town-of-residence index (for living alumni) and an occupation index (for living alumni).
1951Purple7.5" x 10"xl, 568, and 63Edited by J. A. Guest 1933, with help from R. M. Durkan, H. W. Hewlett 1936, N. F. McKeon 1926, and P. D. Weathers 1915. Contains the classes of 1878 ("the oldest class with a living member") to 1951. Graduates and non-graduates are in the book. Marriage information is included for graduates, as is information about children. Triple-columned pages. Includes an alumni name index and a town-of-residence index (for living alumni).
1939??? 
1927Maroon5.75" x 9.0"xlvi and 1021"Centennial Edition." Edited by R. S. Fletcher 1897 and M. O. Young 1916. Contains the classes of 1822 to 1925. Graduates and non-graduates are in the book. Marriage information is omitted for non-graduates, as is information about children (unless those children went to Amherst). Double-columned pages. As far as I know, this is the last version of the Biographical Record that was not copyrighted. (But for some stupid legislation by Congress, the absence of copyright would be immaterial at this point.) Includes an alumni name index.
1901Olive drab?vi and 492Edited by W. L. Montague 1855, largely in the format of the 1883 version. Contains the classes of 1872-1896. Graduates and non-graduates are in the book. Single-columned pages. Few abbreviations, and the "wordiness" often contains information omitted from the terse Centennial Edition. Gives cause of death. Includes an alumni name index.
1883Olive drab?vi and 481Edited by E. P. Crowell 1853 (graduates 1822-1850) and W. L. Montague 1855 (classes 1850-1871), with help from J. S. Chickering 1869 and W. S. Biscoe 1874. Contains the classes of 1822 to 1871. Only graduates are in the book. Single-columned pages. Few abbreviations, and the "wordiness" often contains information omitted from the terse Centennial Edition. Gives cause of death. Includes an alumni name index.
1881??vi and 152Edited by W. L. Montague 1855. Contains the classes of 1822 to 1871. Only non-graduates are in the book. Single-columned pages. (My copy of this is bound with the 1883 work, and the two works are followed by a complete index of graduates and non-graduates.)

What you should take away from the above is that the Centennial Edition, which is the basis for this website, was the first Biographical Record to contain any information about the classes of 1897-1925, and was the first update in 44+ years of the information contained in the 1881 and 1883 works. In general, the benefit of earlier Biographical Records is that the entries are less terse, a cause of death is given where available, and more information is given about non-graduates. The benefit of later Biographical Records is that post-1925 information is included.

You can read more about the history of the Centennial Edition in the book's introduction.

[ Top of Page ]

4. What is the format of entries?

A nice description of the format is given in the introduction, particularly with regard to what information is included (if available), and in what order.

An asterisk before an alumnus's name means that the alumnus was known to be deceased as of the printing date.

In most cases, an alumnus's father's surname is the same as the alumnus's surname, hence is omitted for brevity. Similarly, an alumnus's wife's surname is typically the same as her father's surname, and is omitted as well. Fathers' surnames and wives' surnames are, conversely, listed when they are not redundant.

In nearly all cases, if a biography refers to a town in Massachusetts, no reference is given to the state. Since omission of the state implies Massachusetts, a lot of ambiguity is caused: "studied with John Smith, Harvard," could mean Harvard College (in Cambridge, Massachusetts) or Harvard, Massachusetts. "Princeton T. S." means Princeton, New Jersey, even though there is a Princeton, Massachusetts. "Auburn T. S." means Auburn, New York, even though there is an Auburn, Massachusetts. A lot must be read from context, and further research might be necessary. (The place index contains my best guesses, which may or may not be correct.)

There are many abbreviations in each entry. There is a list of abbreviations which should help you decipher most of what you see. If the abbreviations get you down, and you are researching an early graduate, consider locating a copy of the 1881/1883 Biographical Records, which write everything out (including abbreviations and fathers' surnames).

I have chosen not to "expand" any of the entries, both because it would take a great deal of time and space, and because it is best for you to view and interpret the original, not my interpretation of the original.

[ Top of Page ]

5. How big are the indices?

The name index:

As of 5 August 2000, the name index has 25,151 entries, distributed as follows:

9,815
students (some listed under more than one name)
4,607
mothers of students (most listed under maiden and married names)
3,458
wives of students (most listed under maiden and married names)
2,643
fathers of students
1,539
children of students
1,459
fathers-in-law of students (i.e., fathers of wives)
566
teachers of students
552
brothers of students (most, but not all, of these are students themselves)
48
sons-in-law of students
28
employers of students
436
people in other categories.

The 25,151 names in the index have 4,339 distinct surnames, the ten most frequent of which are Smith (455 names), Clark (218), Eastman (192), Howland (153), Allen (150), Pratt (141), Brown (135), Williams (134), Dickinson (120), and Hall (117).

The 9,815 student names in the book have 3,315 distinct surnames, the ten most frequent of which are Smith (170 students), Clark (75), Brown (58), Williams (53), Allen (52), Jones (48), Pratt (46), Thompson (45), Hall (42), and Johnson (42).

The place index:

As of 5 August 2000, the place index has 16,756 entries (student-place combinations).

So far, the ten states in the index with the most entries are Massachusetts (6,010 entries); New York (2,537); Connecticut (1,221); New Hampshire (650); Illinois (607); Pennsylvania (532); New Jersey (464); Vermont (457); Maine (426); and Ohio (424).

The ten states with the most distinct places in the index are New York (668 places), Massachusetts (583), Connecticut (239), Illinois (216), Pennsylvania (190), New Hampshire (181), Vermont (174), Maine (163), Ohio (155), and New Jersey (147).

The ten states with entries for the greatest number of students are Massachusetts (2,140 students), New York (1,302 students), Connecticut (709 students), New Hampshire (385 students), Pennsylvania (374 students), Illinois (353 students), New Jersey (343 students), Ohio (282 students), Vermont (272 students), and Maine (250 students).

The twenty places most frequently represented in the place index are New York City (549 students); Andover, Mass. (498); Amherst, Mass. (418); Boston, Mass. (374); Cambridge, Mass. (263); Brooklyn, N. Y. (203); New Haven, Conn. (199); Hartford, Conn. (181); Chicago, Ill. (176); Philadelphia, Penn. (148); Worcester, Mass. (128); Springfield, Mass. (125); Easthampton, Mass. (116); Monson, Mass. (107); Northampton, Mass. (97); Washington, D. C. (91); Hadley, Mass.; Providence, R. I. (82); Princeton, N. J. (79); and Auburn, N. Y. (76).

[ Top of Page ]

6. How do I create a hyperlink to a specific alumnus's biography?

If you want to create a hyperlink from your webpage to a specific alumnus's biography, the format is:

Where YEAR is the class year, SURNAME is the surname, spaces removed, and II is the initials of the given name. (If someone had two middle names, then there are three letters after the dash; if someone has no middle name listed, then there is one letter after the dash.)

For example, if you wanted to link to Lawrence Henry Van Dyck of the class of 1830, the correct link would be to

This format for hypertext bookmarks is followed throughout the sections of the Biographical Record, including the corporation listing and the list of honorary degree recipients. The only exception comes when a specific name is in a file more than once, in which case the standard bookmark name is followed by the number 1, 2, 3, etc. For example, Rufus Graves is listed twice in the Corporation listing, and the links would be as follows:

From a practical perspective, your best bet is to locate the person in the index, then copy the hyperlink to the person's biography.

[ Top of Page ]

7. I found a person I'm interested in, but the entry isn't typed in...

I don't have a lot of time to type in requests, but I don't want to seem like a scrooge. So...

I will type in your request(s) if you fall into one of the following groups:

  1. You have participated in a project to put a large quantity of general-interest genealogical data online for free. Point me to a website with lots of free data and an acknowledgements page listing your name, and let me know what you'd like typed in. (Note: Putting your family tree online does not satisfy the "general-interest" criterion.)

  2. You maintain a website which attempts to help others with their genealogical pursuits. For example, if you maintain a state, county, town, etc., page for the USGenWeb project, you probably pass the test. Point me to your qualifying website and let me know what you'd like typed in. (Links from your site to mine would be appreciated.)

  3. You run a website focusing on a specific family, surname, or place, and you will create a couple of links to this website -- one to the Amherst College Biographical Record homepage and one or more to the surnames, graduates, and/or places that interest you. Point me to your website, let me know what you intend, and let me know what you'd like typed in.
  4. You have donated a book to Project Gutenburg. Point me to a book on the Project Gutenburg FTP site that contains your name, and let me know what you'd like typed in.
  5. You've done some other altruistic, time-consuming, not-for-profit web project. Point me to it. Impress me.
  6. You purchase a photocopy of the entry that you want typed in.

Please try to keep your requests as small as possible, though. Only one person is typing in requests (viz., me), and this isn't my only pastime.

[ Top of Page ]

8. I found information about a person I'm interested in, and want more...

General information

Online resources

Print resources

[ Top of Page ]

9. Can I get a photocopy of...?

If you want a photocopy of a specific entry -- whether it has been transcribed already or not -- I am willing to make it for you, provided that you send me an SASE and your tax-deductible contribution to the Amherst College Alumni Fund, in the following amount:

Number of entriesCost
1-4$5
additional entries$1 each

This may sound a bit pricey for photocopies, but

  1. It's for a good cause (and is a tax writeoff).

  2. It is cheaper than the price I have seen others charge (q.v.), and there your fee lines their pockets while I don't make a dime (actually, I lose money).

  3. I once paid $13 for a single photocopied death certificate from New York state. Each photocopy you request will probably give birth, marriage, and death information; parentage; education; employment history; notable achievements; and children, for the person you're interested in. It's a lot of information. You can see a sample page if you're curious what the entries look like. (Each photocopy contains two pages, so you'll probably get complete information for 10-20 people, including the one you care about.)

In the interest of full disclosure, a copy of the entire book can probably be purchased for not too much money by using Bibliofind or the Advanced Book Exchange, so if you're looking for a huge number of photocopies you may be better off buying a copy. Also, I should point out that the biographies of non-graduates are usually, though not always, significantly shorter than the biographies of graduates.

If you're still interested in some photocopies, just send an SASE and a check in the proper amount, made out to Amherst College Alumni Fund, to

You can expect your photocopies within 2-3 weeks, and I'll see that your check makes it to Amherst.

(If you're in the United States, your SASE should have 33 cents for up to four copies, and 22 cents for each additional four copies. If you would like a photocopy of the cover page (one sheet) and/or the list of abbreviations (three sheets) at no charge, let me know and please make sure you affix enough postage. In other words, if you want one entry, the cover page, and the list of abbreviations, you should affix 55 cents. I'm usually pretty generous with what I send, but if you skimp on postage, I can't send you additional copies or materials.)

Feel free to email me if you have any questions or special requests.

[ Top of Page ]

10. I found an error/inconsistency. Can you fix it?

Please send me information about any errors you find. If the inconsistency is due to error on my part, I will be glad to fix it. If the inconsistency is in the book, then I will put it onto the errata sheet. (Truth be told, although I have compiled a large list of errata, not many of them are in the sheet. Someday I'll update it.)

[ Top of Page ]

11. Can I help with the project?

If you're willing to type in some pages of the book, email me your address, and let me know how many pages you think you can type. Look at the sample page to get an idea of what the source document looks like.

That's it -- I'll send you some photocopies. Just type them into your text editor or word processor (Microsoft Notepad is fine), save as a text file, and email them to me. I'll proofread your typing, add necessary hyperlinks, and index everything. All you need to do is type.

You'll get online recognition for all that you type, not to mention my thanks (and the thanks of those who find information on this site).

[ Top of Page ]

 

Back to the Biographical Record...


Page last updated: 5 August 2000
©1998-2000, Richard J. Yanco