Amherst College Biographical Record >
Amherst College Biographical Record, Centennial Edition (1821-1921)
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- What and where is Amherst College?
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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.
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Notable Amherst alumni from the first hundred years include
Reverend Henry Ward Beecher 1834 (well-known in his own right and the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe);
Phrenologist (and architect) Orson Squire Fowler 1834;
Amiel Weeks Whipple ex 1840, transcontinental railroad surveyor;
Galusha A. Grow 1844, the 24th Speaker of the House of Representatives;
Reverend Daniel Bliss 1852, founder of American University of Beirut;
Architect William R. Mead 1867, of McKim, Mead, and White;
Joseph Neesima 1870, founder of Doshisha University in Japan;
Frederick H. Gillett 1874, the 37th Speaker of the House of Representatives;
Melvil Dewey 1874, of the Dewey Decimal System;
Henry Clay Folger 1879, of Folger Shakespeare Library fame;
Henry T. Rainey 1883, the 40th Speaker of the House of Representatives;
William Estabrook Chancellor 1889, (racist?) nemesis of Warren G. Harding;
William Henry Lewis 1892 and Charles Hamilton Houston 1915, two of the first black men to argue and win cases before the U.S. Supreme Court;
Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone 1894;
President Calvin Coolidge 1895;
Charles E. Merrill ex 1908, the founder of Merrill, Lynch & Co.;
Clarence Birdseye ex 1910, food preservationist and founder of Birds Eye Foods; and
Actor Fred Everett Glass 1914.
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
Dr. Charles R. Drew 1926, blood bank pioneer;
Actors Burgess Meredith 1931, Stephen Collins 1969, and Jeffrey C. Wright 1987;
Poets Richard P. Wilbur 1942, James I. Merrill 1947, and Rafael Campo 1987;
Head spooks Stansfield Turner ex 1945 (1977-81), William H. Webster 1947 (1987-91), and John M. Deutch 1960 (1995-96);
Nobel prize winners Henry W. Kendall 1950 (1990, Physics) and Harold E. Varmus 1961 (1989, Medicine);
Astronauts Robert A. R. Parker 1958 and Jeffrey A. Hoffman 1966;
Joseph E. Stiglitz 1964, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank;
Magician Raymond J. Teller 1969;
Novelists Scott F. Turow 1970 and David Foster Wallace 1985;
Dwight D. Eisenhower II 1970;
Cullen Murphy 1974, managing editor of the Atlantic Monthly and writer, "Prince Valiant" comic strip;
Talk show host D. Drew Pinsky 1980;
Daniel F. Duquette 1980, General Manager of the Red Sox. (Should it go without saying that George Steinbrenner is a Williams alumnus?);
Albert A. L. Grimaldi 1981, Prince of Monaco;
Francisco G. Flores 1981, President of El Salvador;
David O. Russell 1981E, director of Spanking the Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, and Three Kings;
"Foxtrot" cartoonist William J. C. Amend III 1984;
Susannah R. Grant 1984, screenwriter of Pocahontas, Ever After, Erin Brockovich, and 28 Days; and
Musicians Jonatha Brooke Mallet 1985 and Jennifer Kimball 1986, both formerly of the Sabrinas and The Story.
Two of the more famous professors at Amherst this century were Robert Frost and Henry Steele Commager.
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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:
|Year||Cover||Page size||Number of pages||Comments|
|1993||White||8.5" x 11.0"||xvii and 860||Edited 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).|
|1963||Maroon||7" x 10.5"||lxii and 899||Edited 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).|
|1951||Purple||7.5" x 10"||xl, 568, and 63||Edited 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).|
|1927||Maroon||5.75" 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.|
|1901||Olive drab||?||vi and 492||Edited 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.|
|1883||Olive drab||?||vi and 481||Edited 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 152||Edited 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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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:
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- You've done some other altruistic, time-consuming, not-for-profit web project. Point me to it. Impress me.
- 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.
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- If you want more information about an alumnus who was not deceased in 1927, more information probably exists in a later edition of the Biographical Record, such as a date of death.
I do have later editions of the Biographical Record (1951, 1963, 1993), but I will only provide photocopies from later editions if (1) the person is listed on this website, thus was in a class from 1822-1925; and (2) the person has been dead for at least 20 years. You can fairly easily circumvent this restriction by buying a later copy of the book on Bibliofind or a similar site, but I hope the cost of such books is somewhat prohibitive.
- If you want more information about an alumnus who was in a class between 1822 and 1896, then that alumnus has an entry in one or more earlier Biographical Records. You might find a different home address, a cause of death (if applicable), or "chatty" information that doesn't fit into the terse Centennial Edition (e.g., why a non-graduate left college). If you are interested in a non-graduate from a class before 1896, earlier Biographical Records may give you information about the non-graduate's wife and children, information that was noticably omitted from the Centennial Edition. I have copies of all earlier editions of the Biographical Record (1881, 1883, 1901) and can provide you with photocopies.
- If you want more detail about a piece of information given on this website, consider contacting the Amherst College library. Information used to produce the Biographical Records is held at the library, and it may be possible to obtain copies of the "source documents" of the biographical sketch you care about.
- Brian Meacham '97 has put his most excellent collection of Amherst ephemera onto the web.
- I have put a complete digital copy of William S. Tyler's A History of Amherst College During the Administrations of its First Five Presidents (1821-1891) online.
- I have put a complete digital copy of Max P. Shoop's Sabrina, The Class Goddess of Amherst College online.
- Scanned images are available of all Amherst course catalogs from 1822-1900. Most "include complete lists of faculty, trustees and students (including students' town of residence), with total numbers of students enrolled in each class; and information about requirements for admission and promotion; curriculum and text books; travel and lodging arrangements; and tuition and other costs."
- You can view a series of photographs of Amherst College taken at the turn of the century by the Detroit Publishing Company. You will need to search for "Amherst College."
- You can view a series of photographs of Amherst, Massachusetts, many of them taken by the Detroit Publishing Company, and some taken at later dates. Most of the pictures are of Amherst College. (You may be interested to learn that these images used to be sold online for $5-$20 each, and I personally embarassed the seller, they stopped being sold, and now they're free! You're welcome.)
- You can view an aerial photo of the college at (or purchase a copy from) Aerials Unlimited. (Unsolicited plug: My parents have bought at least three aerial photographs from Aerials Unlimited, including one of Wareham, a high-altitude east-facing shot of Cape Cod, and a high-altitude west-facing shot from Boston. They're quite pleased with all of them.)
- You might also visit the Amherst College homepage.
- The Amherst College newspaper is the Amherst College Student, which has been published since 1866 (or so). In times of old, the Student printed topical information about alumni as well as students, so information about a person of interest is not necessarily restricted to the years when they were at Amherst. You should probably contact the Amherst College library for more information about old copies of the Student. I really doubt that they will search for you.
- The Amherst College yearbook is the Olio, published since approximately 1857. (The earliest Olio I have seen was the 1861 Olio, which called itself Volume 5.) Around the turn of the century, the Olio evolved into a modern yearbook, with a photograph of each student. Prior to that, it had far fewer pictures, mostly group shots, and quite a bit of text. In its earliest incarnation, the Olio was literally an olio -- class poems and the like. So, the earlier you go, the less familiar the format will be to you. Still, if you have a relative who attended Amherst, this can be a great resource.
Your best bet is probably to contact the Amherst College library, since they have a complete set of yearbooks. If you're in a rush, I have Olios from 1887, 1895, 1906, 1932-3, 1947, 1956, and 1992-4, and would be happy to provide photocopies of the 1887, 1895 or 1906 yearbooks.
- Since May 1949, Amherst has been producing a quarterly magazine, which was previously called Amherst Alumni News and is now simply Amherst. These days it contains articles about the school, about famous or recent alumni, about current students, etc., plus a section with brief alumni notes meant for classmates. I have no idea whatsoever what type of information was in this magazine prior to 1990. The Amherst College library has a complete run of this magazine, though I doubt they would search it for you.
- From October 1911 to February 1949, Amherst produced a magazine called the Amherst Graduates' Quarterly. I know next to nothing about this magazine. (The Spring 1999 issue of Amherst refers to the Amherst Graduates' Quarterly as "dry and bookish.") The Amherst College library has a complete run of this magazine, though I doubt they would search it for you.
- From 1862 to 1928, Amherst produced a periodical called the Obituary Record, which contained obituaries of deceased alumni. The Amherst College library has a complete run of this magazine.
- Amherst periodically releases a list of addresses of alumni. The earliest of these I have seen is from 1912; the latest, 1990. These books can be accessed at the Amherst College library.
- Some of the classes produced books for specific reunion years (e.g., 25th reunion) which contain pictures and biographical information. For example, you can view a page of the Class of 1871's 25th anniversary book. I personally have books/pamphlets from
and I would be happy to make photocopies for you.
- For general information about Amherst College, I recommend Amherst: The Story of a New England College, by Claude Moore Fuess 1905 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1935). Dr. Fuess recommends Tyler's History of Amherst College and Frederick Tuckerman's Amherst Academy (Amherst: "Printed for the Trustees," 1929).
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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 entries||Cost|
|additional entries||$1 each|
This may sound a bit pricey for photocopies, but
- It's for a good cause (and is a tax writeoff).
- 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).
- 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,
59 School Street #B-7
Northborough, MA 01532-2340
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.
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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.)
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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).
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Page last updated: 5 August 2000
©1998-2000, Richard J. Yanco