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Introduction
(to the Amherst College Biographical Record, Centennial Edition (1821-1921))

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The first edition of the Biographical Record of Amherst College appeared in two parts; the Record of Non-Graduates from 1821 to 1871, edited by Professor W. L. Montague of the class of 1855, and printed in 1881; and the Record of Graduates for the same period, edited by Professor Montague with the assistance of Professor E. P. Crowell of the class of 1853, and Mr. W. S. Biscoe of the class of 1874, then acting as assistant librarian, which was printed in 1883.  These two volumes were undertaken in connection with the celebration of the Semi-Centennial of the College in 1871, and the delay in their publication is evidence of the difficulties encountered in collecting the material, and then making it ready for the printer---as true today, of course, as it was then.  In 1901, and still under the editorship of Professor Montague, came the third volume of the work, carrying the Record from 1871 to 1896.  That Professor Montague should have been able, almost single-handed, to bring out these three books, is a high tribute not only to his ability and industry, but also to his affection for, and loyalty to, the College.

At the time of the Centennial in 1921 the Alumni Council decided to assume the publication of a new edition of the work.  It was the Council's idea that not only should the Record be brought down to the end of 1921, but that the biographical sketches appearing in the earlier volumes should all be revised and made as complete as possible.  The Council also thought it desirable that fraternity affiliations be added, and that the family history should be as full as information would permit.  The task of collecting and editing the available material was given to Mr. Malcolm O. Young, then a member of the library staff.  Mr. Young was a graduate of both the College and the Albany Library School, and peculiarly well fitted not only by training but by instinct for work of a bibliographical and antiquarian nature.  The results of his labors speak for themselves, and whatever credit may attach to the book should be given very largely to him.  The undersigned has been concerned almost entirely with the preparation of copy for the printer and the details of seeing the book through the press.

The first three volumes, covering the years from 1821 to 1896, contained 5,700 names, of which 3,813 were graduates and 1,887 non-graduates.  The period from 1896 to 1921 has 3,410 names, 2,187 being graduates and 1,223 non-graduates.  The total number of graduates from 1821 to 1921 is therefore an even 6,000, and of non-graduates 3,110.  The figures by periods may be of some interest.  From 1821 to 1871 there were 1,968 graduates and 1,195 non-graduates; from 1871 to 1896 there were 1,845 graduates and 692 non-graduates; and from 1896 to 1921 there were 2,187 graduates and 1,223 non-graduates.  The percentage of graduates to total number of students was for 1821 to 1871, 62; for 1871 to 1896, 72+; and for 1896 to 1921, 64.  It will be left for another commentator to discover what significance, if any, is implied by this wide variation.

Space will not permit the listing of all the professions and occupations followed by the graduates and non-graduates, but figures are given herewith for the more important ones.  In each case the first figure refers to graduates, the second to non-graduates:  Ministers, 1,334 and 228; Missionaries, 133 and 14; Lawyers, 965 and 334; Judges, 104 and 30; District Attorneys, 22 and 8; Attorney Generals (including one Attorney General of the U. S.), 7 and 3; Teachers, 1,976 and 380; College Professors, 491 and 59; School and College Presidents, 73 and 7; Physicians and Surgeons, 566 and 321; Authors, 583 and 95; Editors, Journalists, etc., 1,124 and 263; other literary pursuits, 151 and 17; Librarians, 47 and 10; in the employ of the U. S. Government, 307 and 93; in the employ of town, county and state, 470 and 142; U. S. Commissioners, 15 and 2; U. S. Consuls, 15 and 3; U. S. Ministers, 3 and 7; State Senators, 74 and 20; members of State Legislatures, 174 and 76; Governors, 8 and 2; Lieutenant Governors, 2 and 3; Mayors, 36 and 12; in employ of foreign governments, 22 and 7; regular members of the U. S. Army and Navy, 140 and 96; Publishers and Newspaper Owners, 119 and 47; various forms of agriculture, 294 and 136; manufacturing, 339 and 175; in business positions, 2,946 and 1,421; in science and engineering, 140 and 49; Musicians, 33 and 8; Printers, Binders and Engravers, 31 and 18, Members of Congress, 23 and 8.  One graduate is a U. S. Senator, three graduates have been members of the Cabinet, one is a Justice of the Supreme Court, and one has been Vice President, and is now President, of the United States.

The biographies have all been written on the following plan:  parents, place and time of birth, fraternity, honorary degrees, preparatory record, Amherst degree if other than A. B., professional career, brief outline of military or civilian service during the Civil and World Wars, marriage, including wife's name and children, place and time of death if deceased, present address, if living.  No mention is made of the College when the student spent four years with the class in which he graduated.  For the most part students are included in their respective classes, though they may not have received their degrees until some time later.  Exceptions to this have been made only on individual requests.  So far as possible we have given the name of the college from which members of the Corporation, officers of administration or members of the Faculty have graduated, if other than Amherst.  In case they have received an honorary degree from Amherst, Amherst College is given last, with year in which degree was conferred.

The degrees given for officers, and for members of the Faculty, are those held during the particular term of service.  In this connection it may be worth noting that the College has conferred 359 honorary degrees upon its own alumni, and 278 honorary degrees upon the alumni of other institutions.  A date followed by a dash and period (---.) indicates that the person is still at the same place or holds the same office; a date followed by a dash and semi-colon (---;) implies that the date at which he left that place or office is unknown.  The asterisk in front of the name indicates that the person is known to be deceased.  For complete details of military service during the World War the "Amherst Memorial Volume," recently published by the Alumni Council, should be consulted.  The addresses as given are taken from the 1924 edition of the College Address List.  Since then the 1926 edition has been brought out, and this and later issues should be considered the authority, rather than the Biographical Record.  The list of abbreviations is not absolutely complete, but it is thought that such as are omitted will be for the most part self-explanatory.  The graduates have been numbered from 1 to 6,000, but numbers have not been given to the non-graduates.  Wherever graduates are named in the pages bearing Roman numerals their numbers follow in parentheses.

Every effort has been put forth to make the biographical sketches as complete as possible.  The older editions of this work, the Obituary Records, the files of the Student and The Olio, the General Catalogues of the College, the class material in the Memorabilia Collection, the questionnaires sent out by the Secretary of the Alumni Council, the various volumes of the Graduates' Quarterly---every available source of information has been consulted.  The obvious incompleteness of most of the sketches, for those now living, is due almost wholly to the failure of the alumni to answer the questions that have been sent to them.  This side of human nature is too well known to need comment, but it does greatly limit the effectiveness of editorial endeavor.  In the same way every care has been used to prevent or correct mistakes and errors, both factual and typographical, but we are well aware that many will inevitably be discovered.  The Editors have no apologies to make for the book, and no illusions in regard to it.  They feel very certain that it was worth doing, and can only hope that to a considerable part of the Alumni it will make its own appeal.

ROBERT S. FLETCHER.

May, 1927.

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Page last updated: 1 August 2000
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