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With Amherst College’s Bicentennial coming right up in 2021, we in the Archives are working closely with the Digital Programs Department to digitize collections relating to Amherst College history, including the Amherst College Olios and soon, The Amherst Student.  With this in mind, we have revised the finding aid for the Amherst College Early History Collection in preparation for digitization.

The Early History Collection is an artificial collection, meaning a collection of material with varied provenance assembled around a single topic, in this case the early history of Amherst College.

"To the public" pamphlet in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box 3, folder 7)

“To the public” pamphlet in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box 3, folder 7)

The Early History Collection contains printed material, legal documents, financial records, correspondence and other papers documenting the history of Amherst Academy, the Charity Fund, and the inception and founding of Amherst College.

Noah Webster, publisher of the Merriam-Webster dictionary and trustee of Amherst Academy since its incorporation in 1815, was president of the Academy’s Board of Trustees in 1821.  Webster played a vital role in fundraising, advocating for, and founding “the Charity Institution,” which would become Amherst College.  The Early History Collection includes Lucius Boltwood’s transcription of Noah Webster’s notes on the history of Amherst Academy and Amherst College.

Lucius Boltwood transcript of Noah Webster's notes in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box 1, folder 2)

Lucius Boltwood transcript of Noah Webster’s notes in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box 1, folder 2)

The Charity Fund was the first endowment of Amherst College.  Stanley King writes in The History of the Endowment of Amherst College, “The goal was a fund of fifty thousand dollars.  Pledges and gifts were secured from some two hundred and seventy-five subscribers.  The largest subscription was for three thousand dollars and was paid by the transfer to the College of land in Maine; the smallest was for five dollars.”  The Early History Collection includes four subscription notebooks showing pledges paid in full, as well as pledges paid with labor.

Subscription notebook <em>in</em> Amherst College Early History Collection (Box 3, Folder 3)

Subscription notebook in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box 3, folder 3)

This collection includes early circulars and catalogs of both Amherst Academy and Amherst College, including the first “Catalogue of the Faculty and Students of the Collegiate Institution” printed in March 1822.

First catalogue broadside of the Collegiate Institution, 1822 Mar in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box OS-1, Folder 9)

First catalogue broadside of the Collegiate Institution, 1822 Mar in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box OS-1, folder 9)

The Massachusetts Legislature granted Amherst College its charter in 1825—the same year that the college awarded degrees to its first class of 25 graduates.  This collection includes many pamphlets petitioning for or opposing the incorporation of Amherst College, as well as the proposed charter and newspaper articles reporting on the founding and incorporation of the College.

Franklin Herald and Public Advertiser, 1823 Mar 18 in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box OS-1, folder 2)

Franklin Herald and Public Advertiser, 1823 Mar 18 in Amherst College Early History Collection (Box OS-1, folder 2)

In addition to the Amherst College Early History Collection, great resources on the founding and early history of Amherst College have been digitized and are freely available online:

History of Amherst College during its first half century, 1821-1871 by W. S. Tyler, 1873

History of Amherst College during the administrations of its first five presidents, 1821-1891 by W. S. Tyler, 1895

A History of the Endowment of Amherst College by Stanley King, 1950

“The Consecrated Eminence” The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College by Stanley King, 1951

Sketches of the Early History of Amherst College by Heman Humphrey, 1905

Reminiscences of Amherst College by Edward Hitchcock, 1863

Recently cataloged:
cover of Mapa de la Isla de Cuba y Plano de la Habana
 
Mapa de la Isla de Cuba y plano de la Habana published in 1853 by B. May y Ca.
 
The original brown cloth binding holds two maps, one of the entire island and one of the city of Havana. The maps themselves are quite brittle, with tears along the folds, so I used extra care when cataloging them. While this is a published item, and therefore not unique¹, the library’s fabulous Digital Programs department agreed that, for preservation purposes, this would be a good candidate for digitization. You can now explore all the details of the maps here on ACDC with no fear of causing further harm to the original.
 
The provenance of the maps is from the Hills-Skillings Family Papers, a collection which is still being processed, but which is related to the Hills Family Papers. I was curious how and why a mid-nineteenth century map of Cuba had arrived in Amherst, and a little investigating taught me something I hadn’t known about the history of the town. Did you know that Amherst was once the home of the largest straw hat manufacturing company in the United States?
factoryprint
 
I’ve always associated the Industrial Revolution in Massachusetts to “mill cities” like Lowell or Chicopee, but here’s a mid-nineteenth century view (towards the northeast, I believe) from the Amherst College campus:
Town-Hat-factory-fr-AC
 
Leonard Mariner Hills (1803-1872) started the L.M. Hills Company in Amherst in 1829, and by 1869 it was the largest hat making company in the U.S., making about 100,000 dozen hats per year. (Hats were apparently sold in dozens) So, where is the Cuba connection? Straw hats weren’t actually made from straw, but from palm-leaf…
…At that time Massachusetts was the only state in the Union were palm-leaf was manufactured into hats. The only factories for carrying on this work were located at Amherst, Barre, Palmer and Fitchburg. Of these, the factories at Amherst were the most important as regarded the size of buildings, the amount of business and the completeness of the work done. L.M. Hills & Sons were the largest operators in the business in America. All the leaf used in the work came from Cuba.²
Next puzzle to figure out: what’s that building (with four turrets) off in the distance behind the factory?
HillsHatFactory001-Bx24F14
 
¹A google image search for “mapa isla cuba 1853” finds several instances of the maps.
²Carpenter, Edward Wilton, 1856-. and Charles Morehouse, The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts. Amherst, Mass.: Press of Carpenter, 1896, page 292.

Dora the Explorer

“I left Harpoot the 17th of May, going alone three days’ journey to Diarbekir, somewhat to the scandal of the missionaries along the way. However, I knew the road well and was not in the least afraid, and after all nothing happened.” (Letter of Dec 3, 1915)

“I left Harpoot the 17th of May, going alone three days’ journey to Diarbekir, somewhat to the scandal of the missionaries along the way. However, I knew the road well and was not in the least afraid, and after all nothing happened.” (Dora Mattoon, letter of Dec 3, 1915)

What inspires a woman to throw over her life from one day to the next, to go from apparent comfort and a great job in a big city to a remote post in a country she’s never been to, where they speak a language she hasn’t studied at all?  And what would possess her to leave the first country after five years of hard work for an entirely different one, retraining herself all over again?  How does she go from here:
Ward_Dora-ca1909-postcard

to here:

Ward_Dora-ltr-1927-10-27-p3-ph1

–and from being this person (I love the body language here):

Ward_Dora-1906-body_languageto becoming this person:

Ward_Dora-with-Earl-Ward-ca1913What percent of her decision springs from a spirit of adventure, and what percent from “missionary zeal”?

In the case of Dora Mattoon, it was 110% of each.  She couldn’t be contained.

Broadway Tabernacle, ca. 1905

Broadway Tabernacle, ca. 1905

On March 2, 1911, the 27-year-old Dora read an obituary in the New York Times for missionary Maria B. Poole.  Maria, who had earlier attended Dora’s church, the Broadway Tabernacle, had died at the mission station in Harpoot, Turkey, of a heart attack after complications from pneumonia.  According to Dora’s diary, the story of Maria’s life and work inspired Dora to take her place, almost from one day to the next.  She thought quietly over the idea for a few months before announcing her decision in early May.  Dr. Charles Jefferson, her pastor at the Broadway Tabernacle, wrote to console her worried parents:

“Your daughter seems to have worked this problem out all by herself.  I never once spoke to her on the subject of missions, and was quite surprised when a short time ago she came to me, and told me she was going to apply for the position left vacant by our missionary, Miss Poole.  I do not believe that anybody talked to her, or coaxed her into it, or even persuaded her, but that she worked it all out alone in her own heart.  And she seems to be quite firm in her decision, feeling convinced in her own mind that she is doing what is right and best.  She does not like to go so far from you and her mother, but she feels that you have four other girls… Under the circumstances, then, I do not see what is to be done but to let her carry out her plan.  She is a mature woman, in good health, old enough to know her own mind, and to measure her own powers, and however hard it may be for you to have her go so far from you, I believe that in time you will become adjusted to it… She can write to you often, and every seven years she can come home… Having been in Turkey once myself, I do not think of it as far away.”  (Letter of May 2, 1911 from Charles Jefferson to Alfred Mattoon.)

By October, Dora was on a ship heading for Turkey to take Maria Poole’s place in Harpoot.

Turkey-missions-map

Harpoot missionary station, ca. 1910.

Harpoot mission station, ca. 1910.

Dora thrived in Turkey. She loved the people – the natives and her colleagues – and she loved the work. Her particular job was to be a touring missionary, to visit small villages in the region and to meet with the “Bible women” there. The Bible women were native Armenians who taught Bible lessons to their fellow citizens for a small salary, and it was Dora’s job to be sure they had what they needed, spiritually and materially. At first she used an interpreter, but over time she learned Armenian and Turkish and was able to conduct meetings herself.

Armenian family in Turkey.

Armenian family in Turkey.

Dora’s work required that she travel from Harpoot across land that was often dangerous from snowstorms, rainstorms, flash floods, and dense fog, not to mention Kurdish tribesmen, who in Dora’s letters seem to alternate between rescues and robbery. Dora traveled by horseback, often for days at a time between one village and the next, and for months at a time over the course of an entire tour. Finding shelter usually meant a stay in a native khan (an extremely rustic inn) where she would share a blanket with fleas on the floor in a smoky, windowless room, separated from other occupants by a blanket curtain. She almost always had a male escort, usually the long-time missionary Henry Riggs, but occasionally she went alone on shorter trips or was accompanied by Mariam Varzoohi, a native teacher in the girls’ college. Dora traveled across hills, jumped off falling horses, waded up to her thighs in snow, got soaked to her skin, and seems to have relished all of it. Whether she’d been a mountaineer before she came to Turkey or whether she realized her love for it in Harpoot, it became a lifelong attachment.

Ward_Dora-ca1912-on-horse-adj

“The northern way is pleasanter than the southern in that one passes over mountains most of the way, and the khans are better on the whole…I was absent from Harpoot almost five weeks, and two days was the longest time I spent in any one place, so you may know life in one way did not become monotonous. Our principal topic of conversation between here and Sivas was our rascally arabdaji [guides]. This was my first experience of travelling in Turkey without a man, and I find a woman has to do a deal of fighting to get along alone.”

“The northern way is pleasanter than the southern in that one passes over mountains most of the way, and the khans are better on the whole…I was absent from Harpoot almost five weeks, and two days was the longest time I spent in any one place, so you may know life in one way did not become monotonous. Our principal topic of conversation between here and Sivas was our rascally arabdaji [guides]. This was my first experience of traveling in Turkey without a man, and I find a woman has to do a deal of fighting to get along alone.” (Letter of Nov 13, 1913.)

The work of a traveling missionary was Dora’s favorite work, “the cream of missionary work,” but with the departure of several colleagues from the station she had to give it up in order to teach at the girls’ school in Harpoot. She loved this work too, but she never ceased to miss touring, which seems to have been the highlight of her career. Nevertheless, she threw herself into teaching with enthusiasm, embracing her “eagerness to tread in unknown paths.”

“You ask about my orphanage correspondence. Our orphans are each supported by people in America, and so every once in a while I have to get the children to write letters to their caretakers, have the letters translated, and send them off with a personal word of my own.” (Letter of Aug 14, 1913)

“You ask about my orphanage correspondence. Our orphans are each supported by people in America, and so every once in a while I have to get the children to write letters to their caretakers, have the letters translated, and send them off with a personal word of my own.” (Letter of Aug 14, 1913.)

Recess at Girls School in Harpoot.

Recess at Girls School in Harpoot.

Harpoot’s attractions included Earl Ward, who had been in Turkey since 1909. Dora had met Earl’s twin Mark (both Amherst Class of 1906) before she left for Turkey, so finding Earl at Harpoot would’ve been no surprise. Falling in love with him might’ve been a surprise, though:

“You remember, mother, I used to say men were a nuisance – though I did find them ever so good chums as you know…” (Letter of Oct 17, 1912.)

“Mark [Ward] talked to me more than once about Earl and how much he needed me, though I wouldn’t have it that way at all and came out here with my mind fully made up that whatever happened I simply wouldn’t marry Earl Ward.” (Letter of Oct 17, 1912.)

“…his faults loomed clearer than his virtues for some time!” (Letter of Aug 14, 1913.)

Good chums Dora and Earl worked and played together for the few years they overlapped in Harpoot.

“ I hope none of you in this enlightened age and generation picture a missionary as a man who wears a frock coat and a long face and goes around preaching of fire and brimstone. The missionaries I have known are the finest, most earnest, whole-souled, jolly people I’ve met in many a long day.” (From left, Dora, Mary Riggs, Earl. Letter of Mar 1, 1913.)

“I hope none of you in this enlightened age and generation picture a missionary as a man who wears a frock coat and a long face and goes around preaching of fire and brimstone. The missionaries I have known are the finest, most earnest, whole-souled, jolly people I’ve met in many a long day.” (From left, Dora, Mary Riggs, Earl. Letter of Mar 1, 1913.)

 

Dora and Earl near a well (?) on the plain outside Harpoot.

Dora and Earl near a well (?) on the plain outside Harpoot.

Earl’s tour in Harpoot ended in July of 1913, when he returned to the U.S. and began to work for the YMCA.  When he left, Earl and Dora were already engaged and planned to marry when Dora’s tour was up a long two years later.

Dora left Turkey in the spring of 1915, by which time the war had reached Harpoot. That winter, from her home in Massachusetts, she wrote to her sisters, reflecting on what had happened in the brief time since she’d left:

“I wonder where all those dear [Harpoot] friends are now? Many if not most of them killed, I suppose. How dear they all were, and how I loved and admired them! When I came away three of our professors and one of our teachers were in prison, along with eight or ten others of the prominent Armenians, and torture and massacre and deportation had not yet then begun. They came with full force later!” (Letter of Dec 3, 1915.)

In March of 1916, after a brief furlough in the United States, the newlyweds headed for Calcutta, India, on YMCA business. It’s difficult to be certain from only her letters home, but at first Dora seems to have struggled to find her place in India. The climate was hard on her, but in addition she seems to have become an adjunct to Earl’s work in Calcutta rather than having her work equal to his as it had been in Turkey. Her letters suggest that her role was to be primarily a helpmeet to Earl, especially as hostess to people associated with his work, and to do this work so regularly that it was exhausting. Dora needed to be busy, to do her own work, and to feel useful, and while she loved Earl and supported his work, her frustration is apparent in her letters to family.

After a few years and another brief furlough, the Wards were sent to Bombay, and here Dora seems to have gotten back into a role she loved. While Earl devised programs for men and boys, Dora did the same for women and girls.  Their duties introduced them to the “chawls” in neighborhoods where their work would take place:

“The chawls are great blocks or tenements of concrete, four storeys high, with twenty rooms on a floor and about five persons to a room probably!  We figure there are about 8,000 people in the 22 chawls in that particular area.”

The Wards also traveled around India to inspect other social work sites:

“We had three weeks in Nagpur and spent practically all the time studying the welfare work.  I visited the day nursery, or creche, which is being done at the mill, and I also spent some time at an infant welfare center which is being run by the municipality.  Then I went to the villages with Irene’s trained nurse and some of her teachers, and Earl spent a lot of evenings, and I some too, visiting the night schools, which is the big approach to people.  The welfare work is financed by Empress Mills, who employ 25,000 workers.  They live in villages, or bustees, and the welfare work is being done in the bustees.  I also looked into the Project Method of teaching…”

Dora was back in business. Click on an image below for gallery.


During vacations the Wards traveled in India as they had in Turkey. Over time Dora became “an old India hand,” familiar with the ways of India – its history, religions, customs, foods, and how to get around. Click for gallery:


After another tour of duty in Calcutta from 1930-32, the world economy forced the YMCA to downsize and the Wards were called home. They were never again posted abroad but remained very active in the U.S. with social work similar to what they had done in Turkey and India.

The Dora Judd Mattoon Ward Papers contain diaries, correspondence, photographs, a nearly full set of the “Harpoot Newsletter” by Ernest Riggs, and other materials about the lives of Dora and Earl Ward. One of its chief strengths is in showing how the lives of missionaries evolved in response to circumstances and changing needs. Dora and Earl started out as “missionaries” in Turkey, but in India they referred to themselves as “social workers” or “welfare workers,” and their work seems distinctly less religious and more specifically related to health, education, and welfare. Where Dora’s work as a touring missionary in Turkey involved a lot of religious teaching, her work in India was more about setting up programs for women and children, and Earl’s was the same for men.

The papers are also important as a record of events in Turkey and India in the first third of the twentieth century. Although the couple seems not to have been especially “political,” their letters contain many comments about the state of affairs first in Turkey during World War I, and later in India during the declining years of the British Raj.

We welcome researchers seeking to use the many Ward collections at Amherst College — those of Edwin St. John Ward (AC 1900), Earl Ward (AC 1906), Mark Hopkins Ward (AC 1906, his papers to be processed soon), and Dora J.M. Ward — or one of the many other missionary collections in our holdings.

 

Note:

Most of the photographs in this post are by Earl Ward, a few probably by Dora Ward or Fay Emmett Livengood, a fellow missionary in Turkey.  Many of Earl’s photographs, including several used in this post, were digitized by his nephew Richard Ward, Class of 1942.

 All of the letters in the Dora Judd Mattoon Ward Papers were transcribed by Dora’s faithful niece and our donor, Nancy Kline.

By a Lady

Yesterday marked the last class visit to the Archives & Special Collections for the Spring 2016 semester. The class was “Early Women Writers” taught by Amherst English Professors Amelia Worsley and Ingrid Nelson, and it was a great excuse for me to dig into our collections to see what we have in this area.

Austen 1818

This rather plain looking four-volume set was one gem I was well aware of in our collections. Although it may not look like much from the outside, this is the original publisher’s binding on a completely untrimmed first edition of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The Archives holds a complete set of Austen’s novels in first edition.

Austen TP

Austen died in July 1817. Even though this set includes a “biographical notice of the author,” he name still does not appear on the title page. By contrast, Charlotte Smith (1749-1806) does get her name on the title page of The Banished Man, one of ten novels she published in the late eighteenth century.

Banished Man

Curiously, we only hold volumes 3 and 4 of The Banished Man. Stepping back a little further in time, we have a copy of Sarah Fielding’s The Adventures of David Simple published in 1744.

David Simple tp

I’m curious if the first edition of David Simple included the Preface by the author’s brother, and best-selling novelist of the age, Henry Fielding. The number of editions of a work is one way to gauge its popularity; the last two novels had at least two editions; this copy of Aphra Behn’s collected works — All the Histories and Novels —  was in its sixth edition in 1718:

Behn tp

Behn died in 1689, so the demand for at least six editions of her collected works nearly 30 years after her death is an excellent indicator of her popularity.

The very earliest published book in the collection written by a woman appears to be Anne Bradstreet’s The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America published in London in 1650:

Bradstreet tp

Our copy lacks a few pages at the front, which have been replaced by facsimiles, but the very last page of the book is very special:

Bradstreet ms page

I have not even attempted to decipher the handwriting here. Sounds like a good student project…

Jumping back to the Romantic Era, our copy of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark has the signature of its former owner on the title page:

Letters

This copy once belonged to William Wordsworth and is now part of the Cornelius H. Patton, Class of 1883 Wordsworth Collection.

We do not hold a copy of the first edition of Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London 1773), I was pleased to learn we have this 1834 edition of Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley.

Wheatley 1834 cover

Wheatley 1834

The title page dedicates this volume to “Friends of the Africans” and it was published the year after William Lloyd Garrison founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.

A final gem in our collections is also authored by a woman of color: Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave (Boston: Printed for the Author, 1850).

truth tp

Like many of the books in our collections, this one bears the marks of having spent part of its life in the Frost Library circulating collections:

Truth port

We will leave the old library “tattle-tape” attached to the title page of this copy until we can pay for the careful conservation treatment it will require to remove it. At least our copy still has the portrait.

While we do not have a vast collection of women writers, it’s always rewarding to find out that we have some fascinating high spots. I’ll end with this example of provincial printing from the early nineteenth century.

Charlotte Temple

Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple was first published in 1790 and was the best-selling novel in the United States until Uncle Tom’s Cabin appeared in book form in 1852. This edition was published in Brookfield, Massachusetts. It’s likely E. Merriam & Co. printed up a couple hundred copies of this best-seller to satisfy local demand and make some easy money.

Today we’re taking a quick peek at the Amherst of 120 years ago. William J. Newlin was a student at Amherst College from 1895 to 1899, he later returned as a Mathematics and Philosophy professor and taught here for nearly fifty years. We have a handful of glass plate negatives that Newlin took as a student and that now reside in our photograph collection. Followed by the photographs of Allan W. Forbes a mere ten years later, these images tell an interesting story about life at Amherst College a little more than 100 years ago.

click on an image to see it larger

Following the lamentable events in the town of Amherst last night, and as the community awaits an estimate of the damages and the full list of casualties, we felt that it would be appropriate to take a look back at the history of Emily Dickinson related violence in Amherst.

The earliest destruction associated with Emily Dickinson is, alas, confined mainly to conjecture. Following a series of mysterious nocturnal fires in the town of Amherst in the late 1870s and early 1880s, rumors began spreading of sightings of a white clad figure in connection with the blazes. The complete destruction of the college’s Walker Hall on the night of March 29, 1882, one of this series of fires, was linked with Dickinson some decades later. In a deathbed confession, mathematics instructor Fred A. Gaylord revealed that he had been maintaining a passionate correspondence with a mysterious and poetical local lady with dreadful penmanship; days before the blaze he had threatened to publish her letters if she continued to refuse to meet him in person. Her letters were, of course, completely destroyed in the conflagration.

Walker Hall after fire

Burned out shell of Walker Hall, 1882

 


 

Some fifty years later, in 1925,  Amherst College students were holding their annual declamation contest in the College Grove. Unrest began during the event when factions supporting Arthur J. White, who recited Wordsworth, and Elmer P. Hurst, reading Emily Dickinson, began to deride one another’s literary discernment. Violence erupted after the judges unanimously chose White. The brawl quickly spread through the crowd leaving a large portion of the student body nursing injuries to body and dignity.

President Olds remonstrated the students the following day and officially banned both Dickinson and Wordsworth from campus.

President Olds addressing students

President Olds addressing students in front of College hall

 


 

In April of 1956, as news of Millicent Todd Bingham’s donation of her Emily Dickinson manuscripts to Amherst College spread throughout the town, a large group of passionate supporters of Amherst’s Jones Library gathered on the town common. Already nettled by the donation of Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s manuscripts to Harvard, this latest news was unbearable insult to the loyal library patrons who felt that Dickinson’s works belonged at the public library. Torches were lit and as the angry mob grew, groups of torch bearing citizens roamed the campus terrorizing undergraduates and professors alike. Late in the evening the mob reconvened in the town common and burned both institutions of higher learning in effigy while chanting, “Emily for the People! Emily for the People!”

 


 

In 1989, the renowned expert in early photographic portraiture, G. D. Anderson, offered a rare opportunity for the public to bring possible Emily Dickinson, ca. 1847daguerreotypes of Emily Dickinson to him for assessment. Much to his astonishment, 126 individuals attended the event, held in the Masonic Lodge in Amherst. In order to keep the crowd amused during the long wait for individual consultations, Anderson made the short-sighted suggestion that attendees form small groups to discuss the merit of the images they had brought. Tragically, all 126 daguerreotypes were destroyed in the resulting melee. Following the incident, Anderson removed himself entirely from public life and is rumored to now be a llama farmer in northern Vermont.

 


 

In 2008, in a carefully hushed incident, Amherst College Physics Professor Dr. Johanna Ehrikson pursued her Emily Dickinson research to the near annihilation of the planet. Dr. Ehrikson was exploring the hypothesis that Emily Dickinson had embedded the Theory Of Everything (TOE) in her written works (specifically the fascicle books). Intending to publish the TOE in a paper jointly authored by herself and Dickinson, Dr. Ehrikson fed Dickinson’s works into a secret algorithm to begin the process of decoding. To her astonishment, the overwhelming weight of the profundity of Dickinson’s poetry caused a very small black hole to form. It was only the quick action of student assistant Emma Rahlsten, who recognized the danger and quickly hit the kill switch, that stopped the black hole before it became large enough to be self-sustaining. The black hole evaporated, life on earth continued as we know it, and Professor Ehrikson decided to pursue other avenues to tenure.

 


 

Most recently, as I’m sure we’re all aware, was the pub fight at the 2011 Emily Dickinson International Society conference. A heated debate between opposing camps of scholars on the meaning of Dickinson’s dash lengths escalated to nose tweaking and ear pulling and quickly developed into an all-out brawl that caused significant property damage to the now defunct Groan & Quail and changed the course of a number of scholarly inquiries.

 


 

All of us at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections offer our sympathies to those affected by last night’s incident and our sincere hope that we can finally all come together and stop the violence.

Edit: Happy April Fools Day!

With gratitude for the research assistance of Dr. Theresa J. Brandt and Margaret Dakin.

Occasionally, a researcher’s inquiry will lead to a surprising find in our collections or turn up a previously unrealized cache of rare publications.  Last week, just such an inquiry led me to four rather rare publications by Josiah Warren, often called “The First American Anarchist.”

periodical

Born in Boston in 1798, Warren was a musician and inventor in Cincinnati, Ohio before crossing paths with Welsh industrialist and social reformer Robert Owen in 1824.  Warren and his family lived and participated in Owen’s experimental utopian socialist society of New Harmony, Indiana for two years before ultimately rejecting Owen’s cooperative social philosophy.

principle

Warren, concluding that society must preserve the autonomy of all individuals, founded his own social philosophy based on the “sovereignty of the individual.”  Warren’s theory called for self-government and individual responsibility as essential elements for an equitable society, as well as a system of “equitable commerce.”

Warren, Josiah.

note2

Warren defined equitable commerce as a barter system where the cost of goods should be equal to the labor exerted to produce those goods, rather than the subjective worth of goods.  Instead of using cash for the purchase of goods, Warren advocated for the exchange of equitable money or “labor for labor” notes.

proposedmoney

In 1833, Warren wrote and printed “The Peaceful Revolutionist,” asserted to be the first anarchist periodical.  Warren’s objective to have total control over the printing of his publications, led to his invention in the early 1830s of the first printing press to print onto a continuous roll of paper, known as the “speed press.”  Warren also cast his own type to use in the printing of his periodicals and pamphlets.

response

In the early 1850s, with his philosophy of individualist anarchism and in collaboration with fellow anarchist Stephen Pearl Andrews, Warren established a new society on Long Island, NY named Modern Times.  Although Warren’s Modern Times community quickly dissolved, Warren continued to publish numerous pamphlets espousing his philosophy.  Four of these pamphlets are held in the Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College.

politicalplatform

All of these pamphlets can be found in our Library Catalog and are available for research in the Archives & Special Collections:

Warren, Josiah. Response to the Call of the National Labor Union for Essays on the following Subjects : 1. The Specie Basis Fallacy : 2. Strikes : 3. Co-operation : [etc.] / by the Author of “True Civilization”. Boston, 1871.   AC call number: File HD8072 .W31

Warren, Josiah. The Principle of Equivalents : A Subject of Immediate and Serious Interest to Both Sexes and All Classes of All Nations. Long Island, NY?, 1861.   AC call number: File HB201.P75

Warren, Josiah. Political Platform for the Coming Party. Boston, 1871.  AC call number: File E671.P65

Warren, Josiah. Periodical Letter on the Principles and Progress of the Equity Movement. v. 1, no. 8 (March 1855).   AC call number: File HN1.P47

 


Resources:

Bailie, William. Josiah Warren: The First American Anarchist, A Sociological Study. New York, Arno Press, 1972.

Butler, Ann. “Josiah Warren, Peaceful Revolutionist.” Thesis. Ball State University, 1978.

Warren, Josiah, and Crispin Sartwell. The Practical Anarchist: Writings of Josiah Warren. New York: Fordham UP, 2011.

Wikipedia: Josiah Warren. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josiah_Warren.

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