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Henry John Van Lennep (AC 1837), a noted 19th-century Christian minister, missionary, writer and educator, was born in Smyrna (present-day Izmir, Turkey) in 1815. In 1830 he was sent to the United States for his education.  After graduating from Amherst College in 1837, he was ordained a Congregational minister in 1839.
Photograph of Henry J. Van Lennep. Albumen print on card mount.
He served as a missionary with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions for twenty-nine years beginning in 1840, in Smyrna (1840-44 and 1863-69), Constantinople (1844-54), and Tocat (1854-56). Van Lennep traveled extensively throughout the region of western Asia and Egypt.
After losing his sight from cataract in 1869, he returned to the United States.  Van Lennep was proficient in numerous languages and was also a skillful artist, sketching (in pencil or pen and ink) scenes from his extensive travels.
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Many of his drawings appeared in published works, which include The Oriental Album: Twenty Illustrations, in Oil Colors, of the People and Scenery of Turkey, with an Explanatory and Descriptive Text (1862); Travels in Little-known Parts of Asia Minor: with Illustrations of Biblical Literature and Researches in Archaeology (1870); and Bible Lands: their Modern Customs and Manners Illustrative of Scripture (1875).  He also executed several drawings for Professor Edward Hitchcock, including his Geology of Massachusetts (1841) and Illustrations of Surface Geology (1860).
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The bulk of the collection of the Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers consists of pencil sketches and watercolors of scenery, people and artifacts, chiefly Turkish but also some American. In addition, a small amount of personal papers include passports related to his travel as a missionary in Turkey, a notebook of sermons written by Van Lennep in Armenian, and portrait photographs.
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Through collaboration between the Archives & Special Collections, Digital Programs, and Metadata the entire collection of Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers has been digitized and is accessible through the Amherst College Digital Collections.
Henry J. Van Lennep watercolor sketch of a Constantinople street.

“In the fall of 1934, Gertrude Stein arrived in America to much buzz about “Gertrude Stein.” Her photo appeared on the cover of Time magazine following the blockbuster success of her accessible and witty The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933). Journalists and a film crew waited at the dock to document Stein’s arrival. Her name appeared in lights in Times Square. Receptions were held in her honor. She enjoyed tea at the White House with Eleanor Roosevelt and dinner in Beverly Hills with Charlie Chaplin. She received the key to her hometown city of San Francisco. Fans and skeptics filled lecture halls across the United States to hear her Lectures in America. A two-month lecture tour turned into seven. Everywhere she went Gertrude Stein made headline news.”

Kirsch, Sharon J. “Gertrude Stein Delivers.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 31, no. 3, 2012, pp. 254–270.

One of Stein’s stops on her “Lectures in America” tour was Amherst College.

From the Amherst Student, January 7, 1935:

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Stein gave her lecture on January 9, 1935, as reported in The Amherst Student for January 10, 1935:

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Sharon Kirsch describes Stein’s tour of the United States as a public relations triumph — Stein achieved a tremendous degree of celebrity and name recognition even though the majority of those who attended her public lectures had likely never read any of her work. Stein herself later commented on that celebrity in Everybody’s Autobiography (1937):

“It was very nice being a celebrity a real celebrity who can decide who they want to meet and say so and they come or do not come as you want them. I never imagined that would happen to me to be a celebrity like that but it did and when it did I liked it.”

In addition to the coverage in The Amherst Student, we hold other traces of Stein’s visit in the Archives & Special Collections. We hold three letters and a postcard from Stein to Amherst President Stanley King; Stein and Alice B. Toklas both inscribed a copy of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (New York, 1933) for King upon their visit:

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Since the arrival of Ted Baird’s diaries in the Archives, we now regularly consult them to see if he commented on campus events. Gertrude Stein’s visit, and the dinner at President King’s home afterward, are recorded in this brief entry from January 9, 1935:

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Fortunately, Baird’s handwriting is more legible than Stein’s. Anyone interested in attempting to decipher the letters Stein sent to Stanley King is welcome to visit the Archives & Special Collections to see what other details from her visit can be recovered.

As I reprocess our Buildings and Grounds Collection, I occasionally find mislabeled images, like a photo of Williston Hall labeled Appleton Hall. Sometimes there are items with an incorrect description, like a set of postcards in a folder titled “Photographs”.

But sometimes I find things that are just unidentifiable. This item was in a folder of photographs!

I’m not sure exactly what this object is. My first guess was a tobacco cloth of some sort, designed to be rolled up. It might have been made from poorly-tanned leather that stiffened over time.

The back side has a cord to tie it closed, but it’s not strong. The cord is thin, with a gold-colored metallic finish, similar to the elastic cord found around a gift box. This suggests that the cord was decorative.

My current guess is that this was a cover for a small booklet, like a banquet menu or an event program. The three fragments fit together somewhat like a dust jacket for a standard book. In addition, there are discoloration marks that match across all three pieces, which helped to align them.

This looks familiar…

  • A sketch of College Hall with three front doors, and an octagonal cupola topped by a weather vane. Along the walkway, young trees stand amid the lawn.
  • A sketch of College Hall without front columns, showing trees and front walkway.

I recognized the image as one I’d seen before, and checked the usual suspects for published building pictures: Stanley King’s Consecrated Eminence (1951), Claude M. Fuess’s Amherst: The Story of A New England College (1935), and William S. Tyler’s two editions of A History of Amherst College (1873, 1895).

I found the image in Tyler’s second edition, A history of Amherst College during the administrations of its first five presidents : from 1821 to 1891.

Mystery numbers

Looking more closely at the copied image, I noticed something (else) odd. In the published image, the panels above the three doorways are blank. But in the purple printed copy, something was written on those panels!

Image of College Hall. Each door has a number above it (from left to right) 10, 32, and 3. Each door has a number above it, from left to right, 10, 32, and 3.
A printed drawing of College Hall, with unexplained numbers added to the panels above each door
The numbers 10, 32, and 3 are outlined in black for sighted readers.
The added numbers–10, 32, and 3–are outlined in black.

I read these as the numbers 10, 32, and 3. If you see something different, leave a comment! As to what they mean? Your guess is literally as good as mine. A team season record? A date with unusual formatting?

What else do we know?

  • This object probably dates between 1895 and 1905.
    • We know the earliest possible date because of its publication in Tyler’s history (1895).
    • We know the latest likely date because in 1905, College Hall was renovated and a new front portico with columns was added. Though it’s possible that the older image was reused after 1905, I don’t think it’s very likely. The added portico, as seen in the photograph below, dramatically changed the look of the building.
A portico with 6 columns graces the front of College Hall. The front of the building is shaded by several large trees in leaf.
College Hall with its new portico. Photograph by Edgar T. Scott, circa 1913.

Do you know what this mystery object is?

Or maybe what those numbers refer to?

Post a comment or send us a note if you know anything about this object or something like it. We’d love to know more.

Come and play with us…forever…and ever…and ever…

First, the obvious: archives tend to contain papers about adults.  Because that fact is a given, we may not stop to wonder about it.  It really couldn’t be otherwise, since children don’t tend to create and accumulate “papers,” except maybe the kind that get taped to the front of refrigerators, then maybe stashed in a drawer and eventually, regretfully, thrown out.  There are certainly collections here or there whose main subjects are children, but those are few by comparison to those in which the focus is on adults.

But children appear in collections anyway, most particularly in family papers.  As I’ve been processing the Bowles-Hoar Family Papers, I’ve noticed a lot of material related to children, most of it from members of families in the collection, a little of it from close friends or just acquaintances.  In this post, we’ll look at some of these children, including children who appear without names or other clear ways to identify them.  Apart from public records (birth, death, census, etc., where you’d need at least a name), some of these children may have no documentation other than what’s here, and our small, unique patch of record is all there is for “proof of life.”

The first child to catch my attention (and haunt me during evenings and weekends) was little Mary Bowles Foote. Ironically (from the archival point of view), Mary herself has no documentation in the collection, no doubt because her death as a toddler meant that she didn’t leave anything behind. I only know about Mary because I started to chart the families represented in the collection and stumbled across her existence while focused on her mother, Julia.

As I pieced Mary’s story together, the significance of her short life and early death became clear. I learned that Mary was the granddaughter of Samuel Bowles II, the founder of the “Springfield Republican” newspaper, and the daughter of his eldest child, Julia. Julia appears once in George Merriam’s biography of her brother (the most famous Sam Bowles) in Merriam’s description of her parents’ trip with their infant daughter “up the river in a flat-boat…bringing a hand-printing press and some scanty furnishings” from Hartford to Springfield, where her father started his paper in September 1824. Little more is known about Julia other than that she attended Springfield’s “Old High School” and subsequently married a fellow student named Adonijah Foote (sometimes Foot), whose family was related to Julia’s sister-in-law Mary Bowles. Foote studied to be an engineer, and his first jobs included work on the Connecticut River railroad and the Holyoke canals.  Adonijah and Julia then moved to New Jersey, where he probably worked on the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which was still under construction at that time. Their baby daughter Mary went with them, something we only know because of an announcement in the “Republican” of her death from dysentery in New Jersey on August 17, 1851.  New Jersey newspapers show that the incidence of deaths from dysentery in the region had doubled in the month of Mary’s death, and the toddler probably died within two weeks of the first signs of illness. Julia then returned to Springfield with the body so that it might be buried in the relatively new Springfield Cemetery.  During this time Julia also fell ill from dysentery. On August 29, she died too. By this time, her father had caught it, and less than two weeks later, on September 8, he died too. The family must’ve been stunned at this triple loss.  If they understood anything about contagious illnesses, they must’ve feared more consequences, since at this point the extended family — three generations — all lived together on Union Street in Springfield.  In this way, little Mary’s illness and death had rippling consequences for the family and their newspaper — not only were three family members dead within a month, but Samuel Bowles III was now the head of the newspaper much earlier than he would have anticipated.  The stresses on him were enormous.

I visited the Springfield Cemetery recently but found no marker for Mary. An old cemetery plan indicates that she was known in the family as Minnie and that she was buried next to her mother, whose small, flat marker was barely visible when I visited.

At left, a section of the Bowles plot plan. At right, Julia’s stone. It reads: “Julia Bowles Foot/ [Wife?] Adonijah Foot/ Aug. 29, 1851/ Aged 27 Yrs.” There may be additional text at the top that is too worn to read.

 

Another Mary– Mary Dwight Bowles, called Mamie — provides a lighter note. This Mary was the daughter of Samuel Bowles III and his wife Mary Schermerhorn.  Little Mary is the Bowles child Emily Dickinson referred to as “Minor ‘Mary’,” to whom she promised “a Butterfly with a vest like a Turk…”  Mary was born in 1854 and was the third of seven surviving Bowles children.   As you might expect, the older children helped out with the younger ones.  On the right side of this note from early 1862, Mary anticipates a few chores in connection with her newborn brother Charles Allen Bowles:

Three unidentified children — two girls who seem to be twins and a younger boy, presumably their brother — appear in a daguerreotype and a pair of ambrotypes. Over the course of my work on the Bowles-Hoar papers, I have yet to come across twins in either family. The only twins I know of that have some connection to the collection are twins Fanny and Annie Stebbins, born in 1855 and friends and next-door neighbors to the Bowles family on Crescent Hill, but I’m not sure their dates work, and the brother isn’t “right” either.  I keep all these names and images in mind in case something pops into place someday and I suddenly know for certain who they are. But whoever these children are, I love their little faces, especially the slightly furrowed brow on the girl at right. Is she concentrating on staying still or is she irritated at the photographer? She looks ferocious — I like to imagine she grew up to be a terror.

These same children appear in ambrotypes taken a year or two later.  In both images, you can see that the boy has a distinctive nose that could help identify him if he appears in other photographs.  Here, though, the girls remind me a bit of the Grady girls in “The Shining,” just because I’m programmed to associate “twin girls” with those famous characters.  Maybe the boy’s name will turn out to be Danny.

“Hello, Danny.”

“Come and play with us, Danny.” The spectral Grady girls from “The Shining.” In the novel by Stephen King the girls were not twins.

Beth Hoar Bowles appears as a child in several images. Beth is the main collector of the Bowles-Hoar papers, the first person who inherited, gathered, and preserved the materials from both the Bowles and Hoar families. She’s very well documented in the collection from her birth in 1854 to her death in 1924.  Here she is as a young child in striped socks.  As the person who would inherit the responsibility for all the family papers, she looks appropriately sober.

Beth’s sons also figure prominently in the papers. Her older son, Samuel Bowles V, was a rather tragic figure who struggled from an early age against his inherited obligation to run the “Springfield Republican,” and her younger son, Sherman, distanced himself from the paper for a while but ultimately became a major figure in the company and — even better, in my view — the temporary publisher of “Cat-Man Comics.”  Here are the boys at about the age of their mother, above.  Poor little Sam already feels the pressure of living up to expectations:

“Samuel in Mama’s bonnet and boa” (circa 1888) and Sherman (1892).

 

Beth Bowles was an active figure in her community and, judging by what survived, she must’ve conducted an enormous correspondence. Among the correspondence she saved — most of it from family and close friends — there is a single sheet from a boy named Fayette Corey. At the bottom of the sheet, Beth has added an explanatory note.

“My dear Mrs. Bowles, I like my pencils and I am using them. Thank you for bringing them. Sincerely yours, Fayette Corey, 1180 Riverdale St.” Beth has added, “Small boy, run over by hay cart, I met at the hospital, July 1911.”

Beth’s added note is confirmed by newspaper evidence. That Beth kept Fayette’s note and handed it down among her papers shows us how much his situation moved her. Fayette probably didn’t leave much of a paper trail since he didn’t live long enough to create one — an obituary from the summer of 1919 shows that he died of enteritis at 13. So his single note above might be all there is.

To conclude on a happier note, we have Beth’s nephew Roger Sherman Hoar, the son of her brother Sherman and his wife Mary Butterick Hoar.  Roger looks like he was an eager child, straining to get out of his carriage and take on the world.

Roger Sherman Hoar in 1888.

In addition to letters to Beth from an adult Roger (who became Attorney General of Massachusetts and a science fiction writer), the papers contain two entertaining notes from young Roger. The first note entreats–and threatens–Roger’s Aunt Carrie (Beth’s sister, nicknamed Pussy) for his chocolates.

“I WILL B A GOOD BOY IF YOU GIVE ME MY CHOCOLATES. I WILL ONLY B GOOD IF YOU GIVE THEM TO ME. PUSSY. ROGER.”

The second note is to his cousin Samuel (Beth’s boy, above), reporting the birth of calves in the neighboring Prichard’s barn in Concord. I love this boy. Can’t you just feel his excitement? He has no need of mere exclamation points to show his enthusiasm, he has BLOCK LETTERS.

There are many more children, identified and unidentified, in the Bowles-Hoar Family Papers, each one with a story of their own. The papers should be fully processed sometime next year. Come and play with us. Meet the children.

Dyer diary

On July 8th, 1862, Ebenezer Porter Dyer Jr. (Amherst College Class of 1861) received an urgent letter from the Boston Educational Committee asking him to sail the next day from New York City “to go to Port Royal, S.C. as Superintendent of Plantations”. It turns out the letter Dyer received was wrong (once he arrived in New York, he found the ship wasn’t scheduled to set sail for several days) but Dyer still left his home in Massachusetts that night to embark on a year of living in South Carolina during the Civil War.

The year that Dyer spent in South Carolina is detailed in his diary, which I recently rediscovered along with some of Dyer’s short stories and journals while working with 19th century alumni materials.  His diary gives a glimpse into his life from 1862-1863, while he worked as a Northern relief worker in the South during the Civil War. In the first entry, Dyer tells us about his frantic departure for New York, sailing to South Carolina through a Union blockade, arriving at the plantation and quartering Union soldiers there, and his observations of religious life on the plantation. But after his hectic arrival, things seem to calm down for Dyer, and his diary turns more towards social calls with other New Englanders living in the South, being constantly tormented by mosquitoes, and the boredom of being stuck inside because of heavy rain with no books to read.

As Superintendent of Plantations, Dyer mostly taught and preached, with some administrative duties, like payroll for freedmen who remained on the plantation. This was all part of the Boston Educational Commission’s mission as a relief organization to aid “persons released from slavery in the course of the war for the union”. The Boston Educational Commission would eventually expand its efforts and become the New England Freedman’s Aid Society, but at the time Dyer left for Port Royal the Boston Educational Committee primarily sent teachers and clothing to South Carolina.

It’s not clear from Dyer’s diary how or why he ended up teaching for the Boston Educational Committee. From the “First annual report of the educational commission for freedmen”, it seems like he probably applied and that there was a lot competition, but it’s also unclear why he was asked to leave in July (not February like the other teachers) and on such short notice. It would be interesting to know what made Dryer so passionate that he was happy to leave at a moment’s notice, or if the emphasis on service during his time at Amherst College influenced that at all. But either way, Dyer’s diary gives us an Amherst alum’s perspective on the South during the Civil war, and new information about what Amherst alumni were doing during that era.

The First annual report of the educational commission for freedmen used above is Collection Reference Number GLC06232.15 at The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. All copyright belongs to The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

For more information on the Boston Educational Commission’s activities, check out the New England Freedman’s Aid Society Records (digitized) from the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Wild Nights

Every new film that tells a story about Emily Dickinson seems to stir up a new round of questions about her life and writing. In 2016 it was A Quiet Passion, directed by Terence Davies and starring Cynthia Nixon as the adult Dickinson; in 2019 it’s Wild Nights with Emily (2018) directed by Madeleine Olnek with Molly Shannon playing Dickinson. While we normally steer clear of debates about the accuracy and merits of fictional portrayals of Dickinson, a recent interview with Molly Shannon calls for some clarification of the facts.Shannon on Today

In this televised interview that aired in early April 2019, Molly Shannon makes the following claim around the 1:05 mark:

It’s really cool … there were these erasures found in her work through spectrographic technology where they can find all this stuff about great historical figures…

While a single interview on a morning talk show may not seem like much, we want to correct the record to state that none of the Emily Dickinson manuscripts held at Amherst College have undergone any sort of analysis via “spectrographic technology” or any kind of imaging beyond a visible-spectrum flatbed scanner.

Amherst College launched Amherst College Digital Collections in the fall of 2012 and made full-color scans of all of our Dickinson manuscripts freely available online in early January 2013.

ED in ACDC

At that time, our goal was to make these manuscript images as widely accessible as possible. People interested in Dickinson’s life and poetry no longer had to trust the word of scholars with the resources and expertise to visit the special collections at Amherst and Harvard; they could see the manuscripts for themselves.

The first facsimile of a Dickinson manuscript we have been able to locate is the “Fac-simile of ‘Renunciation,’ by Emily Dickinson” that appeared at the front of Poems: Second Series edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson and published by Roberts Brothers of Boston in 1891.

ED 1891

Prior to the widespread adoption of digital photography in the early 21st century, producing photographic facsimiles of important manuscripts was far more difficult. Ralph Franklin’s 1981 two-volume set The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson was a major achievement of editorial scholarship and facsimile publication.

ED Franklin

The reproductive technologies of the time made it cost-prohibitive to publish the facsimile images in full color, but these black and white images were a great leap forward.

Today anyone with an internet connection can see a better quality image of this same manuscript via ACDC: https://acdc.amherst.edu/explore/asc:15595/asc:15597

Gentian

Within ACDC, users can download their own copy of the image or use the built-in tools to zoom in and rotate the image. As much of an improvement as these color scans are, there is more work to be done. First, it’s important to recognize that these scans were created before Amherst College had established a formal Digital Programs department with dedicated imaging professionals. The Archives & Special Collections staff used a standard flatbed scanner that captures only visible-spectrum light to create 600dpi master files back in 2008-2009. These same master files are what is in ACDC today.

In the meantime, advances in imaging manuscripts have been going on all around us. Perhaps the most famous example of using new technology to recover a lost text is the Archimedes Palimpsest. As described on their website:

The Multispectral Imaging of the Archimedes palimpsest was undertaken by Keith Knox, of the Boeing Corporation based in Maui, William A. Christens-Barry of Equipoise Imaging LLC, and Roger Easton, Professor of Imaging Science at RIT. … To explain multispectral imaging, we must make a short digression into electromagnetic radiation…

Those interested in the science of multispectral imaging can find out much more on the Archimedes Palimpsest site, but the point is that such imaging is complex and requires carefully calibrated equipment to produce reliable results.

Perhaps no facility better captures the excitement of using new technologies to study the material culture of the past than the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University. This Yale news story about their work on their “Vinland Map” describes some of the imaging techniques and technologies that were not available just 10 or 15 years ago: Yale putting high-tech tests to its controversial Vinland Map.

We don’t mean to fault a Hollywood actress for not knowing the full details of the history of the digitization of Dickinson manuscripts; she is not a professional scholar of Dickinson or material culture. We do feel the need to state, for the public record, that none of Amherst’s Dickinson manuscripts have undergone multispectral imaging of the sort now available at Yale.

While Amherst does not have the capacity to do the sort of imaging done at the Yale IPCH, technical details of their processes are readily available online: https://digitalcollections.wordpress.amherst.edu/about/ As interest in the deeper physical features of Dickinson’s manuscripts gains public attention, we have begun exploring ways we might use the newest technologies to improve our scans to better serve the public.

Time Traveling Drama

In celebration of the College’s bicentennial in 1821, we’re reprocessing several large collections in the archives. One of these is the Dramatic Activities Collection – material assembled by Tuffy McGoun, a professor of dramatics at the College. The collection documents the history of dramatic productions and activities on campus. It’s a long history – our first production ephemera dates from 1826!

In addition to giving a great overview of the dramatic life of the college, the collection is an excellent resource for showing trends in design over the decades. Nowhere is this more evident than in comparing several different productions of the same play. I’ve chosen two popular plays to show examples of how different productions handled costumes, set design, and publicity in different decades.

Our first play – The Rivals, a comedy of manners by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was first performed in 1775. The plot follows the romantic intrigue between several visitors of the town of Bath, England, a popular holiday spot at the time. The play is somewhat forgotten today – though it did give us the term malaprop, derived from the character of Mrs. Malaprop (who unintentionally substitutes the wrong term for similar-sounding words throughout).

The first Amherst College production took place June of 1843. It was performed three other times: March 1896, February 1906, and May 1963.

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Program from the June 1843 production of scenes from The Rivals. Part of the Amherst College Summer Exhibition

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Program from the March 1896 production of The Rivals.

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Playbill for the 1896 production, performed at the Academy of Music at Northampton. Touts “college men. Costly scenery. Elaborate costumes.”

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Cast photograph of the 1896 “Rivals.” Annotations on the back state that this was the first College production to go on tour.

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The 1906 “Rivals” program, by the Amherst College Dramatics Association.

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Program from a Ware, Massachusetts performance. The penciled annotation says: “The night the curtain came down on Deroin’s head.” Frank Deroin (AC 1908) played the character of Bob Acres.

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The 1963 production program. Kirby Memorial Theater was built in 1938.

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A production photograph from 1963 depicting the characters Julia and Faulkland.

The second play I chose comes from Shakespeare – the Scottish play! Macbeth was performed at Amherst College in January 1910, November 1941, November 1965, and November 1995. The documentation for the 1941 production is particularly rich, showing the effort that went into the set design and costumes.

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A program for the 1910 performance. Note: this wasn’t quite a dramatic production, rather a “reading by members of the Junior Class in public speaking.”

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Costumes and set in 1941.

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Behind the scenes in 1941.

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A set design sketch for the 1941 production.

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Program for the 1965 production. This aesthetic look persisted into the 1970s.

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Program for the 1995 production.

 

These images represent only a small slice of the collection which stands at about 72 linear feet of material. As part of the Bicentennial project in the library, we’ll be digitizing a lot of this material in the coming years.