Amherst's baseball team of 1902. Dunleavy and Kane are seen sitting together in the middle row, far right.

Amherst’s baseball team of 1902, the year of the “Kane controversy.” Dunleavy and Kane (both AC 1904) are seated together in the middle row at far right. [Athletics Collection, box OS-1, folder 8]

Today all American colleges and universities are bound by the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding the amateur status of their athletes. No student-athlete may compete in a sport in which he or she received compensation elsewhere. Prior to the NCAA’s founding in 1906, rules concerning pay-for-play seem to have been adopted and enforced locally, informally, and inconsistently. Amherst’s first encounter with the issue occurred in 1901 and came to a head the following year with the so-called “Kane controversy,” which was partly responsible for Amherst’s withdrawal from the Tri-Collegiate League (Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams, now known as the “Little Three”). Let’s take a look at this controversy.

At the start of the 1902 baseball season, a new set of Tri-Collegiate League rules governing student eligibility — and more importantly, the question of how those rules should be interpreted — had the entire college in confusion and uproar. In April of the previous year, representatives of the three colleges had met in Springfield to discuss professionalism. At that meeting, one player at each of the colleges was identified as having taken money for baseball, and their eligibility was challenged. At Amherst, the player in question was an outstanding left-handed pitcher named John F. Dunleavy (AC 1904). Dunleavy had definite aspirations to play major league ball and had been touted by scouts when he played a season for Malone (N.Y.) in the Northern League.


In the spring of 1902, Amherst’s star sophomore was barred from playing because of his involvement with the Malone team, and he would never play for Amherst again. However, this did not prevent team manager Swift from hiring Dunleavy as a coach. “Dunleavy’s experience as a ball player makes him especially fitted for the position,” the Amherst Student reported on March 1 — while at the same time making him unfitted for playing. And, indeed, Dunleavy’s baseball skills were bona fide: he eventually left Amherst after his junior year and played three major-league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, followed by a string of engagements with minor league clubs through at least 1910.Jack_Dunleavy

It might be said that the Dunleavy case was one of several that were instrumental in establishing eligibility rules regarding professionalism, at least within the Tri-Collegiate League; and it probably also had an effect on the rules set up nationally by the NCAA after 1906.

The Kane controversy, on the other hand, presented an early case study on how those rules were to be enforced.

Frank Kane (AC 1904) came to Amherst from Maine and established himself as a talented and popular athlete. He served as gymnasium director for his class and was a very effective pitcher. If his entry from the Olio yearbook is a fair indication, he was known among his Amherst classmates for a certain rustic manliness:

DOC535“What the newspapers [had] to say about him” was plenty. Controversy started brewing on April 25, 1902, when the Wesleyan members of the Tri-Collegiate League brought charges against Kane for receiving pay for playing baseball for two teams in Maine the previous summer; further, that he played under an assumed name so as to avoid detection; and also that while he had ostensibly worked in an insurance office in Waterville that summer, “eye witnesses” there never saw him actually working in the office, and that therefore there was a strong appearance that he had merely been paid to play baseball.

After examining Kane on these charges, a “Faculty Committee on Eligibility” received “affidavits” from the managers of the two teams he had played for, stating that he had not received any remuneration. It also had a letter from his employer stating that Kane “worked regularly for me as a clerk in my office during the months of July and August.” As to playing under an assumed name, the committee “found that … there was nothing in the constitution on the eligibility rules to debar a man for [this], and further that it had been frequently permitted”! Kane was acquitted of all the charges.

In the meantime, Kane continued to play ball, and very effectively indeed, as shown in the box score below of the Tri-Collegiate championship game that Williams played under protest. Kane struck out ten Williams batters.


Amherst vs. Williams, May 3, 1902.

This was how formal charges were handled under the Tri-Collegiate rules: investigated and ruled upon by a supposedly unbiased and honorable faculty committee at the defendant’s host institution. Not surprisingly, Wesleyan appealed the committee’s decision. The league scheduled a hearing in Springfield on the evening of May 9, 1902. The arguments essentially came down to circumstantial evidence, not entirely credible testimony, and a strong whiff of insincerity. By the time the parties adjourned at 1 a.m., the vote was 2-1 to declare Kane ineligible. The whole outcome was reported in great detail in a special issue of the Amherst Student of May 12:may12amay12b

Kane’s ouster from Tri-Collegiate play was, according to Amherst administrators, the last straw in what was vaguely referred to as an increasingly strained relationship with Wesleyan and Williams. At a mass meeting of students, faculty and administrators, the college decided to withdraw from the league at the end of the season. This decision not only affected baseball, but all Amherst athletic teams in the following year. Interestingly, Frank Kane was allowed to play on the team for the 1903 season, since the only rules he officially violated were those of the Tri-Collegiate League. A few years later, Amherst would be bound by much more comprehensive NCAA rules regarding pay-for-play.


I am currently putting the finishing touches on our new exhibition: Race & Rebellion at Amherst College. This exhibition explores the history of student activism and issues of race, beginning with the founding of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1833 and the “Gorham Rebellion” of 1837 through the takeover of campus buildings by black student activists in the 1970s. No exhibition on a subject as broad and complicated as race can ever claim to be truly comprehensive and all-inclusive. This exhibition focuses on recovering the deeper history of African-American lives at Amherst College between 1826 and the late 1970s; we could just as easily have mounted an entire exhibition about more recent events of the last 25 – 50 years.

Two books about Amherst’s black alumni have been published: Black Men of Amherst (1976) by Harold Wade, Jr. and Black Women of Amherst College (1999) by Mavis Campbell. Both of these books need to be revised and brought up to date. One theme in the exhibition is the recovery of black lives at the college that were not included in either published volume. In some cases, we have identified African-American students who graduated from Amherst in the 19th century who were not included in Black Men of Amherst, but there are entire categories of people who were intentionally left out of both books.

Prof Charley

The first category is that of service staff at the college. Charles Thompson, for example, was born in Portland, Maine in 1838, spent some time in Boston then worked on three long sea voyages before returning to Boston to work as a coachman. Sometime in 1856 or 1857, Charles Thompson came to work at Amherst College, where he spent the rest of his life in service.

As fraternities began to build and manage their own houses in the 1870s and 1880s, many employed black servants.

Beta-Theta-Pi - Copy

The solitary black figure at the back of this group portrait of the members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity in 1890 is identified as “Olmstead Smith ‘The Dark’” on the back of this photograph. The large feather duster in his hand emphasizes Smith’s position as the fraternity custodian.


This fraternity group portrait also includes a single African-American, Perry Roberts. Perry Roberts served as the custodian for Delta Upsilon from approximately 1882 until the early twentieth century. Delta Upsilon group photos regularly show Roberts seated front and center holding the fraternity seal.

James Denton

Although Edward Jones was the first African-American to graduate from Amherst back in 1826, it wasn’t until 1964 that the college hired its first black faculty member. Professor James Q. Denton taught mathematics and statistics at Amherst until his retirement in 2005.

Sonia Sanchez

Poet, activist, and scholar Sonia Sanchez was the first African-American woman to join the faculty at Amherst College. She arrived as a visiting assistant professor in 1972 and left for a position at Temple University in 1975.

Andrea Rushing

Professor Sanchez was soon followed by Andrea Rushing who was hired in 1974 to teach Black Studies and English. She retired in 2010.

Mavis Campbell

Mavis Campbell, author of Black Women of Amherst College, came to campus in 1976 to teach Black Studies and History. She retired in 2006.

These names and faces just scratch the surface of the multiple lives of people of color at Amherst College. In this exhibition we have chosen to focus specifically on African-American individuals, but we encourage others to use the resources of the Archives to explore other minority groups and their experiences at the college.


Back in October, Peter wrote about our Harbor Press ephemera collection.  Today, I’m spotlighting another collection of fine books, these designed by master printer Ronald Gordon, Amherst class of 1965.

While a student at Amherst College, Ronald Gordon studied the craft of printing and bookmaking with artist and print-maker Leonard Baskin and printer Harold McGrath.  Gordon interned at Baskin’s Gehenna Press in Northampton, Mass and as part of his senior honors thesis, Gordon designed and printed Jubilate Agno: Part One under The Apiary Press, Smith College’s student publication imprint.


Gordon designed the first two issues of Amherst student publication Paideia and Sam Ellenport ’65 served as Assistant Editor of the publication.  Ellenport went on to become a master bookbinder and founder of Harcourt Bindery.

Shortly after graduating from Amherst College, Ellenport and Gordon established Oliphant Press as a private press in New York City.  Oliphant’s first imprint in 1966 was Encounter by fellow Amherst alum Michael Blick (’65).

Maurice Sendak illustration from  Fortunia ; a tale by Mme. D’Aulnoy

Maurice Sendak illustration from Fortunia; a tale by Mme. D’Aulnoy

Initially publishing mostly limited run chapbooks of poetry, the press later expanded to become a commercial printer. The Oliphant Press printed first editions of works by such writers as Samuel Beckett, Ray Bradbury and John Updike, with illustrations by artists such as Leonard Baskin, Edward Gorey, and Maurice Sendak.  (Personal note: Those last three are my dream team of artists.)

Some highlights from our collection of Gordon’s work:


New Year Blues / Allen Ginsberg. 1972

Beginning in 1974, Gordon co-published several books with Frank Hallman, including Fitz-James O’Brien’s What Was It? with illustrations by Leonard Baskin, and Fortunia by Mme. D’Aulnoy with illustrations by Maurice Sendak.

1979. Ray Bradbury: Beyond 1984

Beyond 1984 / Ray Bradbury. 1979

Ronald Gordon continues to provide high-quality design and print work outside of the Oliphant imprint.  One such undertaking was Gordon’s work designing half of the titles of fine press limited edition books produced by William Targ under the famous Targ Editions imprint.  His work with the Targ Editions includes Three illuminations in the life of an American author by John Updike and Ray Bradbury’s Beyond 1984.

A nearly comprehensive collection of the Oliphant Press’s publications is held in the Amherst College Library and the Archives & Special Collections holds the Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) Oliphant Press Materials Collection.

Last month, Mike posted about a recent gift of books from alumnus Peter Webb. I have cataloged them and they can be found via this search. Mike mentioned in passing that the gift included copies of some of Charles Eastman’s books in their original dust jackets:

Since dust jackets on hardcover books are common today, these may not seem all that exciting. But dust jackets from the early 1900s and before are quite rare, even in special collections libraries. See this recent post from the University of Virginia about a collection of 19th-century books in original dust jackets, donated by Tom Congalton.

Current research on the history of dust jackets agrees that “they are a phenomenon associated with, and resulting from, the introduction of publishers’ cloth in 1820 … It is natural that publishers should have thought of furnishing protective wrappings after they began issuing books in cloth-covered boards, for these casings (bindings) were more permanent and soon became more decorative than plain boards, and any means for keeping them in their original condition until they reached the hands of buyers would be to the publishers’ advantage.”¹

So publishers’ production and use of the dust jacket was driven by practical reasons, and became widespread. Today they are scarce because buyers in the 19th-century thought of dust jackets only as disposable packaging. Still, they are an important component to consider when studying the book as an artifact.

G. Thomas Tanselle, the expert in this subject area, has compiled a list of 1,888 surviving examples of dust jackets from prior to 1901 in his Book-Jackets: Their History Forms and Use. It is hoped that an online database may be created and built upon for further research.

Here are a few of the examples held by Amherst College:

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The New England Country / Clifton Johnson (Boston : Lee and Shepard, 1897) PS3519.O225 N6 1897  (#97.79 in Tanselle’s published list)

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Equality / Edward Bellamy (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1897) HX811 1887 .B5 c.2 (Tanselle #97.6)

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3 views of volume 1 of Letters of Emily Dickinson / ed. by Mabel Loomis Todd (Boston : Roberts Brothers, 1894) PS1541.Z5 A3 1894 (Tanselle #94.85) (Note in the picture on the far right that the discoloration of the endpapers gives evidence that this jacket is most likely original to this copy)

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Print appears only on the spine of this dust jacket on Strangers and Wayfarers / Sarah Orne Jewett (Boston and New York : Houghton Mifflin, 1890) PS2132.S8 1890 (Tanselle #90.23)

Lastly, two examples from the 1930s, by which time publishers had long since figured out that placing graphics and advertising on paper dust jackets was much more economical than elaborately decorating cloth bindings.

¹ Tanselle, G. Thomas, Book-Jackets: Their History, Forms, and Use (Charlottesville, Va. : The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2011), 8-9.   The book contains three essays originally published in 1971, 2006, and 2010. For a concise overview of the subject, Tanselle himself also recommends the chapter “Book-Jackets” in Anthony Rota’s Apart from the Text (New Castle, Del. : Oak Knoll Press, 1998) 124-141.

Daddy’s Girl: a Valentine

A long time ago I had a boyfriend who used to unconsciously signal that he was about to deliver unwelcome news by saying, “ya gotta love this…” As it turned out, I didn’t gotta, and his “love” was a hollow thing. A more solid love – in this case, a father’s love for his daughter – is this post’s Valentine offering.

Beecher, Henry Ward. 1834 Standing portrait The “valentine” (as I think of it) came to us in 2007 as part of a generous gift from Bruce Gimelson of letters and photographs relating to Henry Ward Beecher, Class of 1834. To reduce a huge life to a few sentences, Beecher (1813-1887) was a wildly popular preacher at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn (1847-1887), a rebellious son of Calvinism, an eloquent anti-slavery advocate, and the 50-year husband of Eunice Bullard, by whom he had 11 children, 7 of whom died early.

The Beechers had a troubled marriage and Henry was rumored to have had several affairs, the first as early as his ministry in Indiana during the 1840s. According to Debby Applegate’s superb biography of Beecher, The Most Famous Man in America, the minister may also have been the father of Violet Beach, who is on paper the daughter of Moses Sperry Beach, publisher of the newspaper “The Sun” and son of the founder, Moses Yale Beach, of the Associated Press. Applegate’s biography considers the affair between Henry and Moses’ wife Chloe and the likelihood that Henry was Violet’s father. While we might wish for DNA evidence, what we have in this case is photographic and manuscript evidence. Among the former is this:

Violet Beach, ca. 1890

Violet Beach, ca. 1890

Beecher, Henry Ward. ca. 1840

Henry Ward Beecher, ca. 1845


Henry Ward Beecher & Violet Beach, ca. 1875

Henry Ward Beecher & Violet Beach, ca. 1875

In addition to the convincing documentation of the relationship between Chloe Beach and Beecher that Applegate assembles in her biography, we also have evidence of Beecher’s attachment to Violet Beach in 12 letters that were part of Gimelson’s gift. In 8 of the letters, Beecher signs off as “grandpa,” which he means “in spirit”; in the other 4 letters, he is “Henry Ward Beecher,” safer still. But in a letter signed with his full name in the spring of 1885, Beecher refers twice to a “daughter” and writes with good-humored outrage as a protective father whose child has been slighted. Surely this energetic letter soothed Violet’s wounded heart and made her laugh too. What more could Beecher do, what more could Violet ask? Maybe it doesn’t matter whether he was her “real” father or not.

Beecher-Beach-1885-Apr-8 Beecher-Beach-1885-Apr-8-contd My dear Violet –
You are quite right in all you say about Will’s engagement, but you don’t go half far enough. It is a crime that cannot be excused, nor can language be found that will make it more odious. I am ready to stab him & poison her. Should such conduct go unpunished, the whole world might catch the infection & grow as wicked as they were before the flood. For is it not said that they were “marrying & giving in marriage” – until the flood came & swept them all away” & served them right too! I don’t know – I fear stabbing will be too good for Will. It will let him off too soon. Let’s see if we can’t think of some choice torment. What say you to letting him marry this outrageous sweetheart, & be compelled to live with her? And then, in about 25 years let them have some good for nothing fellow walk up & marry their daughter. Yes, that will be better.

But nourish your wrath. Don’t let it go out. I will send you a vocabulary of words, & a few oaths suited to this occasion – and you can copy them off & recite them morning & evening instead of the good prayers in the Episcopal Book – which are weak & cool affairs whereas you want damnatory & red hot petitions. Trust Providence, my dear. Read the Objurgatory Psalms. Begin with Psalm 137:7-9, Psalm 69: 22-28, Ps. 59: 10-17. But, above all, that choice Psalm 109.

I would suggest, also, that for a while I would let the New Testament alone – as it may somewhat interfere with the sentiments expressed in the psalms.

I will try to help you all I can, & will invent a few new oaths by the time the old [staple ones] get cool.

Yours in the bonds of an Everlasting hatred of all who get married to anyone’s daughter.

Henry Ward Beecher
Apr 8, 1885, three days after Easter

This letter sent me scurrying to find Psalm 109* and vowing to add “objurgatory” to my regular vocabulary.

"New English Bible: The Old Testament," Oxford University Press, 1970.

96 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn

96 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn

I wish I knew who the odious Will was. I wish I knew whether it was on account of the inexcusable little cur that Violet never married. Instead, she lived out her life in her family’s palatial apartment at 96 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, and died in 1946 two days after Valentine’s Day.


*Psalm 109 from the “New English Bible: the Old Testament,” Oxford University Press/Cambridge University Press, 1970.

In honor of the upcoming Global Divestment Day urging institutions to divest from fossil fuel companies and the work being done on the Amherst Campus in support of divestment from coal, I thought we should take a moment to look back at an earlier time that Amherst divested its investment holdings on ethical grounds. I’m referring, of course, to the international campaign to pressure the South African government to dismantle its apartheid system in the 1970s and 80s (although Amherst also divested from Sudan in 2006 on ethical grounds).

Picketers outside the fall Board of Trustees meeting, 1977

Picketers outside the fall Board of Trustees meeting, 1977

Continue Reading »

Ben Fiedler and Blair Kamin in the common room of Mayo-Smith dormitory (formerly Chi Psi Lodge),  January 2015. (Photo by Janna Joassainte'17/Amherst College, Office of Communications)

Ben Fiedler ’17 and Blair Kamin ’79 in the common room of Mayo-Smith House (formerly Chi Psi Lodge), January 2015. (Photo by Janna Joassainte’17/Amherst College, Office of Communications)

Leave me alone, I’m on deadline!

During the college’s Interterm session that just ended, I enjoyed participating in a one-week class that made extensive use of the College Archives. “The Houses of Amherst College” was an intensive architectural appraisal of the thirteen former fraternity houses on campus. It was led by Blair Kamin ’79, the award-winning architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune. Blair is in the process of writing a comprehensive architectural guide to Amherst College, to be published in 2018 as part of the Campus Guide series by Princeton Architectural Press. All of the students in the class (including myself) wrote a brief essay on one of the houses, which will provide material for the published guide.

Seligman House, formerly Theta Delta Chi. Putnam and Cox, architects, 1921.

Seligman House, formerly Theta Delta Chi. Putnam and Cox, architects, 1921.

The class provided the students with an opportunity to learn about some of the buildings we walk by (and, for some of us, live in) every day, and to appreciate them from an architectural point of view. This means carefully seeing the buildings in a new way and asking hard questions: not just “What is its predominant style?” and “What do you call that kind of pillar?” but more searching questions like “Is this building ‘successful’?,” “Have subsequent renovations retained a sense of aesthetic integrity?” and “How does the building contribute to, or detract from, the built environment of Amherst College?” These are some of the questions architecture critics wrestle with every day. Hence the class also gave us a taste of what it’s like to think and write like an architectural journalist.

Seelye House, formerly Psi Upsilon. Putnam & Cox, architects, 1913.

Seelye House, formerly Psi Upsilon. Putnam & Cox, architects, 1913.

The Amherst campus is a beautiful educational setting — exquisitely beautiful, in my opinion, at certain times of the year. And it is also quite historic, reflecting the influences of many notable architects and landscape designers such as McKim, Mead and White, Frederick Law Olmsted, Benjamin Thompson and Edward Larrabee Barnes. In the 19th century, like most colleges, Amherst had to rely on upper-class students to find their own living arrangements. This they did, almost assuredly with great pleasure, mainly by living in fraternity houses. This arrangement allowed upperclassmen to enjoy more autonomy away from the often oppressive rules and oversight of the college administration.

Porter House, formerly Delta Upsilon Delta. Allen Cox, architect, 1916.

Porter House, formerly Delta Upsilon Delta. Allen Cox, architect, 1916.

The fraternity houses were usually impressive large residences, and without exception they could be described as “homey” or indeed “palatial” in comparison to the cookie-cutter boxy sameness of institutional dormitories. Alumni fraternity brothers raised large amounts of money to erect these houses — even in the worst economic times — as a token of love and brotherhood as well as a showpiece announcing their exclusivity, success and refinement.

Plimpton House, formerly Delta Kappa Epsilon. Allen Cox, architect, 1916.

Plimpton House, formerly Delta Kappa Epsilon. Allen Cox, architect, 1916.

Beginning in the early 20th century and lasting several decades, Amherst’s fraternities embarked on a house-building spree that produced many of the fraternity houses that still grace the campus — and which serve, since the abolishing of fraternity houses in 1984, as college residence halls. The building program was fueled in no small part by competition among the fraternities — if one house had by far the most comfortable, luxurious, impressive furnishings, then all the others would be at a disadvantage in attracting the kind of men they wanted to join their ranks. So from 1913 to 1940, the frats built.

Newport House, formerly Phi Delta Sigma. Allen Cox, architect, 1913.

Newport House, formerly Phi Delta Sigma. Allen Cox, architect, 1913.

Many of the houses shared the same architect, Allen Cox of the Boston firm of Putnam and Cox. Not surprisingly, therefore, they show different permutations of the same elements from several architectural traditions — neo-Georgian, neo-Classical and Colonial Revival — that were popular in the early 20th century.

Mayo-Smith House, formerly Delta Chi Psi. Herbert Wheeler, architect, 1923.

Mayo-Smith House, formerly Delta Chi Psi. Herbert Wheeler, architect, 1923.

The sameness was broken by Herbert Wheeler in his design for Chi Psi Lodge in 1923 (above), a lovely work of Tudor/Renaissance Revival that is one of the first college houses to greet visitors arriving at the college from the west.

In 1929, a skillful neo-Classical facelift was pulled off at Calvin Coolidge’s former fraternity house, Phi Gamma Delta:

Marsh House, formerly Phi Gamma Delta. Robert Cutler, builder, ca. 1835; significant renovation by Karl S. Putnam, architect, 1929.

Marsh House, formerly Phi Gamma Delta. Robert Cutler, builder, ca. 1835; significant renovation by Karl S. Putnam, architect, 1929.

The rest of the houses are pictured below. Undeniably, all of these buildings raise up the architectural quality of the Amherst campus. The college has recognized this fact by embarking on a renovation campaign in recent years to save them from the predations of decades of hard use by the fraternities, and to adapt them to the much-changed social and technological needs of the modern-day college. But five former fraternity houses have still not undergone renovations. Clearly the funds to preserve them will be money well spent!

Tyler House, formerly Delta Tau Delta and Kappa Theta fraternity. J.D. Leland, architect, 1932.

Tyler House, formerly Delta Tau Delta and Kappa Theta fraternity. J.D. Leland, architect, 1932.

Lipton House, formerly Phi Chi Phi fraternity, then Hamilton House. Allen Cox, architect, 1918.

Lipton House, formerly Phi Chi Phi fraternity, then Hamilton House. Allen Cox, architect, 1918.

Humphries House, formerly Alpha Theta Xi fraternity. Architect unknown, 1891; reconstructed facade, C.H. Sherwood, architect, 1940.

Humphries House, formerly Alpha Theta Xi fraternity. Architect unknown, 1891; reconstructed facade, C.H. Sherwood, architect, 1940.

Hitchcock House, formerly Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. Maurice B. Briscoe of Andrews, Jones, Biscoe, and Whitmore, architect, 1928.

Hitchcock House, formerly Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. Maurice B. Biscoe of Andrews, Jones, Biscoe, and Whitmore, architect, 1928.

Garman House, formerly Beta Theta Pi fraternity and Boltwood House. Allen Cox, architect, 1916.

Garman House, formerly Beta Theta Pi fraternity and Boltwood House. Allen Cox, architect, 1916.

Drew House, formerly Phi Alpha Psi/Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Built 1866; remodeled by Allen Cox, architect, 1922.

Drew House, formerly Phi Alpha Psi/Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Built 1866; remodeled by Allen Cox, architect, 1922.


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