Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2013

The question of whether Lord Jeffery Amherst (1717-1797) is an appropriate mascot for Amherst College is currently a topic of great interest for many students, alumni, and faculty. I have been invited to give a presentation on the history of our mascot at a forum hosted by the Association of Amherst Students on Monday, April 1, at 7:30 in the Cole Assembly Room (the Red Room) in Converse Hall. I thought it would be useful to lay out some of the basic facts regarding the history of Lord Jeff as the mascot of Amherst College in this blog in advance of this meeting.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Here’s something you don’t get to see every day, even if you work with rare books:

(Note: if your device or browser doesn’t display the video, view it directly at http://www.flickr.com/photos/amherst_college_archives/8548671802/ )

The practice of decorating the fore-edge of a book with a hidden painting was “popularised in the 18th [century] by John Brindley and (in particular) Edwards of Halifax, whereby the fore-edge of the book, very slightly fanned out and then held fast, is decorated with painted views or conversation pieces.¹ The edges are then squared up and gilded in the ordinary way, so that the painting remains concealed (and protected) while the book is closed; fan out the edges and it reappears.”²

The Archives and Special Collections holds eight examples of hidden fore-edge paintings. Below are pictures of three of them, showing the edge both closed and fanned.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Henry R. Pierce to classmate Amos Hill Coolidge

“The work of life is earnest and requires earnest men. That success may crown your efforts is the wish of your Classmate and Friend, H. R. Pierce. Natus Jan. 2nd, 1828, Coventry Vt.”

When popular Amherst College student Frazar Stearns died shortly before noon on March 14, 1862, in the Battle of New Bern, North Carolina, another Amherst man lay dead nearby.

They probably did not know each other. Frazar was young and handsome and still in school (Class of 1863), while the other man had graduated with the Class of 1853 and was a teacher, a husband, and a father. He was also not the son of William Augustus Stearns, the sitting president of Amherst College. The college and town were overwhelmed by Frazar’s death, and those Amherst people who in 1862 still remembered the other student nine years after his graduation would not have felt his loss as they did Frazar’s. Much was written about Frazar Stearns at the time, and much has been written since—his death continues to resonate. A cannon and a poet’s verses testify to his loss. The other Amherst man’s service was noted and recorded in quieter ways, during his class reunion and in the biographical records of his class. His story is not as well known as Frazar’s, and yet they died within an hour of each other on the same day, in the same battle, and apparently in the effort to take the same small but critical part of the battlefield.

The other student’s name was Henry Reuben Pierce. And when he was at Amherst College, he too was young and handsome, with a promising future.

(more…)

Read Full Post »