Posted in Amherst College, Amherst College Alumni, Amherst College Faculty, Amherst College Presidents, Amherst College Trustees, College buildings, College History, Manuscripts, Philopogonia Society, Slavery, Town of Amherst, tagged abolition, Amherst College history, Henry G. Van Lennep, Old Hadley Cemetery, Rev. John Brown, Wellington Hart Tyler, William Seymour Tyler on October 16, 2015|
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An old letter is like a present. Its handwriting is the wrapping paper: before you can see or know the present, you have to unwrap it. The present may be lousy, something you’ll quickly forget. Or it might be something you keep, something you take with you, maybe even something that changes your life. But you’ll never know until you unwrap it.
Sometimes a present is for sharing, like the one-pound chocolate bar in your colleague’s desk drawer. I recently unwrapped such a present –a letter full of delicious nuggets — and want to share it with you because it has lingered in my mind ever since I first read it.
The letter is from William Seymour Tyler, Class of 1830, to his brother Wellington Hart Tyler, Class of 1831. The letter is dated January 30, 1837, when both men were in their mid-twenties. Wellington (apparently nicknamed “Edward”) was principal at an academy in Manlius, New York, while William was at Amherst College teaching Latin and Greek and heading into his glory days as the man whose tardiness inspired the founding of the Philopogonian Society. We often think of Edward Hitchcock, professor and president, as the emblem of early Amherst College, but Tyler was here just as long and served just as devotedly. His “History of Amherst College” continues to be a very valuable, reliable resource, and he was the author of other, more modest works, including the nicely named “Why Sit Ye Here Idle?” (more…)
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Make room in Times Square: the Class of 1852 is ready to party with you and ring in 2015 dressed in spanking new glass.
This group of 42 men has been the subject of two posts, the first about their wild and crazy Philopogonian ways, and the second about a project to reseal the individual daguerreotypes from the class. I recently resealed the last daguerreotype in the group, so we begin 2015 with a sparkling set of nice, clear photographs.
D. J. Sprague: plate showing photographer J.D. Wells’ stamp at bottom right.
First, a few details about the daguerreotypes themselves: All 42 daguerreotypes are sixth plate size (approx 2.75″ x 3.25″). The plates have a variety of damage but most looked pretty good after merely replacing the old cover glass (with its fascinating variety of gunk) with new Electroverre low iron glass that I cut to size. I do not rinse or otherwise treat the plate except to gently blow off dust. Class member Daniel J. Sprague’s plate had the photographer’s name (J.D. Wells) stamped on the plate itself — an unusual practice — and another plate had Wells’ name on the mat. All others were unmarked but most were also probably by Wells. (more…)
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Philopogonian Don Carlos Taft
2014 marks the 162nd anniversary of the graduation of the Class of 1852. I wish there were a nice name for a 162nd anniversary — perhaps somebody can concoct one. In the meantime, the consolation I offer is that their septaquintaquinquecentennial is only 13 years away. Mark your calendars.
This blog has featured the Class of 1852 before – they are the Philopogonians. In addition to that entertaining bit of history, the class also left us a nice photographic record of their presence in the form of a composite daguerreotype showing 42 daguerreotypes as well as the 42 individual, well-identified daguerreotypes shown in the composite.
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Posted in Amherst College Alumni, Amherst College Faculty, College History, Missionaries, Philopogonia Society, Photography, tagged Amherst College Alumni, Daniel Bliss, Philopogonia Society, Student Life and Customs on January 25, 2013|
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Sabrina goes all Sweeney Todd
Early in the fall semester of 1850 a group of guys from the Class of 1852 sat around waiting for Professor of Greek William S. Tyler to show up for his class. At one point the small talk turned to the subject of shaving – what do you want to bet that one of them had cut himself that morning and was sporting a nice rip in his face? The others would have noticed it and teased him about it but they would all have had the same experience. Back then, shaving was a real chore. It required a straight razor, tools for honing and stropping, and a knowledge of how to keep a blade sharp enough to get a good shave. It would also take practice to get good at it and keep the nicks and cuts to a minimum. A man could go to a barber for a professional shave, but most of the time he probably had to fend for himself. On a winter day in a dorm room this could mean freezing water and stiff fingers wielding an unforgiving blade. No doubt the men waiting for Professor Tyler agreed that it would be nice not to have to shave at all. And so the Philopogonia Society – the Society of Beard-Lovers — was born that day.
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