Founders Day Celebration set for Sunday, February 10
Please join us for our Founders Day Celebration on Sunday, February 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Jones Library Woodbury Room as we commemorate the February 13, 1759 founding of Amherst. Events include our Annual Meeting, the Conch Shell Award given this year to Julie Dobrow, and the Mabel Loomis Todd Lecture presented by Rob Cox. A reception with the drawing for the Upcycled-Ski Adirondack Chair will follow next-door at the museum’s Simeon Strong House. This event is free and open to the public.
The Annual Meeting of the Amherst Historical Society includes a report on our programs and financial status and the election of trustees.
Conch Shell Award
The Conch Shell Award was established in 2007 to honor those who have made a significant contribution to the culture and/or history of Amherst. This year we are honoring Julie Dobrow for After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America’s Greatest Poet. It has been our pleasure to see her in-depth research into the lives of Mabel Loomis Todd and Millicent Todd Bingham grow into this book longlisted for both the Plutarch Award (Biographers International Organization honoring the best biography published in 2018) and the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. Julie has been generous with her research and perceptions and has assisted the Amherst History Museum with exhibitions, giving lectures and conducting tours on themes related to Mabel Loomis Todd. She has opened our eyes to a better understanding of Mabel Loomis Todd’s significant role in the life of Amherst and how Emily Dickinson became known to the wider world.
Julie Dobrow teaches in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, and in the Environmental Studies and Film and Media Studies Programs at Tufts University. She is a Senior Fellow at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts, and also serves as the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. Dobrow graduated from Smith College with an AB in anthropology and sociology, and received her MA and Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mabel Loomis Todd Lecture
The award presentation will be followed by the Mabel Loomis Todd Lecture presented by Rob Cox, the head of Special Collections and University Archives at UMass Amherst. A graduate of Haverford College, he split his time between paleontology and molecular biology before receiving a MILS at the University of Michigan (with a concentration in archives) and a PhD in early American history. Before coming to UMass, he held positions as head of manuscripts at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan and as keeper of manuscripts at the American Philosophical Society.
Among other subjects, Cox has published on the history of the American Spiritualist movement, the Lewis and Clark expedition, Quaker “missions” to the Seneca Indians, the history of photography, and the history of sleep. His other activities range from consulting work at the Alaska Native Language Center, serving on several granting committees, keeping cattle, and working with local historical societies and small libraries to describe, care for, and publicize their holdings.
Our Annual Meeting and Founder’s Day celebration is a great way to honor citizen achievements both past and present. Those who receive the Conch Shell award truly live up to the Amherst Historical Society’s mission to connect people to the town of Amherst, its history, and its culture. A reception will follow at the Simeon Strong for continued conversation with our trustees, award winner and lecturer. We will also hold the drawing for the Upcycled-Ski Adirondack Chair. Join us!
It’s Official! Weights & Measures
Introducing our most recent addition to the collection: the official cabinet of weights and measures used by the Town of Amherst beginning about 1900.
Today, we are assured that a gallon is exactly that when we purchase gasoline–the pump bears the official seal of the State of Massachusetts. But in the past? How did you know a pound was a pound when purchasing produce or other goods? We are the pleased recipient of the official Weights & Measures used by the Town of Amherst beginning about 1900. The cabinet is approximately 6 feet across x 6 feet high x 2 feet deep–filled with scales, weights and liquid measures. Come visit this new treasure!
You can learn more from this story by Scott Merzbach in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Opportunities for Local Learning
On Wednesday, November 1st, second graders from the Common School visited the Jones Special Collections and the Amherst Historical Society!
This experience gave the hands-on experience into researching local history by exploring the collections of artifacts and primary documents. They examined straw hats, a wooden yoke, a wooden scythe and a wooden plane and practiced making inferences about the objects using what they had learned in class. Visits like these give kids a first-hand look at the history of their own town, tangible enough to reach out and touch, connecting the next generation with all the generations past.
Facilitating these key historical experiences is one of the most important missions of the Amherst Historical Society. If you’re interested in scheduling a visit for your classroom or other group, please get in touch with us! We would love to hear from you.