Indigenous Amherst: The life and work of Charles “Ohiyesa” Eastman and his family
Charles Eastman was a Native American (Santee Dakota) author and activist, and resident of Amherst from 1911-19. In the latest of our History Bites Lunchtime Lecture series, on Friday, March 1st, at 12:15 Kiara Vigil, Assistant Professor of American Studies at Amherst College, will highlight Charles Eastman’s life, his position as a “public face for the Indian people” and how he successfully navigated circuits of power using academia, the literary marketplace, and the federal government’s Indian Service. Eastman’s story gives us a glimpse into the life of Indigenous members of the Amherst community in the early 20th century, a critical period in which Indigenous people gained cultural and political influence in the United States.
History Bites is a series of thirty minute lectures to inform and entertain, covering various aspects of the history of Amherst and the lives of those who once lived here.
Bring your lunch, and we provide coffee, tea and cider for you as you listen to the presentations. The programs begin promptly at 12:15 with seating and beverages ready just before noon. The lectures are free and everyone is welcome to attend.
(Learn more here.)
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.