Edward Hitchcock’s Mountain Mania, or How the Mountains Got Their Names

by Dr. Howell Chickering

From the Holyoke Range to the Vermont border, many of the hills and peaks that we see around us were named by the fourth president of Amherst College, Edward Hitchcock. Their names are surprisingly diverse — Castor and Pollux, Bull Hill, Mount Norwottuck — and there is a story behind each one. After a brief account of Hitchcock’s extraordinary accomplishments, and his vigorous yet eccentric character, retired Professor “Chick” Chickering describes the circumstances by which Edward Hitchcock arrived at what he called his “denomination” of several of our local landmarks.


Forging Arms for the Nation

by Susan Ashman, National Park Service

Begun as a major arsenal under the authority of General George Washington early in the Revolutionary War, the first national armory began manufacturing muskets in 1794. Within decades, Springfield Armory had perfected pioneering manufacturing methods that were critical to American industrialization. Reopened in 1978 as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, the original 1840’s arsenal houses the world’s largest collection of historic American military firearms.


From Arkham to Amherst

by George Naughton

H.P. Lovecraft and New England Folklore

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 – 1937) is widely known and admired as an author of supernatural fiction. But he was also an avid scholar and antiquarian, and his detailed, highly descriptive stories of New England in the 1920’s and 30’s contain many references to local history and folklore. This lecture by a long-time Lovecraft fan gives an overview of his life, work, and influence.


Primary Sources: A Hands-On Lecture

by Richard Cairn

If the past is what happened, then primary sources are the evidence we rely on to understand and interpret the past as history. In this hands-on talk and workshop, participants through the 30 million primary sources online from the Library of Congress, and searched for maps, letters, photos, newspapers, posters, and political cartoons with Amherst connections. Investigate with Rich Cairn, veteran educator with area schools, supported by the Library’s Teaching with Primary Sources Program.


The Heart has Many Doors

by Susan Snively

THE HEART HAS MANY DOORS is a work of imaginative fiction. Poet, scriptwriter, and essayist Susan Snively lives in Amherst, and works as a guide at the Emily Dickinson Museum. In this lecture, she talked about the process of working historical fact into a fictional narrative.


Amity Street: A Novel of Amherst in 1892

by Kitty Burns Florey, author

In this lecture, author Kitty Burns talks about Amity Street, the sequel to her 2012 novel The Writing Master, which took place in New Haven in 1856. Amity Street moves ahead 35 years: it is now 1892. Anna Felice, a wealthy former opera star, travels from Rome, Italy, to America — to Manhattan, to New Haven, finally to Amherst, Massachusetts — in search of the truth about her birth.  The novel is deeply immersed in the history — the architecture, the shops, the colleges, the farms, the customs — of the town of Amherst not long before the turn of the century, and the end of an era.