Are you interested in finding out more about the history of the town of Amherst? You’ve come to the right place! We have compiled a comprehensive collection of links and lists for your review. Click on the icon to expand a category:
Online Books and Documents
History of the Town of Amherst (1896)
The Handbook of Amherst (1891)
Early History of Hadley, including Amherst (1863)
Student Life at Amherst College (1871)
History of the Adams and Hastings Families of Amherst (1880)
A Sermon on the Necessities of War (1861)
Western New England – Amherst (1912)
The Amherst Record – March 17, 1888
The Birds of Amherst and Vicinity (1906)
The Hills Family in Amherst: A History and Timeline
Online information about historic buildings in Amherst
Amherst Historical: A project done by UMass Public History students. Has information about several houses and historic structures in town and walking tours focused on writer’s houses or Amherst locations related to the Civil War.
Reorienting Dickinson: Dr Karen Sanchez-Eppler and her class have created a walking tour of Black Amherst, featuring buildings which date from Emily Dickinson’s time.
Historic Buildings of Massachusetts: A blog with brief descriptions of several historic buildings in Amherst, including many from Amherst College.
Amherst Historical Commission: “Created in October 1972 by Amherst Town Meeting, the Historical Commission maintains an inventory of historic properties and sites in Amherst, available for review in the Planning Department office and at Special Collections at the Jones Library. The Commission develops nominations for the listing of historic districts and individual properties on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Historic Homes of Amherst: This short book was written by Alice M. Walker in 1905 and published by the Amherst Historical Society. It presents vignettes of historical interest including “Old Strong House,” “The Bridgeman Tavern on the Bay Road,” “Early Amherst Doctors,” “Mark’s Meadow,” The Old Hubbard Tavern at the Plumtree,” and “President Hitchcock’s House.” It is best read as a view of what was considered historically important in Amherst circa 1905. We would like to think that we know more now and, in fact, some dates (such as 1744 for the Strong House) haven’t stood the test of time but there is also valuable information to be acquired. Enjoy!
Post Cards and Photos of Amherst: A collection of digitized post cards and photographs compiled by Pat Mount.
Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System: “The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) allows you to search the Massachusetts Historical Commission database for information on historic properties and areas in the Commonwealth.”
A List of Antique Telephone and Business Directories
Amherst Directory 1889 – 1890
Amherst Directory 1892 – 1893
Amherst Directory 1895
Amherst Directory 1897 – 1898
Amherst Directory 1905 – 1906
Amherst Directory 1908
Amherst Directory 1909
Amherst Directory 1910
Amherst Directory 1911
Amherst Directory 1912
Amherst Directory 1913
Amherst Directory 1914
Amherst Directory 1916
Amherst Directory 1917
Amherst Directory 1919
Amherst Directory 1921
Amherst Directory 1923
Films featuring life over the years in the Pioneer Valley
In the 1940’s, the tobacco industry made a promotional film about tobacco farming in the Connecticut River valley: Tobacco Valley.
In 1973, Northeast Utilities erected a weather monitoring tower on the Montague Plain, as part of a plan to build a nuclear power plant. On Washington’s Birthday in 1974, in an act of civil disobedience, local farmer Sam Lovejoy cut the guy wires for the tower, causing it to fall. This is the story of his trial: Lovejoy’s Nuclear War.
And in 1973, WGBY partnered with Greenfield Community College to gather the stories of the old Yankee farmers in the hilltowns: Root, Hog or Die.
Then forty years later they made a sequel, talking to contemporary farmers: A Long Row in Fertile Ground.
Around that time, WGBY also made a film to celebrate 150 years of the Morrill Land Grant Act, and they focussed on the University of Massachusetts: The Radical Idea.
In 2012, Dr Maynard Seider of North Adams partnered with Amherst Media to produce a documentary film, A Farewell to Factory Towns?, about the closing of the Sprague Electric factory.
Interested in delving deeper into the fascinating history of Amherst? Check out this reading list!
Historical Sketch, Articles of Faith, Covenant and Rules of the North Church, Amherst by
George E. Fisher, 1854; OCLC 43526148
Reminiscences of Amherst College by Edward Hitchcock, Northampton, 1863; OCLC 978695591
Historical Manual of the North Congregational Church and Society by George H. Johnson,
Amherst, 1889; OCLC 34900383
History of Amherst College by William S. Tyler, Springfield, 1873; rev. 1895; OCLC 982889471
The Story of a New England Country Church by Alice M. Walker, Amherst, 1901; OCLC 16164744
Diamond Jubilee of the North Congregational Church, Amherst, Massachusetts, November 15,
1901, Fitchburg, 1902 OCLC 39318615
Brief History of the Massachusetts Agricultural College: Semicentennial, 1917 by Lilley B. Caswell, Springfield, 1917; OCLC 499741374
Amherst Academy by Frederick Tuckerman, Amherst, 1929; OCLC 614815122
Lord Jeffery Amherst: a Soldier of the King by J C Long, New York, 1933; OCLC 869149801
Amherst, the Story of a New England College by Claude M. Fuess, Boston, 1935; OCLC 561014109
Mabel Loomis Todd, her contributions to the town of Amherst by Millicent Todd Bingham, New York, 1935; OCLC 925431046
History of Stockbridge House at Massachusetts State College by Charles H. Thayer, Amherst, 1936 OCLC 43450625
The First Congregational Church in Amherst, 1739-1939 by John A. Hawley and Frank Prentice Rand, Amherst, 1939 OCLC 43751045
Around a Village Green: Sketches of Life in Amherst by Mary Adele Allen, Northampton, 1939 OCLC 57248630
Heart O’ Town by Frank Prentice Rand, Amherst, 1945 OCLC 8262111
Piety and Intellect at Amherst College, 1865 – 1912 by Thomas leDuc, New York, 1946 OCLC 639675965
An Amherst Boyhood by Alfred E. Stearns, Amherst, 1946 OCLC 592107837
Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate’s Diary, 1846-1848 by William Gardiner Hammond and George F. Whicher, New York, 1946 OCLC 1667407
More items on the history of Amherst reading list
A History of the Endowment of Amherst College by Stanley King, Amherst, 1950 OCLC 52259626
The Consecrated Eminence by Stanley King, Amherst, 1951 OCLC 592107843
The Village of Amherst: A Landmark of Light by Frank Prentice Rand, Amherst, 1958 OCLC 742329537
The University of Massachusetts: A History of One Hundred Years by Harold W. Cary, Amherst, 1962 OCLC 1023581122
In Other Words: Amherst in Prose and Verse by Horace Hewlett, Amherst College Press, 1964 OCLC 904774725
Historical Sketch of Amherst Savings Bank, 1864 – 1964 by Winthrop S. Dakin, Amherst, 1964
The Jones Library in Amherst by Frank Prentice Rand, Amherst, 1969 OCLC 577151096
Leave the Light Burning: South Amherst, Massachusetts by W.H. Atkins, 1973 OCLC 668629
Amherst: A Guide to its Architecture by Paul Norton, 1975 OCLC 1583897
Essays on Amherst’s History edited by Theodore Greene, Amherst, 1978 OCLC 3869493
The History of the Town of Amherst in Photographs 1731 – 1896, Extracted from Carpenter and Morehouse, Amherst, 1977 OCLC 927411331
An Amherst Chapbook by Stephanie Kraft, Amherst, 1979 OCLC 137302671
Lost Amherst by Amherst Historical Commission, Amherst, 1980 OCLC 8739485
North of Norwottuck: A sampler of South Amherst, Mass by Marjorie Elliott, Madison, 1985 OCLC 742324096
Tales of Amherst: A Look Back by Daniel Lombardo, Amherst, 1986 OCLC 13009287
Views and Re-views of Amherst by Perry Allen Thompson, 1995 OCLC 621466700
African American Historical Sites Amherst, MA, Amherst, 1995 (chapbook)
Amherst and Hadley, Massachusetts by Daniel Lombardo, Charleston, 1997 OCLC 36847061
A Hedge Away: the other side of Emily Dickinson’s Amherst by Daniel Lombardo, Northampton, 1997 OCLC 469302624
Amherst and Hadley: Through the Seasons by Daniel Lombardo, Charleston, 1998 OCLC40651459
The History of the Black Population of Amherst, Massachusetts, 1728-1870 by James Avery Smith, Boston, 1999 OCLC 40948836
Austin and Mabel: The Amherst Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel Loomis Todd by Polly Longsworth, Amherst, 1999 OCLC 939874685
Amherst, Massachusetts: One of the Best Small Towns in America by Vincent Cleary, Amherst, Cleary, 2003 OCLC 54412324
Manufacturing Industries in Amherst: Focus on the Hat Factories and the Hills Family by Ruth C. Pratt, 2004 OCLC 62675706
Passages of Time; Narratives in the History of Amherst College edited by Douglas C Wilson, 2007 OCLC 191726867
Amherst A to Z, 1759 – 2009 by Elizabeth M Sharpe, Amherst, 2010 OCLC 413359607
Harvesting History: Amherst, Massachusetts Farms, 1700-2010 edited and with several selections by Sheila Rainford and Ruth Owens Jones, Amherst, 2010 OCLC 698244660
North Amherst and Cushman by Patricia Holland and William Robinson, Charleston, 2012 OCLC 796757500
The Railroads and Trolleys of Amherst, Massachusetts by James Avery Smith, Amherst, 2014 OCLC 913887641
Jewish Community of Amherst: the Formative Years, 1969-1979 by Irving Seidman, Amherst, 2017 OCLC 1028051641
History of the Amherst Woman’s Club, 1893-2016 by Libby Klekowski, Amherst, 2017 OCLC 1028995559
After Emily: two remarkable women and the legacy of America’s greatest poet by Julie Dobrow, W W Norton & Co, New York, 2018 OCLC 1078526175
Western Mass. Historical Societies and other friends of the Amherst Historical Society
Emily Dickinson House: Our down-the-street neighbor, the Emily Dickinson Museum is two adjacent buildings–the Homestead and the Evergreens. The website contains a plethora of information about the museum itself, as well as Emily Dickinson’s life and writings.
Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley: Black people have lived and worked in the Pioneer Valley since before the American Revolution. The rescue of Angeline Palmer is only one of their stories.
Friends of Quabbin: Focussed on the history and lore of the Quabbin reservoir itself – a wealth of online resources.
Hadley Farm Museum: Located in an old barn in the center of Hadley, Massachusetts, the Hadley Farm Museum has three floors of historic tools and artifacts, including cobblers’ benches, a broom-making machine, and a fully-restored stagecoach.
Historic Deerfield: Historic Deerfield is a town center street preserved and restored to show its 18th century roots. There are museums, craft demonstrations, special events and daily tours.
Historic Holyoke and Wistariahurst: Wistariahurst was originally the elegant home of prominent 19th-century silk manufacturer William Skinner (1824 – 1902) and his family. In 1959 the family donated the house to the city of Holyoke, to be used for cultural and educational purposes.
Museum of our Industrial Heritage (Greenfield): John Russell established the Green River cutlery works in 1834, and for over a hundred years Greenfield was an important mill town, transportation hub, and innovation center. The Museum of our Industrial Heritage was established in 1998 to preserve the history and tell the stories of that period.
Orange Historical Society : In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the town of Orange was a railroad hub and an industrial center, manufacturing steam-powered cars and home sewing machines. Come visit three floors of memorabilia in the museum house, and see the original steam-powered cars in the barn.
Pelham Historical Society: Pelham was the home of Daniel Shays, the figurehead of Shays’ Rebellion in 1786- 87. The Museum hosts a display about the roots and consequences of Shays’ Rebellion, and is next door to the oldest continuously-used Town Hall in the U. S.
Porter Phelps Huntington House: The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum is a unique historical resource in Hadley, Massachusetts. Its significance goes beyond the well-preserved eighteenth century architecture of the house itself: the house was continuously occupied by a single family from its construction in 1752 until the death of Dr. James Lincoln Huntington, the museum’s founder. The house contains the family’s belongings accumulated and preserved over 300 years. The family also left a rich collection of personal letters, diaries and account books, photographs and other material.
Quabbin History: Construction of the Quabbin Reservoir began in 1926. Before the reservoir was filled, in 1946, it had flooded four towns in central Massachusetts. The Swift River Museum in New Salem has a wealth of photographs and stories commemorating the flooded towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott.
Shays’ Rebellion was a grassroots rebellion in Massachusetts from 1786 – 1787. Although the rebels were defeated (and later pardoned), the rebellion strongly influenced the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Swift River Valley Historical Society: The leading resource in preserving the artifacts, stories and records of the lost towns of the Quabbin Valley.
Help preserve Amherst’s History
Shown: Map of Amherst, Massachusetts, 1886