Amherst History Museum

Amherst History Museum Our mission is to connect people to the Town of Amherst, its history and its culture.
(6)

For five generations, Amherst residents have donated pieces of their lives to the Historical Society. We hold these pieces in trust, and aim to discover the heart of Amherst's history. In order to reinterpret the past, the "old documents and objects" need to be preserved and made available for study. We do that for Amherst. Understanding community history fosters civic pride and this valued institution serves us all. We depend entirely on private donations and volunteer efforts for maintenance of our extensive collections, the Simeon Strong House (c. 1750, one of the oldest in Amherst) and its grounds, and for support of our educational and outreach activities. Our mission is to connect you to the town of Amherst, its history and its culture. To fulfill our mission, we need your help.

11/07/2019

A fun excerpt of college trouble and mischief from the letters of 19th century college student Thomas S Russell, showing just what trouble college students got up to in those years:
"I shall begin with giving you a specimen of the scrapes, tricks, and sprees with which the present term has thus far been filled to overflowing. One morning recently, one of our outhouses were found to have been metamorphosed during the preceeding night into a barber’s shop for Freshmen by the following process. A sign belonging in the village, with “Refreshments” in large capitals on it, had been procured + by sawing off the first two and last two letters, as made to read “Freshmen” This was fastened to the building in a conspicuous place— To finish the matter, a large barber’s pole was procured and fastened in a vertical position to the roof— So that the meaning of the whole evidently was, “Freshmen shaved here”-- This may serve as a very good specimen of College practical joking— And her I must say, although it be not very flattering, to the body of which I am a member, that students, at least in this College, often are guilty of paltry contemptible tricks, which no gentleman would ever commit— for instance— A few days since, a poor old man came from Belchertown, Eight or Ten miles distant, with a load of choices apples “Expressly” he said “for the Collegians.” Instead of treating him as his silvery locks at least required, they spilt his apples, unbuckled the harness, and carried on at such a rate, that the old man was obliged to take refuge in flight. For the honor of the College, let it be said, only some Twelve or Fifteen, but a short time since were detected in pilfering a walnut grove by the owner— (pilfer is rather too strong a term to use, as the students at this season have always hitherto been free to take what walnuts they pleased from the grove, + that without any complaint). He immediately procured the Services of a lawyer, whom by a note through the post office, informed each of the deliquents that unless he immediately called at his office + settled, there would be a legal process issued against him— This raised a breeze at once— The offenders declared they never would settle, and the lawyers avowed they should, or he would prosecute— No decided action has yet taken place and probably the prosecutor will “back out” — But whether he does or not, he will abundantly rue the day that he meddled with the students— right before last a body of some Fifteen or Twenty assembled before his house, and all the noises that mortal ear ever listened to were certainly heard then— Groans, hisses, cries of “Walnuts!” “Boltwood”! (the owner’s name) formed a jargon of sound, which the inmates of Pandemonium might envy."
(November 1st, 1839, addressed to TSR's father Levi Russell in Mendon, NY)
#19thcenturyhistory #amherstcollegehistory #amherstcollege #localhistory

Tomorrow, Friday November 8th, at 12:15 in the Jones Library Woodbury Room noted historian Dr. Christine Delucia will be...
11/07/2019

Tomorrow, Friday November 8th, at 12:15 in the Jones Library Woodbury Room noted historian Dr. Christine Delucia will be discussing her new book Memory Lands, which offers a major reconsideration of the violent seventeenth-century conflict in northeastern America known as King Philip’s War, providing an alternative to Pilgrim-centric narratives that have dominated the histories of colonial New England. She examines the war’s effects on the everyday lives and collective mentalities of the region’s diverse Native and Euro-American communities over the course of several centuries, focusing on persistent struggles over land and water, sovereignty, resistance, cultural memory, and intercultural interactions.

Happy Halloween!  Here's a witchy piece from our collection- a fashionable mantle was owned and worn by Mabel Loomis Tod...
10/31/2019

Happy Halloween! Here's a witchy piece from our collection- a fashionable mantle was owned and worn by Mabel Loomis Todd at the end of the 19th century. It was was rendered undisplayable due to mold, but a generous donor funded its cleaning this past winter and we are proud to exhibit it in its restored condition.

Its catalogue description depicts this garment in all its complicated glory:
"Dolman mantle in black ribbed wool, embellished with soutache cording in a modified Greek key fleur de lis pattern with diamond shaped motifs across the chest. Has a standing band collar that is 2" high, and a center front opening that fastens with hooks and eyes. The edges are cut in sawtooth points over the arms, and the front falls to deep points. The lower edges are finished with corded fringe. The interior is lined with black silk and there is a black silk ribbon tie to tie around the waist to keep the dolman properly fitted on the body. It has a little flare in back for shallow bustle cut high."

There’s still time to get your eyes on these eyes!  Our Felt, Water, and Wool exhibit, featuring wool felted work by S...
10/23/2019

There’s still time to get your eyes on these eyes! Our Felt, Water, and Wool exhibit, featuring wool felted work by Sally Dillon, Margaret Stancer and Florence Rosenstock, will on view through December at the Museum!

Interested in historical fashion?  Our exhibit Dressing Up: Women’s Fashion Through the Gilded Age, curated by Molly O...
10/21/2019

Interested in historical fashion? Our exhibit Dressing Up: Women’s Fashion Through the Gilded Age, curated by Molly O’Donnell, is still on view through December! This exhibit examines the dichotomy of public/private presentation through an exploration of women’s ‘house’ and ‘street’ clothes.

Fancy a movie?  This punchcard from 1940, for Amherst Theater, advertises ‘The Screen’s Newest and Most Thrilling Se...
10/17/2019

Fancy a movie? This punchcard from 1940, for Amherst Theater, advertises ‘The Screen’s Newest and Most Thrilling Serial’ “Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe”. Serials were an episodic motion picture form similar to TV episodes today; a chapter of the serial would be shown in cinemas weeklytypically ending in a cliffhanger that required moviegoers to return the next week to find out what happened. Serials were popular with children, and typically shown in Saturday matinees that also featured animated cartoons, newsreels, and a feature film or two.

The Amherst Theater was open from 1926-1955, operating from the building that is now Amherst Cinema!

Join us tomorrow at 6:30pm for a story of betrayal, political intrigue, and love conquering evil!   Cleopatra: A Portrai...
09/26/2019

Join us tomorrow at 6:30pm for a story of betrayal, political intrigue, and love conquering evil! Cleopatra: A Portrait in Music will feature a selection of Cleopatra’s arias from Giulio Cesare, showcasing the multi-layered queen in her moments of political cunning, heart-wrenching sorrow, and all-encompassing love. This Songs and Serenades event will star Libby Maxey, soprano and Graham Christian, piano with special guest Katherine Blaisdell. Standard tickets are $15.00, Benefactor tickets $30.00. Get your tickets at https://amhersthistory.org/cleopatra-a-portrait-in-music/

Great ArtsNightPlus at the Museum! #thursdaymarket #amhersthistory #artsnightplus
09/05/2019

Great ArtsNightPlus at the Museum! #thursdaymarket #amhersthistory #artsnightplus

Visit us tonight during Amherst Arts Night Plus and explore the fantastical world of felting!   We are pleased to presen...
09/05/2019

Visit us tonight during Amherst Arts Night Plus and explore the fantastical world of felting! We are pleased to present wool felted work by three local artists: Sally Dillon, Margaret Stancer and Florence Rosenstock. Landscapes, fish, fungi, vessels and a series of eyes show the variety of expressions available with imagination and the ability to manipulate Soap, Water & Wool.

This unique exhibit will be open at the museum until November 2nd, so if you can't make it tonight, visit us on Thursdays 5-8 and Friday 11-4!

Please stop by the Thursday Market this afternoon from 5 - 8 pm.  Corn, veggies, peaches and more on your way to the mus...
08/29/2019

Please stop by the Thursday Market this afternoon from 5 - 8 pm. Corn, veggies, peaches and more on your way to the museum. Check out our in-progress timeline of history in Amherst! #amherstma #farmersmarket #supportyourlocalfarms #freshcornMA #amhersthistory

This Thursday Market features the whimsical art of Professor Skye Long, proprietor of Delightfully Strange. Also vending...
08/20/2019

This Thursday Market features the whimsical art of Professor Skye Long, proprietor of Delightfully Strange. Also vending on the lawn: Beyond Happiness - Skin Care
Chevreaux de Lagrange - goat's milk soap/lotion
Quabbin Hill Farms - microgreens/veggies/eggs
Amherst Soaps; Sweet Pumpkins Farm - vegetables, jellies and flowers; fresh peaches; Andreia Correria - Cape Verdean Textile. Musical guests are the duo Driando.
#supportlocalartists #supportlocalfarms #thursdaymarket #amherstma

We're excited about our new lamp posts with functioning lights, installed by David Dunn and Sigurd Nilson. It made for a...
07/12/2019

We're excited about our new lamp posts with functioning lights, installed by David Dunn and Sigurd Nilson. It made for a lovely evening of Amherst Arts Night Plus and Thursday Market. #amherstculture #openeverydoor #artsinamherst

#tbt Vendors on North Pleasant Street, early 80s. Tonight is the new Thursday Market on the lawn of the Strong House. Cr...
07/11/2019

#tbt Vendors on North Pleasant Street, early 80s. Tonight is the new Thursday Market on the lawn of the Strong House. Crafters, artists, vendors, eats, nibbles and music! Please stop by, 5-8 pm

Be sure to stop by the museum this Thursday Night for Amherst Arts Night Plus and meet some fantastic local artists! #su...
07/07/2019

Be sure to stop by the museum this Thursday Night for Amherst Arts Night Plus and meet some fantastic local artists! #supportlocalartists

This Thursday's market (happens to be Arts Night Plus) will feature great local artists like Natalie Kassire - a a fine artist specializing in detailed pen and ink work who operates the online shop Odd’s Bodkins. She sells a curated selection of oddities, home decor, clothing, and more. Stop by and say hello. #supportlocalartists #artsnightplusamherst

Great weather and some awesome international visitors curious about Amherst history and our market vendors.
06/27/2019

Great weather and some awesome international visitors curious about Amherst history and our market vendors.

A touch of Sissinghurst in Hadley: Amherst Historical Society’s Heart and Soul Tour features six spectacular gardens
06/22/2019
A touch of Sissinghurst in Hadley: Amherst Historical Society’s Heart and Soul Tour features six spectacular gardens

A touch of Sissinghurst in Hadley: Amherst Historical Society’s Heart and Soul Tour features six spectacular gardens

Lisa Chasan-Tabor’s English-inspired formal garden in Hadley is an exercise in ordered simplicity. The garden features fragrant boxwood borders surrounding a series of individual garden “rooms,” filled with chaste plantings that are limited to a...

A wonderful write-up about our Heart and Soul Garden Tour in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette by Mickey Rathbun. Tix avai...
06/21/2019
A touch of Sissinghurst in Hadley: Amherst Historical Society’s Heart and Soul Tour features six spectacular gardens

A wonderful write-up about our Heart and Soul Garden Tour in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette by Mickey Rathbun. Tix available at A. J. Hastings, Andrews Greenhouse, Hadley Garden Center and on our website amhersthistory.org #gardentour #amherstmahistory https://www.gazettenet.com/Get-Growing-26352744

Lisa Chasan-Tabor’s English-inspired formal garden in Hadley is an exercise in ordered simplicity. The garden features fragrant boxwood borders surrounding a series of individual garden “rooms,” filled with chaste plantings that are limited to a...

The Strong House Secret Squirrel returns! #amherstmahistory #amhersthistoricalsociety #artsnightplus
06/07/2019

The Strong House Secret Squirrel returns! #amherstmahistory #amhersthistoricalsociety #artsnightplus

We are grateful to the Garden Club of Amherst for all their work maintaining the 18th century inspired beds. Clean up wa...
05/29/2019

We are grateful to the Garden Club of Amherst for all their work maintaining the 18th century inspired beds. Clean up was this morning...comes see the results!

Come explore our new exhibit, “Dressing Up: Women’s Fashion Through the Gilded Age”, curated by Hampshire College ...
05/10/2019

Come explore our new exhibit, “Dressing Up: Women’s Fashion Through the Gilded Age”, curated by Hampshire College Division III thesis student Molly O'Donnell. This exhibit examines the dichotomy of public/private presentation through an exploration of women’s ‘house’ and ‘street’ clothes from 1860 to 1900. This is your chance to see a beautifully curated collection of dresses from our costume collection and learn about the evolution of American women’s fashion in the second half of the 19th century.

Interested in learning more about the history of silk in the valley?  Come to the Jones Library tomorrow at 12:45pm for ...
05/09/2019

Interested in learning more about the history of silk in the valley? Come to the Jones Library tomorrow at 12:45pm for '100 Years of Silk in the Valley', a talk presented by Marjorie Senechal! Straight from AHS archives, Amherst College student Thomas S Russell offhandedly mentions the silk industry to his parents in an 1839 letter, showing how ubiquitous the industry was in the 1830s! In fact, in the late 1830s, the Amherst economy was somewhat in decline due to the "mulberry craze"- mulberry trees were planted in hopes of silkworms and a silk industry that did not ultimately prove viable.

The illustration is a view of Amherst drawn Van Lennep in 1839, Van Lennep graduated Amherst College in 1837, and went on to create this piece for Amherst professor Edward Hitchcock's Geology of Massachusetts, where it appears as "Plate #6, Valleys of Erosion on Mt. Holyoke". This illustration can be viewed at the Amherst Historical Society and Museum, and can also be accessed through Amherst College Special Collections, where this digital version was accessed.

Are you ready for #ArtWeekMA?  We're ready to spring into the season and celebrate Artweekwith three exciting events!  O...
04/05/2019

Are you ready for #ArtWeekMA? We're ready to spring into the season and celebrate Artweekwith three exciting events!

On Sunday, April 28th we will be hosting an Artist's Supply and Studio Sale on the lawn of the Historical Society, from 11pm-3pm! Local artists will be selling and swapping art materials, as well as exhibiting pieces from their workshops!

On the same day, join fiber artist Flo Rosenstock from 1-3pm for a hands-on felted soap workshop for the whole family! Make and bring home your own felted soap! This event has a materials fee of $1 per person.

Then, to cap off our ArtWeek events, bring your family heirlooms and historical items to The Art of Evaluation on
Thursday, May 2nd, from 5:30-8pm, when historian and conservator Lynne Bassett will date and identify materials for your family photographs and portrait paintings, as well as identify costumes, quilts, and other textile artifacts. No monetary values will be provided. Don’t have an item? Please join us as part of the audience and learn about other people’s cherished possessions. Each evaluation slot will be $10, and you can reserve your slots here https://amhersthistory.org/the-art-of-evaluation/

We are part of ArtWeek – a unique annual celebration of arts, culture and creativity. Curious people of all ages will get creative at 500+ unique events across the state – and
many are FREE! Join us April 26 – May 5. Get the full festival schedule at artweekma.org.

We had a wonderful presentation today by Cinda Jones from the Cowls Home Farm, who shares photos and historical informat...
03/29/2019

We had a wonderful presentation today by Cinda Jones from the Cowls Home Farm, who shares photos and historical information about the history of the Jones family in the area and the Mill District!

Come back on Friday, April 12th at 12:15 for our next talk, The Jewish Community of Amherst: The Formative Years, presented by local author and founding member Irving Seidman!

Interested in seeing funny and/or intriguing snippets from the letters of 19th century Amherst College student Thomas S ...
03/15/2019

Interested in seeing funny and/or intriguing snippets from the letters of 19th century Amherst College student Thomas S Russell? Follow along on twitter as we post the best snippets from our ongoing transcription project! https://twitter.com/tsr1838

The Spring History Bites Lunchtime Lecture schedule is here!  Join us for another year learning about Amherst!https://am...
02/16/2019

The Spring History Bites Lunchtime Lecture schedule is here! Join us for another year learning about Amherst!

https://amhersthistory.org/history-bites-lunchtime-lecture-series/

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.

Drum roll please... the winner of the upcycled Adirondack Chair, from our 3rd Annual Ski & Winter Gear Sale Raffle, is W...
02/16/2019

Drum roll please... the winner of the upcycled Adirondack Chair, from our 3rd Annual Ski & Winter Gear Sale Raffle, is Woody Sherman. Congratulations Woody! Looks like you will be doing lots of skiing even when you are not on the slopes.

We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to Nancy Meagher, who lent us this beautiful painting of the Dell, Mabel Loomis T...
02/15/2019

We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to Nancy Meagher, who lent us this beautiful painting of the Dell, Mabel Loomis Todd's Amherst home. Of the painting, Meagher writes:

A toll folding screen showcasing stalks of wildflowers in the Simeon Strong House because my official introduction to Amherst’s Renaissance woman, Mabel Loomis Todd.

Seeking more information about the luminous work which stood alone in the cavernous exhibit space, I was directed to a small room across from the reception desk. On display, I found photos of camel caravans in the desert, and worn photographs of a striking woman with memorable eyes in a fashionable dress.

However, it was a small wooden paint box holding tiny, squeezed and capped tubes of oil paint, which felt the greatest adventure to me.

My journey from a tall folding screen to stained art supplies and skinny brushes led me to a mesmerizing Mint Green Victorian mansion, eventually circling round to the poems of Emily Dickinson.

Color Preference fascinates me. I have pulled out dusty canvases from my art school days to find that I am still choosing the exact same palette.

Driving past the Mint Green of Mabel’s house, the Buttery Yellow of Emily’s, and the Peachy Salmon of Austin and Susan’s spectacular “Madeline” style home make each day for me a sensory treat.

-
To see more of Nancy Meagher's art, visit https://nancymeagherart.com/

We are pleased to present this year's Conch Shell Award to Julie Dobrow for her authorship of After Emily:  Two Remarkab...
02/01/2019

We are pleased to present this year's Conch Shell Award to Julie Dobrow for her authorship of 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, lectures and 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.

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.

If you're interesting in checking out After Emily, you can buy it here https://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?id=4294996767&LangType=1033 or check it out from our friends at the Jones Library!

Address

67 Amity St
Amherst, MA
01002

PVTA bus stop at front door

General information

There is no admission charge. Donations are accepted. Winter visits by appointment.

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Amherst History Museum posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Amherst History Museum:

Category

Nearby museums


Other History Museums in Amherst

Show All