Amherst History Museum

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

"Merit goes not unrewarded."  This notice to the employees of G. B. Burnett & Son (c. 1895) was likely posted on the wal...
12/11/2018

"Merit goes not unrewarded." This notice to the employees of G. B. Burnett & Son (c. 1895) was likely posted on the walls of the hat mill to remind employees of the code of conduct. The reminder to "Be energetic, be faithful, be honest, be saving, be diligent," hung over the employees as they bleached, split, and dyed palm leaves to turn into braid that was then woven into hats and hoods sold across New England. At the time, Massachussetts was the "only state in the Union" to where palm leaf hats were constructed. In 1865, this mill, at that point still belonging to its founding family the Hills, went through 120 pounds of palm leaf from Cuba (valued at $20,000 dollars) and produced 50,000 dozen hats and 30,000 dozen hoods, all with the work of 55 employees. That's a lot of hats per employee!

This #givingtuesday donate to the Amherst History Museum and become a part of connecting the people to the town of Amher...
11/27/2018

This #givingtuesday donate to the Amherst History Museum and become a part of connecting the people to the town of Amherst, its history and its culture! https://givingtuesday.mightycause.com/organization/Amherst-Historical-Society-1

Blow the kunk! #givingtuesday, November 27th, approaches! This year, please consider donating to the Amherst History Museum at: https://givingtuesday.mightycause.com/organization/Amherst-Historical-Society-1
With your donation, you become part of the preservation of and education about Amherst's history! Funds raised during Giving Tuesday will go towards collections care, which means bringing in trained conservators to develop conservation-treatment plans for the repair and preservation of items in our collection. With proper care, these important pieces of Amherst’s history will be preserved not only for our generation, but for generations to come.

The Emily Dickinson Museum
11/20/2018

The Emily Dickinson Museum

On Sunday, December 2nd author Julie Dobrow gives a reading and book signing from her brand new work entitled, After Emily [W. W. Norton & Company; October 30, 2018]. You don’t want to miss it! Find out more here: https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/Dobrow

“Dobrow chronicles the lives of two of Emily Dickinson’s earliest champions and editors. . . . Impeccably researched using more than 700 boxes of the Todds’ personal documents, Dobrow’s narrative gives a fascinating glimpse into the lives of two tireless advocates for Dickinson’s work, demonstrating how poet and editors alike were ‘all women pushing up against the boundaries of their times.’”—Publishers Weekly
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#emilydickinson #emilydickinsonmuseum

Blow the kunk!  #givingtuesday, November 27th, approaches!  This year, please consider donating to the Amherst History M...
11/13/2018

Blow the kunk! #givingtuesday, November 27th, approaches! This year, please consider donating to the Amherst History Museum at: https://givingtuesday.mightycause.com/organization/Amherst-Historical-Society-1
With your donation, you become part of the preservation of and education about Amherst's history! Funds raised during Giving Tuesday will go towards collections care, which means bringing in trained conservators to develop conservation-treatment plans for the repair and preservation of items in our collection. With proper care, these important pieces of Amherst’s history will be preserved not only for our generation, but for generations to come.

We at the Amherst Historical Society and Museum are excited to participate in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fue...
11/02/2018

We at the Amherst Historical Society and Museum are excited to participate in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. This year, we will be focusing on collections care. With your donation, you can be a part of preserving the history of Amherst for this generation and generations to come!

Funds raised during Giving Tuesday will go towards bringing in trained conservators to develop conservation-treatment plans for the repair and preservation of our collection.

With the support of the Amherst community, we hope we can reach our goal of raising $1000 for museum collections care.

Mark your calendars! Starting November 13th, you can donate to the AHS #GivingTuesday fund at https://givingtuesday.mightycause.com/organization/Amherst-Historical-Society-1

This little baby cap, lovingly crafted for tiny young heads, is interestingly enough the oldest textile in our collectio...
10/30/2018

This little baby cap, lovingly crafted for tiny young heads, is interestingly enough the oldest textile in our collection!

Created in around 1700 (possibly slightly earlier) this linen cap features a crown and aide stripe constructed of bobbin lace, a type of lace created by braiding and twisting thread held in place with pins set into a lace pillow.

Take a look at the fine lacework- at the time, even the clothing of infants and small children often featured beautiful, delicate lacework.

It was sewed to last- a piece of clothing like this would be passed down and reused over multiple generations of children.

“Old home week in good earnest and the streets are thronged.  Received over 200 people in the historical society rooms...
10/09/2018

“Old home week in good earnest and the streets are thronged. Received over 200 people in the historical society rooms. Our fruit-punch bowl was filled nine times,” our founder Mabel Loomis Todd wrote during the Old Home Week celebrations of July of 1903. Characteristically, she was in the thick of the organizing for the event. The next day she wrote of her float in the parade “Mrs. Churchill and I got on board after some arranging and fusing in the order of the parade we finally got started and rode through the streets of our town in grab calculated to excite attention- Puritan maidens in high caps industriously spinning.”

You can carry on some of the tradition of Old Home Week by attending our annual Amherst House Tour on November 10th (tickets can be purchased at amhersthistory.org or at AJ Hastings!) or coming to learn more about Mabel and her impact on Amherst at the musuem with our exhibit ‘The Spectular Mabel Loomis Todd.”

The photo of the Old Home Week parade is used in our exhibits courtesy of the Todd-Bingham Picture Collection, Manuscripts, and Archives, Yale University.

"The alarm was given about 5 o’clock A. M. which instantly awoke me- I arose, merely threw on my pantaloons and overco...
09/28/2018

"The alarm was given about 5 o’clock A. M. which instantly awoke me- I arose, merely threw on my pantaloons and overcoat (as I supposed one of the colleges was on fire) and rushed down three flights of stairs of almost as many bounds. As soon as I reached the College yard, I was happily disappointed. Such a scene I never saw before. Two or three deep toned bells were ringing, cries of Fire! Fire!"

In March of 1838, Thomas R Russell, a student at Amherst College, sat down to wrote a letter home to his parents. Along with details of his recent trips, family gossip, and Amherst College going-ons, he included a first-hand account of the fire that ravaged the center of Amherst, demolishing the building depicted in the center of this illustration. Recently, a collection of Russell's original letters made its way into our collection through anonymous donation, just in time for our Historical Fires of Amherst exhibit! The collection is a fascinating look at college life in the early 19th century, and we'll be posting more of it soon.

"You have probably read of the appalling fire which took place in our village a few weeks since," Russell begins. "It laid in ashes the largest block in town. The alarm was given about 5 o’clock A. M. which instantly awoke me- I arose, merely threw on my pantaloons and overcoat (as I supposed one of the colleges was on fire) and rushed down three flights of stairs of almost as many bounds. As soon as I reached the College yard, I was happily disappointed. Such a scene I never saw before. Two or three deep toned bells were ringing, cries of Fire! Fire! were proceeding from a hundred Stentorian lungs, and the flames were furiously bursting from the lower windows of a large three story brick block- constituting the business part of the village. The students poured out en masse, and “rushed to the rescue” They, indeed, saved pretty much all there was saved, as they rose much earlier than the townsmen, and consequently, were on the ground before the fire had made much progress. But the efforts of students, villagers, and all in the extinguishing or arresting the devouring element were of no avail. In spite of their exertions, an adjoining store was soon wrapt in flames, then a large and elegant tavern- nothing was preserved beside the gavels and furniture, and that with great difficulty and danger.

Continuing in the theme of tiny objects, this porcelain doll’s teaset is from the early 19th century, belonged to Sara...
09/21/2018

Continuing in the theme of tiny objects, this porcelain doll’s teaset is from the early 19th century, belonged to Sara Dickerman of New Haven, Connecticut. Like much of our collection, it was given to the Amherst History Museum by family- her granddaughter donated the teaset in 1975. Think about how many generations of little kids might have played with this set! Do you have any family heirlooms with interesting stories?

Who doesn’t love tiny hats? This miniature straw hat (c. December 17th, 1907) was created by the Hills Hat Factory in ...
09/14/2018

Who doesn’t love tiny hats? This miniature straw hat (c. December 17th, 1907) was created by the Hills Hat Factory in Amherst, MA, as a show piece for display to prospective customers. It is marked with the initials of Fannie Marilla (Davis) Pierce.

Is this Rudge High Wheel Cycle hazardous to your health?  If you were a young man in the late 19th century, doctors cert...
09/07/2018

Is this Rudge High Wheel Cycle hazardous to your health? If you were a young man in the late 19th century, doctors certainly thought so!

High wheel cycles were popular with young, middle-class men of the era for their speed- the bigger the wheel, the faster the cycle could go. A high wheel of this size could reach nearly 30 mph! High wheels were considered dangerous both because their instability (even a small rock or bump could cause the rider to fly over the handlebars and suffer a ‘header’) and physicians’ worry that the jarring of the hard rubber tires on unpaved roads would damage male organs.

This particular cycle was a gift from Amherst mechanic Edward Thompson to his son Herbert in 1881. Rudge High Cycles were manufactured from 1870-1888.

"Fire!" It is a cry that sends adrenaline pumping through our bodies. On Thursday, August 2nd, join us and explore the e...
08/01/2018

"Fire!" It is a cry that sends adrenaline pumping through our bodies. On Thursday, August 2nd, join us and explore the exhibit "Historic Fires of Amherst" to learn how fire reshaped Amherst between 1830 and 1930.

This exhibit features enlarged before and after photos from the Jones Library Special Collections of buildings that were destroyed by fire--and what was built in the aftermath.

This image shows the Amherst House hotel, which burned in July 1879

This event is free, and refreshments will be served.

Drop in tonight for our Grand Concert!  An Evening of the Music of Jenny Lind, 19th century songstress and entertainer. ...
05/04/2018

Drop in tonight for our Grand Concert! An Evening of the Music of Jenny Lind, 19th century songstress and entertainer. Refreshments and a spread of finger foods will be provided! Get your tickets at amhersthistory.org!

Did you know that Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, musical sensation of the 1850s and subject of the AHS's upcoming ...
04/28/2018

Did you know that Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, musical sensation of the 1850s and subject of the AHS's upcoming Songs and Serenades concert, had close ties to local history? This art piece, "Jenny's Dress" (2014) by Elizabeth Stone was modeled after a dress she wore during her several-month honeymoon in Northampton. "Jenny's Dress" and a watercolor portrait of Lind painted by Stone will be on display during Amherst Arts Night Plus on Thursday May 3rd, and featured in the AHS’s Grand Concert! The Music of Jenny Lind on March 4th. Purchase your tickets for the concert here: https://amhersthistory.org/2018/04/06/grand-concert-an-evening-of-the-music-of-jenny-lind/

Come in out of the cold at 12:15 today to enjoy cider, tea, and this delicious spread along with some delicious history:...
03/09/2018

Come in out of the cold at 12:15 today to enjoy cider, tea, and this delicious spread along with some delicious history: Sheila Rainford’s history of the South Amherst UCC!

This unique 19th century dress once belonged to Mabel Loomis Todd, and was donated to the Amherst Historical Society she...
02/17/2018

This unique 19th century dress once belonged to Mabel Loomis Todd, and was donated to the Amherst Historical Society she helped found. Purple velvet and old gold, with hand-embroidered pansies; take a look at the detail on the pansies and just imagine how long would have taken to complete them. Unfortunately, the dress is now too fragile to be displayed as it would have been worn, but you can see how the bodice and skirt fit together in the illustration below. See the dress itself currently on display at the Amherst History Museum!
Illustration by Sean Marie French Byrne
#historicalclothing #historicaldress #19thcenturyclothing

Join us at 2:00 today in the Jones Library for our annual Founders Day celebration, featuring a talk on Victorian fashio...
02/11/2018

Join us at 2:00 today in the Jones Library for our annual Founders Day celebration, featuring a talk on Victorian fashion, and then come over the museum for refreshments and a viewing of Victorian fashion- including the real version of the dress illustrated here, which belonged to Mabel Loomis Todd herself.

This vintage ad for the Amherst Gas Company is from the 1912 Amherst, Hadley, and Belchertown Directory, and aimed to pe...
02/02/2018

This vintage ad for the Amherst Gas Company is from the 1912 Amherst, Hadley, and Belchertown Directory, and aimed to persuade the people of the community to install electricity. Would you have been convinced?

Ever come across an old envelope?  Stamped, addressed, open, and empty?  This bamboo mailing tube from 1945 stands as a ...
01/26/2018

Ever come across an old envelope? Stamped, addressed, open, and empty? This bamboo mailing tube from 1945 stands as a testament to how little, perhaps even seemingly inconsequential historical artifacts can shed light on the past. Capt. H Plough (probably Dr. Harold Plough, professor of genetics at Amherst College for 42 years) sent this ‘envelope’ on April 6th, 1945, addressed to Mrs. G. Atkinson, probably Lenette May Rogers, assistant professor of biology at Mount Holyoke College. Through historical detective work and searching through records, Amherst Historical Museum trustee Christopher Fruen deduced Dr. Plough likely sent this package from the Philippines where he was probably stationed. Many records of military service were destroyed by a fire in 1973, so this tube is the only record of Dr. Plough’s service- and what it contained is unknown and likely an answer lost to time.

Set yourself free at our Ski & Winter Gear Sale tomorrow. "A pair of skis are the ultimate transformation to freedom!" ~...
01/04/2018

Set yourself free at our Ski & Winter Gear Sale tomorrow. "A pair of skis are the ultimate transformation to freedom!" ~Warren Miller

Can you count the rings? This cross section is from the sycamore tree taken down from in front of the Strong House in 19...
12/15/2017

Can you count the rings? This cross section is from the sycamore tree taken down from in front of the Strong House in 1957. Two sycamore trees were planted there sometime after the house was built in the late 1750s. Were these planted in a romantic tradition of the time when pairs of trees were planted at the front of a newlyweds' house as "bride and groom" trees, supposed to symbolize hope for a long and happy marriage? Do these commemorate the wedding of Simeon Strong and Sarah Wright in 1763? The other half of this pair still stands today in front of the Strong House.

'Valleys of erosion on Mt. Holyoke' illuHenry J. Van-Lennep. This copy of the print was donated to the Amherst History M...
12/14/2017

'Valleys of erosion on Mt. Holyoke' illuHenry J. Van-Lennep. This copy of the print was donated to the Amherst History Museum in 1934 by Dr. Rawson. It is the sixth plate in Edward Hitchcock's "Final Report on the Geology of Massachusetts." Now it graces the holiday-bedecked mantelpiece of our museum.

As 2017 closes, one of the things we are grateful for is the FY2018 Community Preservation Act funding we received to hi...
12/09/2017

As 2017 closes, one of the things we are grateful for is the FY2018 Community Preservation Act funding we received to hire the extraordinary Lynne Bassett to evaluate the women's costume collection. These dresses are ready to be photographed and stored!

The Amherst History Museum is officially closed for the season as the cold and snow of winter arrive. Look for History B...
12/08/2017

The Amherst History Museum is officially closed for the season as the cold and snow of winter arrive. Look for History Bites to begin in February and new exhibits in May. We’d like to thank everyone who stopped by last night for making our holiday celebration a success, as well as everyone who visited and supported us in 2017! You made this year a great one for the Amherst History Museum.

With the closing of the season comes also the departure of our season exhibits, which this year included "The Value of Looking" and the "So What? Who Cares? Why Bother?" We'd extend our thanks to those who made these exhibits possible, especially our trustees who came together and put such care into creating "So What? Who Cares? Why Bother?" We hope to bring you equally engaging, interesting examples of Amherst history in 2018!

The luminaries are lit, the treats are out, and the Strong House is full of music and holiday cheer!  Come stop by for A...
12/07/2017

The luminaries are lit, the treats are out, and the Strong House is full of music and holiday cheer! Come stop by for Amherst Arts Night Plus, happening now!

The holidays have come to the Amherst history museum! Come visit us today for a nice cup of cider, some cookies, and a t...
12/01/2017

The holidays have come to the Amherst history museum! Come visit us today for a nice cup of cider, some cookies, and a talk about local history at 12:15! Today's talk is about learning from and teaching with the correspondence of a local family in our latest History Bite, 'The butter and letter will be left at the U.S. Hotel,' Teaching with the Port Phelps Huntingon Papers!

#givingtuesday is here!For the past five generations, community members like you have nurtured the museum, supported it,...
11/28/2017

#givingtuesday is here!

For the past five generations, community members like you have nurtured the museum, supported it, and assured it grew as a strong link to Amherst's history. Please, continue the tradition. This Giving Tuesday, support Amherst history. You will be preserving a real, tangible link to the past in the heart of your own community.

Donate to the Amherst History Museum here:
https://amhersthistory.org/ways-to-support-us/

Giving Tuesday fast approaches--a day to celebrate and support community, a day to take action and give back to your com...
11/27/2017

Giving Tuesday fast approaches--a day to celebrate and support community, a day to take action and give back to your community. A day to strengthen the bonds of community and service around you.

Donate to the Amherst History Museum here:
https://amhersthistory.org/ways-to-support-us/

Our mission is to connect people to Town of Amherst, its history and its culture. For over 100 years, Amherst residents have donated pieces of their lives to the Historical Society. We hold these objects in trust, learn from them and use them to better understand our past. We share these objects so that you can make your own connections to the past and better understand yourself and your community.

We can't do that alone. We need your help. We depend on private donations and volunteer efforts for maintenance of our collections, the Simeon Strong House and its grounds, and for support of our educational and outreach activities.

For the past five generations, community members like you have nurtured the museum, supported it, and assured it grew as a strong link to Amherst's history. Please, continue the tradition. This Giving Tuesday, support Amherst history. You will be preserving a real, tangible link to the past in the heart of your own community.

Address

67 Amity St
Amherst, MA
01002

PVTA bus stop at front door

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