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Alfred Sherwood Romer (AC 1917) Papers, 1913-1977
1 record storage box, 1 scrapbook (1.25 linear ft.)

Abstract:
Correspondence, clippings, photographs and other material relating to Romer's Amherst career, his service in WWI France, and his later activities as President of the Class of 1917 and as Chairman of the Phi Alpha Psi Fraternity Corporation.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the collection for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Amherst, MA

Biographical Note

Alfred Sherwood Romer (1894-1973) was an eminent vertebrate paleontologist. He graduated from Amherst College in 1917 and then served during World War I in the American Field Service and, subsequently, in the United States Army. It is believed that when he was with A.F.S. he drove ambulances or ammunition trucks in the Chemin des Dames sector; with the U.S. Army, he appears to have been attached to the "Air Service (non-flying)." Romer returned to the U.S. in 1919 and was discharged with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University. For most of his career, he taught at Harvard University, becoming the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in 1947 and directing Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology from 1946 to 1961. In 1956 he won the National Academy of Sciences' Thompson Medal and in 1966 became president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded five honorary degrees, including one from Amherst, and prizes from many other domestic and international scientific societies. As an alumnus, Romer was very active in the life of Amherst College, both as president of the Class of 1917 and as chair of the corporation of Phi Alpha Psi fraternity. Alfred Romer and his wife, Ruth, had three children: a daughter, Sally Evans, and two sons, Robert (AC 1952) and James (AC 1960). Robert Romer is a professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Amherst College. ASR maintained a residence in Pelham, Mass. and throughout his adult life was increasingly active in that community.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection consists of correspondence, clippings, photographs and other material relating to Alfred Sherwood Romer's Amherst career, his service in both the American Field Service and the U.S. Army in WWI France, and his later activities as President of the Class of 1917 and as Chairman of the Phi Alpha Psi Fraternity Corporation. The collection includes correspondence pertaining to Phi Alpha Psi's pledging of Thomas W. Gibbs (AC 1951), its first African-American member, and the subsequent expulsion from the national chapter, as well as correspondence pertaining to John William Ward's participation in a Vietnam protest while sitting president of Amherst.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the collection for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

[Identification of item], in Alfred Sherwood Romer (AC 1917) Papers [Box #, Folder #], Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library.

History of the Collection

Gifts of Prof. Robert H. Romer (AC 1952) in 1991 and 2009. Accession #91-124 and #2009-074.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in October 2009 by John Emil Vincent, Intern, Simmons College GSLIS.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Phone: (413) 542-2299
Fax: (413) 542-2692

Email Reference Form: http://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/askus
URL: http://www.amherst.edu/library/archives
Language
English

Contents List
SERIES 1: SCRAPBOOK,
1913-1919


The scrapbook contains memorabilia from ASR's four years at Amherst, including photos, tickets, formal affair and sporting event programs, dance cards, short letters, playbills, the announcement of his selection as editor of The Student, his Army registration, train tickets within France, a French traffic violation, a mimeographed note about a new "German GAS," as well as his promotion to Second Lieutenant toward the end of WWI. Included with the scrapbook is a data disk created by Robert H. Romer (AC 1952) containing a guide to the DVD's contents, "Readme-ASR," dated 5/17/09, a short essay by RHR entitled "ASR and WWI," a digital photo of the certificate awarded to ASR upon completion of his service in the A.F.S., as well as digital photos of some of the contents of the scrapbook taken by RHR in August 2007.

Scrapbook
1913-1919

Box 1: folder 1
SERIES 2: AMHERST-RELATED CORRESPONDENCE, MANUSCRIPTS AND PUBLICATIONS,
1942-1977


Subseries A: Class of 1917 Reunion Materials



Includes correspondence and other planning documents related to the class's 25th, 50th, 60th reunions. Folder 1, 25th Reunion, as well as several pins.

Class of 1917 25th Reunion materials
1942-1977

Box 2: folder 1
Class of 1917 50th Reunion materials
1966-1967

Box 2: folder 2
Class of 1917 60th Reunion materials
1976-1977

Box 2: folder 3
Various reunion pins (3 large, 3 medium, 6 small, one mule/double horseshoe pin)
n.d.

Box 2: folder 4
Subseries B: Phi Alpha Psi Correspondence and Publications,
1948-1967


Includes correspondence recording a crucial period in ASR's Chairmanship of Phi Alpha Psi. In 1948, Phi Kappa Psi elected to pledge Tom Gibbs (AC 1951), an African American, as a member. This includes letters to ASR from the present fraternity members as well as from the National Chapter "detailing" their objections to pledging Tom Gibbs. The National Chapter expelled the Amherst chapter and they became "Phi Alpha Psi." Also included are two copies of an offprint of ASR's essay published in the June 1949 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. These were distributed by the National Committee on Fraternities in 1954 with their own postscript added.

Phi Alpha Psi Correspondence
1948-1967

Box 2: folder 5
Subseries C: Admissions and Scholarships Subcommittee of the Alumni Committee on Postwar Amherst



Correspondence about meetings as well as drafts of the "Admissions and Scholarships Subcommittee" report. Includes a final draft of the document and correspondence showing a foul-up in the delivery of documents from ASR to the Trustees when the report was delivered to them. Throughout, ASR is a strong advocate of greater public school presence at Amherst.

Mss. and Correspondence regarding the 1944 "Admissions and Scholarships Subcommittee of the Alumni Committee on Postwar Amherst"
1944

Box 2: folder 6
Subseries D: Correspondence with 1917 Alumni, 1945-1973



The later correspondence includes 1967 letters to President Calvin Plimpton (AC 1939) about his treatment of faculty members, particularly around issues of retirement. It also includes ASR's letter of support sent to President John Ward after Ward's 1972 arrest during a protest of the Vietnam War. ASR's son, Robert, had been arrested with Ward at the Westover site in Chicopee.

Correspondence with 1917 Alumni
1945-1973

Box 2: folder 7
Correspondence with 1917 Alumni (continued)
1945-1973

Box 2: folder 8
Correspondence with Lloyd "Monty" Clark (AC 1917)
1961-1968

Box 2: folder 9
Subseries E: Miscellaneous Correspondence and Publications



Miscellaneous Correspondence and Publications
1945-1972

Box 2: folder 10

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • African American college students -- Massachusetts -- Amherst.
  • American Field Service.
  • Amherst (Mass.) -- Race relations.
  • Gibbs, Thomas W.
  • Phi Alpha Psi.
  • Phi Kappa Psi.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Medical care -- France.

Contributors
  • Amherst College. Alumni Committee on Postwar Amherst College.
  • Amherst College. Class of 1917.


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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