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Snell Family Papers, 1793-1940 (Bulk: 1835-1870)
19 boxes (15 linear ft.)

The Snell Family Papers contain the papers and photographs of Ebenezer Strong Snell (Class of 1822) and his immediate family, including his wife, daughters, parents and sisters.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the Papers should be directed to the Archivist of the College. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

Biographical Note

Ebenezer S. Snell was born in North Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 7, 1801, the son of Dr. Thomas Snell and Tirzah Strong. Snell graduated with the first graduating class at Amherst College in 1822. His life is closely associated with the development of Amherst College. In 1827 he was appointed Instructor of Mathematics. In 1829 he became Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. From 1834 to 1876, he served as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy.

On September 8, 1828, he married Sabra Clark of Conway, Massachusetts. They had five daughters. He died in Amherst on September 18, 1876, at the age of 74.

Basic biographical data for Professor Snell, a copy of which follows, is found in the Amherst College Biographical Record, 1973.

SNELL, Ebenezer Strong. s Rev Dr Thomas and Tirzah (Strong) b No Brookfield Oct 7 1801. MA Amh 1825; LLD Amh 1860; Western Reserve 1865. prep with father and at Amherst Acad for sophomore class; Williams 1819-21. Asst later prin Amherst Acad 1822-25; tutor Amh 1825-27; instructor in mathematics 1827-29; asst prof math and nat philos 1829-34 prof same 1834-76. Ed with revisions Olmsted's School Philosophy; Sch Astronomy; College Natural Philosophy (twice); College Astronomy (twice). d Amherst Sep 18 1876. See Tyler History of Amherst College pp 570-575. m Sep 8 1828 Sabra C dr Scotte Clark, Conway. ch Rebecca; Mary L; Martha P; Tirzah S: Sabra C (Portrait in possession of Amh).

Snell's biographical file in the Archives contains further basic biographical data.

Birth and death dates for other important family members include:

  • Thomas Snell - Nov. 21, 1774-May 4, 1862 - father of ESS
  • Tirzah Strong - Apr. 22, 1780-June 8, 1855 - mother of ESS
  • Sabra Cobb Clark Snell - 1807-1883 - wife of ESS
  • Rebecca Emerson Snell - Jul. 2, 1829-Dec. 5, 1841 - daughter of ESS
  • Mary Louisa Snell - Aug. 8,1831-1899 - daughter of ESS
  • Martha Porter Snell - Oct. 30, 1835-1860 - daughter of ESS
  • Tirzah Strong Snell (Hall) - Nov. 10, 1839-1925 - daughter of ESS
  • Sabra Clark Snell - Jan. 31, 1845-Mar. 8, 1932 - daughter of ESS

For a more detailed biography of Professor Snell, see Tyler's History of Amherst College During Its First Half Century, 1821-1871.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Snell Family Papers contain the papers and photographs of Ebenezer Strong Snell (Class of 1822) and his immediate family, including his wife, daughters, parents and sisters.

The Snell Family Papers are a valuable source for Snell family history and many aspects of Amherst College history. The bulk of this collection focuses upon Professor Ebenezer Snell's family and personal life, yet it also concerns Snell's career at Amherst as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. The Snell Family Papers cover the period from 1793 to about 1940. The bulk of the material spans the years 1835-1870. The history of Amherst College and also the teaching of science, including astronomy, meteorology and physics, are documented in the notebooks, College-related correspondence, architectural and mathematical drawings, College account records and scientific materials of Professor Snell. The family related materials provide insight into family life in Amherst in the mid-to-late 1800's and include family correspondence, diaries and journals, household account books and photographs.

The Snell Family Papers provide sources for research into both the professional and academic and the personal lives of the Snells.

See series 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 12 for Amherst College related material.

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

There is no restriction on access to the Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the Papers should be directed to the Archivist of the College. 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 Snell Family Papers [Box #, folder #], Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library

History of the Collection
Custodial history:

The history of the Snell Family Papers is not clear. Some of the materials were given by Mrs. E. Snell Hall between 1972 and 1976. Other materials have come to the archives in various ways over the years.

Processing Information
Accession Number:85-005
Processed:1985 Spring
By: Daria D'Arienzo, Archivist of the College
Deborah Pelletier
Melanie Posey

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:
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Series 1: Reverend Thomas Snell, Papers

SERIES 1: REVEREND THOMAS SNELL, PAPERS, 1793-1898, includes handwritten and printed sermons, a biography, the program celebrating the centennial of his ordination, his funeral and memorial services and a picture of Appleton House. This material is arranged by type.


Box 1: folder 1
Biography of Rev. Snell by Christopher Cushing from The Congregational Quarterly
1862 Oct

Box 1: folder 2
Ordination of Rev. Snell: Centennial Celebration Program

Box 1: folder 3
Sermons: handwritten
1793-94, 1853

Box 1: folder 4
Collected sermons of Rev. Snell: printed pamphlets

Box 1: folder 5
Sermons of Rev. Snell and funeral program
1811-54, 1862

Box 1: folder 6
Funeral services for Rev. Snell
7 May 1862

Box 1: folder 7
Appleton House: drawing by E.S. Snell

Box 1: folder 8
Series 2: Correspondence

SERIES 2: CORRESPONDENCE, 1819-75, includes letters from Ebenezer Strong Snell to his wife, daughters, parents, sisters and colleagues. Amherst College related correspondence includes a letter to the Trustees of Amherst College requesting a leave of absence to travel in Europe; a letter to the Trustees of Amherst College regarding his agreement to teach mathematics to the first Freshmen at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and a similar letter to the Trustees of the Massachusetts Agricultural College; recommendations and letters of introduction for students; letters about Amherst College or work related business, including letters ordering apparatus for scientific work; and letters to Snell from students. Also included is incoming and outgoing correspondence of Snell's wife (Sabra Cobb Clark), his daughters, and other family members. The material is arranged in three groups: letters from Ebenezer Strong Snell, letters to Ebenezer Strong Snell and letters to and from other family members.

"Love knot" from ESS to Sabra (wife)

Box 2: folder 1
ESS letters to Sabra (wife)

Box 2: folder 2
ESS letters to daughters

Box 2: folder 3
ESS letters to parents

Box 2: folder 4-5
ESS letters to sisters

Box 2: folder 6-7
ESS to Amherst College Trustees
1856 Aug, 1867 Oct

Box 2: folder 8
ESS to Prof. Baird
1850 Oct

Box 2: folder 9
ESS to Dr. Clark
1854 Jun, 1854 Aug

Box 2: folder 10
ESS to James C. Coffin: photocopy
1842 Nov 23

Box 2: folder 11
ESS recommendation for Francis P. Cotton (Class of 1845)
1845 Aug 12

Box 2: folder 12
ESS to George R. Cutting (Class of 1871, re organization of Literary Societies)
1871 May 16, 17

Box 2: folder 13
ESS to Dr. Earle
1866 Jul 20

Box 2: folder 14
ESS to Mr. Emerson
1866 Feb 9

Box 2: folder 15
ESS to Dr. Hitchcock
1854 Aug 15

Box 2: folder 16
ESS to Mr. Howland
1851 Dec 31

Box 2: folder 17
ESS to the Massachusetts Agricultural College Trustees (copy)
1867 Aug

Box 2: folder 18
ESS to C.W. Shepard (Class of 1827)
1832 Aug 9

Box 2: folder 19
ESS to Asa D. Smith, President of Dartmouth (copy)
1865 Nov 30

Box 2: folder 20
ESS to Strong Snell
1837 Jun 15

Box 2: folder 21
ESS to Prof. W.S. Tyler
1856 Jul 11

Box 2: folder 22
ESS to Mr. Wightman
1850 Mar 8

Box 2: folder 23
To ESS from Amherst College students, Class of 1851, 1853, 1858. Reply to 1853.
1851, 1853, 1858

Box 2: folder 24
To ESS from James Green with appended reply
1838 Dec 17

Box 2: folder 25
To ESS from Samuel M. Worcester
1850 Aug 29

Box 2: folder 26
Sabra Snell (wife): incoming and outgoing correspondence; membership certificate in Hampshire Agricultural Society

Box 2: folder 27
Rebecca Snell (daughter) letter to grandparents
1836 Feb 26

Box 2: folder 28
Sabra Snell (daughter): letter from Jacob Abbott
1867 Sep 29

Box 2: folder 29
Sarah Snell (sister) to mother
1824 Oct 8

Box 2: folder 30
Strong Snell (brother) to parents and sisters

Box 2: folder 31
Thomas Snell: fragment on behalf of Mr. Whiting

Box 2: folder 32
To Louisa C. Strong from Charles L. Strong
1829 Sep 19

Box 2: folder 33
Series 3: Diaries, Journals and Biographical Notes

SERIES 3: DIARIES, JOURNALS, AND BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES, 1837-1932, includes two notebooks of Ebenezer Strong Snell, containing autobiographical notes, journal entries, and reports to the Trustees of Amherst College. Materials also include a diary and obituaries of Sabra Snell (ESS daughter) and an account of the last two years of Martha Snell's life (ESS daughter) by her betrothed.

Material is arranged by person and type.

Sub-series A: Ebenezer Strong Snell

Autobiographical notes, journal entries, letters and Reports to Trustees, and household and College accounts (in one notebook)
1860-76, 1830-58

Box 3: folder 1

Box 3: folder 2
Autobiography and Reports to Trustees (in one notebook)
c. 1870, 1840-56

Box 3: folder 3
Transcripts of autobiography and transcripts of Reports to Trustees

Box 3: folder 4
Sub-series B: Martha Snell

"An account of the last two years of Martha Snell's Life," by Henry S. Kelsey (Class of 1855) her betrothed

Box 3: folder 5
Texts given to Martha Snell for her night meditation
[1840s-50s ?]

Box 3: folder 6
Sub-series C: Sabra Snell (daughter) Diary

1856 Apr-1858 Oct

Box 3: folder 7

Box 3: folder 8
Sub-series D: Unidentified Author

To My Mother's Memory", "The Lyre

Box 3: folder 9
Series 4: Trips

SERIES 4: TRIPS, 1858 and 1866, includes journals kept by Ebenezer Strong Snell and his wife Sabra during their trip to Europe, Snell's passport and a contemporary map of London. Snell's European journal includes several letters to his daughters. The second volume of Snell's journal contains an account of a trip through the Midwest in 1866. Material is arranged by type. For other material related to the European trip see Series 2, 9 and 10.

E.S. Snell's journal of tour of Europe (2 vols.) and the Midwest USA
1858, 1866

Box 4: folder 1
Sabra Snell (wife) journal of tour of Europe
1858 May 31-Aug 3

Box 4: folder 2
Passport: E.S. Snell

Box 4: folder 3
Whitbread's New Plan of London

Box 4: folder 4
Series 5: Lecture Notes

SERIES 5: LECTURE NOTES includes the notes for Snell's lectures given at Amherst College as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy and elsewhere. Most are undated, but fall between the 1830's and 1860's. Snell seems to have presented the lectures several times. The notes are arranged alphabetically by subject.


Box 5: folder 1

Box 5: folder 2
Lightning and Lightning Rods
1862, 1868

Box 5: folder 3

Box 5: folder 4
Mechanics I

Box 5: folder 5
Mechanics II

Box 5: folder 6

Box 5: folder 7

Box 5: folder 8
Natural Philosophy synopsis
1843 Nov

Box 5: folder 9
Natural Philosophy

Box 5: folder 10
Optics I

Box 5: folder 11
Optics II

Box 5: folder 12
Planetary Disturbances: delivered at the Smithsonian Institution
1855 Dec 19

Box 5: folder 13
[post 1851]

Box 5: folder 14

Box 5: folder 15
1867, 1868

Box 5: folder 16
Series 6: Notebooks

SERIES 6: NOTEBOOKS, c. 1835-70, includes science and mathematics notes, catalogues of apparatus, and architectural drawings. Material is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Astronomy (Practical): Observations and Calculations

Box 6: folder 1

Box 6: folder 1
Differential and Integral Calculus

Box 6: folder 2
Natural Philosophy Algebra

Box 6: folder 3

Box 6: folder 4
Philosophical apparatus at Amherst College: catalogue

Box 6: folder 5
Series 7: Account Books

SERIES 7: ACCOUNT BOOKS, 1825-96, includes Snell's personal and household accounts, and some Amherst Academy and Amherst College related accounts. The household accounts were continued by his family after Snell's death in September 1876. The accounts are arranged in two groups and organized chronologically.

Household accounts; also Amherst Academy

Box 7: folder 1
Household accounts

Box 7: folder 2
Household accounts

Box 7: folder 3
Accounts with Amherst College and meteorological records and description of trip to museum in Boston (not by ESS)
1859-70, 1835-37, n.d.

Box 7: folder 4
Accounts with Amherst College and others

Box 7: folder 5
Series 8: Scrapbooks

SERIES 8: SCRAPBOOKS 1820's-70's, includes autograph books, poetry, obituaries and news articles. The material is arranged by compiler and type.

Autograph book given to ESS by the Class of 1858

Box 8: folder 1
Poetry, obituaries and miscellaneous news articles

Box 8: folder 2
Funeral poetry (handwritten)

Box 8: folder 3
Record of the Edgeworth Library

Box 8: folder 4
Autograph book of Mary L. Snell (ESS daughter)

Box 8: folder 5
Series 9: Printed Materials

SERIES 9: PRINTED MATERIAL, 1830-91, includes texts, articles, newsclippings, meteorological tables, programs and obituaries which were written by or about Ebenezer Snell, or collected by Snell or members of the family. Material is arranged by type and/or by author.

"Differential Calculus," by ESS

Box 9: folder 1
"Introduction to Astronomy," ESS revision

Box 9: folder 2
"Introduction to Natural Philosophy," ESS revision

Box 9: folder 3
"On Planetary Disturbances." Lecture delivered at the Smithsonian Institution by ESS
1855 Dec 19

Box 9: folder 4
"On the Vibrations of the Fall over the Dam at Holyoke, Mass.," by ESS
c. 1857 Aug 13

Box 9: folder 5
"Vibrations in the Waterfall at Holyoke, Mass.," by ESS
[c. 1859]

Box 9: folder 6
"Discussion of the Barometric Observaions of Prof. E.S. Snell of Amherst College," by F. H. Loud

Box 9: folder 7
"Coffin's Astronomical Tables"

Box 9: folder 8
"The Gyroscope, with Experiments and Explanations"

Box 9: folder 9
Meteorological tables and articles, obituaries, travel correspondence, articles written by ESS in the Express
1830's-50's, [c. 1840s-71, 1858]

Box 9: folder 10
Miscellaneous newsclippings and death announcements

Box 9: folder 11
Songs at the reception of Prof. Snell by the students of Amherst College

Box 9: folder 12
Commemorative program after the death of ESS

Box 9: folder 13
Pennell, Christopher: article and letter
1890, [1897?]

Box 9: folder 14
Series 10: Herbaria

SERIES 10: HERBARIA, 1830-58, contains pressed flowers and plant impressions made and collected by Ebenezer Snell and his wife Sabra. Material is arranged chronologically.

Impressions of vegetable leaves

Box 10: folder 1
Herbarium from European trip

Box 10: folder 2
Herbarium from European trip

Box 10: folder 3
Pages from herbarium from European trip

Box 10: folder 4
Sabra Snell Herbarium from European trip ("Herbarium by mother on her European trip)

Box 10: folder 5
Pressed flowers

Box 10: folder 6
Watercolors of flowers

Box 10: folder 7
Series 11: Snell House

SERIES 11: SNELL HOUSE, 1838-1940, includes a "Housebook" prepared by Sabra Snell (ESS daughter), notes on Snell House, and one inscribed piece of wood from the house. Note that the "Housebook" also contains photographs of family members and one group photograph in front of Snell House. The material is arranged by type.

"Housebook," by Sabra Snell (ESS daughter) for Elliot Snell Hall

Box 11: folder 1
Random notes taken from a "Housebook" by Sabra Snell

Box 11: folder 2
Snell House notes: by Prof. Sam Williams

Box 11: folder 3
Photographs of Snell House
[c. 1890's-1940's]

Box 11: folder 4
Sampler made by Rebecca Snell

Box 11: folder 5
Piece of wood used by ESS in workshop

Box 11: folder 6
Series 12: Family Photographs

SERIES 12: FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS, c. 1860's-1930's, includes pictures of Ebenezer Snell; Sabra, his wife; their daughters; his sisters; their grandchildren. The photographs are arranged by person.

Ebenezer Strong Snell

Box 12: folder 1-4
Ebenezer Strong Snell, Class album

Box 12: folder 5
Ebenezer Strong Snell, Class album

Box 12: folder 6
Ebenezer Strong Snell, Class album

Box 12: folder 7
Ebenezer Strong Snell, Class album

Box 12: folder 8
Engraving of Ebenezer Strong Snell

Box 12: folder 9
Sabra Clark Snell (wife)

Box 12: folder 10
Daughters of E.S. Snell
[1920's?], n.d.

Box 12: folder 11
Tirzah Snell Hall and family

Box 12: folder 12
Tirzah H. Hall (daughter of Tirzah Snell Hall and granddaughter of ESS)

Box 12: folder 13
Martha Snell Hall Cowles, (granddaughter of ESS)
[1880's?], 1903

Box 12: folder 14
Elliott Snell Hall (Class of 1896, grandson of ESS)
1887, [1890's?]

Box 12: folder 15
Thomas Snell (brother of ESS)

Box 12: folder 16
Tirzah Snell Emerson, Martha Snell Porter (sisters of ESS)

Box 12: folder 17
Unidentified man [Titus?]

Box 12: folder 18
Photo of ESS painting "from memory" of the living room of his old home (original in Map Case 1, Drawer 12)

Box 12: folder 19
Series 13: Cased Images

SERIES 13: CASED IMAGES, c. 1840's-1860's, includes images of Ebenezer Strong Snell; Sabra, his wife; their daughters and her parents. The images are arranged by person.

Rev. Dr. Thomas Snell (ESS father)
n.d., [c. 1852-62?]

Box 13: folder 1-2
Tirzah Strong Snell (Mrs. Thomas Snell, ESS mother)
[c. 1845- 55?]

Box 13: folder 3
Ebenezer Strong Snell

Box 13: folder 4
Ebenezer Strong Snell
[1840's?], [1850's], [post 1854], [1858?], [1860's]

Box 14: folder 1-5
Sabra Cobb Clark Snell (ESS wife)
[1840's?], [post 1854], [1860's?]

Box 15: folder 1-3
Martha Porter Snell (ESS daughter)
[1840's?], [ca. 1850]

Box 15: folder 4-5
Martha Porter Snell (ESS daughter)
[c. 1850?], [post 1854]

Box 16: folder 1-2
Mary Louisa Snell (ESS daughter)

Box 16: folder 3-4
Sabra Clark Snell (ESS daughter)
[c. 1850-55?]

Box 16: folder 5
Martha and Tirzah Snell (Hall)
[c. 1850?]

Box 17: folder 1-2
Tirzah Strong Snell (Hall), (ESS daughter)
[ca. 1840-45?], [ca. 1855]

Box 17: folder 3-5
Series 14: Drawings

SERIES 14: DRAWINGS, includes architectural and geometrical and scientific drawings, and drawings of scientific apparatus. Some of these seem to have been used to illustrate Snell's lectures. There is also one folder of astronomical calculations.

Finally, there is a painting done by Ebenezer Snell "from memory" in 1838 of the Snell family living room.

These materials are arranged by type.

Geometrical drawings

Box 18: folder 1
Architectural drawings

Box 18: folder 2
Architectural drawings

Box 18: folder 3
Astronomical calculations

Box 18: folder 4
Astronomical drawings

Box 18: folder 5
Drawing of apparatus

Box 18: folder 6
Wash: Half moon (incomplete) [by ESS?]

Box 18: folder 7
Wash: waterfall [by ESS?]

Box 18: folder 8
Mosques of Achmet and Alexandria

Box 19: folder 1

Box 19: folder 2
Cathedral interior

Box 19: folder 3
Cathedral window and ceiling

Box 19: folder 4
Cathedral facade

Box 19: folder 5
Moorish and Gothic arches

Box 19: folder 6
Floor plan of a temple

Box 19: folder 7
Persian mullah

Box 19: folder 8
Parts of a cathedral

Box 19: folder 9
Baalbec Aqueduct

Box 19: folder 10

Box 19: folder 11
Chinese Pagoda

Box 19: folder 12
Rochester Cathedral

Box 19: folder 13
Norwich Cathedral (interior)

Box 19: folder 14
Chinese Pagoda

Box 19: folder 15
Maison Ciaree

Box 19: folder 16
Colliseum: Column of Trajan

Box 19: folder 17
Temple of Apollinopolis

Box 19: folder 18
Parthenon: Caryatid Porch

Box 19: folder 19
Petersborough Cathedral

Box 19: folder 20
Egyptian Propyloeum: Apollinopolis-Luxor

Box 19: folder 21
Greek Columns

Box 19: folder 22
Ground plans: St. Paul's, St. Peter's

Box 19: folder 23
Temple of Juno: Fortuna virilis

Box 19: folder 24
Unidentified Pagan Temple

Box 19: folder 25
Arch of Constantine

Box 19: folder 26
Mosque of Payass

Box 19: folder 27
Greek Temples - Erectheum and Theseum

Box 19: folder 28
Map of Olympia

Box 19: folder 29

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.

  • Amherst (Mass.) -- History -- Sources
  • Amherst (Mass.) -- Social life and customs -- Sources
  • Amherst College
  • Amherst College -- Alumni and alumnae -- Sources
  • Amherst College -- Faculty -- Sources
  • Amherst College -- History -- Sources
  • Amherst College. Class of 1822. Snell.
  • College teachers -- Massachusetts -- Amherst -- Biography
  • College teachers -- Massachusetts -- Amherst -- Correspondence
  • Snell, E. S. (Ebenezer Strong), 1801-1876
  • Snell, Martha Porter, 1835-1860
  • Snell, Mary Louisa, 1831-1899
  • Snell, Rebecca Emerson, 1829-1841
  • Snell, Sabra C. (Sabra Clark), 1845-1932
  • Snell, Sabra Cobb Clark, 1807-1883
  • Snell, Thomas, 1774-1862
  • Snell, Tirzah Strong, 1839-1925
  • Strong, Tirzah, 1780-1855

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