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President's Office Records. Edward Hitchcock, 1827-1862 (Bulk: 1841-1854)
0.5 Linear feet (11 folders)
Collection number: RG 003.003

Abstract:
This collection, a part of the President's Office Records, contains the manuscripts, correspondence, and printed addresses of Edward Hitchcock while he served as Amherst College's third president.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

In general, there is no restriction on access to the President's Office Records. Edward Hitchcock papers for research use.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection 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 / Historical

Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) was named the third president of Amherst College on April 14, 1845 and served until his resignation in 1854. He was the professor of chemistry and natural history at Amherst College from 1825 to 1845. His knowledge of geology gained recognition from scholars across the globe. At the time of his appointment to the presidency, the college was in enormous debt. Incoming student numbers were not increasing, and some current students planned on leaving. Hitchcock convinced many to stay and graduate. Hitchcock was determined to accept the presidency with the plan of preventing any further increase of the debt. What followed was an era of growth for Amherst College. Hitchcock and his administration raised enough funding that "extinguished the debt, added an astronomical observatory, a library, and two cabinets of natural history to the public buildings, secured the permanent endowment of four professorships together with valuable books and immense scientific collections, and doubled the number of undergraduates"(A History of Amherst College, 110). July 11, 1854, Hitchcock resigned, after deciding his poor health inhibited his ability to handle the responsibilities as head of the college. After his resignation from the presidency, he returned as a professor of natural theology and geology for another ten years until his death in 1864.

Sources: Tyler, W.S. History of Amherst College during its First Half Century. 1821-1871. Springfield, Mass.: Clark W. Bryan and Company, 1873. Print.

Scope and Contents

This collection, a part of the President's Office Records collection, contains the manuscripts, correspondence, and printed addresses of Edward Hitchcock while he served as Amherst College's third president. The material spans the years 1829-1863, with the bulk of the material falling into the period of his presidency from 1845-1854. The collection occupies 0.5 linear feet of shelf space.

Edward Hitchcock's presidency marked an era of growth in Amherst College history, shown through detailed financial documents and correspondence. The financial records document the establishment of the observatory and cabinets, as well as the acquisition of various specimen for the natural science collection are well represented through correspondence, notes, and manuscripts. The collection also contains correspondence between Hitchcock and presidents of other well-known universities during this time, discussing chapel attendance and secret societies. Disciplinary records are also represented in the collection with letters of apology from students, disciplinary resolutions, and manuscripts and correspondence discussing absences, student behavior, and faculty intervention. The collection also contains general correspondence, notes, and reports detailing the roles Edward Hitchcock played before, during, and after his presidency.

Materials included in this collection include manuscripts, correspondence, a sketch, bound manuscripts and printed addresses, and receipts. Much of the outgoing correspondence is unaddressed.

The collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence, 1827-1860
  2. Series 2: Financial Management, 1827-1862
  3. Series 3: Manuscripts, 1829-1857
  4. Series 4: Printed Addresses, 1845 & 1854

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

In general, there is no restriction on access to the President's Office Records. Edward Hitchcock papers for research use.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection 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 President's Office Records. Edward Hitchcock [Box#, folder#], Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library

History of the Collection

General

The following is a Chronology of the life of Edward Hitchcock:

Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864)
1793 May 24
Born in Deerfield, Mass. Parents: Justin Hitchcock and Mercy Hoyt Hitchcock
1815
Publishes his determination of the longitude of Deerfield, Mass (based on observations of the solar eclipse of 1811) in Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. III, p.307-9
1816-1818
Principal, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass
1819-1820
Studies theology at Yale College
1821 May 31
Marriage to Orra White, Amherst, Mass. They have eight children, six of whom survive childhood.
1821-1825
Minister, Congregational Church, Conway, Mass.
1822
A son born; d. March 15, 1824
1822 Dec 11
Paper read before the American Geological Society: "Mineralogy and Scenery of the Regions Contiguous to the River Connecticut, with a Geological Map..."
[1823-1842]
Studies in surface geology, especially the origins of deltas, terraces, polished rock surfaces et al. by action of moving waters (later, glacial dispersion)
182?
Child born; d. at birth
1824
Mary Hitchcock born
1825?
Catharine Hitchcock born
1825 Oct- 1826 Jan
Residence in New Haven, Conn.; studies chemistry 1826 Jan with Benjamin Silliman of Yale
1826
Appointed to the faculty of Amherst College as professor of chemistry and natural history
1828
Edward ("Doc") Hitchcock(AC 1849) born
1833
Jane E. Hitchcock born
1836
Charles H. Hitchcock (AC 1856) born
1838
Emily Hitchcock born
1830
Appointed State Geologist of Massachusetts
1833
Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany, and Zoology of Massachusetts. In four parts; 700p. Amherst: Adams.
1835
Report on the Geology [etc]... of Massachusetts. Second edition revised; 702p. Amherst: Adams
1836
Appointed geologist of the first district of the survey of New York
1840
First president of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists (later, American Association for the Advancement of Science)
Elementary Geology, 329 p. Amherst: Adams. Reprinted many times, with major revisions in 1841, 1847, 1854, and 1860.
1841
First Anniversary Address before the Association of American Geologists. American Journal of Science, with proceedings of the meeting, vol. XLI
Final Report of the Geology of Massachusetts. In four parts; 831 p. Amherst: Adams
[1842-1848]
Studies of fossil footprints in Massachusetts and Connecticut (i.e. the valley of the Connecticut River)
1845-1854
President of Amherst College
1850 May-Oct
Travels in Europe
1856
Appointed State Geologist of Vermont
1857
Illustrations of Surface Geology. Washington: Smithsonian Institution
1861
Report on the Geology of Vermont (with his son and Albert Hager) 2 vols.; 988 p. Claremont, New Hampshire
1863
Reminiscences of Amherst College. Northampton: Bridgman & Childs
1864 Feb 27
Dies in Amherst, Mass., less than one year after the death on may 26, 1863 of his wife, Orra; burial in West Cemetery

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
Related Materials

Because of the Hitchcock family's longtime connections with the College, the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections has information about Edward and Orra White Hitchcock and their family beyond what is found in these papers.

See the following collections for additional material:

  1. Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers, 1805-1910, 1811-1864
  2. Biographical Files
  3. Buildings and Grounds Collection
  4. Clubs and Societies Collection
  5. Early History Collection
  6. General Files: Early History
  7. Edward Jr.(AC 1849) and Mary Judson Hitchcock Papers
  8. Orra White Hitchcock Classroom Drawings

Contents List
Series 1: Correspondence
: Copy of the list of items can be found in the control file.
1827-1860
3 folders

Series 1: Correspondence contains correspondence to and from Edward Hitchcock from 1827-1860. The series contains three folders: General Correspondence, Secret Societies, and Chapel Attendance.

General Correspondence (folder 11) holds correspondence in a range of topics, including a letter asking about libary privileges for Hitchcock's son, correspondnece responding to the Board of Trustees' letter asking Hitchcock to take over the presidency, and a letter concerning the fixing of a barometer.

The next folder in this series, Secret Societies (folder 12), contains a series of reponses from various college presidents discussing the rise of secret societies at their respective institutions. These secret Societies sprung from the popular literary societies. Students would split from these formal societies to create their own, secret ones. These societies could be seen as the precursors to Greek letter fraternities.

The third, and final folder in this series is Chapel Attendance (folder 13). Amherst College was founded as a non-secretarian institution "for the classical education of indigen young men of piety and talents for the Christian ministry"(A History of Amherst College, Taylor). Thus, participation in religious activities was encouraged, if not required. This folder holds correspondence between Hitchcock and the presidents of major colleges at that time, discussing student and faculty attendance to chapel.

General Correspondence
1827,1841, 1845, 1850, 1853, 1857-1858, 1860, undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 11
Secret Societies
1846

Box RG 003-1: folder 12

From other college presidents - Yale, Williams, Harvard, Brown.

Chapel Attendance
1851

Box RG 003-1: folder 13

From other college presidents - Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth.

Series 2: Financial Management
1827-1862
3 folders

After a severe dip in student enrollment at the end of Heman Humphrey's presidency (1823-1845), the college found itself in severe debt. Edward Hitchcock took on the presidency with the intention and goal of bringing the college back out of that debt. Through subscriptions, donations, and pecuniary aid, this was accomplished. This brought on a period of growth for Amherst College. Series II: Financial Management, contains three folders: Financial Reports and Receipts, Financial Correspondence, and Notes and Correspondence Concerning New Buildings and Specimens.

Financial Reports and Receipts (folder 14) contains receipts of payment, a financial ledger, and many other notes concerning the aid needed to get the college out of debt. Edward Hitchcock was meticulous in his financial notes, and an interesting item is a list of the debts the college owed. Another important document contained within this folder is the "Conditions on which the present professors in Amherst College consent to give salary to institution". This document highlights how serious the college's debt was, and how determined the faculty and staff were to fix the school's financial issues.

Financial Correspondence (folder 15) contains petitions to the legislature, correspondance with donors, and other correspondence related to the school's finances.

The last folder contained within this series is Notes and Correspondence Concerning New Buildings and Specimens (folder 16). Once the college raised enough money to pay off its debts, Amherst College was able to expand and enrich its campus. Hitchcock, a champion for the Natural Sciences, played a vital role in the building of both an observatory and a specimen cabinet. The items contained in this folder include correspondence with donors, records of new specimen, and notes about these new buildings.

Financial Reports and Receipts
1827, 1844-1845, 1849, 1863, undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 14
Financial Correspondence
1845-1848, 1857, undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 15
Notes and Correspondence Concerning New Buildings and Specimens
1846-1847, 1852-1853, 1855, 1862, undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 16
Series 3: Manuscripts
1829-1857
4 folders

Separated material:

Removed Stearns' Notebook from Hitchcock collection and transfered to: President's Office Records. William Augustus Stearns.

Scope and content:

Series 3: Manuscripts contains material ranging from 1829-1857. The series is broken into four folders: Sketches of Foreign Missionaries, Resolutions and Disciplinary Correspondence, Notes and Reports, and Material Relating to Hitchcock's Resignation.

Sketches of Foreign Missionaries (Folder 17) includes a small collection of notes Hitchcock wrote about certain foreign missionaries who graduated from Amherst College. Many graduates of Amherst College became missionaries, as the foundation of the school was built upon an education of young people for the Christian ministry. Hitchcock was especially interested in these graduates as he had suggested establishing a collection of specimen from the countries these men were ministering to.

The second folder in this series is Resolutions and Disciplinary Correspondence (folder 18). Contained within this folder are letters of apology to the faculty of Amherst College from students who had disobeyed the rules of the institution, resolutions from classes to address hazing and disobedience, and correspondence discussing the rules and discipline in general.

Notes and Reports (folder 19), contains a mix of reports of college happenings, faculty concerns, and notes written by Hitchcock on a variety of topics. An interesting item in this folder is a small colored sketch of the "Sections of the Earth's Crust", with a pencil sketch of College Row on the back.

The final folder in this series, Material Relating to Hitchock's Resignation (folder 10), contains material from 1847 and 1854, two years where Hitchcock discussed resigning from the presidency. In 1847, Hitchcock had discussed with the Board of Trustees the possibility of his resignation, but the Board pleaded with him to stay, and so he did until 1854. The folder contains letters written to Hitchcock from members of the Board of Trustees responding to his first petition to retire. The other documents cover Hitchcock's eventual resignation in 1854.

Search Terms
College discipline

College students in missionary work

Sketches of Foreign Missionaries who Graduated Amherst College
undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 17
Resolutions and Disciplinary Notes and Correspondence
1838, 1845-1846, 1848-1849, 1857, undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 18
Notes and Reports
1929, 1842, 1852, undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 19
General

Small colored sketch of "Sections of the Earth's Crust" with a pencil sketch of College Row on the back, possibly by Orra White Hitchcock. Several items are labeled as gifts of Ashley Cole (Non-alum) dated 1949 December 7.

Material relating to Hitchcock's resignation
1847, 1854, undated

Box RG 003-1: folder 20
Series 4: Printed Addresses
ca.1845 & [1854]
2 folders

The final series of this collection, Series 4: Printed Addresses, contains one folder containing two printed addresses given by Hitchcock. The addresses were given at his inauguration and at his resignation.

Addresses (1845 & 1854)
1845 & 1854
1 folder
Box RG 003-1: folder 11

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
  • Amherst (Mass.)
  • Amherst College -- Faculty -- Sources
  • Amherst College -- History -- Sources
  • Amherst College -- Presidents
  • College discipline
  • College facilities
  • College presidents
  • College presidents -- Massachusetts
  • College presidents -- Massachusetts -- Correspondence
  • Geologists -- Massachusetts -- Amherst

Contributors
  • Hitchcock, Edward, 1793-1864


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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