The Amherst College Athletics Collection documents the history of intercollegiate and intramural athletics at Amherst College from 1859 to the present. It consists primarily of photographs and printed material such as programs, press information, and newsclippings. It also contains some correspondence, records, and memorabilia items.

Early on in its history, Amherst College recognized the benefits of physical exercise as a complement to education of the mind. The Amherst College Department of Physical Education and Hygiene was established in 1861 and was the first department of its kind in the country. The importance placed on physical education and exercise at the College led to athletic competitions with other nearby institutions, a practice that was uncommon in the United States prior to the 1860s and 1870s. The first intercollegiate baseball game was between Williams and Amherst on July 1, 1859. Amherst College was recognized for its athletic programs throughout the 20th century, and is still recognized for them today. Athletics has been an important part of Amherst College from early in its history to the present day, and thus we (the Bicentennial Working Group) thought that the subject matter and time-span of this collection would be highly relevant to the Bicentennial Project.

We had to narrow down what we would digitize to only a selection of the collection rather than the collection in full, however. This was due to the size of this collection, the reprocessing time that would be required prior to digitization, and the time-limited nature of our project. The portion of the collection that will be digitized, described, and made available in ACDC will be a series of photographs: Series 8 in this collection. Photographs are the content in the collection most frequently requested by our patrons. We also anticipate that access to photographs from this collection via ACDC would be the most appealing content to current students and alumni.

photograph of the 1902 Amherst College baseball team
The 1902 Amherst College baseball team. In Amherst College Archives & Special Collections, Athletics Collection, Box OS 1, Folder 8.
Photographs like this will be available in ACDC by the end of our Bicentennial Project!

Materials in the collection made available in ACDC will be useful for a variety of research interests such as: athletic events at Amherst College, the history of collegiate sports in general or of specific sports, early intercollegiate sport competition in the United States, the history of diversity (and/or lack thereof) at the College through the lens of sports, and Amherst College student athletes. A variety of researchers and patrons are likely to be interested in this collection on ACDC such as: friends and families looking for pictures of their loved ones who were student athletes at Amherst College, athletic coaches interested in the history of sports at the College, alumni who participated in athletics or attended athletic events, and students working on theses related to the history of athletics at the College and nationally.

This collection is scheduled for digitization and description in Year Three (2020) of our Bicentennial project.

For more information
  • Check out the full collection’s online finding aid. Much of the information in this post can be attributed to the related finding aid.
  • You can also view our technical documentation for this project.
Related Bicentennial collections

Other related collections that are not part of the Bicentennial Project are included in the finding aid for this collection.