Retelling Amherst Stories in the Digital Age

When the pandemic prevented students from entering the digitization photography studio, the Digital Programs department decided to pivot to Instagram. Campbell Hannan ‘21 and Emma Candland ’23 took over what was then “@amherstdigcoll” and transformed the small, relatively new inconsistent account into @frostfinds, a vibrant account that posts daily and frequently engages with the Amherst community and beyond. Campbell and Emma work to connect both students and alumni with the Amherst College Digital Collections, driving new interest in the college’s history in its bicentennial year. ACDC has a wealth of diverse, interesting student publications, photographs, illustrations, and more, and it has been wonderful bringing the whole collection to a new audience!

Step One: Peruse for interesting features. Mondays feature student publications, Tuesdays and Thursdays feature negatives from the College Photographer, Wednesdays feature collaborative items with the Beneski Museum, and Fridays are the curator’s choice!

Step Two: Load images into excel sheets organized by day. Write caption copy and provide links to items in the spreadsheet.

Step Three: Load completed posts into Hootsuite. Occasionally draft said posts in Instagram itself when Hootsuite can’t handle multiple images.

Step Four: Post or make sure the scheduled post was completed, and monitor likes and comments.

Step Five: Analyze week’s post engagements, including reach, shares, likes, and more. Engage with comments, DMs, and occasionally the creator of Peabody Award-winning television shows!


screen capture of @frostfinds instagram page
@FrostFinds on Instagram


Malik el-Shabazz Memorial Weekend   

On February 22, 1975, Amherst was host to the Malik el-Shabazz Memorial Weekend.

This event was hosted by Amherst’s Straight Ahead Committee to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Malik el-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X. The Straight Ahead Committee was most active during the mid-1970s, hosting other events like the Black Business Symposium and published a newsletter named “The Polemic.”

Themed around “Revolution and Social Change in America: 60s to 70s,” the keynote speaker of the Malik el-Shabazz Memorial Weekend was Civil Rights pioneer Julian Bond. Bond helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center. He also held a number of public offices, serving in the Georgia House and Senate from 1965 to 1986, leading an opposition delegation to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and running for the House of Representatives in 1986, eventually losing to the late Representative John Lewis.

These photos were taken by College Photographer Bob Kingman.

black and white photographs on yellow wall
Image of exhibit in Frost Library

Rock the Dining Hall 12/9/1983

December 9, 1983 saw Amherst students busting a move in Valentine Hall! Rock the Dining Hall was a dance contest that featured a live band to motivate dancers. This photo set, showing friends socializing and dancing in Val feels bittersweet in 2021, when we can only enter Val to pick up meals and certainly can’t gather in these numbers.

One of the coolest finds of this photo set is recovered photos of one of Amherst’s most famous alums, Jeffrey Wright! An Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe award-winning actor, he’s best known for his roles in Angels in America, Westworld, and the Hunger Games series. See if you can spot him!

These photographs were taken by the College Photographer Gabriel Cooney.

black and white photographs on yellow wall
Image of exhibit in Frost Library


Gulf War Protest 2/21/1991

Students staged a walkout against the Gulf War on February 21, 1991 as a part of the International Day of Student Action Against the War in the Middle East. The protest included the walkout; a march into the Town Common; a candlelit vigil for George D. Levey; myriad protest signs with anti-war, anti-violence, anti-racism, and anti-George W.  Bush messages; and defiance of the town police.

Student activism is no stranger to Amherst’s campus in 2021. Although an organized walkout like this is less likely during the pandemic, students are always actively standing up for what they believe in and making their voices heard. Through a perusal of the archive, it is clear to see Amherst students have a long tradition of protest and demonstration.

These photos were taken by College Photographer Beth Grace.

black and white photographs on yellow wall
Image of exhibit in Frost Library