The Amherst College Photographer Records Collection contains more than 400,000 images taken by official college photographers from 1960-2005. The collection contains primarily 35mm black and white negatives that document college events, people and places. Beginning with Alumni Day in 1960 and ending in 2005 with the transition to digital photography, the collection covers athletic events, distinguished visitors, celebrations and the physical changes to the campus over the years.

The collection was chosen for the Bicentennial Project because it presents a visual description of Amherst during the second half of the 20th century. The collection is organized by job number (usually including the date) with a very simple description; usually one or two words describing the name of an event or the person being photographed. Each job may have several negatives or many rolls of film totaling hundreds of photographs.

Image of several students in Fayerweather snack bar, some playing music
December 6 1978: La Causa occupies the Fayerweather snack bar to advocate for a cultural center.

Digitization of a collection this size is a massive and costly undertaking. With the other projects currently underway the scope has been limited to around 40,000 negatives to be scanned and processed over the next three years. To support this project the Digital Programs Group has purchased a high-resolution digital camera and a film scanning kit. This equipment will greatly increase output while obtaining the highest quality images for a variety of film formats.

With this project will come a new visual narrative of Amherst college. The images will connect alumni to their time on campus and provide researchers a visual record to the events and culture at Amherst during the second half of the 20th Century. This visual record will also provide links to other collections we will be digitizing in the coming years including Buildings and Grounds, Dramatic Activities Collection and the Amherst College Athletics Collection.

Digitization of this collection first started in 2015, with a pilot group of roughly 5,000 images split between two different vendors. Mariah Leavitt, Archives Specialist, selected the jobs for this pilot based on her knowledge of significant events, as well as a representative sampling of the types of events and formats of film which exist in the collection.

Digitization and description of this collection will continue throughout the Bicentennial Project.

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