Skip to main content

Amherst College Student Council Records

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00201

Scope and Contents

Minutes, financial records, correspondence, reports, and various printed matter documenting the activities of student government at Amherst College, 1917-1975 (with gaps), including budget allocations to student clubs and organizations, election of officers, and administration of the honor system.

Dates

  • 1917-1975

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Access to Series 4, Sub-series B is restricted. Permission to examine the restricted materials should be requested from the Head of Archives and Special Collections. Excepting this, there is no restriction on access to the collection for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Student government at Amherst College was first instituted under President Julius H. Seelye in the fall of 1880. Seelye wished to put into practice theories he had long held that undergraduates should be presumed mature enough to be responsible for their own behavior and that of their classmates. The "Amherst System," as it was called, placed a large measure of control in the hands of the College Senate, consisting of ten elected representatives from each class. Its primary responsibility was for settling matters of "college order and decorum." This included considering cases of objectionable behavior such as hazing and academic dishonesty. A case in the early 1880s involving a student who had been expelled from Amherst for hazing resulted in a student protest which was eventually referred to the Senate, which voted to reinstate the student. According to Cornelius Patton (AC 1883), this was believed to be "the first case of student self-government in any American college." However, the Amherst System -- always more impressive in theory than in practice -- was suspended in the 1890s; throughout the 20th century student government seems to have gone through waves of enthusiasm and derision.

Other functions of the Student Council included overseeing student organizations and sponsoring events.

[Source: Fuess, Amherst: The Story of a New England College (Boston: Little, Brown, 1935), 220-222.]

Extent

2.5 Linear feet (2 records storage boxes, 1 archives box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Minutes, financial records, correspondence, reports, and various printed matter documenting the activities of student government at Amherst College, 1917-1975 (with gaps), including budget allocations to student clubs and organizations, election of officers, and administration of the honor system.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into six series:
  1. Series 1: Financial Records, 1918-1942
  2. Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1919-1939
  3. Series 3: Student Organizations and Activities, 1917-1974 (bulk 1917-1932)
  4. Series 4: Honor System Committee, 1917-1928
  5. Series 5: Minutes, 1927-1969
  6. Series 6: Other Student Governing Bodies, 1916-1975

Related Materials

  1. Association of Amherst Students. Records, 1987-2008
  2. Clubs and Societies Collection
  3. General Files

Processing Information

Processed in June 2010 by Peter A. Nelson and Colleen O'Connor 2011.
Status
Completed
Author
Peter A. Nelson, Archivist
Date
2010
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299