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Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00027

Scope and Contents

The Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers document the professional activities and some of the personal life of Edward Hitchcock and Orra White Hitchcock and their family, spanning the years 1804-1910, with the bulk of the material falling into the period 1820-1864.

The breadth of Edward Hitchcock's career and professional activities are represented in the Papers and reflect his multiple roles and interests as a scientist, educator, minister, college president, and family man. Hitchcock's career in the natural sciences brought him into the national arena as a noted geologist. His Final Report on the Geology of Massachusetts is well documented in the Papers as is the breadth of his scientific and religious works. His circle of colleagues and associates was extensive and his interests varied. Because of Hitchcock's overlapping professional and personal commitments, a researcher should check all series in the Papers for relevant material.

Although Orra White Hitchcock is less thoroughly represented in the Papers, the material that has survived documents her artistic and scientific activities as well as her family responsibilities. It provides a picture of her diverse roles as artist, scientific illustrator of her husband's works, wife, mother, and member of the College and town community. The diaries she kept when she accompanied her husband on their European trips, along with her ad hoc sketches, reflect the acuity with which she observed the world around her.

Family-related material includes correspondence with Edward and Orra's children, and some material about Edward's parents and siblings.

Materials in the Papers include correspondence, drawings, legal documents, sermons, drafts of published and unpublished works, printed articles, autographs, artwork, and images.

Dates

  • 1804 - 1910
  • Majority of material found within 1820 - 1864

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

In general, there is no restriction on access to the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes. Materials from other institutions which are found in the Hitchcock Papers cannot be duplicated, as indicated.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Scientist, educator, and minister, Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) served Amherst College for almost forty years as a member of the faculty and as president. Hitchcock came to Amherst after serving as principal of Deerfield Academy and minister for the Congregational Church in Conway. Appointed Professor of Chemistry and Natural History in 1826, Hitchcock filled that position until 1845 when he was appointed President and Professor of Natural Theology and Geology. He served as President from 1845 until 1854. During that time, Hitchcock was responsible for Amherst's financial revitalization. Hitchcock retired from the presidency in 1854 and became Professor of Natural History and Geology, the position which he held until his death in 1864. In addition to saving the College from financial disaster, Hitchcock is credited with providing Amherst with its reputation for scientific teaching and developing its scientific resources in support of the curriculum.

Professionally, Hitchcock was a noted figure in the development of the natural sciences during the 19th century. He was appointed State Geologist of Massachusetts in 1830, Geologist of the first district of New York in 1836, and Geologist of Vermont in 1857. While Hitchcock's most significant work was in the discipline of ornithichnology (the study of fossil footmarks), he also studied botany, chemistry, mineralogy, and zoology, among other natural sciences. Hitchcock published numerous monographs, scientific studies, essays, and articles. He lectured widely and undertook significant scientific expeditions.

A deeply religious man, Hitchcock regularly gave religious lectures. He advocated temperance, and was a defender of evangelical christianity. In his professional writings and activities, Hitchcock sought to reconcile religion and science.

In 1821, Edward Hitchcock married Orra White (1796-1863). They had served together as instructors at Deerfield Academy. A scholar and artist in her own right, Orra accompanied Hitchcock on many of his scientific expeditions. She sketched in the field and illustrated many of his numerous works and lectures. After coming to Amherst Orra was active in both the College and greater town community. Together they had 8 children, two of whom were graduates of Amherst. Orra died in 1863. Both Edward and Orra White Hitchcock are buried in West Cemetery in Amherst.

Sources for chronologies:

Foose, Richard M., and John Lancaster, "Edward Hitchcock: News England Geologist, Minister, and Educator," in Northeastern Geology, vol. 3, January, 1981, pp. 13-17.

Worman, Eugene C. Jr., "The Watercolors and Prints of Orra White Hitchcock," in AB Bookman's Weekly, February 13, 1989, vol. 83, no. 7, pp. 646-668.

Extent

20 Linear feet (24 archives boxes, 4 half archives boxes, 6 flat boxes, 1 oversize archives boxes, 1 mapcase drawer)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers contain correspondence, drawings, legal documents, sermons, drafts of published and unpublished works, printed articles, autographs, artwork, and images relating to the professional activities and some of the personal life of Edward Hitchcock, Orra White Hitchcock, and their family. The material spans the years 1804-1910, with the bulk of the material falling into the period 1820-1864. Edward Hitchcock's work as a minister and nationally noted geologist is well documented in the papers. Orra White Hitchcock is less thoroughly represented. The collection contains the diaries she kept when she accompanied her husband on their European trips, along with her ad hoc sketches.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into fourteen series:

  1. Series 1: Edward Hitchcock - Personal Affairs [1811-1864]
  2. Series 2: Edward Hitchcock - Correspondence [1815-1863]
  3. Series 3: Edward Hitchcock - Sermons [1819-1861]
  4. Series 4: Edward Hitchcock - Amherst College Classroom Lecture Notes [1826-1855]
  5. Series 5: Edward Hitchcock - Published Writings - Major Works [1830-1863]
  6. Series 6: Edward Hitchcock - Published Writings - Other Works [1812-1863]
  7. Series 7: Edward Hitchcock - Unpublished Writings [1809-1864]
  8. Series 8: Edward Hitchcock - Images [1853-1863]
  9. Series 9: Orra White Hitchcock - Personal Affairs [1863, n.d.]
  10. Series 10: Orra White Hitchcock - Correspondence [1816-1860]
  11. Series 11: Orra White Hitchcock - Art [ca. 1812- ca. 1854]
  12. Series 12: Orra White Hitchcock - Unpublished Writings [1810-1854]
  13. Series 13: Orra White Hitchcock - Images [ca. 1860]
  14. Series 14: The Family of Edward Hitchcock [ca. 1805-1910]

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers were given to the College in the early twentieth century by their sons Edward Hitchcock, Jr. (AC 1849) and Charles H. Hitchcock (AC 1856). Additional materials were collected from members of the Hitchcock family and added by Margaret Hitchcock Emerson, their great-granddaughter, during the 1940s.

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:

Amherst College President's Office Records: Edward Hitchcock

Biographical Files

Buildings and Grounds Collection

Clubs and Societies Collection

Early History Collection

General Files: Early History

Edward Jr. (AC 1849) and Mary Judson Hitchcock Papers

Orra White Hitchcock Classroom Drawings

Chronology

[Note: only selected and major works by Hitchcock are listed.]

Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864)

1793 May 24
Born in Deerfield, Mass.
Parents: Justin Hitchcock and Mercy Hoyt Hitchcock
1816-1818
Principal, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.
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.
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.
1822
A son born; d. March 15, 1824
182?
Child born; d. at birth
1824
Mary Hitchcock born
1828
Edward ("Doc") Hitchcock (AC 1849) born
1825?
Catharine Hitchcock born
1833
Jane E. Hitchcock born
1836
Charles H. Hitchcock (AC 1856) born
1838
Emily Hitchcock born
1821-1825
Minister, Congregational Church, Conway, Mass.
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
[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)
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 ...."
1830
Appointed State Geologist of Massachusetts
1833
Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts. In four parts; 700 p. Amherst: Adams
1835
Report on the Geology [etc]... of Massachusetts. Second edition revised; 702 p. 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 sons 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

Orra White Hitchcock (1796-1863)

1796 Mar
Born in South Amherst, Mass.
Parents: Jarib White Ruth Sherman White
[1800?-1812?]
Educated at home by private tutor, then (ca. 1806-1811) at a boarding school in South Hadley, Mass., run by Abigail Wright and Sophia Goodrich; then at a "ladies' school" in Roxbury (Boston), Mass. [possibly Mrs. Haswell's Academy, which existed in Boston at least as early as 1812]
1813
Assistant Teacher, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.
1818
First publication of a colored drawing: "A View of the Falls on the Connecticut River at Gill, Mass.," in Portfolio Magazine (Philadelphia).
Preceptress, Amherst Academy, Amherst, Mass.
1821 May 31
Marriage to Edward Hitchcock, Amherst, Mass.
1822
A son born, d. March 15, 1824
182?
Child born, d. at birth
1824
Mary Hitchcock born
1825?
Catharine Hitchcock born
1828
Edward ("Doc") Hitchcock (AC 1849) born
1833
Jane E. Hitchcock born
1836
Charles H. Hitchcock (AC 1856) born
1838
Emily Hitchcock born
1821-1822
Sketches and watercolors of Amherst College; includes the oil painting by her of the first building of Amherst College, shortly after its completion in September 1821
1821-1825
Residence in Conway, Mass., where Edward Hitchcock serves as minister of the Congregational Church
1825 Oct-1826 Jan
Residence in New Haven, Conn., where Edward Hitchcock studies chemistry with Benjamin Silliman at Yale
1826 Jan
Moves to Amherst, Mass., where Edward Hitchcock joins the faculty of Amherst College; residence in house at corner of South Pleasant and Hitchcock Road. Throughout his years of teaching, Orra provides illustrations for his class lectures and continues to illustrate his books and lectures
1833
Plates of eight drawings published in the atlas to the Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts by Edward Hitchcock
1845
Edward Hitchcock assumes the presidency of Amherst College; family moves to the President's House on South Pleasant St., next to Morgan Hall
1850 May-Oct
Travels in Europe
1850-1851
Prepares two drawings and tints them by hand for the printed editions of Religious Lectures on Peculiar Phenomena in the Four Seasons by Edward Hitchcock; one of the drawings is "Autumnal Scenery, View in Amherst"
1855
Injury from a fall; end of artistic work, due to injuries and to deteriorating eyesight
1863 May 26
Dies in Amherst, Mass; burial in West Cemetery

Processing Information

Since different parts of the Papers were received at various times, there is no evidence of original order. In 1968, the bulk of the Papers was sorted and material in some sections was put in chronological order. In 1996 and 1997, the Papers were reviewed and arranged and described according to current archival standards. The result is more detailed access to information in all parts of the Papers. Where necessary, documentation about previous handling was maintained.

Processed:
1996 July - 1997 May
By:
Daria D'Arienzo, Archivist of the College
John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections
Elaine Trehub, Archives Consultant
Peter Weis, Project Assistant
Finding Aid:
August 1997
Prepared by:
Daria D'Arienzo, Archivist of the College
John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections
Donna Skibel, Archives Associate
Elaine Trehub, Archives Consultant
Peter Weis, Project Assistant
Edited by:
John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections
Listed by:
Donna Skibel, Archives Associate
Peter Weis, Project Assistant
Carol Trabulsi, Senior Archives Associate
Janet Poirrier, Archives Assistant
Floyd Merritt, Archivist, Friends of the Amherst College Library
John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections
Format:
Donna Skibel, Archives Associate
John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Daria D'Arienzo, John Lancaster, Elaine Trehub, Peter Weis.
Date
2002
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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