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President's Office Records. Edward Hitchcock

 Record Group — Box: RG 003-1
Identifier: RG 003-003

Scope and Contents

This collection, a part of the President’s Office Records, contains the manuscripts, correspondence, and printed addresses of Edward Hitchcock while he served as Amherst College’s third president. The material spans the years 1829-1863, with the bulk of the material falling into the period of his presidency from 1845-1854. The collection occupies 0.5 linear feet of shelf space.

Edward Hitchcock’s presidency marked an era of growth in Amherst College history, shown through detailed financial documents and correspondence. The financial records document the establishment of the observatory and cabinets, as well as the acquisition of various specimen for the natural science collection are well represented through correspondence, notes, and manuscripts. The collection also contains correspondence between Hitchcock and presidents of other well-known universities during this time, discussing chapel attendance and secret societies. Disciplinary records are also represented in the collection with letters of apology from students, disciplinary resolutions, and manuscripts and correspondence discussing absences, student behavior, and faculty intervention. The collection also contains general correspondence, notes, and reports detailing the roles Edward Hitchcock played before, during, and after his presidency.

Materials included in this collection include manuscripts, correspondence, a sketch, bound manuscripts and printed addresses, and receipts. Much of the outgoing correspondence is unaddressed.


  • 1827-1862
  • Majority of material found within 1841-1854


Conditions Governing Access

In general, there is no restriction on access to the President's Office Records. Edward Hitchcock papers for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) was named the third president of Amherst College on April 14, 1845 and served until his resignation in 1854. He was the professor of chemistry and natural history at Amherst College from 1825 to 1845. His knowledge of geology gained recognition from scholars across the globe. At the time of his appointment to the presidency, the college was in enormous debt. Incoming student numbers were not increasing, and some current students planned on leaving. Hitchcock convinced many to stay and graduate. Hitchcock was determined to accept the presidency with the plan of preventing any further increase of the debt. What followed was an era of growth for Amherst College. Hitchcock and his administration raised enough funding that “extinguished the debt, added an astronomical observatory, a library, and two cabinets of natural history to the public buildings, secured the permanent endowment of four professorships together with valuable books and immense scientific collections, and doubled the number of undergraduates”(A History of Amherst College, 110). July 11, 1854, Hitchcock resigned, after deciding his poor health inhibited his ability to handle the responsibilities as head of the college. After his resignation from the presidency, he returned as a professor of natural theology and geology for another ten years until his death in 1864.

Sources: Tyler, W.S. History of Amherst College during its First Half Century. 1821-1871. Springfield, Mass.: Clark W. Bryan and Company, 1873. Print.


0.5 Linear feet

11 folder

Language of Materials



This collection, a part of the President’s Office Records, contains the manuscripts, correspondence, and printed addresses of Edward Hitchcock while he served as Amherst College’s third president.


The collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence, 1827-1860
  2. Series 2: Financial Management, 1827-1862
  3. Series 3: Manuscripts, 1829-1857
  4. Series 4: Printed Addresses, 1845, 1854

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:

  1. Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers, 1805-1910, 1811-1864
  2. Biographical Files
  3. Buildings and Grounds Collection
  4. Clubs and Societies Collection
  5. Early History Collection
  6. General Files: Early History
  7. Edward Jr.(AC 1849) and Mary Judson Hitchcock Papers
  8. Orra White Hitchcock Classroom Drawings
Katherine Caughlin
December 2018
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

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