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Snell Family Papers

Identifier: MA.00032

Scope and Contents

The Snell Family Papers contain the papers and photographs of Ebenezer Strong Snell (Class of 1822) and his immediate family, including his wife, daughters, parents and sisters.

The Snell Family Papers are a valuable source for Snell family history and many aspects of Amherst College history. The bulk of this collection focuses upon Professor Ebenezer Snell's family and personal life, yet it also concerns Snell's career at Amherst as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. The Snell Family Papers cover the period from 1793 to about 1940. The bulk of the material spans the years 1835-1870. The history of Amherst College and also the teaching of science, including astronomy, meteorology and physics, are documented in the notebooks, College-related correspondence, architectural and mathematical drawings, College account records and scientific materials of Professor Snell. The family-related materials provide insight into family life in Amherst in the mid-to-late 1800's and include family correspondence, diaries and journals, household account books and photographs.

The Snell Family Papers provide sources for research into both the professional and academic and the personal lives of the Snells.


  • Creation: 1793-1940
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1835-1870


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Papers 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

Ebenezer S. Snell was born in North Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 7, 1801, the son of Dr. Thomas Snell and Tirzah Strong. Snell graduated with the first graduating class at Amherst College in 1822. His life is closely associated with the development of Amherst College. In 1827 he was appointed Instructor of Mathematics. In 1829 he became Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. From 1834 to 1876, he served as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy.

On September 8, 1828, he married Sabra Cobb Clark of Conway, Massachusetts. They had five daughters. He died in Amherst on September 18, 1876, at the age of 74.

Basic biographical data for Professor Snell is found in the Amherst College Biographical Record (1973 edition):

SNELL, Ebenezer Strong. s Rev Dr Thomas and Tirzah (Strong) b No Brookfield Oct 7 1801. MA Amh 1825; LLD Amh 1860; Western Reserve 1865. prep with father and at Amherst Acad for sophomore class; Williams 1819-21. Asst later prin Amherst Acad 1822-25; tutor Amh 1825-27; instructor in mathematics 1827-29; asst prof math and nat philos 1829-34 prof same 1834-76. Ed with revisions Olmsted's School Philosophy; Sch Astronomy; College Natural Philosophy (twice); College Astronomy (twice). d Amherst Sep 18 1876. See Tyler History of Amherst College pp 570-575. m Sep 8 1828 Sabra C dr Scotte Clark, Conway. ch Rebecca; Mary L; Martha P; Tirzah S; Sabra C (Portrait in possession of Amh).

Snell's biographical file in the Archives contains additional biographical data.

Birth and death dates for other important family members include:

  1. Thomas Snell - November. 21, 1774 - May 4, 1862 - father of ESS
  2. Tirzah Strong - April 22, 1780 - June 8, 1855 - mother of ESS
  3. Sabra Cobb Clark Snell - 1807-1883 - wife of ESS
  4. Rebecca Emerson Snell - July 2, 1829 - December 5, 1841 - daughter of ESS
  5. Mary Louisa Snell - August 8,1831 - 1899 - daughter of ESS
  6. Martha Porter Snell - October 30, 1835 - 1860 - daughter of ESS
  7. Tirzah Strong Snell (Hall) - November 10, 1839 - 1925 - daughter of ESS
  8. Sabra Clark Snell - January 31, 1845 - March 8, 1932 - daughter of ESS

For a more detailed biography of Professor Snell, see Tyler's History of Amherst College During Its First Half Century, 1821-1871.


15 Linear feet (19 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Snell Family Papers contain the papers and photographs of Ebenezer Strong Snell (Class of 1822) and his immediate family, including his wife, daughters, parents and sisters.


This collection is organized into fourteen series:

  1. Series 1: Reverend Thomas Snell Papers
  2. Series 2: Correspondence
  3. Series 3: Diaries, Journals and Biographical Notes
  4. Series 4. Trips
  5. Series 5: Lecture Notes
  6. Series 6: Notebooks
  7. Series 7: Account Books
  8. Series 8: Scrapbooks
  9. Series 9: Printed Material
  10. Series 10: Herbaria
  11. Series 11: Snell House
  12. Series 12: Family Photographs
  13. Series 13: Cased Images
  14. Series 14: Drawings

Custodial History

The history of the Snell Family Papers is not clear. Some of the materials were given by Mrs. E. Snell Hall between 1972 and 1976. Other materials have come to the archives in various ways over the years.

Existence and Location of Copies

Images from this collection are also available online as part of the Five College Archives Digital Access Project.

Related Materials

For more information about Snell House, see the Amherst College Buildings and Grounds Collection.

For climatological data recorded by Ebenezer Strong Snell from 1835-1876, and by his daughter, Sabra Clark Snell from 1876-1902, see the Amherst College Weather Station Records.

The Snell Desk in the Archives contains Ebenezer Strong Snell memorabilia including drawing and scientific instruments.

Physical Description

15 linear feet

Daria D'Arienzo, Deborah Pelletier, Melanie Posey.
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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