Currently browsing posts filed under "Williams History"

Follow this category via RSS

← Previous PageNext Page →

CGCL VII: Carter: Reading Questions (1)

Carter Induction Speech:  Reading Questions
Intro:  Nature of the College,  through ‘Hebrew Theodicy’ and back (pp. 1-15) [link to pdf]

* Note the use of the word ‘faculties’ around p (5)(ff) and in surrounding passages.  What are the meanings of this word in the text?   What do these meanings reveal,  about what a ‘Faculty’ is and what it does?

* On page (6),   Carter begins a discussion of individual liberty,   which will place the notion of liberty and freedom in society,   parallel to the liberties to be given students in choosing their studies,   and the nature of the College curriculum itself.   What is that argument like?   Does it make sense?
Carter also states:  ‘such a liberty may fall in with the spirit of the age which exhalts the individual and loosens the bonds of social organization’ (6).  What is the argument of this sentence?  What sort of world and issues,   is it commenting on– or trying to change?

*  Later Carter states:  ‘we should need… thirty years of experience… [and] of careful observation of the subsequent careers of the graduates’ to be able to adjust the curriculum and courses of instruction to current students’ particular needs (6).  Is this an argument for,  or against,  such adjustments?

* By the top of page (8),  Carter has gone though an encomium of sorts to the study of Latin and Greek thought,  which culminates in the claim that the principles of these peoples ‘which we see embodied in art’ ‘has “controlled civilized thought for three millennia.’  What are we,  today,  to make of this claim?
(Ditto for the rest of his paragraph.)

* By the end of this page (8),  in a rather odd formulation,   Carter “pauses,”  then calls for… what is it,  that Carter calls for?
++What is the function,  or purpose,   of this odd discursive gesture?    Is the “Hebrew theocracy” which Carter speaks of in the transitional paragraph,  the same think he was referring to in the previous paragraph,  or has a little shuffling of the card or ‘slippage’ occurred?

More Questions if you click: Read more


@CGCL VII members: Read the Carter Speech. Really.

Hello. Greetings class! Welcome to my section of CGCL VII, where we will be reading and discussing Franklin Carter’s induction speech. Or so is my hope.

Let me start out by saying I’m going to do things a little differently here, than in the other instructors’ sections. I have only two primary goals here– for us to read and understand the text on its terms, as much as we can, and for us to engage in discussion of the text to that end.

Thus primary purpose of this note– go read the text assigned for tomorrow. Before anything, read the text!

You can find it by clicking on the link HERE.

My following remarks are largely procedural,   but you will want to read the underlined parts at least.

Read more


CGCL VII: Chadbourne

Greetings and salutations from my sojourn to my New England homeland. I am likely not going to be able to give the 27 July, 1872 inaugural address of President Paul Ansel Chadbourne (class of 1848) the sort of deep response that it deserves or that others will give in their turn leading this winter’s seminar, but hopefully I can raise some larger issues about the changing nature of academia on the one hand and the constants of these sorts of speeches.

The other day I was up at Dartmouth conducting research for a small project about the college’s football team in the 1920s. And one of the clear themes I noticed was that few of the questions we raise on a daily basis at Ephblog, or debates about higher education more generally, are all that new. Are athletics too prominent? Are students asked as much today as they were in yesteryear? (Ammunition for those who see grade inflation as a great threat to, well, whatever they see it as being a threat to: during the 1924-1924 academic year just 199 students at Dartmouth had gpa’s above 3.2 — 10% of the total student body.) What is the proper work-play balance for students? What is the role of the faculty?

I was reminded of these enduring questions in reading Chadbourne’s address, which bears many of the characteristics of the era: a fealty to scientific growth, strong faith in the importance of God in higher education

(Ed Note: Picture and break added 10:29 pm DS)( Read more


When Williams Had a Medical School, Part 3: Mark Hopkins

Mark Hopkins sculpture, in the 'Hall of Fame' at Bronx Community College.

Continuing the series from Part I and Part II.

At commencement in 1824, Mark Hopkins graduated from Williams. Those in attendance could hardly have known that this was not the conclusion of his Williams days. And alongside Hopkins was a sign that even if he didn’t yet envision his lifelong association with the College, he wasn’t about to leave: the first medical degrees awarded by the President and Trustees of Williams College went to seven members of the Berkshire Medical class that began in 1823.

Hopkins was soon to follow them. He went to Pittsfield directly after his graduation to begin his course of study, but quickly departed to teach part of the year in Stockbridge. At the end of the year, Hopkins was invited back up to Williamstown to be a tutor at the College. But after two years, he took his leave of Williamstown once more, returning to his medical studies (and continuing to teach, mainly to pay the medical expenses of high school). At first, Hopkins resumed his medical studies in New York, but in the spring of 1828 he returned to Pittsfield, where Professor Dewey enlisted him in teaching high school at his Berkshire Gymnasium, a boys’ prep school Dewey founded and would soon leave Williams to run, in conjunction with his association with the medical school.

By 1825, the enrollment at the Berkshire Medical Institution had increased to 112 and 21 students would graduate. In his return to Pittsfield, Mark Hopkins roomed with a son of New York’s Governor Clinton, who may have been one of Professor Dewey’s high school students. Small glimpses of Hopkins’ experience in Pittsfield are recorded in his surviving letters, many written to his brothers. In May 1828, writing to his brother Albert, then in Stockbridge, Hopkins reported on his experience and requested some necessities:

Read more


When Williams Had a Medical School, Part II: The Institution

Berkshire Medical Institution, circa 1835

In Part I of this series, we learned about the establishment of the peculiar adjunct of Williams: the Berkshire Medical Institution (or College), in the early 1820s, at Pittsfield. What was the medical school associated with Williams College like?

First, bear in mind that Pittsfield was not a short ride down U.S. 7 as it stands today.  To be sure, the roads between Pittsfield and Williamstown followed substantially the same routes: the most direct route ran through South Williamstown, along the route of the Green River and up over the pass at New Ashford, down through Lanesborough, and along the east side of Lake Pontoosuc into Pittsfield. But in the 1820s, it was a rugged route — in 1815, the sole scheduled rider carried the news and mail along this route but weekly. (A longer, slightly easier route ran around Mt. Greylock (still known as “Saddleback Mountain,”), through Adams and its “north village,” then down through Cheshire to approach Pittsfield from the east).

Pittsfield itself had recently seen significant development of Park Square, today’s Pittfield Common. Among that development was what would become the site of the medical school. In 1809, Simeon Griswold had opened “The Pittsfield Hotel,” a three-story establishment on the east side of Park Square, the right-most building in this picture. By 1821, however, it had failed to maintain the enthusiasm from its opening, its furniture was well-worn, and the structure needed repairs.

And so, Dr. Childs purchased the building in January, 1822, and soon converted the stables for use in anatomy. At its opening, the Berkshire Medical Institution therefore occupied a principal place in the heart of Pittsfield. In 1824, the old stables were removed and a new building and outbuildings constructed with the medical school in mind, while the former Pittsfield Hotel building was converted to lodging and boarding for the students. Given all this construction, it’s no surprise that the school renewed its request for funds from the legislature.

The campus buildings pictured at the top of this post would remain in use until the early 1850s, when one was destroyed by fire and the entire medical school was moved to a new building on South Street. Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge Vol. 1 is the source for the photo (also found in Pittsfield’s entry in the Images of America series of books) described the medical school as it was in the late 1820s or early 1830s:

This institution is located in Pittsfield, the shire town of the
county of Berkshire, in the state of Massachusetts; a large and
flourishing inland village, near the centre of that county, and in the
western part of the state. The institution is connected, in some
respects, with the college in Williamstown, in the north part of that

There are six professors in this
institution ; viz. of surgery and physiology ; general anatomy and
physiology; the theory and practice of medicine; materia medica,
pharmacy and obstetrics ; medical jurisprudence ; botany, mineralogy,
chemistry and natural philosophy. The number of students is from
eighty to one hundred.

The reading term begins on first Wednesday of February, and continues
till the last of August. During the months of February, March, and
April, practical anatomy with operative and demonstrative surgery are
attended to by the professor of surgery and physiology ; who also
hears recitations on the principles and practice of surgery. From
eight to eleven lectures a week are given. Recitations and a course of
instruction in the theory and practice of medicine, materia medica,
&c. by the professor of that department. Instruction is also given in
botany and mineralogy. Admission to the library, cabinet of anatomy,
natural history and mineralogy, is gratis. The annual lecture term
begins in September, 2nd Wednesday, and continues fifteen weeks.

Students were issued tickets to attend lectures — such as this one for anatomy: 

From the online collection of the American Antiquarian Society

 The Berkshire Medical Institution would issue a lot of these tickets over the next half-century, eventually graduating 1138 doctors. Among them was Mark Hopkins ’24, whose experience will be covered in the next installment of this series.

To Be Continued.


When Williams Had a Medical School, Part I

Many students of Williams history are probably aware that Mark Hopkins had more than one doctorate, including a degree in medicine. But I suspect that fewer realize that the source of his medical degree was the institution so central to his entire life — Williams itself. Yes, during a brief period that included the era of Hopkins’ studies, you could be more than a Williams pre-med — you could be a Williams med.

The story of the medical school connected to Williams begins in the dark year of 1821, but not with Zephaniah Moore or Edward Dorr Griffin. Although not as isolated from all of civilization as their neighbors to the north in Williamstown, Pittsfield was struggling with its remoteness as well. Led by Dr. Henry Halsey Childs, Williams class of 1802, a group of Pittsfield leaders prepared a bold proposal: to petition the legislature for a charter and an endowment with which to found New England’s eighth medical school — at Pittsfield.

With the backing of the newly-created Berkshire Medical Society, Dr. Childs enlisted two other early Ephs in the cause: Lanesboro’s illustrious Dr. Asa Burbank of Lanesboro, class of 1797, and Dr. Daniel Collins of Lenox (class of 1800). Dr. Burbank is best known as the first president of the Society of Alumni after its founding in 1821, and as one of the first Williams tutors, during the two years after his graduation. Although less famous in his own right, Dr. Collins was the son of the Rev. Daniel Collins, one of the twelve original trustees of the College, and a prominent doctor in the Berkshires for over half of the 19th century.

Read more


Super Cool Thing of the Day

Be sure to check out this awesome evolving campus map, courtesy of the College Archives.  [For some reason, it stops at 1989].  This is, without a doubt, one of the coolest things on the college website, and deserves to be highlighted at some point in a less obscure location.  Alas, I can’t figure out how to post a version directly to this page.  There are many other interesting features on the College Archives site, but my favorite by far is a description of the defunct college Cane Contest.  No summary here can do it justice — just read it.  I’d say bring this back, but for the inevitable death-by-caning that it would surely inspire.


The Old Campus Garden, the Forest Garden, 1996 to 2006

If you got the last issue of the Alumni Review (September) you saw on its cover four students who are carrying on in a tradition similar to one I was heavily involved in at Williams: that is organic gardening on campus. They are the Williams Susatainable Growers; I and others were the Forest Garden. What a treat it was for me to see that their project make the front page.

I visited Williamstown a couple of weeks ago and made a point of stopping by the new garden to check it out. In this second post in a series of two I’ll share some photos of the “Forest Garden” of my time with comment from my point of view as a current professional gardener and a leader of Williams’ campus garden in my day. When I returned last June for my five-year reunion I spent an hour at the Center for Environmental Studies picnic lunch and checked in with Sarah Gardner, the only administrator left there from my time who still knows me as the guy who led the Forest Garden along with Vivian ’05. Together, Vivi and I did the most work in our years for the garden of primarily herbs and vegetables on the hill and valley behind the newfangled wing of Stetson and in front of Kellogg House, where CES was.

Here are a few photos of the old Forest Garden.

April 1996, the first Forest Gardeners break ground (date recorded in the garden's journal)

The area we called the "sunny hill," because it was the only part of the garden to get any sun.

Read more


Eph Bookshelf #8: Parallel Worlds

The latest in a series reviewing books by Ephs, about Ephs, or otherwise having particular relevance to the Williams community.

Parallel Worlds: The Remarkable Gibbs-Hunts and the Enduring (In)significance of Melanin, by Adele Logan Alexander (non-Eph).

It wasn’t until I got to page 98 of Parallel Worlds: The Remarkable Gibbs-Hunts and the Enduring (In)significance of Melanin that I realized it might belong on the Eph bookshelf. That’s when readers that don’t already know the biographies of William Henry Hunt and Ida Alexander Gibbs first learn that Hunt was the sole African-American to matriculate at Williams College in the class of 1898. Hunt didn’t tarry long in Williamstown and neither does Adele Logan Alexander’s busy social history / biography, but it’s nonetheless worth an EphBlog review both to point readers to this depiction of the upper echelons of early 20th century African-American society and to highlight the Williams stories that appear.

Ida Gibbs, likely the granddaughter of Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson, was an early African-American masters degree recipient from Oberlin College. Born in Vancouver during the American Civil War, she and her illustrious father (the first elected African-American judge in the United States) traveled to Minnesota in 1889, where he addressed the civic league — and where they encountered William Henry Hunt. In this era of thev closing of the frontier, Hunt, who had been born in the south in 1862 and lived a largely itinerant life, took advantage of this encounter to live the frontiersman’s dream: reinventing himself and traveling to the edges of the known world, all for the love of adventure — and of a woman. Outlining a new story of his youth as a world traveler, Hunt impressed the Gibbses, then resolved to acquire the education necessary to sucessfully woo the beautiful Oberlin graduate. In his new identity, he persuaded the headmaster at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts to admit him, then worked his way through Lawrence as the only African-American student of his era — at least two had previously graduated — ascending to the editorship of the school newspaper and winning several debate prizes. Graduating in 1894, he enrolled at Williams, where he remained for two semesters.

Read more


McAllister on the Institute of Politics

Reposted from this thread:

David is right and wrong: there are actually several excellent theses (and eventually a great book) to be written about the institute of politics. I am biased, but the summer institute in american foreign policy was great and in my conception it was indeed an effort to revive the spirit of Garfield’s work. Fred [Rudolph]’s comments are right on the money, but a few other thoughts.

The one current difficulty in researching the institute is that the archives are largely uncatalogued (they were not catalogued a decade ago when I had access and I don’t think they have been accessible since then) and they are currently unavailable due to the library construction. Some but not all of that material can be found at the Library of Congress.

To understand how important the IOP was at the time you can do a Proquest newspaper search on Williams College for the 1920′s. It will immediately become apparent that with the exception of sports Williams received very little coverage in national papers in the 1920′s. But the events at the institute were often front page news in the NY Times and other papers who covered the entire summer festivities.

One real intellectual problem with the institute, at least according to Garfield and his second in command, Walter McLaren of Economics, was that it could not really decide whether it wanted to be an “elite” institution where policymakers and opinion leaders could settle world problems or whether it would be something that reached a mass audience. That philosophical question was never really resolved and eventually the institute attracted less attention over time as it became more “academic” in character. The other problem was that over time the perception grew that there were too many old ladies sewing and unable to truly participate in the discussions. Neither Garfield nor McLaren really ever liked the idea of the institute as a vacation spot and they were not thrilled that some treated it that way.

Another important factor–and even with the archives it is still a little unclear–is trying to figure out the demise of the institute. Bernard Baruch was indeed the main benefactor but neither he nor Garfield wanted him to be the sole supporter for the institute. By the late 1920′s Baruch basically said that his financial commitment (basically between 25-50 a year, although I think closer to the lower figure) needed to be phased out. Garfield then tried to raise an endowment, but obviously the Great Depression made this impossible. He probably could have kept going year to year, but the endowment became a matter of principle to him.

Part of the problem was that Garfield made it very clear that he would not ask regular williams donors to put up money for the IOP since it would be a conflict of interest. Although he undoubtedly would have liked someone from Williams to step forward, no one did and my sense is he never did put the issue directly to donors.

This reluctance on the part of Williams donors/trustees is not hard to figure out. Garfield spent about 2 months out of every year traveling to Europe in order to get the best speakers he could. He then spent another month away from college business while the institute was in session. Fred Rudolph would probably know better than me, but my real sense is that after the First World War the IOP was far more important to Garfield than Williams. His hope was to make Williamstown the Geneva of the United States and, while he failed for reasons mostly beyond his control, it was not for lack of effort. Williams was the very first institute of politics in the country and every successor acknowledged Garfield’s pioneering efforts.

Final point: at the very beginning of his thinking about the institute, Garfield had two choices. The road he did not take, which some wanted him to do, was to center the institute around undergrads at Williams. One of the other reasons for the institute’s downfall was that there was indeed very little connection between the IOP and Williams students/faculty.

Oh well, much too long a post! But the IOP is indeed a fascinating element of both the history of Williams and the early history of American involvement in world affairs.


Found: Williams a leader in Social Register attendance

In the most recent “Beyond the Log” post, David rebroadcast Bob Magill Jr. ’65’s bleg:

c. 1990, a book was out that tracked the top 5 college preferences of the children of the social register in large cities on the East Coast, from the years 1900 to 1950 . . .  I asked Fred Rudolph over the weekend at the reunion and he could not remember either.

Via the magic of Google Books, I’ve tracked down a promising candidate: Richard Farnum, Patterns of Upper-Class Education in Four American Cities: 1875-1975, in The High Status Track: Studies of Elite Schools and Stratification,Paul W. Kingston and Lionel Stanley Lewis, eds (1990). Farnum’s essay “examin[es] patterns of college attendance of the upper classes of of Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Baltimore from 1880 to 1970.”

Google Books has most of the text of this chapter, but is missing a couple of pages. The available portions confirm Bob’s recollection. In Boston, Williams was the 4th-most attended college, after Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (“HYP”), although in a few decades, Williams surpassed either Yale, Princeton, or both. And in New York City, Williams consistently ranked 5th, trailing HYP and Columbia. In Philadelphia, the top 5 were rounded out by Penn and Haverford, and in Baltimore, by Johns Hopkins and Virginia.

Below the fold, what Farnum has to say about Williams…

Read more


Can-Do Attitude

An Earth Day flashback:

William Moomaw received an unusual request on the morning of April 22, 1970.

The dean’s office at Williams College rang the young assistant professor to ask if it could send a junior dean to observe his students. During a time of frequent college campus protests, the administration wanted to make sure the first Earth Day was a day of peaceful rallies, lectures and debates.

“I think they were a little nervous about what we were doing,” he said of his environmental science class. “It was high emotional content. People were really upset to learn about the bad things that were happening to the environment then.”

After the 75 students finished class, which dealt with the dangers of pesticides, they joined other students at a rally on the Williamstown, Massachusetts, campus.

About half the 2,000 students at the small private school participated in the rally. Thousands of other colleges, high schools and elementary schools across the United States also took part.

“People were pretty upbeat [that day]. Finally we were tackling another unaddressed issue,” he said. “There was a real can-do attitude and a real sense that individual and public engagement could change things. A very different attitude than one sees today.”

You really think that the attitudes of Williams students are that different today from what they were in 1970? I doubt it.

Moomaw added that not only are companies now involved in Earth Day, but they are also much more involved in environmental protection.

“There are certainly many, many more corporations that are not only willingly complying with environmental laws but many are going beyond them,” he said. “It’s an impressive group of companies that are doing those things and they’re making a real difference. I don’t think anybody believed that would happen in 1970.”

Companies, like people, respond to incentives. If (naive) customers start buying from company X instead of company Y because company X claims (truthfully or not) to be green friendly, then company Y is going to start to (claim to) be green friendly too.


When Williams Shut Down

Some interesting Williams history from Christopher Marcisz.

Forty years ago today, Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on a group of Kent State students protesting the invasion of Cambodia, killing four of them. The reverberations of this tragedy were felt around the country, including at Williams (the website of the College’s archives has a timeline of this turbulent time here).

That Monday night, 1,300 students jammed into Chapin Hall and discussed the matter long into the night, and decided to call an “indefinite” strike. They were encouraged by a statement from College President John E. Sawyer, which was greeted by a standing ovation when it was read to them. According to The Williams Record, Sawyer said,

“Any responsible person close to an American campus today must say to Mr. Nixon and Mr. Agnew that present policies cannot be continued without tearing this country apart. The leadership of this nation must stop and listen to these young people, most of whom care intensely about the best in America and are desperately worried about where their country is heading.”

The faculty was supportive as well. Earlier in the day, at a special faculty meeting, they too agreed to suspend classes. Political Science Professor Vincent Barnett read their statement to the students:

“The faculty shares the concern of Williams students with respect to the escalation of the Vietnam War, and their commitment to some kind of effective response in the days ahead. Moreover, the faculty wishes to express its support of students’ efforts to bring about a change of policy through organized effort and public persuasion.”

It was a remarkable flare-up of anger, as just a few weeks earlier students had responded coolly to the first Earth Day, and there was some grumbling in the Record that the spirit of student involvement had died with the 1960s.

Read the whole thing. There is a great senior thesis to be written about Williams in the spring of 1970. Who will write it?


Stetson and the Chapin Library

From Wayne G. Hammond, who is a librarian at the Chapin Library of Rare Books:

Replying to multiple comments:

Stetson was built to hold the College Library, the Chapin Library, and faculty offices, built around a central stack core. In the fifties, the stacks were extended to the east, and in the sixties an annex was added which housed the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. When the College Library moved into the new Sawyer building in 1975, the Chapin Library and the original stacks remained intact but the stacks addition was divided into the small faculty offices Ronit mentions. It was this latter space that was the labyrinth; the original, 1923 building is relatively easy to navigate.

There are two formal facades, the one pictured on the west and another on the south, representing the two Stetson Hall libraries. The south door was the “Chapin Library entrance” as it’s nearest the grand staircase going up to the Chapin on the second floor (not the top: there are two floors more, with faculty offices and classrooms). There are inscribed names on both facades, an eclectic mix chosen by the architect.

Stetson is to be taken back to the 1923 building and generally restored, with a new Sawyer Library attached on the east: more can be read about the plans here. The upper floors will still have faculty offices and classrooms. The faculty lounge will revert to what it was designed to be, a grand reading room. The Preston Room will be dismantled and reconstructed within the new library. The Chapin Library will return to its original splendid rooms, connected to additional spaces in the new building, all shared with College Archives.

As for “opening again someday soon”, the Chapin and College Archives moved to temporary quarters in the old Southworth Schoolhouse (corner of Southworth and School streets) in July 2008 and reopened for business that September.

Wayne Hammond
Chapin Library


Episodes of alumni concern

From a note originally sent by Prof. Birnbaum to DK, republished here with permission – Ronit

Dear David,

Re the matter of Mr. Moore, I note that the discussion has ebbed somewhat—although of course it is entirely understandable that alumni and parents and friends would be distressed by the news. In my own contacts with persons from higher education, no one has mentioned it—perhaps because everyone is too concerned with difficulties at their home institutions. I ran into the Georgetown Law Dean of Admissions the other day, but he did not inform me that he was subjecting Williams applications to special scrutiny.

In brief, the world goes on……

Of course, there are any number of memories evoked by alumni interest. I recollect a period at a sister institution, when alumni and trustees were convinced that faculty were taking liberties with academic freedom. Amherst’s President at the time, a former faculty member and fine Americanist, Bill Ward, invited some faculty and some alumni and trustees to dinner. The discussion proceeded on familiar lines, until a Trustee said that he thought that the President “ought to run a tight ship.” A faculty member thereupon identified himself as a navy reserve officer, declared that a liberal arts college had to be distinguished from an aircraft carrier, and noted that in any event under the theory and practise of combat command in effect in the Navy, a good deal of decentralization and independent initiative by officers, petty officers and ratings was called for. Bill held no more such dinners that year…..

As for Williams itself, historians could produce any number of episodes of alumni concern. Sometime in early modern history, before internet, a somewhat overwrought young lady attending Williams wrote an article for the monthly Commentary. She objected to unisex dorms, and to feminist ideas in the classroom, since (she explained) she was from an Orthodox Jewish family and offended by these things. No doubt, but she did know about these aspects of Williams life before coming and could have enjoyed the relative tranquillity of the women’s college of Yeshiva (academically excellent, too.) The article attracted the attention of a Washington journalist named John Leo and he wrote a column on ideological oppression at the liberal arts colleges, with Williams in the dock. The fact that Leo did not trouble to visit the campus, or to make any other effort to inform himself of the situation, seemed not to bother any number of alumni who promptly wrote to the Alumni Review—their worst fears having found confirmation…..

In my own time, I was once shown (1946, I think) a letter from an eminent alumnus to President James Phinney Baxter of revered memory. He said that he and others were profoundly worried. Younger graduates were coming to their investment firms apparently convinced that Sir John Maynard Keynes was right about the economic cycle. The US was then about to enter, despite all fears of post-war depression, one of the most sustained and broadest periods of economic growth in our history—not least due to the Keynesianism of the economists advising the government. Given present arguments, one can only say, plus ça change……

Very best regards and thanks for posting my efforts,
and thanks as well to those who took the trouble to comment,


Of Misdemeanors and Criminal offences.

The Archives & Special Collections site referred to in the previous post also hosts a copy of The Laws of Williams College, 1795. Chapter III, “Of Misdemeanors and Criminal offences” is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Some of the more amusing laws are below: Read more


The original Williams housing system

taussig’s post referring to the oldest building on campus led me to this page about West College, which gives you some idea about how the first scholars of the college studied, slept and ate: Read more


Memories of the Purple Pub

Greetings Fellow Ephs!

My name is Fiona Moriarty and I am a current junior History and Art History major and I am in desperate need of your help! I am currently taking my junior seminar for history entitled Documentary practices by Professor Leslie Brown and the entire semester has been based around a group project. This group project was to document the history of an establishment on Spring Street and my group chose the Purple Pub. This is where your help comes in. We would really appreciate if you could either post (in the comments below) or email me (fmm1 at your memories of your times at the Purple Pub through the years. All memories good and bad and especially anything about the management, food or atmosphere are appreciated. These quotes will be used for our final project which is a website that will document the history of the building in a creative way. Email me with any questions, comments or photos, and just to reiterate, we sincerely appreciate your help!


(image credit to bloodbubb1e)


Ladybug horror

On WSO, there is a lengthy discussion on the infestation of ladybugs (and GERMAN COCKROACHES?) inside student dorms. This seems to be a regional national infestation. The Wesleying blog reports a swarm at Wesleyan University (with photos). In addition to Williamstown, MA and Middletown, CT, a look at Google News shows reports of ladybug swarms from New Jersey, Indiana, Middlesex County, MA, Urbana-Champaign, IL, NH and RI, Williamsport, PA, and Andover, MA

Parent ’12 asks: “Are these complaints familiar? And, any suggestions about how to get the problem remedied.”

I have not seen a ladybug infestation at Williams, but recent alumni will recall the caterpillar infestation that hit campus in spring-summer 2006. As the 2009 class history recalls: “It was the attack of the caterpillars in Billsville. You probably could have crossed the entire campus without setting foot on pavement or grass – that’s how thick the blanket of caterpillars was that spring.”

So, to current students: at least you don’t have strings of caterpillars dangling from trees, ending up on your face and clothes whenever you walk underneath a tree. They basically destroyed every green leaf on campus.

This is all probably the fault of global warming. Or secret government experiments.

Since Parent ’12 asks for remedies: I seem to recall that one enterprising student set fire to the caterpillars using a lighter and a can of either hairspray or WD-40. Something to consider, though the fact that the infestation this time appears to be indoors may complicate things.

Gross pictures of the caterpillar infestation here, here, and here.

Request to students currently on campus: Please post pics of the ladybug infestation!

UPDATE: They’ve hit Swarthmore. Is nothing sacred? (thanks to hwc!)


Safire and Singapore and Williams

While marking the passing of William Safire, Prof. Sam Crane recounts a fascinating bit of Williams history. This should be enough to pique your interest:

I never met Safire face-to-face, but one late summer we found ourselves thrown together as adversaries of the Singapore government.  Rest in peace.

Read the whole thing here.


Weightroom Memories

Frank Uible ’57 on the origins of weight training at Williams.

When I arrived at Williams in 1953, no Williams football players engaged in serious or even semi-serious weight training. I thought serious training might be a good idea. Up to that point I had merely fooled around at home with a set of weights during the summers. Consequently after the Williams football season in 1954 I joined a Williams hammer thrower who had expropriated the attic of the squash courts (unheated) and with him began hard training there with no direction from the College, using only our own weights and other equipment of our own and relying on such training information as we could find from the world at large. At that time very few football teams at the pro, college, high school or any other level instructed or otherwise encouraged their players to engage in weight training, serious, semi-serious or otherwise. For instance, in the summer of 1956 I became aware that the Cleveland Browns (then world champions) had no weight training program when one of the sons of the Head Coach of the Browns, came around to visit my brother and was intriqued with what I was doing with weights in my garage, and in the fall of 1961 when I arrived on the campus of the University of Michigan, its football team had no weight training program – just a few isolated players engaging in trial-and-error training. However, about 1955 or 1956 Louisian State University did establish a hard core weight training program for its players, which probably would largely hold up under today’s standards. In 1958 LSU was crowned the mythical national college football champion, and pursuant to that development the fact of their weight training program became well known. Thenceforth weight training for football players spread steadily. As I recall, Williams started a formal weight training program about the winter of 1959.

1) See here for the good that this weight training did from Frank.

2) I spent many hours using those weights. Fun memories! I suspect that I benched much less than Frank did . . .

3) When were the weights moved from that room? Where do students train with weights now? Does anyone have pictures of either that room or the current one?


Mark Hopkins on individualism

I recently came across this passage on the invention of American individualism, from Head and Heart: A History of Christianity in America by Garry Wills, featuring a brief quote from Mark Hopkins:

The whole book makes interesting reading. Highly recommended.

(It also has a section on the composer of our school song, which I will be posting in a couple of days.)


Back Issues of the Record on the Internet Archive

Thanks to hwc for pointing this out:

Speaking of digital libraries, did ya’ll know that digital versions of the Williams Record are available for online viewing or PDF download at the Internet Archive?

Here’s the 1971-1972 volume, conveniently flipped to the page with the review of the Pink Floyd “acid rock” concert in Chapin Hall:

November 16, 1971 Williams Record

Use the up and down arrows at the upper right to scroll through all the editions of the full academic year.

The Record caption writer seemed to like Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen (a “country western rock act”) better during winter study, at least noting that they had the crowd in Chapin “up and dancing”.

January 14, 1972 Williams Record

I haven’t found the review of the Winter Carnival Little Feat concert in Chapin yet. It’s in a different volume. It appears that all of the issues form 1904 up through at least 1990 are available on-line:

Williams Record in the Internet Archive




Williams Tops Amherst



(Special thanks to Parent ’12 for linking to this lively article in the NY Times about yesterday’s re-enactment of the 1859 game.)

Some fun facts:

*Williams was trounced by Amherst in that original face-off, with a 25-inning game, and an end score of  73-32!

*The field was not a diamond back then, but instead, the configuration you see here. 

*The umpire wore a bowler hat, waistcoat and tails (something of which I believe even Rechtal would approve).


What fun!

Who was there to witness the antics? Could we get a first-hand report?


WCMA Coffee Break

grant-wood-dorr-1935 Grant Wood (American, 1892-1942)

Death on the Ridge Road, 1935
oil on masonite
Williams College Museum of Art, Gift of Cole Porter


This painting is part of WCMA’s permanent collection. I love how each piece has several stories to it, not the least of which is how it came to be at WCMA. I would like to hear more about this bequest. What was Porter’s connection to the college? Please tell us if you know.

The only other tidbit of information I will offer is that this particular painting was unusual for Wood in that it was the only one of his landscapes that depicted a motor vehicle and a less than idyllic mood.






So, the recent thread on the Williams College Museum of Art has piqued my curiosity. I have visited the museum several times, and was duly impressed. It is a beautiful space, well-run, well-endowed, and obviously well-utilized by the college and the community. There were numerous comments that pointed out the ways in which this is so, but one in particular (by occasional commenter and Williams Art History major, Suz), gave me the understanding of just how vital the museum is as a center of learning, not only to the art program at Williams, but to the local schools as well. She says:

I think there are about 10 grade school tours a week and about 30 undergraduate tour guides. Also every 101/102 class at Williams makes extensive use of WCMA. I was even able to write for my first publication through WCMA, namely through my class with Prof. Gerrard on fakes and a related show at WCMA. WCMA is a huge resource for the college and for the surrounding community. Its closing would be the equivalent of closing all of the chem labs and telling all of the chemistry students to just get by on lectures and theory, then expecting them to go out and work in a top lab or in a top graduate program.

Read more


Same issues, different times

An interesting read on the abolition of fraternities at Williams. If you look at the problems that the College was trying to address- drinking, integration and social learning-  not much has changed. The development of the Neighborhood System is an attempt to deal with similar issues. Same issues, different times. It is worth a read.  



150 Years of Baseball

Williams began playing baseball in 1859. That was also the birth of college baseball. On July 1st of that year, Williams played Amherst in Pittsfield in what is considered to have been the first collegiate baseball game. 

Since both Fordham and Williams enter their 150th baseball season this spring, they have scheduled a rare special game against each other. I don’t know what other special events are planned to commemorate the anniversary of The American Game. Williams will, of course, meet Amherst in the regular course of the season (and we hope the score will be considerably more favorable to the Ephs than it was in 1859).


Vintage Chapin Hall

Postcard of Chapin Hall, circa 1910

This is a postcard of Chapin Hall, dating back to about 1915. Constructed in 1911-12 and named in honor of Grace Chapin, the wife of Alfred Chapin of the Class of 1869, the building was originally called “Grace Hall.”  

Until I saw this photograph, I missed out on a lot of the ways this building shares features and motifs with both Stetson and the Williams/Sage pair (I seem to remember that Chapin was constructed first among that “neighborhood” group). 

I am experimenting with posting pictures (thanks to help from Ronit, Diana, and others), so please bear with me. My goal is to pull up from time to time and post some of the photographs from the “williamscollege” flickr pool that rarely come up on the EphBlog sidebar.


Eph Word of the Day: Palinode

From A.Word.A.Day at





noun: A poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem. 


From Greek palinoidia, from palin (again) + oide (song). It’s the same palin that shows up in the word palindrome…


The illustrator and humorist Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) once wrote a poem called The Purple Cow:

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.

The poem became so popular and he became so closely linked with this single quatrain that he later wrote a palinode:

Confession: and a Portrait, Too,
Upon a Background that I Rue!

Oh, yes, I wrote ‘The Purple Cow,’
I’m sorry now I wrote it!
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’ll kill you if you quote it.


“The more lighthearted palinodes were more successful, such as Geoff Horton’s recantation of his youthful view that a martini should be shaken rather than stirred.”
Jaspitos; I Take It Back; The Spectator (London, UK); Jan 24, 2004.

Items to discuss may include hallucinogens used by Mr. Burgess, the proper construction of a martini, and whether Mrs. Palin will issue a palinode.


← Previous PageNext Page →

Currently browsing posts filed under "Williams History"

Follow this category via RSS