Lot 189
[RACE] Archive Amherst Class Of 1877 Photography

Estimate: $700 - $900

Have one like this?

About this Lot
George H. UTTER: Small archive containing a number of programs and booklets primarily relating to Amherst College Class of 1877 reunions, 1887 to 1947, together with an envelope with 30 snapshot photographs of alumni and family visiting Amherst from 1897(?), including pictures of the early Amherst & Sunderland Street Railway Company streetcar; two silk ribbons with a variety of lapel pins, and misc. other ephemera. Most importantly, the collection has a rare large format albumen photo for the Class of '77, mounted, which includes an African American student named Charles Sumner Wilson.

George H. UTTER, 1854-1912, become a newspaper publisher and a politician, even serving as Governor of Rhode Island from 1905 through 1906. His son, George Benjamin Utter, also attended Amherst, 1905. Condition is very good, for the most part, some dust soiling and occasional inked notations. List available upon request.

Utter's parents were the Reverend George Benjamin Utter and his second wife Mary Starr (Maxson) Utter, direct descendant of Newport's first settlers (the 1 CDV in the lot is of H. M. Maxson, Amherst 1873-77, creased).

The image of the black man seated with his classmates, in the front row, far right, is significant and rare. Charles Sumner WILSON, born in Salem, Mass., in 1853; died in Danvers, 1904. Unlike Utter, who seems to have enjoyed quite a charmed existence, Amherst researcher Katharine Whittemore writes that Wilson ended his days in an Almshouse in his hometown, penniless, and in all likelihood suffering from mental illness, at least to some degree exacerbated by encounters with a troubled police officer — a particularly tragic ending for someone born to a father who dies in the Civil War and a mother who is both a poet and one of the first Black abolitionists; a bright child, celebrated for being the first Black student nominated for entry into West Point (by Benjamin. Butler, no less), who then studied at Amherst College before graduating from Tufts, becoming "the first Black man admitted to the Essex County bar." We didn't find any mention of him in the reunion publications. See references for more information.

More images upon request. Thank you!


The Men "Black Men of Amherst" Left Out.  Amherst magazine 2021
Mike Kelly. Black Men of Amherst: 1877-1883.
Click here for more information and to bid