Israel E. Trask and Paternalism

Israel Trask letter to Eliza Trask page 3

Students who took Professor Elizabeth Herbin-Triant’s course “Slavery in US History & Culture” during the Fall 2021 semester visited the Archives & Special Collections to explore primary sources related to slavery. This blog post is by student Anna Kruesel ’22, who chose to focus on a single letter from the Israel E. Trask Papers. The…

Nicka Smith Presentation: Community Discussion on Next Steps. Monday, October 18 at 4:00

Please join us at the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (second floor, Frost Library) on Monday, October 18 at 4:00! The Steering Committee of A Racial History of Amherst College invites any and all interested members of the Amherst College community to discuss genealogist Nicka Smith’s presentation of October 4, 2021–and the important questions of whether…

Nicka Smith at Amherst, October 4, 2021

Nicka Smith

Nicka Smith’s talk on October 4 was recorded and is available on the college’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/RBe9uHxSTJo  The Amherst Student published an article about the talk: “Nicka Smith Delivers Talk on Israel Trask and the Trask 250” Anna Smith ’22 published an op-ed piece on Trask to propose that the college acquire his mansion in…

History is Complicated, or, Israel Trask and Abolition

History is complicated. Over the past two months, as I have been traveling across New England and the South, I kept hearing this phrase. Lincoln was not an anti-racist. The founding fathers were enslavers. Israel Trask was not solely bad. If you have read my previous posts in this series, you might be surprised to…

Slavery Existed in Massachusetts after 1783

An overgrown vacant lot and corner of federal courthouse seen through chain-link fence

I recently saw a comment on a New England historical society’s Instagram post about Juneteenth events in the area questioning why the day would be celebrated here. The commenter seemed to believe that the history of New England is distinctly separate from the history of slavery, especially as Vermont was the first state to abolish…

Israel Trask and the 1811 German Coast Uprising

Perhaps the darkest documented period in Israel Trask’s tenure as an enslaver comes in the form of the 1811 German Coast Uprising. Frequently termed the largest slave revolt in US history, the 1811 uprising spanned two days (January 8-10, 1811), three parishes (St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, and Jefferson), and involved more than 500…

Who Was Israel Trask to Amherst?

This post is the first of a series on Israel Trask. Last semester, I finally nailed down my thesis topic–the memorialization of slavery and Israel Trask in the archives–which of course involved describing it to numerous people. In so doing, I was surprised at just how many people didn’t know who Israel Trask was and how he…

KKK Sentiment on Campus, 1924

Robert E. McCormick's picture and description in the 1924 Olio

In March, Simon J. Levien of The Crimson authored a piece on Harvard’s historical association with the Ku Klux Klan. The piece opens with a description of a cross burned on campus in 1952, as told through Black alumnus J. Max Bond Jr. ‘s perspective. Immediately, I was reminded of the cross burned in front…

A General Overview of “Asian” & “Asian-American” History at Amherst College

Flyer for Five Colleges Asian American Month

Writing the racial history of a historically white college has a certain irony, especially as an Asian-American queer woman of color. On top of that, I am a transfer student, so when I first arrived at Amherst, fresh-faced, the learning curve was steep. This blog post serves not as a historical survey, but just a…

The Kellogg Connection

Portion of 1770 Town of Amherst tax records

What do an academic prize, slavery, and cereal have in common? The Kellogg family. While transcribing the Charity Fund register and records book, 1818-1840, I noticed a name with which I was vaguely familiar.  William, Joseph Jr., and Martin Kellogg of Amherst donated a combined total of 250 dollars (or about $5,370 today) to the…