Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers. 

Selected series, 1810-1863


Amherst College Collections Online



Terms of Use


Scope and Contents Note:

The selected series from the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers at Amherst College available on this Web site focus on the life and work of Orra White Hitchcock. 

In particular, the papers document her artistic and scientific activities as well as her family responsibilities as the wife of Edward Hitchcock and a mother of eight children.  (For a description of the entire collection, see the online finding aid at the Amherst College Archives Web site.) Included are biographical materials,  incoming and outgoing correspondence, portraits of Orra White Hitchcock, and unpublished works, such as poems and travel diaries, the latter including pencil sketches. 

Works of art by Orra White Hitchcock (Series 11 of the Hitchcock Papers), including early views of Amherst College and sketches used as illustrations for her husband's scientific works, are not available in digital format but may be examined in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.


Biographical Notes:

Orra White Hitchcock

Orra White HitchcockThe daughter of Jarib White, a farmer in Amherst, Orra White Hitchcock (1796-1863) was educated in boarding schools in South Hadley and Roxbury, excelling in science, art, Latin and Greek.  She was working as an assistant instructor at Deerfield Academy when she met her future husband Edward Hitchcock, another Deerfield instructor at the time, whom she married in 1821. A scholar and artist in her own right, Orra accompanied her husband on many of his scientific expeditions, sketching in the field and illustrating many of his numerous works and lectures. She is considered one of the earliest female artists and illustrators in a the U.S.  After coming to Amherst Orra White Hitchcock was active in both the College and greater town community. Together they had eight children, two of whom were graduates of Amherst.


Edward Hitchcock

Edward HitchcockEminent 19th-century scientist, educator and minister, Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) served Amherst College for almost forty years as a member of the faculty and as president. Hitchcock came to Amherst after serving as principal of Deerfield Academy and minister for the Congregational Church in Conway. Appointed Professor of Chemistry and Natural History in 1826, Hitchcock filled that position until 1845 when he was appointed President and Professor of Natural Theology and Geology. He served as President from 1845 until 1854. During that time, Hitchcock was responsible for Amherst's recovery from extreme financial depression. In 1854 Hitchcock retired from the presidency and became Professor of Natural History and Geology, a position which he held until his death in 1864. In addition to saving the College from financial disaster, Hitchcock is credited with providing Amherst with its reputation for scientific teaching and developing its scientific resources in support of the curriculum.


Series List:

Choose from among the following series, or go to the first page of the finding aid list.
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