The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Williams College

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WILLIAMS COLLEGE, located at Williamstown, Mass. It owes its origin to the bequest of Col. Ephraim Williams, for establishing a “Free School” in Williamstown. The bequest was made in 1755; the property was sold, and the funds were allowed to accumulate until 1785, when a free school was incorporated by the legislature, and a lottery granted for raising funds to erect a building; in 1790 the building (now West College) was completed, and the school was opened 20 Oct. 1791. In 1793 the institution was incorporated as a college under its present name, the property vested in the free school was transferred to the college, and a grant of $4,000 was made by the State to purchase a library and apparatus. The college subsequently received other appropriations from the State; in 1796 the legislature granted two townships of land; in 1809 an additional township; and in 1814 appropriated the taxes from the Massachusetts bank for 10 years to Harvard, Williams and Bowdoin, Williams' share in which amounted to $30,000; in 1859 the legislature appropriated $25,000, and in 1868, $75,000. In 1806 the first foreign missionary society in the United States was formed at Williams. In 1836-72 Mark Hopkins (q.v.) was president of the college, and during his administration it attained a high degree of prosperity.

The curriculum prescribes the work of the freshman year, and organizes the courses of the last three years in 11 major groups arranged in three divisions. The aim is to secure the concentration of part of the student's work in one well-defined field and the distribution of another part among different subjects. The degree of A.B. is conferred, and A.M. for graduate work and thesis. There are 76 general scholarships and one special prize scholarship. The principal college buildings are West College, the oldest, erected 1790; East College, erected in 1798, burned in 1841, and rebuilt; South College; Griffin Hall; Hopkins Observatory, built in 1837, under the direction of Prof. Albert Hopkins, the first college observatory in the United States; Lawrence Hall Library; Jackson Hall; Alumni Hall Chapel; College Hall; Clark Hall; Field Memorial Observatory, erected 1882, containing a fine meridian circle by A. Repsold and Sons, Hamburg; Morgan Hall; Lasell Gymnasium; Hopkins Memorial Hall; Thompson Chemical Laboratory; Thompson Biological Laboratory; Thompson Physical Laboratory; College Infirmary; Jesup Hall; Williams Hall; Grace Hall. The library contains about 89,000 volumes. The productive fund amounts to $2,900,883.58; the student attendance is 552 and the faculty 61; the total number of graduates nearly 6,000.