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College Bicentennial

On the Hill: A Bicentennial History of Hamilton College

by Maurice Isserman

Published on the occasion of Hamilton’s 200th anniversary in 2012 and written by Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History, this book tells the story of the College’s rich history through captivating text and stunning color images.
(400 pages, hardcover)

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Honors for On the Hill >>

Maurice Isserman

Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History at Hamilton College, came to the Hill in 1990 as an assistant professor of history and director of the American Studies program. A graduate of Reed College (B.A., 1973) and the University of Rochester (M.A., 1975, Ph.D., 1979), he had previously taught at Oberlin, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Williams colleges. Since coming to Hamilton he has been the recipient of a Mellon Fellowship at Harvard University and held the position of Fulbright Distinguished Professor at Moscow State University in Russia. His previous books include Which Side Were You On? The American Communist Party During the Second World War (1982), If I Had a Hammer: The Death of the Old Left and the Birth of the New Left (1987), California Red: The Life of Dorothy Healey (co-authored with Dorothy Healey, 1990), The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington (2000), America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s (co-authored with Michael Kazin, 2000, and now in its fourth revised edition), and Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (co-authored with Stewart Weaver, 2008, winner of the 2008 Banff book festival prize for best mountaineering history and the 2008 National Outdoor Book Award prize for best history). His regular history courses at Hamilton range from the Civil War to the 1960s, and he also teaches a course on Adventure Writing.

On the Hill: A Bicentennial History of Hamilton College

In 1812, the Regents of the State of New York issued a charter to the third college launched in the state, and the 31st to be established in the United States — a college named for Alexander Hamilton and tracing its origins to a school established by the Reverend Samuel Kirkland in 1793 for the children of Indians and white settlers.

On the Hill: A Bicentennial History of Hamilton College marks the occasion of that college’s 200th anniversary in 2012. It is the first official and full-scale history of Hamilton to be published since 1962, the year of the College’s sesquicentennial. The half-century between 1962 and 2012 brought great changes to the institution, as Hamilton more than doubled in size, dramatically revised its curriculum, reshaped campus social life, became coeducational, attracted a more diverse student body and rose in national prominence. At the same time, much stayed the same. In 2012, as in 1962 — and, for that matter, as in 1812 — Hamilton remains a small, selective, residential liberal arts college with a dedicated faculty of teacher-scholars.

This book is thus a history of change and continuity played out over two centuries on a hilltop overlooking the village of Clinton, New York. It is also a consideration of the myriad ways in which the evolution of the college was bound up with a much larger history — local, regional and national. And,  finally and throughout, it is the story of the men and women who taught and studied at Hamilton College over the course of two centuries, and in doing so created a legacy of a vibrant, if not always harmonious, learning community, a legacy that they have passed on to their successors in the years to come.

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Honors for On the Hill

On the Hill: A Bicentennial History of Hamilton College is now the winner of three major awards. Most recently, On the Hill received the Arline Custer Memorial Award from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference. The Custer Award recognizes the best books created using archival sources; On the Hill was researched primarily in and through the Hamilton College Archives.

On the Hill previously was honored by the University and College Designers Association with the national Award of Excellence and by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education with the national Gold Award, with other Hamilton activities and publications as part of the “Year-Long Special Events” category.

While it has sold more than 1,000 copies, On the Hill remains available at the campus Bookstore for the holidays and beyond. The richly illustrated 388-page volume can be ordered online.

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