Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of 1816, an Exhibit

By Kristin Strohmeyer

Please stop by and see the new exhibit located on the first floor of Burke Library, Commemorating  the 200th Anniversary of 1816.

In many regards, 1816 was clearly unique.  The Shakers published the Testimonies of Mother Ann Lee, memorializing her thoughts on the new faith. Hamilton College was four years old, with many artifacts and books remaining today from that era.  American biblical scholar, Edward Robinson, graduated, and went on to be known as the "Father of Biblical Geography" and founder of modern Palestinology. Azel Backus, first President of the College died in December of typhus. Chief Skenandoa of the Oneida Nation outlived his good friend and college founder Samuel Kirkland by only four years, dying in March. 

Affecting the College and the world was the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in early April, 1815. The subsequent weather was unprecedented and spawned the phrase, “A Year without a Summer.”  The effect of the cold temperatures was felt all over the world, and affected not only daily life, but the arts and literature.

July of 1816 saw Lord Byron, John Polidori, and Mary and Percy Shelley gathering in the gloom of Lake Geneva to tell each other ghost stories, the outcome of which was what is generally known as the first horror novel, Modern Prometheus or, Frankenstein, written by Mary.

This exhibit brings together many aspects of the importance of 1816.  Many of these items are part of the wonderful selection of rare and unique items found in the Hamilton College Special Collections and Archives.

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