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Hamilton College Archives

By Katherine Collett

Hamilton College Archives, in the basement of Burke Library, contains many curious items related to the history of the college. The College Archives holds Hamilton and Kirkland College records, published materials, and personal papers of enduring value from administrators, faculty, students, and alumni from the founding of the Hamilton-Oneida Academy to the present, including the papers of Samuel Kirkland. In 1793 Kirkland founded the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, which became Hamilton College in 1812. Read more about the Samuel Kirkland Correspondence and visit the Archives online.

The College Archives also includes official college correspondence and records from the 19th century, and letters and other documents by and about alumni. From these we can piece together snippets about people’s lives. In March 1813, Charles Ford, class of 1816, wrote a letter to his uncle, in which he discusses the Brit­ish capture of his hometown, Ogdensburg, NY, in the War of 1812, and the conduct of Major Forsyth there.  Ford also accuses himself of "the baise crime of ingratitude"  for not writing home more of­ten, but cites the lack of time, because "we study Latin Mathematics Roman Antiquities recite three times in the course of the day and take very long lessons which employs the whole of our time and not a moment scarcely to spaire."

A year later Charles Ford was the first student to be expelled from the college, in June, 1814, for "several crimes and misdemeanors: particularly Drunkenness, Fraud, and Lying," according to the resolution enacting his expulsion. He eventually made good, however; he studied medicine with an­other uncle and received an MD from Columbia in 1819. 

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