Artifacts & Documents: Printed Material

Exhibition of the Young Men's Lyceum

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In 19th century America, lyceums were local institutions that offered public lectures. Amherst's neighboring town of Sunderland had organized several over the years, but the one formed in early 1835 was remarkably active. It held weekly debates over a range of topics (for example, "Ought the Sabbath to be protected by law?" or "Are corporations beneficial?") and held lecture programs such as the one advertised here. 

In this program, topics were drawn from typical sources for the time, such as Shakespeare, music, and Sir Walter Scott's novel Waverly. But another item hints at a bloody conflict to come: the "Dialogue on Slavery." In 1835, Massachusetts, like much of New England, had become radicalized against slavery through the intense efforts of abolitionists. Their highly successful campaign collecting local petitions eventually caused Congress to pass, in 1836, a "gag rule" that prohibited the reception of any more such petitions. Finally, the Sunderland lyceum formed the Union Club, which issued a 4-page monthly newspaper, the "Mysterious Budget," for almost a year.

February 25, 1835
9" x 16"
Courtesy of:
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library