Williams College, at Williamstown, Mass.; coeducational; chartered 1785, opened as a free school 1791, became a college 1793, named for Ephraim Williams. The Williams campus, noted for its fine old buildings, includes West College (1790), the Van Rensselaer Manor House (moved from Albany, N.Y.), and the oldest U.S. observatory (Hopkins; 1838). Williams College, the first to establish an institute of politics (maintained until 1934), now has several research institutes. The Chapin Library of Rare Books houses important books, manuscripts, and prints relating to Americana, English literature, and early painting. There is a fine art museum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.