Amherst is located in Hampshire County, 20 miles north of Springfield. Amherst is adjacent to Hadley and from the time it was settled in the 1730's to 1759, it was part of Hadley. In 1759, it was organized as a separate district, which was incorporated as a town in 1775. The name honors Lord Jeffrey Amherst, a hero of the French and Indians Wars.
Amherst Academy was a college preparatory school that was founded in 1814. One of the founders was Samuel Fowler Dickinson, whose grandaughter Emily Dickinson attended Amherst Academy and went on to become famous as a poet. Some of the same people who started the academy founded Amherst College in 1821. Noah Webster was one of the founders and was the college's president while he was writing his dictionary. Robert Frost lived in Amherst and taught at various times at Amherst College. The Robert Frost Library is on the college's campus.
In 1863, the state of Massachusetts organized the Massachusetts Agricultural School in Amherst. This later became the University of Massachusetts. Another, much more recent, college in Amherst is Hampshire College, founded in 1972.
The history of Amherst is on display at the Strong House, built in 1750 and now the location of the Amherst History Museum. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art opened in 2002 and is the only museum in America devoted to this genre.
Amherst is served by the Amherst Medical Center, part of the Valley Medical Group, as well as an infirmary at the University of Massachusetts.