History of the Emily Dickinson Museum

The Museum was created in 2003 when the two houses merged under the ownership of Amherst College. The Museum is dedicated to educating diverse audiences about Emily Dickinson’s life, family, creative work, times, and enduring relevance, and to preserving and interpreting the Homestead and The Evergreens as historical resources for the benefit of scholars and the general public.

The Homestead (pictured) and The Evergreens, with such close ties in the nineteenth century, saw their paths diverge in the twentieth. The Homestead was sold in 1916 to another Amherst family and underwent some modernization. In 1965, in recognition of the poet’s growing stature, the Homestead was purchased by Amherst College and open to the public for tours. It also served as a faculty residence for many years.

Front Door to the Homestead

Next door, The Evergreens, occupied by Dickinson family heirs until 1988, remained virtually unchanged for a hundred years. In 1991, The Evergreens passed to a private testamentary trust, the Martha Dickinson Bianchi Trust (named in honor of Emily Dickinson’s niece), which began developing the house as a museum.

Collaborations between the Homestead and The Evergreens began as the Martha Dickinson Bianchi Trust prepared to open Austin Dickinson’s house to the public in the late 1990s. The success of these joint efforts suggested that uniting as one museum would have great advantages for the public as well as for administration and governance of the sites. Together the houses tell a more complete story about the poet, her family, and the world in which she lived.

To that end, The Emily Dickinson Museum was created on July 1, 2003, when ownership of The Evergreens was transferred by the Martha Dickinson Bianchi Trust to Amherst College. The merger of the houses and the three acres on which they stand restored the parts of the property to the estate Dickinson herself had known and furthers the College's long-standing and complex associations with the Dickinson family and its stewardship of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and other manuscripts.

Learn more about the Museum's founding and operations in our Ten Year Report