The Winthrop S. Dakin and Janet Wilder Dakin Papers


The Dakin papers represent a collection of material on lives and civic activities of Amherst residents Winthrop S. Dakin and Janet Wilder Dakin.

Biographical Note

Winthrop Saltonstall Dakin, born in Boston on October 21, 1906 to Arthur Hazard Dakin and Emma Sahler Dakin, lived in Amherst most of his life. He was a graduate of Princeton University and of Harvard Law School, and practiced law in Northampton from 1937 until his retirement in 1974. He was among the founding trustees of Hampshire College, town meeting moderator for 18 years, a trustee of Clarke School for the Deaf, and with his wife, Janet, instrumental in the establishment of the Kestrel Trust, to provide conservation land for Amherst. He died in December 1982.

Janet Wilder Dakin, born in Berkeley, California on June 3, 1910, was the daughter of Isabella Niven Wilder and Amos Parker Wilder, and the youngest sister of author and playwright Thornton Wilder. At the time of her birth her father, a newspaper reporter, was consul general to China, and her first five years were spent in China, Florence, Italy and Berkeley. From the age of five, except for two years in Oxford and London when she was 11 and 12, she lived with her family in Mt. Carmel and New Haven, Connecticut. She earned a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in 1933 and an M.A. in 1935; in 1939 she received a PhD. in zoology from the University of Chicago. After teaching biology at Mount Holyoke College for two years, she married W. S. Dakin and moved to Amherst, where she continued a life-long interest in animals and became an active participant in a number of projects connected with conservation. She had an extensive involvement with Morgan horses, served several years as a 4-H leader in the horse program, was instrumental in founding the Equine Center at the University of Massachusetts, and was a founder of Friends of Amherst's Stray Animals. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Massachusetts portion of the Blue Ribbon Memorial Highway, a memorial to WWII servicemen and women and in the formation of the Holyoke Range State Park, was active in the Amherst Conservation Commission and the Kestrel Trust and was the recipient of a number of conservation awards. She died in October 1994.

The Dakins arranged for their home and 27 adjacent acres to be give to the University of Massachusetts upon their deaths. Their home is now the Arthur F. Kinney Center for Renaissance Studies.

Scope and Contents

The Dakin papers are a collection of material on the lives and civic activities of both Winthrop and Janet Dakin. Winthrop Dakin's service in World War II is well documented by a diary. His other papers include his writings, awards and honors, and correspondence. Janet Dakin's papers include materials documenting her many philanthropic projects. The papers also contain the typescripts for her book on the birth and early life of one of her horses (Jeffy's Journal), as well as material on conservation committees. Materials about Kestral Trust are included as well Dakin and Wilder family genealogies and photographs.


4 linear feet

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Associated Collections

Kestrel Trust

Preferred Citation

(Folder title), Winthrop S. Dakin and Janet Wilder Dakin Papers, Special Collections, Jones Library, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Collection Inventory

Folder Titles
Amherst Community Association – Constitution 
Amherst Conservation Commission – Bylaws
Amherst Conservation Commission – Deeds 
Amherst Conservation Commission – Meetings 
Amherst Conservation Commission – Miscellaneous 
Dakin, Emma Sahler – Poems 
Dakin, Janet W. – Amherst Garden Club 
Dakin, Janet W. – Amherst Woman’s Club 
Dakin, Janet W. – Animals  
Dakin, Janet W. – Autobiography 
Dakin, Janet W. - Awards and Honors 
Dakin, Janet W. – Biographical 
Dakin, Janet W. – Blue Star Memorial Highway 
Dakin, Janet W. – Correspondence 
Dakin, Janet W. – Death 
Dakin, Janet W. – Dousing 
Dakin, Janet W. – Friends of Amherst’s Stray Animals 
Dakin, Janet W. – Garden 
Dakin, Janet W. – House, E. Pleasant 
Dakin, Janet W. – Jeffy’s Journal 
Dakin, Janet W. – Mt. Holyoke College 
Dakin, Janet W. – Lectures 
Dakin, Janet W. – Newspaper articles 
Dakin, Janet W. – Parliamentary Procedure 
Dakin, Janet W. – Photographs 
Dakin, Janet W. – Thursday Club 
Dakin, Janet W. – Travellers Club 
Dakin, Janet W. – Wedding 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Artwork 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Awards and honors 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Common topics 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Correspondence 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Diaries 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – High School Yearbook 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Miscellaneous 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Photographs 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Princeton University  
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Travel 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – World War II 
Dakin, Winthrop S. – Writings 
Dakin Family – Genealogy 
Dakin Family – Photographs 
Kestrel Trust – Annual Reports 
Kestrel Trust – Holyoke Range 
Kestrel Trust – Miscellaneous 
Kestrel Trust – Newsletters 
Sahler, Helen G.  
Wilder, Thornton N. 
Wilder Family – Genealogy 
Wilder Family – Photographs