‘Chronicles of the White Mountains’ at 100

December 21, 2015
Chronicles of the White Mountains
Frederick Kilbourne’s original manuscript for Chronicles of the White Mountains. Photo: Marc Chalufour

Many history books have a limited shelf life, but Chronicles of the White Mountains, written by Frederick W. Kilbourne and published in 1916, remains in print a century later. The massive typed and handwritten manuscript of what was the most comprehensive history of the region to date now resides in AMC’s Library & Archives, along with the author’s personal book collection.

Kilbourne (1872–1965), a Connecticut native, graduated from Yale and served as an associate editor of Webster’s Dictionary and as the head of publications at the New York Public Library’s Brooklyn branch. A lover of the outdoors, he helped plan the route that would become the Mattabesett Trail, now a part of the New England National Scenic Trail, and was the first to formally blaze a section of the trail, starting in Meriden, Conn., in 1919.

Given Kilbourne’s diverse bibliography, with books on topics ranging from Shakespeare to the history of cotton, it’s no surprise his study of the White Mountains covers the natural and cultural history of the region in great detail. He recorded American Indian legends and studied economic development; he noted painters inspired by the mountains and relayed opinions shared by foreign visitors. He also wrote about the booming tourism and hospitality industry, including AMC’s first high-mountain huts and the many grand hotels thriving at the time.

Following the publication of Chronicles of the White Mountains, AMC members Allen H. Bent and Allen Chamberlain—prominent writers themselves—nominated Kilbourne for membership in the organization, and he remained in the club for the rest of his life.

Images seen here appear courtesy of the AMC Library & Archives. Duplicates can be ordered for a fee. Funds support efforts to preserve the club’s historical collections. Call 617-391-6629, visit outdoors.org/library, or e-mail amclibrary@outdoors.org for details.


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Mae Toohey

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.