Whately, incorporated in 1771, was originally part of Hatfield, a town in Hampshire County, but separated because the people who lived in what is now Whately were too farm from the town center. It is the site of the first gin distillery in Massachusetts, as well as other mills including grist, cider, woolen, chair and coffin factories. Above all, Whately has been and continues to be an agricultural area with commercial crops including apples, cider, hay, maple products, tobacco, and vegetables.
Whately lies on the southern border of Franklin County, north of Hampshire County. Whately is bisected by Interstate 91 and is 26 miles north of Springfield and 11 miles south of Greenfield.