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UAI 5.150

Harvard University. President's Office. Records of the President of Harvard University, Charles W. Eliot, 1869-1930 : an inventory

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAI 5.150
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard University. President's Office.
Title: Records of the President of Harvard University, Charles W. Eliot,
Date(s): 1869-1930.
Quantity: 90 cubic feet (205 document boxes, 40 portfolio boxes, 2 card file boxes, 2 microfilm reels)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) was President of Harvard University from March 12, 1869 to May 19, 1909. He transformed Harvard from a regional institution to a world-class university. The Records consist of official records produced by his administration. The largest part of these papers, consisting of correspondence and writings, document important aspects of Eliot's administration and shed light on his leadership and accomplishments.

Acquisition Information:

Most of papers in this collection were transferred by Charles W. Eliot to the Harvard University Archives, ca. 1890s to ca. 1920s. Additional materials were acquired through donation or purchase. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the folder lists below.
Acquisitions known to come from sources others than C. W. Eliot are as follows:
  • 1901, H. Ernestine Ripley
  • 1920s, Charles William Eliot
  • 1931, Henry James
  • 1932, Harris Kennedy
  • 1933, Samuel A. Eliot
  • 1934, Grace Eliot Dudley
  • 1943, Jerome D. Greene
  • 1953, W.A. Meyer
  • 1958, James R. Reynolds
  • 1959, Mrs. A.F. Wittem
  • 1964, Arthur Maas
  • 1964, Samuel Eliot Morrison
  • 1965, T. Roland Berner
  • 1966, J.K. Wright
  • 1967, Max Fisch
  • 1974, Hite Lambert
  • Accession number: 17358; 2006 May 15
  • Processing Information:

    The papers of Charles William Eliot and the records of Eliot's Harvard presidency were first classified and described in the Harvard College Library shelflist as the Papers of Charles William Eliot (UAI 15.894) and Eliot Records (UAI 5.150). In 2006, archivist Dominic P. Grandinetti re-processed all of the Eliot material.
    Re-processing started with properly identifying misclassified materials, so that all Eliot's papers were re-classified to UAI 15.894 and all the records of Eliot's presidential administration to UAI 5.150. The few exceptions to this are noted in the inventories. The archivist then rehoused all the material, eliminated old box numbers and old folders, renamed folders if necessary, established the series and subseries hierarchies, and created the inventories. Eliot's initial transfers of material had been re-arranged several times since the 1920s and definitive evidence of original arrangement had long been lost. However, during the 2006 re-processing, the archivist attempted to maintain what remained of the original order. Exceptions are noted in the series descriptions.
    As part of the Eliot project, the archivist created a map to old call numbers, box numbers, and folders that were eradicated. A link to this map is located at the end of the inventory.
    For more information about the early acquisition and processing of these papers see the Librarians' Files, 1897-1937, W.C. Lane, General Correspondence File, 1897-1928, Edw-EW, Box 16, UAIII 50.8.10.2.

    Conditions on Use and Access:

    These records are open to researchers. Please consult the reference staff for details on how to obtain access. Some restrictions may apply.

    Related Material

    Biographical Essay

    Charles W. Eliot (1834-1926) was President of Harvard University from March 12, 1869 to May 19, 1909. A strong administrator and creative educator, Eliot's presidency was marked by several major innovations that transformed Harvard University from a regional institution to a university of international stature and helped broaden and invigorate American education.
    Among these major innovations were:
    Eliot's two main contributions to the development of higher education in the United States were his promotion of an elective system of courses and the improvement in professional education. He wrote extensively about the elective system, convinced that giving students a choice in their studies would improve mental discipline and training. By 1885, Harvard students had complete choice in the selection of their studies. In addition, through tireless effort, by the time of Eliot's retirement, Harvard had earned a reputation for vigorous academic scholarship and rigor in its professional schools.
    During Eliot's forty-year tenure as President of Harvard University, Eliot fought for those reforms and changes that he thought were needed to improve Harvard and nourish the intellectual curiosity of its students. From expanding the size of the faculty, seeking prospective students throughout the nation, raising admission standards, improving educational opportunities for women, reforming the college statutes, attracting money for new dormitories and college buildings, promoting faculty research, or improving faculty salaries, Eliot touched every aspect of Harvard administration as President, helping to transform a small liberal arts college into a major university.

    C. W. Eliot Biographical Sources

    Biographical / Historical

    Chronology

    Series and Subseries in the Collection

    Scope of the Collection

    The Records of the President of Harvard University, Charles W. Eliot, consist of official records produced by Eliot and his administration. They date principally from 1869 to his retirement in 1909. The largest part of these papers, consisting of correspondence and writings, document important aspects of Eliot's administration and shed light on his leadership and accomplishments. These papers illustrate Eliot's roles as a salesman, lobbyist, educator, philosopher, cheerleader, and chief executive of Harvard University for forty years. Material related to Eliot's personal life will not be found in these papers, nor will Eliot's earlier writings (1848-1868). Both of these form part of the Papers of Charles William Eliot (UAI 15.894).

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2016 March 28.

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