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HUM 182

Beer, Samuel H. (Samuel Hutchison), 1911-2009. Samuel H. Beer personal archive, 1898-2009 and undated: an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 182
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Beer, Samuel H. (Samuel Hutchison), 1911-2009.
Title: Samuel H. Beer personal archive, 1898-2009 and undated
Date(s): 1898-2009 and undated
Quantity: 62.21 cubic feet (50 record cartons, 26 document boxes, 14 flat boxes, 1 card box, 2 portfolio folders)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Samuel Hutchison Beer (1911-2009) was the Eaton Professor of Science of Government at Harvard University from 1971 to 1982. Beer's research focused on the government and politics of Great Britain, American federalism, intergovernmental relations, comparative government, and the history of political theory. The collection documents Beer's involvement as a teacher, writer, advisor, consultant, and political activist, and illuminates his role as a distinguished American scholar of British politics and a wide-ranging theorist of American federalism, with the heaviest concentration of material dating from 1946 to 2002. The nature of the collection—a mix of comprehensive notes on lectures, articles, and book as well as memos and other correspondence with political actors and organizations—reflects Beer's philosophy that academic work and political activism are not just complementary enterprises, but fundamentally and inextricably linked. Although he was not an "activist-scholar", Beer was involved with American politics at all levels, from grassroots organizing to presidential campaigns, and argued that this involvement was central to making him a better educator.

Acquisition information:

The Samuel H. Beer personal archive was acquired by the Harvard University Archives through donation. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the folder list below.
The acquisitions are as follows:
  • Accession number: 17179; 2005 August 4
  • Accession number: 18300; 2011 June 30
  • Accession number: 2018.144; 2017 August 31
  • Processing Information:

    Processed February 2015-April 2015 by Dominic P. Grandinetti with assistance from Samuel Bauer, Adam Schutzman, and James Moore. Additional descriptive work was completed by Ross Mulcare, January 2016.
    Description of the Samuel H. Beer personal archive was supported by the Harvard Library's Hidden Collection initiative.
    In preparing this collection, the archivist strove to retain the original arrangement established by Beer. Processing details are described at the series level below.
    The accessions associated with the collection have not been merged and organized as a whole. Each accession is described separately, titled according to month and year of acquisition. Researchers should note that subject matter within each accession overlaps with and/or relates to material found in other accessions.
    Processing involved the rehousing of materials in appropriate archival containers, the establishment of series and subseries, and the creation of this finding aid. Physical re-arrangement was minimal (restricted materials were placed at the end of the collection).
    The container list includes a combination of box and folder level description. Box level descriptions include brief summaries of the subject matter examined in each box and an approximate date range. Researchers should note that subject categories in some boxes overlap.
    Beer's original folder titles were retained; however, in some cases folder titles were derived from additional annotations found on folder flaps. Any folder titles and dates supplied by the archivist appear in brackets. Beer's original folders were chiefly retained throughout this collection and paper clips were not removed. In some cases, bound volumes and 3-ring binders stand alone and are not found in folders.

    Researcher Access:

    The Samuel H. Beer personal archive is open for research use with the following exceptions: original audiocassette tapes, reel-to-reel audio tapes, compact disks, DVD's, floppy disks, and video cassettes are not available due to fragility. Use copies are required.
    Harvard University records in this collection are restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. Personal records in this collection are restricted for 80 years from the date of creation.
    Restricted items are noted at the item level.
    Records in boxes 85-101 contain restricted materials and are closed to researchers.
    Records in boxes 102-110 are closed to researchers due to their physical condition.

    Copying Restriction:

    Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

    Restrictions on use:

    Use restrictions are noted in the folder lists.

    Preferred Citation:

    Beer, Samuel H. (Samuel Hutchison), 1911-2009. Samuel H. Beer personal archive, 1898-2008 and undated. HUM 182, Harvard University Archives.

    Related material

    In the Harvard University Archives
    In the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

    Biographical note

    Samuel Hutchison Beer (1911-2009) was the Eaton Professor of Science of Government at Harvard University from 1971 to 1982. Beer's research focused on the government and politics of Great Britain, American federalism, intergovernmental relations, comparative government, and the history of political theory. For thirty years, Beer taught Western Thought and Institutions (Social Sciences 2) at Harvard, a course that combined history, political theory, and comparative government. Beer was acknowledged as the leading American expert on the politics and government of Great Britain. In addition, Beer was a life-long member of the Democratic Party, active in Massachusetts politics, and national chairman of Americans for Democratic Action from 1959 to 1962.
    Born on July 28, 1911, in Bucyrus, Ohio, Beer received his AB from the University of Michigan in 1932 and a BA from Balliol College, Oxford in 1935. After graduation, Beer worked as a staff member for the Democratic National Committee, an occasional speech writer for Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1935-1936), a police reporter for The New York Post (1936-1937) and a writer for Fortune (1937-1938) before returning to Harvard, where he earned his PhD in political science in 1943. He served with an Army artillery unit in World War II in the European Theatre (1942-1945), earning a bronze star during the invasion of Normandy. Beer rose to the rank of captain and was stationed in Germany as part of the allied military government. He began teaching at Harvard in 1946 and retired in 1982. During his tenure at Harvard, Beer served as Chairman of the Harvard Department of Government from 1954 to 1958. After retiring, Beer became the first Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Professor of American Politics at Boston College in 1982 and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution in 1996. Beer was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences in July 2000.
    A prolific writer, Beer authored several books and scholarly articles on the politics and government of Great Britain and American political theory. In his first book, The City of Reason (1949), he articulated a liberal political philosophy based on the ideas of Alfred North Whitehead. It was followed by Treasury Control (1956), a study of how the British government coordinates financial and economic policy; and British Politics in the Collectivist Age (1965), an inquiry into the conflict between conservative and radical impulses in postwar Britain. This study of British politics, an analysis of post-war socialism, political parties, and pressure groups, secured his reputation as the preeminent expert on British politics and government. In 1982, Beer authored Britain against Itself: The Political Contradictions of Collectivism, a discussion of the political discord and pluralistic stagnation that had transformed Great Britain into a negative political model by the 1970s. In 1993, Beer's study of American political theory culminated with his To Make a Nation: The Rediscovery of American Federalism, an influential examination of the original purpose behind the idea of states' rights.
    Beer married Roberta Frances Reed (born 1909) in 1935; deceased 1987. The couple had three children: William Reed (1943-1991), Katherine (born 1936), and Frances (born 1941). Beer married his second wife, Jane K. Brooks (1921-2013) in 1989. Beer died on April 7, 2009.

    References

    Arrangement

    The collection is organized into three accessions:Accession 17179 (2005 August 4) Accession 18300 (2011 June 30) Accession 2017.144 (2017 August 31)

    Scope and Contents

    The Samuel H. Beer personal archive documents Beer's academic and professional career as a teacher, writer, advisor, consultant, and political activist, and illuminates his role as a distinguished American scholar of British politics and a wide-ranging theorist of American federalism. The nature of the collection—a mix of comprehensive notes on lectures, articles, and book as well as memos and other correspondence with political actors and organizations—reflects Beer's philosophy that academic work and political activism are not just complementary enterprises, but fundamentally and inextricably linked. Although he was not an "activist-scholar", Beer was involved with American politics at all levels, from grassroots organizing to presidential campaigns, and argued that involvement was central to making him a better educator. The bulk of the collection dates from 1946 to 2002 and is a valuable resource for research in the government and politics of Great Britain, American federalism, intergovernmental relations, comparative politics, and the history of political theory. Beer was a prolific researcher, correspondent, and author, and thus much of the collection consists of published and unpublished articles, correspondence, and lecture materials produced during his career. Although the accessions are generally well defined, researchers should note that there is some overlap of subject matter between accessions.
    The largest component of this collection are the subject files comprised of reports, letters, news clippings, speeches, lecture notes, pamphlets, articles, reprints, and other records dating from 1932 to 2009. The subject files contain a few broad categories of records overlapping with other material in the collection including reference and resource files, writings authored by Beer, professional organization and conference files, teaching materials, talks and lectures, and files related to Beer's involvement in the Democratic Party. The subject files illustrate Beer's wide-ranging research on matters related to British government and politics, the American federal system, and intergovernmental relations; and reveal his research style and extensive data gathering techniques. Publications authored by Beer within the subject files highlight his role as an advisor to leading officials on matters of public policy such as the restructuring of the Massachusetts tax code, improvement of the Electoral College, the expansion of government-to-government economic cooperation across the Western Hemisphere, and the reform of the welfare programs in the United States. Beer's association with several academic and professional organizations including the American Political Science Association (president, 1976-1977), the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (senior scholar), and the British Politics Group (first president, 1974-1976) are chronicled in these files and exhibit Beer's collaboration with colleagues to promote the study of the United States Constitution, American federalism, intergovernmental relations, and British post-World War II government and politics. Beer's popularity as a speaker at conferences, panel discussions, seminars, and other meetings on public policy matters, as well as his contributions in identifying and shaping policy responses on the local, national, and international level, is represented in these files.
    Beer's subject files also highlight his involvement with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1980s, and particularly his role in the establishment and operation of the Boston branch of the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological Olympics (ACT-SO) program, often referred to as "Olympics of the Mind." Correspondence and related records in the subject files document Beer's extensive participation in the Massachusetts-Antioquia Partners of the Americas, which was a sub-organization of The Partners of the Alliance, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) program that functioned as the "people-to-people" arm of the Alliance for Progress, an effort to build economic and social relationships between the United States and South American countries in the 1960s. Of particular note is the very lengthy and detailed diary that Beer kept from his first trip to Medellín, Colombia in 1964 with the partners program (Box 18, Folder 31 and Box 57, Folder 4). Daily entries describe in incredible detail his impression of the people he met and places he visited. Upon his return from Colombia, Beer contacted Thomas J. Wilson, the Director of the Harvard University Press, and arranged for the donation of hundreds of books to the library at the Escuela de Administración y Finanzas and Instituto Tecnológico, a business and technical school that was recently built in Medellín that caught Beer's attention. A significant portion of Beer's files relating to the Massachusetts-Antioquia Partners of the Americas in this collection pertain to his ongoing commitment to providing the school library with books, and the development of a "Junior Executive Exchange Program" which brought Colombian students to Boston and arranged jobs for the students at local banks and insurance companies. The subject files also document Beer's activities on behalf of the Democratic Party as an advisor and political activist and chronicle his participation at state and national conventions, his support of political candidates, and his involvement in reforming Massachusetts state government. Included among them are several audiocassettes of telephone conversations and meeting discussions from John F. Kennedy's term as President of the United States. These audiocassettes are copies of the original recordings which are held by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. These audiocassettes are unavailable to researchers until use copies can be produced.
    Writings in this collection reflect Beer's research interests and illustrate his extensive investigations of modern British politics and American federalism from the 1930s to 2000s. The author of numerous articles and books, the writings chronicle Beer's scholarship of comparative politics, especially in regards to Great Britain and Western Europe, American federalism, intergovernmental relations, and the history of political theory. The writings also reveal Beer's analytical skills, his ability to clarify major issues and policy implications, and his expertise in acquiring evidence from a broad knowledge of data and theories.
    Beer's teaching in such subjects as political science, American government, British government and politics, intergovernmental relations, and comparative government at Harvard from 1938 to 1999 are illustrated in the lecture notes, reading lists, bibliographies, class readings, and examinations found in this collection. These records reveal Beer as a theorist and scholar and offer a glimpse into the political science and government instruction that students receive at Harvard University. Of special interest are Beer's extensive lecture notes that offer insight into Beer's research methodology, illustrate his distinctive style of teaching, including his method of presenting questions to students and encouraging the development of answers, and his use of critical thinking skills to formulate ideas on American government and political science. In addition, scattered throughout these records are reading lists, syllabi, and lectures for Beer's government courses at Boston College, Dartmouth College, and the University of California (San Diego) from the 1960s to the 1980s. The collection also includes a limited amount of letters, meeting minutes, handbooks, and other records, documenting Beer's efforts to support and develop the Department of Government curriculum and teaching program at Harvard from 1968 to 2002.
    The reference and resource files in this collection are comprised of printed materials from 1898 to 2003 on a wide variety of subjects related to British government and politics, American federalism, intergovernmental relations, and the history of political theory. Principally used by Beer to support his teaching, writing, and speaking activities, these files document Beer's evolving study of subjects related to government and politics. News clippings, articles, reprints, book chapters, and reports trace the evolution of historical patterns and long-term trends in British and American political culture. Filed in these records are Beer's Harvard course lecture notes, speeches given at conferences, seminars, and other meetings, and publications authored by Beer. Derived from a broad range of sources, the reference and resource files provide researchers with a storehouse of information about the political institutions, individuals, and groups that influenced British and American politics and government in the twentieth century.
    Correspondence files dating from 1939 to 2007 illustrate the demand for Beer's expertise in matters related to government policy; many of the letters are from individuals seeking his advice on national economic policy, civil rights legislation, foreign and defense policy, and national urban policy. The correspondence files chronicle Beer's exchanges with significant figures in government including United State Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, George McGovern, and Hubert H. Humphrey; and Henry A. Kissinger, McGeorge Bundy, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Beer's correspondence reveals his research interests and his leadership role in the study of British politics and government, American federalism, and intergovernmental relations. Additionally, these files also include more routine correspondence related to Beer's travels, conference arrangements, speaking engagements, and the publication of his articles and books.
    The personal materials found in this collection highlight Beer's accomplishments as a student, teacher, and scholar of British politics and as a theorist of American federalism. Included among these materials is an oral history which recounts Beer's activities as a Democratic Party activist; photographs and letters documenting Beer's eightieth and ninetieth birthday celebrations, illustrating the gratitude, respect, and admiration he was held in by friends and colleagues; and photographs of Beer and his wife Roberta from 1915 to 1985. Additional personal materials include letters, cards, and other records related to Beer's marriage to Jane K. Brooks in 1989; photographs and news clippings highlighting Beer's interest in skydiving; and an assortment of buttons and ribbons from state and national political campaigns collected by Beer from 1953 to 1988. Awards and honorary degrees, curriculum vitae, and biographical sketches, which describe and acknowledge Beer's lifetime contributions to the study of politics and government are also included.

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2017 September 13.

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