Scope and Content

The Harry A. Garfield Papers comprise thirty-seven linear feet of material that documents the administration of Harry A. Garfield from his appointment as the eighth President of Williams College in 1908 to his retirement following Commencement in 1934.

Every effort was made to maintain the original order of this record group. In some cases, however, order was either not evident or inconsistent. Four secretaries worked in the President's Office during Garfield's tenure, which allows for some disparity. The last of Garfield's secretaries, Kathleen O'Connell, apparently attempted to reorganize the papers in 1929. In addition to filing inconsistencies, records were also found loose, re-boxed and mixed with other presidents' material at the time of transfer.

The material in this record group comprises predominantly correspondence, including letters and telegrams received, with carbon copies of letters and telegrams sent. Reports, newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, blueprints, photographs, examinations, programs, pamphlets, and memoranda make up the remaining documents. Correspondence during Garfield's tenure as U.S. Fuel Administrator was maintained at his office in Washington, D.C. and later transferred to Williams College. This material is often filed separately within certain series.

This record group provides documentation of the major achievements of Garfield's presidency. Curriculum reform and the establishment of honors courses mark important educational advances developed by President Garfield. Successful endowment campaigns, conducted under Garfield's leadership, raised professor's salaries. Construction projects nearly doubled the number of buildings on campus. Garfield supervised the construction of Chapin Hall, Stetson Hall, Cole Field House, Freshman Quad, and the Chemistry Laboratory as well as the renovation of several other buildings. President Garfield's guidance during periods of historical significance such as prohibition, the depression and World War I (even as he served as Fuel Administrator) is highly evident and his thoughts on the matters clearly documented. Student enrollment increased dramatically during Garfield's term from 450 men in 1908 to 772 in 1934. Garfield's involvement with student organizations and his management of student problems such as the cane rush can be traced through his correspondence. Garfield's influence in programs such as the Thompson Courses and Bok Lectures, which brought prominent people to Williams College, is also evident in this material. Glimpses of his personal life, including family news and his opinions on a variety of matters, can be seen in his letters to Mary Thompson Clarke, Francis Stetson, Alfred Chapin, Bentley Warren, Vanderpoel Adriance and many others. Notable correspondents include Calvin Coolidge, Gaillard Hunt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Herbert Hoover, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Barton Hepburn and Herbert Lehman.

Harry A. Garfield Records, 1908-1934

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Series List
Biographical Chronology