Scope and Content Note
The Dudley Ward Rhodes Bahlman Papers, ca. 1940-1998 contain personal and professional correspondence, writings, and collected research materials.
Bahlman served in WWII as a medic in England and returned in 1946 to graduate from Yale University. His letters to his mother during his military service give a different take on the war than is normally portrayed, since he spent all of his time in England far from the main battles, but still intimately in the action.
He was a professor of History at Williams College for 29 years. He was originally interested in 17 th century English history, but later his focus became the 19 th century Victorian era. His lifetime project was a compilation of the diary of Sir Edward Hamilton which was published in three volumes.
The nature of Bahlman?s research often melded into his personal life. He met many of his friends through research or publication of papers. It is due to this characteristic of his life that all of his correspondence, whether personal or professional, has been kept together since there is often very little distinction between the two categories. Friends and colleagues would often write him on research subjects and for answers to historical questions, figuring it was better to ask him than to try to find the some small piece of information themselves.
Balhman kept detailed notes, gathered from libraries wherever he traveled, on a wide variety of subjects from the time period in which he was interested. These notes can be found in boxes 4 through 9 and include: lists of books, quotes, locations of specific manuscripts, and his questions and thoughts, some of which are related to his published work and some not.
The papers have been divided into three series, I. Correspondence, II. Writings, and III. Research and collected materials.
Series I, Correspondence, contains letters from ca. 1940 to1998 arranged in chronological order. The correspondence can be viewed in terms of three subsets. The years 1944-1949 consist entirely of letters he wrote to his mother; and 1944-1946 written while he was serving in the Army Medical Corps during WWII. The second subset are those pertaining to the publication of Bahlman?s edition of The Diary of Sir Edward Hamilton and can be found in the years 1969-1970 and 1992-1993. There is also some correspondence on the attempted publication of ?The Deceased Wife?s Sister.? The remainder of the correspondence is of a mixed personal/professional nature dealing with research topics and parties or visits, some from when he was Dean of the Faculty, some from frustrated colleagues. Also included is correspondence dealing with the placement of a clay pile during the remodeling of the Clark Art Museum, all of which Balhman takes with his customary good humor.
Bahlman had a long running correspondence with British politician Anthony Wedgewood Benn, the earliest letter being from 1959. Tony Benn was a British left wing labor party politician and is noted for passing the Peerage Act of 1963 so that he could renounce his peerage and be reelected into the House of Commons. During 1964-1970 Benn served as Postmaster General and Minister of Technology and in the 1980?s he was considered the most influential member of the Labor Party. He has published numerous books and pamphlets dealing with concepts such as class and rank in modern England, nuclear power, European unity and democratic socialism. Williams College gave Benn an honorary degree at Convocation 1980.
Series II, Writings includes published and unpublished essays, as well as draft fragments and reviews written by Bahlman or pertaining to his The Diary of Sir Edward Hamilton. Also included here is a short story, ?A Winter of Discontent,? probably written before he attended Yale.
Series III, Research and collected materials contains notes, books, essays and other material that Bahlman used for research or kept for personal interest. The most extensive part of this series are the six boxes of notes that contain bibliographies, lists of books, articles and sources of interest in the U.S. and English libraries and collections, and quotes and questions that he gathered over his lifetime. Also included are documents received from and/or by Tony Benn, and notes from J.A. Godley, Lord Kilbracken sent to Bahlman by his grandson.
Miscellaneous items that were found include one photograph of Bahlman in his war uniform, and some programs, receipts and pamphlets. One poster for a history panel entitled ?Psycho-History and Great Men?, in which Bahlman was a participant along with James M. Burns, and Robert G.L. Waite, is housed in the Poster Collection (MC 54) under Lectures, Debates, and Forums--Department of History.