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Edward Luther Stevenson papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 1517

Scope and Contents

The Edward Luther Stevenson Papers consist of correspondence, writings, lectures, notes, research material, and memorabilia, which document Stevenson's personal life and professional career as an historian, teacher, cartographer, lecturer, and author. The papers relate to Stevenson's studies at Franklin College (Franklin, Indiana) and the University of Heidelberg, his public school teaching in Indiana and Illinois, his professorship in history at Rutgers University, his service to the Hispanic Society of America, and his numerous lectures and publications on the discovery and exploration of the New World. Highlighted in the papers are Stevenson's cartographic research and efforts to collect, copy, and publish historic maps.

Edward L. Stevenson, Jr. and Katharine Stevenson Bell donated their father's papers to the Yale University Library in 1946. Stevenson's collection of maps and glass slides, once located in the Map Collection of the Sterling Memorial Library, is now housed at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The remainder of the donation comprises the Stevenson Papers (once held in the Manuscripts and Archives Department, now by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library). These papers are arranged in three series: I. Correspondence, 1859-1944; Series II. Writings, 1907-1941; Series III. Subject Files, 1870-1941.

Series I contains the bulk of Stevenson's correspondence. Series II. includes the majority of Stevenson's book manuscripts, while Series III is composed of additional manuscripts for Stevenson's writings and lectures, notes, research material, teaching materials, and memorabilia.

The arrangment of correspondence in Series I reflects Stevenson's groupings of his incoming and outgoing letters. The series is arranged in three sections. Letters are roughly divided by topic ( Topical), others are in chronological order ( Chronological), and in the largest section Alphabetical, correspondence is arranged alphabetically within several rough time spans. In the latter section the time spans are broadly defined and ranges of dates overlap. In the series, therefore, correspondence of an individual or organization for any given date on any specified topic may appear in all three sections and in more than one place in the Alphabeticalsection.

The correspondence spans the entire length of Stevenson's life, though the earliest items in the papers are letters relating to Stevenson's wife's family, the Runyons of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Stevenson's letters begin in 1876 while he was attending Franklin College and participating in activities of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Early letters trace Stevenson's career as a teacher in Rising Sun, Indiana, and a superintendent of schools in Gilman (Iroquois County), Illinois. His correspondents include college faculty and friends and fellow teachers. These correspondents continue to write Stevenson during his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and at the University of Heidelberg.

The correspondence includes letters concerning Rutgers University during the twenty years Stevenson served on the faculty, as well as. letters relating to Stevenson's participation in several professional organizations such as the American Historical Association and the American Geographical Society. The majority of the correspondence, however, relates to Stevenson's efforts to acquire, reproduce, and publish maps. Correspondents include librarians such as Victor Paltsits, fellow map scholars including Jean Henry Vignaud, booksellers, representatives of scholarly societies, diplomats, and publisher's representatives.

The correspondence also documents Stevenson's relations with the Hispanic Society of America, which Stevenson joined in 1904. He published many of his cartographic studies under the auspices of this society. There are numerous exchanges with Archer M. Huntington, president of the Hispanic Society, and other society officers and members.

Other correspondence concerns Stevenson's service as a member of the New Jersey Commission on the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition; arrangements for his numerous public lectures and for his lecture series at Johns Hopkins University, the University of California, and King's College, London; and travel and schedules for his 1925 trip to Egypt as a delegate to the International Geographic Congress. Scattered throughout the correspondence are letters concerning Stevenson's siblings and children and his home in Yonkers, New York. Some correspondence in 1930s and 1940s contains information about Stevenson's forebears, and exchanges with Florence A. Patterson and others contain reminiscences of Stevenson's boyhood in Rozetta (Henderson County), Illinois and education at Franklin College.

Series II, WRITINGS, is composed of materials relating to Stevenson's books and articles. For any particular title there may be relevant correspondence, research material, notes, drafts, handwritten and typed copies of the manuscript, proofs, illustrative material, prints, and reviews. For the Derrotero of Alonso de Chaves. There are also photostatic copies of the original text. Titles in the listing for Series II are in abbreviated form. Stevenson's compilation of typescript copies of title pages to his works (folders 569-570, 574) are helpful in identifying individual book titles in Series II and lectures, articles, book reviews, and other miscellaneous writings included in Series III.

The nine sections in which materials in Series III are arranged reflect the variety of papers contained in SUBJECT FILES. Addresses and Lectures includes manuscripts for Stevenson's public lectures, lecture series, individual addresses, and classroom lectures. A title listed in quotation marks indicates a title copied from the manuscript. Other titles are descriptive of the subject matter. Several of the lectures on French and European history were probably given for the Rutgers College Extension. Similar materials are found in the Manuscripts section, which also includes drafts of articles and papers presented to the Yonkers' Fortnightly Club for the Study of Anthropology. Handwritten and printed copies of book reviews by Stevenson are in folders 395 and 396, while the section Printed Material includes some printed copies of Stevenson's writings, publicity for his lectures and publications, and some bibliographic lists. The sections of Notes and Outlines contain Stevenson's research materials for courses he taught while at Rutgers as well as for his investigations of the history of cartography and the significance of maps to the discovery and exploration of the New World.

The section Personal Papers contains material on Stevenson's college and early teaching career. Folder 398 includes Stevenson's diary as a student at Franklin College, while folder 400 contains articles written by Stevenson as an undergraduate. Numerous pieces of Illinois and Indiana memorabilia, such as invitations, programs, brochures, clippings, menus, reports, and exams are included in folders 410-414 along with later contracts, notes, bills, travel souvenirs, membership certificates, and greeting cards. Folder 403 contains notebooks, apparently dating from Stevenson's graduate studies. Additional notebooks and papers from his doctoral studies in Germany are arranged in the section Student Papers. The final section in the papers Miscellanea is composed of additional research materials, illustrative materials for publications and lectures, and compilations for bibliographies of Stevenson's works.


  • 1859 - 1944


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Edward Luther Stevenson Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Manuscripts and Archives, 2018.

Gift of Edward L. Stevenson, Jr., and Mrs. Harvey W. Bell, 1946.


Organized into three series: I. Correspondence, 1859-1944. II. Writings, 1907-1941. III. Subject Files, 1870-1941.


20 Linear Feet (55 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers include correspondence, writings, lectures, notes, research material, and memorabilia documenting the personal life and professional career of Edward Luther Stevenson. The papers relate to Stevenson's studies at Franklin College and the University of Heidelberg, his teaching in public schools, his professorship at Rutgers University, his service to the Hispanic Society of America, and his numerous lectures and publications on the discovery and exploration of the New World. Highlighted in the papers are Stevenson's cartographic research and his efforts to collect, copy, and publish historic maps.

Edward Luther Stevenson

Edward Luther Stevenson was born in Rozetta, Illinois in 1858. He received A.B. and A.M. degrees from Franklin College (1881, 1884) and was an educator in the public schools of Indiana and Illinois from 1881 to 1887. He studied history and political economy at Johns Hopkins University from 1887 to 1888 and received a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1890. From 1891 until 1911 Stevenson taught history at Rutgers University and from 1910 on he served the Hispanic Society of America. Stevenson wrote and lectured widely on cartography and the discovery and exploration of the New World. He died in Yonkers, New York in 1944.

Processing Information

Former call number: Manuscripts and Archives MS 464.

Guide to the Edward Luther Stevenson Papers
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan, William E. Brown, Jr., and Terri Hsu
January 1987
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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