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Edward Gaylord Bourne papers

Call Number: MS 96

Scope and Contents

The Edward Gaylord Bourne Papers are composed of correspondence, diaries, writings, scrapbooks, and other papers which document Bourne's academic career as a professor of history at Adelbert College and Yale University, his historical research and publications, and his professional activities. Though the papers date from 1874 to 1970, they highlight Bourne's life from 1885-1907, particularly editorial and committee work performed to make historical texts available; his research on the legend of Marcus Whitman, the pioneer missionary in Oregon; and his participation as an early and active member of the American Historical Association.

Some Bourne papers were deposited in the Yale Library between 1941 and 1943 by George Pierson on behalf of Bourne's son, Edward W. Bourne. The Bourne children William N., James P., Edward W., Henry T., and Grace E. Bourne donated these papers to the library in 1973. Grace Bourne gave additional papers in 1982. The papers are arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, 1876-1908. II. Personal Papers, 1874-1970.

Series I. is composed of Bourne's general correspondence with academic colleagues and family, while Series II. contains additional correspondence and other material arranged by topic and record type.

Series I. is divided into two sections: General and Select. The General section contains only Bourne's incoming correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically within several chronological divisions. The Select section includes Bourne's general outgoing correspondence as well as letters to his parents and brother and letters from Samuel B. Platner, a classmate and fellow teacher at Adelbert College.

Nearly all the correspondents in General are either historians and other teachers or persons associated with publishing houses. There are letters from former students including Kan'ichi Asakawa and Wallace Notestein. Yale faculty correspondents include George Burton Adams, Franklin B. Dexter, Timothy Dwight, and Charles M. Andrews. With Frances H. Herrick and F. M. Warren there is correspondence concerning Adelbert College. Prominent among the other correspondents from Cleveland is historian James F. Rhodes. In each chronological division there is correspondence concerning the American Historical Association. Bourne's correspondents who discuss the association's work include Albert Bushnell Hart, Charles Francis Adams, J. Franklin Jameson, Frederick Jackson Turner, Frederic Bancroft, Andrew C. McLaughlin, and Worthington C. Ford. Other academic correspondents include Thorstein Veblen, F. W. Taussig, J. W. Larned, Albert Galloway Keller, Max Farrand, Walter Lowe, and Leonard Woolsey Bacon. Beginning in the 1898-1900 files there is also correspondence concerning Bourne's work to collect authoritative information for the Philippine Information Society. The correspondence with James Barr Ames, Louis D. Brandeis, and Elizabeth G. Evans contains information on this topic.

The quantity of Bourne's outgoing letters is much smaller that that of the incoming letters. Folders 54-55 contain transcripts of selected letters to Rhodes, Jameson, Herrick, Hart, and McLaughlin. Personal letters addressed to Bourne's brother Henry E. Bourne (approximately 160 items) are in folders 56-63 and Henry E. Bourne's letter to his brother (21 items) are in folder 64. Henry E. Bourne was also a member of the Yale Class of 1883 and taught history at Adelbert College. The exchanges between the brothers discuss mutual friends, family, travel, and academic publishing. Edward's 1890 letters describe his work in Germany, while Henry's 1901-1902 letters relate to his studies in Paris. Folder 65 contains Bourne's long descriptive letters to his parents and brother from his trip to England and the Continent in 1884. Letters from Samuel B. Platner contain details of academic politics at Adelbert College, their experiment with co-education, and Platner's efforts to secure Bourne's appointment to a new chair in history.

Series II. PERSONAL PAPERS, includes correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, writings, and notes relating to Bourne's boyhood, research, and professional activities. Folder 70 contains correspondence documenting Bourne's work as chairman of the 1898 program committee of the American Historical Association and of its Historical Manuscripts Commission. Correspondents include Frederick Jackson Turner, Herbert B. Adams, Albert Bushnell Hart, J. Franklin Jameson, Frederic Bancroft, and A. Lawrence Lowell. Bourne's diaries are in folders 72-75 and 79-81. They are most complete for Bourne's undergraduate years at Yale. Volumes from 1891-1895 contain brief but faithful records of people met, academic news, and subjects studied. Bourne's writings either in draft or published form are included in folders 76-78, 82-92, and 96. The scrapbooks contain Bourne's literary reviews, notices, and columns as they appeared in various newspapers. The files of material for Bourne's research on Marcus Whitman are particularly voluminous and include clippings, copies of his articles, research notes, drafts, and correspondence and an essay which relate to the controversy that ensued following Bourne's publication of a critical examination of the Whitman legend. Many of the correspondents are such defenders of the legend as church-workers and Stephen B. L. Penrose, the president of Whitman College. There is also correspondence with fellow educator William I. Marshall, a Bourne supporter.


  • 1874-1970
  • Majority of material found within 1885 - 1907


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Some Bourne papers were deposited in the Yale Library between 1941 and 1943 by George Pierson on behalf of Edward G. Bourne. These and additional papers were given to the library by Bourne's children in 1973 and 1982.


Arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, 1876-1908. II. Personal Papers, 1874-1970.


5.25 Linear Feet (13 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, diaries, scrapbooks, and writings which document Edward G. Bourne's academic career, at Adelbert College and Yale University, historical studies, and professional activities. The papers highlight Bourne's research on Marcus Whitman and his participation on program committees and the Commission on Historical Manuscripts of the American Historical Association.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Gaylord Bourne was born on June 24, 1860. He received a B.A. from Yale in 1883 and a Ph.D. in 1892. During his graduate study at Yale he taught medieval history (1885-1887) and political science (1886-1888). He went to Adelbert College in Cleveland, Ohio in 1888, and remained on the faculty there until 1895 when he returned to Yale. Bourne was active in the American Historical Association and was known for his historical criticism and editions of historical texts. He died in New Haven on February 24, 1908.

Guide to the Edward Gaylord Bourne Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan and William E. Brown, Jr.
June 1986
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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