Skip to main content

Ralph Henry Gabriel papers

Call Number: MS 228

Scope and Contents

The Ralph Henry Gabriel Papers consist of correspondence, writings, and lecture notes, which document Ralph Henry Gabriel's scholarly research and writing, teaching responsibilities, administrative duties, and other professional activities during his tenure as a member of the Yale University Department of History (1915-1958). Gabriel's work as editor of the Pageant of America series and the Library of Congress series in American Civilization and as chairman of the 1930 program committee of the American Historical Association is also recorded in the papers. Correspondents include Yale faculty and administration, history professors at Yale and elsewhere, students and former students, publishers, and editors.

The papers, a gift from Ralph Gabriel in 1958 and 1962*, are arranged in four series: I. CORRESPONDENCE, 1928-1957; II. AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION FILES, 1927-1930; III. SCHOOL OF MILITARY GOVERNMENT AND YALE UNIVERSITY TEACHING FILES, 1942-1958; IV. TOPICAL FILES, 1917-1954.

*An album of Yale photographs taken during Gabriel's undergraduate years (1909-1913) has been transferred to YRG 48-A-52.

SERIES I. CORRESPONDENCE, contains general correspondence files and also includes reports, manuscripts, minutes, and other materials. Yale faculty correspondents include: John M.S. Allison, Charles M. Andrews, Edward Wight Bakke, Samuel Flagg Bemis, Arthur Darling, William C. Devane, Erwin R. Goodenough, Albert Galloway Keller, Leonard W. Labaree, Frank Monaghan, Ulrich B. Phillips, Elliot Dunlap Smith, and Arnold Whitridge. Gabriel's university committee work for the Course of Study Committee of Yale College, the Committee to Study the Problem of the Master's Degree, the Committee on Universities, Yale Studies for Returning Servicemen, and other committees is also arranged in this series. University administrators who corresponded with Gabriel include: James R. Angell, Albert Beecher Crawford, George Parmly Day, Edgar S. Furniss, Carl Lohmann, and Charles Seymour.

Involvement with Yale students is reflected through reader's reports for Ph.D. candidates and correspondence with students concerning examinations, recommendations, and job referrals. Among the former students who correspond with Gabriel concerning their research and employment are Charles Keller, Thomas LeDuc, Ralph G. Lounsbury, and James Stone. In addition to summer teaching positions and sabbaticals, especially those at the University of Sydney and Cambridge University, Gabriel's service as a faculty member at the School of Military Government in Charlottesville, Virginia during World War II is also documented.

Writing and editorial work, a substantive part of Gabriel's career, is documented through correspondence with such publishers and editors as: Arthur H. Brook, Norman Donaldson, and Malcom Davis of the Yale University Press; Emerson Brown, James M. Reid, Don Stewart, and S. Spencer Scott of Harcourt, Brace and Co., Charles P. Calhoun of the Ronald Press Co., Savoie Lottinville of the University of Oklahoma Press; and Thomas Wilson of the Harvard University Press. Files from 1928-1932 focus on the publication of the series Pageant of America, while files from 1943-1957, especially correspondence with Merle Curti and authors in the series, document Gabriel's activities and interest in the Library of Congress series in American Civilization.

Correspondence with fellow historians relating to professional concerns, such as the American Historical Association, include exchanges with: Dexter Perkins, John A. Krout, Perry Miller, Guy Stanton Ford, Dumas Malone, Edgar E. Robinson, David Potter, Henry Steele Commager, Chester Destler, and Allan Nevins.

Gabriel's civic and religious concerns, and his interest in the role of religion in higher education, are reflected in files relating to Yale in-China (see also: E. Fay Campbell, Francis H. Hutchins. Oliver S. Lyford, Robert A. Smith, Richard A. Weigle, and Rachel Dowd). Gabriel's participation in the Buck Falls Conference on religion and ethics and the Laymen's Movement for a Christian World are detailed through correspondence with Weyman C. Huckabee and Thomas Steele, and minutes of the latter organization. The files for 1944-1947 include correspondence with Louis Finkelstein and Jessica Feingold on the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion and on the Institute for Religious and Social Study. These same files include correspondence with Charles A. Russell of the Hazen Foundation and Paul D. Shafer concerning Gabriel's address "Education and the Faith of America". The 1955-1957 files document Gabriel's interest in a committee of inquiry of the National Council of Churches of Christ on the church in civic and political life.

SERIES II. AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION FILES, 1927-1930, consists of files relating to the program committee of that organization. The files of program committee chairmen Samuel Flagg Bemis, Christopher B. Coleman, William. K. Boyd, and Ralph Gabriel are arranged in this series.

SERIES III. SCHOOL OF MILITARY GOVERNMENT AND YALE TEACHING FILES, 1942-1958, includes background material on the history of military government as well as source outlines, syllabi, and class rosters. Yale materials include notes, papers, and bibliographies.

SERIES IV. TOPICAL FILES, 1917-1954 consists of correspondence relating to the Library of Congress Series in American Civilization and the Pageant of America series, and files of Paul D. Evans, a Yale faculty member. Materials relating to Yale University include files of Sydney K. Mitchell, as chairman of the Yale History Department, and gradebooks for students, 1927-1947. These gradebooks are restricted until 75 years from the date of graduation. SERIES IV also includes two manuscripts on the history of religion and ideas. "Religion and Learning" (folders 389-390) is a history of the Church of Christ at Yale. These manuscripts are the only examples of Gabriel's books in the papers.


  • 1917-1982


Conditions Governing Access

Gradebooks in Box 23, folder 394 are restricted until January 1, 2023 as established by Yale Corporation regulations.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by Ralph Henry Gabriel has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact

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

Gift of Ralph Gabriel, 1958, 1962; gift of John C. Gabriel, 1998, 2001.


10.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, writings, and teaching materials of Ralph Henry Gabriel. The papers relate primarily to Gabriel's duties as editor of the Pageant of America Series and the Library of Congress Series in American Civilization, as author of history texts, as chairman of the American Historical Association's 1930 program committee, as author of several texts, and as faculty member at Yale University and at the United States School of Military Government. Also included are records kept by Sydney K. Mitchell as chairman of the Yale History Department, miscellaneous papers of Paul Demund Evans, and papers of Samuel Flagg Bemis, Christopher B. Coleman, and William K. Boyd as chairmen of the American Historical Association program committee (1927-1929).

Biographical / Historical

Ralph Henry Gabriel was born on April 29, 1890, in Reading, New York, the son of Cleveland and Alta Monroe Gabriel. He earned a B.A. at Yale University in 1913 and continued his scholarly studies there, receiving an M.A. in 1915 and a Ph.D. in 1919. He served in the U.S. Army Infantry during World War I and was overseas from July-November, 1918.

Starting as an instructor in history at Yale in 1915, he became assistant professor in 1919, associate professor six years later, and professor in 1923. He held a Larned professorship from 1935 to 1948, when he was appointed to a Sterling professorship. He specialized in American intellectual history. Gabriel achieved the rank of a professor emeritus in 1958.

During his Yale tenure Gabriel served as chairman of the history department from 1931 to 1934 and as director of Yale Studies for Returning Service Men from 1944 to 1946. He became a trustee of Yale-in-China in 1922 and a fellow of Trumbull College in 1933. In 1930 he chaired the program committee of the American Historical Association.

Gabriel also taught as a visiting professor at New York University (1933), Stanford University (1934 and 1949), University of Colorado (1941 and 1942), the United States War Department School of Military Government (1943-1946), Sydney University (1946), Cambridge University (1951-1952), University of Wyoming (1954), American University (1958-1964), Tokyo University (1964), and George Washington University (1965).

Gabriel was the general editor of The Pageant of America (15 volumes), published by Yale Press, 1926-1929; in this series he wrote Toilers on Land and Sea (1926) and The Lure of the Frontier (1929) and was the joint author with William Wood of The Winning of Freedom (1927) and In Defense of Liberty (1928). He is also the author of The Evolution of Long Island (Yale Press, 1921); Elias Boudinot, Cherokee, and His America (University of Oklahoma Press, 1941); Course of American Democratic Thought (Ronald Press, 1940, revised 1956); a textbook for junior high school with Mabel Casner (Harcourt, Brace and Co., first published in 1931); Religion and Learning at Yale (Yale University Press, 1958); and American Values, Continuity and Change (Greenwood Press, 1974). Gabriel was also the editor of the Library of Congress Series in American Civilization (Harvard University Press), Christian and Modern Thought (Yale Press, 1924) and A Frontier Lady (Yale Press, 1932). He was a joint editor of Sketches of Eighteenth Century America with Stanley T. Williams and Henri L. Bourdin (1925) and of The American Mind, an Anthology with Stanley T. Williams and Harry R. Warfel (American Book Company, 1937).

Gabriel married Mary Christine Davis in 1917. They had three children: Robert Todd Gabriel, John Cleveland Gabriel, and Susan Gabriel Cunliffe.

Based on International Who's Who, 1982-1983, 46th ed., page 436; Yale Class of 1913 History, 45th year record, 1958, pp. 121-24.

Guide to the Ralph Henry Gabriel Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
May 1984
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours