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Humanities and Fine Arts Collection

Call Number: MS 590

Scope and Contents

The primary purpose of this register is to provide the researcher with a convenient guide to collections of manuscripts in the Sterling Memorial Library which are too small to warrant separate description but which, owing to their content or provenance, fall into the humanities and fine arts category.

For the present purpose "Humanities and Fine Arts" has been defined to include literature (both ancient and modern), history, linguistic and classical studies, as well as painting, sculpture, architecture, music, theater, and related crafts and disciplines. This group does not include manuscripts that, for example, may be clearly defined as anthropological or archeological in nature; those have been described separately in the guide to the Philosophy and Social Science Manuscripts Group.

It should be re-emphasized that there are a number of separate large collections relating to the humanities and fine arts that have been separately described and are not included in this register.

Consult the Chief Research Archivist, Manuscripts and Archives, for further information about all of these collections.


  • 1813-1965

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. 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.


Arranged by individual: Samuel Eliot Bassett, Hanns Oertel, Albert Stanburrough Cook, Tracy Peck, Frederick Benjamin Kaye, Richard Thayer Holbrook, Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, and Irene Weir.


5 Linear Feet (13 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


An artificial collection of papers of Yale faculty members and students active in the academic fields of fine arts, literature, history, linguistics, classics, music, and architecture. Correspondence, writings, clippings, notes, photographs, and miscellanea are included.

Biographical / Historical

SAMUEL E. BASSETT, 1873-1936

Samuel Eliot Bassett was born in 1873, received his A.B. from Yale in 1898, did graduate work in Germany and at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1905. Bassett was a member of the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece, from 1905; chairman of the Committee on Fellowships from 1919; and visiting professor at the school from 1931 to 1932. He was a member of the American Philological Association, and its chairman from 1923 to 1924. He contributed articles to classical journals, chiefly on the subject of Homeric meter and style.

The collection consists mainly of Bassett's correspondence in connection with the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and especially the Committee on Fellowships. (The collection also contains some correspondence of three previous chairmen of the committee.) There is some correspondence concerning the controversial resignation of the school's principal, Bert Hodge Hill, in 1926. Other correspondence relates to Bassett's work as a classical scholar and his membership in the American Philological Association.

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Hanns Oertel, philologist, was born in 1868 in Geithain, Saxony, and educated at the gymnasium in Plauen and the F├╝rstenschule. He received an honorary A.M. from Yale in 1888 and a Ph.D. in 1890. He taught German and linguistics at Yale, becoming professor of linguistics and comparative philology in 1900. He was dean of the graduate school from 1911 to 1916. In 1901 Oertel published "Lectures on the study of languages" and in 1908 became joint editor of the Journal of the American Oriental Society. He contributed articles to philological journals on linguistics and Sanskrit philology.

The collection includes both personal and academic correspondence and financial material relating to Oertel and to his mother Evelyn Oertel, until her death in 1902. There are notebooks belonging to both Hanns Oertel and his brother Horst Oertel, the pathologist, with a notebook which may belong to one of his family, as well as loose notes. There is also a draft of an article by Hanns Oertel and some printed materials and memorabilia.

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ALBERT S. COOK, 1853-1927

Albert Stanburrough Cook, professor of English Language and Literature, was born in Montville, New Jersey, on March 6, 1853. He received a B.S. from Rutgers College in 1872 and an M.S. in 1875. Cook taught at the Freehold Institute in New Jersey from 1873 to 1877, and after a year's study at Gottingen and Leipsig established the English department at Johns Hopkins. In 1881 Cook travelled to London and then to Jena, where he took his Ph.D. in 1882. From 1882 to 1889 Cook was professor of English Language and Literature at University of California. He came to Yale in 1889 as Professor of English Language and Literature and taught here until 1921. He died in 1927.

Cook was president of the Modern Language Association of America in 1897, and of the Concordance Society from 1906 to 1923. He was co-editor for English of the "Journal of English and Germanic Philology," editor of "Yale Studies in English," and founder of the A.S. Cook Prize in Poetry at Yale. His publications include: The Art of Poetry (1892), First Book in Old English (1894), Literary Middle English Reader (1915), and The Aims in the Teaching of English Literature (1925). Cook's chief interest in English literature was in Old and Middle English.

The collection consists mainly of letters received by Cook, with some copies of his replies. Much of the correspondence deals with works of early English literature, and with Cook's own critical and editorial work. There is some correspondence (with Donald Macbeth and Constance H. White) concerning documents relating to the death of Lionel, Duke of Clarence. Among correspondence of others are several letters dealing with Cook's appointment to the University of California in 1882. There are also a few items of Cook's writings, some notes and printed matter.

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TRACY PECK, 1838-1921

Tracy Peck, Latin scholar, was born in Bristol, Connecticut, on May 24, 1838. He received an A.B. from Yale in 1861, studied classical philology in Berlin and Bonn from 1861 to 1863, and received an A.M. in 1864. He was a tutor at Yale from 1864 to 1870, except for an absence between 1867 and 1869, when he travelled to Rome and Berlin. In 1871 Peck became professor of Latin at Cornell, and in 1880 he returned to Yale as professor of Latin. From 1885 to 1886 he was president of the American Philological Association and from 1898 to 1899 director of the American School of Classical Studies at Rome. In 1908 Peck became professor emeritus at Yale. After 1909 he resided in Rome where he died in 1921.

Peck was interested in all aspects of Latin language and literature and Roman history. He was editor-in-chief, with Clement C. Smith of Harvard, of the "College Series of Latin Authors," and editor, with J.B. Greenough of Harvard, of books XXI and XXII of a collected edition of Livy. He also contributed articles to journals on Latin literature and Roman history.

The collection consists mainly of letters received by Peck, both personal and academic. There is also a large section of sympathy letters received by Peck's daughter, Teresina Rowell, after Peck's death, and a small section of correspondence between Peck's parents and his grandfather. In addition there are miscellaneous printed materials, including obituaries on Peck, some financial material, and printed copies of Peck's translation into Latin of a poem by Tennyson.

Additional Papers of Tracy Peck

In 1976 Manuscripts and Archives received an addition to the papers of Tracy Peck consisting of 47 letters from him to his sister, Kezia A. Peck, and to his mother, Sally Peck. These were written during two trips to Europe, the first from 1861 to 1864 and the second from 1867 to 1869. The first series, written just after his graduation from Yale, records his stay in Germany with detailed descriptions of university life and reflections on German life and society. Among the cities where Peck lived or visited are Berlin, Jena, Weimar, Dresden, Cologne, and numerous towns along the Rhine. He also visited briefly Paris and Rome, and a last letter before his return from London in April 1864 contains a description of the Crystal Palace.

On the sea voyage from New York to London in 1867 he met his future wife, Lillie Hall, and described her in his first letter home, September 8, 1867. During this second trip abroad, he studied in Rome and Florence and once again filled his letters with minute descriptions of these and other cities, as well as of the countryside and everyday life in Italy. He also toured museums, churches, and ancient ruins, commenting in detail on what he saw. He spent the winter of 1868 at the university in Berlin and was again a vivid reporter on both Berlin and university life. On the return trip across Europe by way of France, Holland, Belgium, and Scotland he sent home equally careful letters describing landscape, sights, and picture collections wherever he stopped.

The additional letters have been added to the original group in Box 7, in folders 167A and 167B. Since his daughter Teresina (Mrs. Wilfred Rowell) settled in Beloit, additional Peck papers are incorporated in the Rowell Family Papers in the Beloit College Archives.

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FREDERICK B. KAYE, 1892-1930

Frederick Benjamin Kaye, English professor, was born in 1892. His name was originally Kugelman, but he changed it to Kaye in 1919. Kaye graduated from Yale in 1914, and an M.A. in 1916 and a Ph.D. in 1917. In 1917 he became an instructor in English at Northwestern University. From 1918 to 1919 Kaye was in the Naval Reserve Force. In 1919 he returned to Northwestern where he became assistant professor in 1923 and associate professor in 1926, remaining in that position until his death in 1930.

While at Yale, Kaye was a member of the Freshman Intercollegiate Debating Team and contributed to the "Literary Record" and "Courant." He was an authority on the literature of the eighteenth century, and gave popular courses on contemporary literature. In 1924 he published an edition of Bernard Mandeville's Fable of the Bees and in 1927, together with R.S. Crane, A Census of British Newspapers and Periodicals, 1620 - 1800.

The collection consists mainly of materials relating to Kaye's writings. There are a number of his essays and short sketches, often humorous or satirical in style; a copy of Kaye's M.A. thesis on William Blake; copies, made by Kaye, of manuscripts by Mandeville, and reviews of his edition of the Fable of the Bees; and notes and other miscellaneous writings. There are also some letters received by Kaye, most of which are letters of congratulation on his publications, and a group of personal letters from Kaye to a classmate, Warren H. Lowenhaupt. There are also some clippings about Kaye and a group of photographs of Kaye and of other unidentified persons.

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Richard Thayer Holbrook was born December 13, 1870, at Windsor Locks, Connecticut. After attending several private schools he graduated from Phillips Academy and received an A.B. from Yale in 1893. He then studied for three years in France, Italy, and Germany before joining the Yale faculty in 1896. Holbrook joined the staff of Columbia University in 1901 from which he also received his Ph.D. in 1902. In 1906 he was appointed head of the department of Old French philology and Italian at Bryn Mawr, and after the war he joined the faculty of the University of California where he was senior professor of French. (For additional biographical information see folder 239.)

This collection consists primarily of published reviews of and correspondence about several of Holbrook's books, including Boys and Men at Yale (1900), Dante and the Animal Kingdom (1902), a translation of The Farce of Master Pierre Patelin (1905), and The Portraits of Dante (1911). There are also two water color drawings of Dante, a few notes and miscellaneous letters pertaining to his work on Dante, and a few letters to his good friend, Rudolph Altrocchi, who was professor of Italian at the University of California.

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EUGENE O'NEILL, JR., 1910-1950

Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, Jr., the son of the playwright, was born in 1910. He received his B.A. from Yale in 1932 and studied for a year at the University of Freiburg before returning to Yale, which awarded him a Ph.D. in 1936. He was appointed instructor in Classics at Yale in 1936 and assistant professor of Greek in 1941. In 1947 he became professor of Greek drama and literature at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where he remained until his death in 1950.

O'Neill was coeditor of The Complete Greek Drama and a frequent book reviewer for the New York Times and the Saturday Review of Literature. In addition to his teaching, he engaged in radio acting, writing, and recording.

This collection consists of lecture notes for his courses on Greek drama, philosophy, and history, and also a course on the history of ideas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Of special interest is O'Neill's attempt to apply modern social and economic theories those of Thorstein Veblen, for example to Greek culture.

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IRENE WEIR, 1862-1944

Artist and author Irene Weir was born in 1862. Her grandfather was the well-known artist Robert Walter Weir. One of her uncles, John Ferguson Weir, was the first director of the Yale School of the Fine Arts. Another uncle was the prominent New York artist J. Alden Weir.

Irene Weir attended the Yale School of the Fine Arts in 1881-1882. She was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts from that institution in 1906. She also studied under John H. Twachtman, J. Alden Weir, and Joseph Pennell.

Miss Weir was a founder and director of the School of Design and Liberal Arts in New York City. She was the author of The Greek Painters' Art and numerous articles of art criticism. Her best known paintings include "Garden of the Hesperides," "Steerage," and portraits of Robert W. Weir and Madame Curie. Irene Weir died in 1944.

This small collection consists of fifteen letters to and from Weir, programs and pamphlets from her exhibitions, newspaper clippings, and a number of photographs of Miss Weir's paintings. One letter to J.H. Niemeyer (12 Feb 1906) contains valuable biographical information.

Guide to the Humanities and Fine Arts Collection
Under Revision
compiled by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
February 1984
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 Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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