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Frederick Albert Pottle papers

Call Number: MS 1605

Scope and Contents

The correspondence, teaching materials, and writings in the Frederick Albert Pottle Papers focus primarily on Pottle's scholarly interests and to a lesser extent on his personal life. Although the earliest material dates from the nineteenth century, the papers are concentrated in the period of Pottle's teaching at Yale, ca. 1928-1970. Pottle's contributions to the study of James Boswell are evident throughout the papers, though his responsibilities as head of the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell are not reflected in them.

The papers also document Pottle's involvement in several endeavors outside of Yale University. Pottle's religious commitment to the Episcopal Church is highlighted in the files for his work on the Joint Commission on Holy Matrimony, for the General Theological Seminary, and for his church and diocese. Pottle's devotion to his alma mater, Colby College, is evident in his files as a trustee and in the many speeches and lectures he gave there. Pottle's army service during World War I and his continuing involvement with the members of Evacuation Hospital #8 are reflected in his correspondence and writings.

The papers are organized in series by record format, but certain types of material can be found in more than one series. For instance, general correspondence with publishers is arranged in Series I, but correspondence concerning a particular title is in Series III.


  • 1861-1979
  • Majority of material found within 1920 - 1979


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for 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 Christopher Pottle, 1991.


Arranged in four series: I: Correspondence, 1914-1978. II: Teaching Files, 1922-1966. III: Writing and Research Files, 1913-1979. IV: Personal Files, 1861-1974.


10.25 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 include correspondence, teaching materials, and writings that document Frederick Pottle's scholarly interest in English literature, primarily the work of James Boswell. The papers also reflect Pottle's involvement in the affairs of the Yale English Department, Colby College, and the Episcopal Church.

Biographical / Historical

Frederick Albert Pottle, the foremost scholar of James Boswell, was born in Center Lowell, Maine, on August 3, 1897. He received his B.A. from Colby College in 1917, served in an Army evacuation hospital from 1917 to 1919, and then entered Yale University, earning his M.A. in 1921, and his Ph.D. in 1925. He became a full professor at Yale in 1930 and was named Sterling Professor of English in 1944. His work on Boswell commenced with his doctoral dissertation. After Yale acquired the rare Boswell manuscripts in 1949, Pottle became editor-in-chief of the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell, serving in this capacity until 1979. Additionally, he wrote a multi-volume biography of Boswell. During his tenure at Yale, Pottle was chairman of the English Department and director of graduate studies. He also served as a trustee of Colby College and the General Theological Seminary. He married Marion Isobel Starbird, on September 9, 1920. They had three children, Annette who died young, Christopher and Samuel. Pottle died on May 16, 1987.

Guide to the Frederick Albert Pottle Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan and Bella Z. Berson
April 2000
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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