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James Hosmer Penniman collection

Call Number: MS 9

Scope and Contents

The James Hosmer Penniman Collection consists of three separately acquired groups: personal papers of Penniman; manuscripts relating to education and American history collected by Mr. Penniman and given to the Yale University Library from 1921 through 1926; and materials acquired from various sources relating to education which were added to the collection after his death as part of the Penniman Memorial Library of Education.

James Hosmer Penniman (1860-1931) graduated from Yale in 1884. Yale relatives whose papers are also at Yale include James Lanman (B.A. 1788), Matthew and Roger Griswold (both B.A. 1780), and Charles J. Lanman (B.A. 1814). After 28 years as a teacher and administrator of the Lower School of the DeLancey School, Philadelphia, Mr. Penniman retired in 1913 and devoted the remainder of his life to literary pursuits and travel. He founded the Maria Hosmer Penniman Memorial Library of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (1915), the Penniman Memorial Library of Education at Brown (1921) and the Penniman Memorial Library of Education at Yale (1920). To the volumes on education already in the university library, Dr. Penniman added books, magazines, and reports, and rare books and manuscripts as the opportunity offered. He gave to the Library more than 4000 books and 1000 pamphlets, and from funds provided by him more than 6200 volumes were purchased up to the time of his death. To maintain and increase the library, he endowed a fund of $50,000 in 1927.

In addition to his interest in libraries and education, Mr. Penniman was an internationally known authority on George Washington and the early history of the United States and a collector of Washingtoniana. Some of the manuscripts in the collection relate to the preparation of many of his books which included: Common Words Difficult To Spell (1891), Practical Suggestions In School Government (1899), Books And How To Make The Most Of Them (1910), George Washington As Commander In Chief (1917), George Washington As Man Of Letters (1918), George Washington At Mount Vernon (1921), Our Debt To France (1921), What Lafayette Did For America (1921), Philadelphia In The Early Eighteen Hundreds (1923).

At the time of his death, he had largely completed a two-volume work on George Washington. Some of the letters relate to his proposal to build the "Highway of the Thirteen Original States," from Washington to Mount Vernon.

In August, 1982, an autograph book, kept ca. 1875-1882 by James H. Penniman, was added to the collection. Because of the value of some of the autographs (e.g., Presidents Grant and Hayes), this item has been placed in the Security File.


  • 1653-1944


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

Gift of James H. Penniman, 1921-1926, and of the Penniman family, 1931.


I. Correspondence. II. Subject Files. III. Legal Papers. IV. Educational Materials. V. David Francis Lincoln. VI. Engravings.


3 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Contains correspondence of James Hosmer Penniman, teacher, educator, and literary and historical collector. The rest of the papers consist of Penniman's collection of historical documents, correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, other papers and books on the subject of education. Included here is a discrete collection of David Francis Lincoln (1841-1916) papers containing correspondence and research notes on Lincoln's studies on various aspects of education.

Biographical / Historical

Teacher and administrator of the Lower School of the DeLancey School, Philadelphia (1885-1913); founded Maria Hosmer Penniman Memorial Library of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (1915), Penniman Memorial Library of Education at Brown (1921), Penniman Memorial Library of Education at Yale (1920); author on George Washington and the early United States, and collector of Washingtoniana.

Guide to the James Hosmer Penniman Collection
Under Revision
compiled and edited by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
June 1970
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

Yale University Library
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