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Daniel Coit Gilman papers

Call Number: MS 582

Scope and Contents

The Daniel Coit Gilman Collection is divided into three series: I. Correspondence. II. Writings. III. Special Files.

SERIES I, CORRESPONDENCE is arranged alphabetically by the name of the writer of the letter; letters written by Gilman are filed under the name of the person to whom they are addressed. Among the notable correspondents are: Charles M. Andrews, James Dwight Dana, William Henry Brewer, Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Silliman, Elisha Mulford, Moses Coit Tyler, Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Justin Smith Morrill, Josiah Gibbs, and Andrew Dickson White. Of special interest are those letters he wrote, mostly to his sister, Maria P. (Mollie) Gilman, during his travels in Europe from 1853 to 1855. In addition, there are a number of letters addressed to Gilman as the representative from Connecticut to the Universal Exposition at Paris in 1855.

SERIES II, WRITINGS contains both manuscript and printed articles, notes, and addresses pertaining to industrial, agricultural, and general themes in education, as well as materials relating to the history of higher education, both European and American. Of special interest is a series of lectures he gave at the University of California at Berkeley in 1883. There are also a number of biographical sketches of philosophers and scientists, and some material relating to Gilman's activities in behalf of the Yale Library and the Sheffield Scientific School.

SERIES III, SPECIAL FILES contains both manuscript and printed materials pertaining to the Sheffield Scientific School, the Winchester Observatory, the Yale Corporation, as well as newspaper articles written by Gilman as a means of defraying a part of his expenses during his European excursion of 1854-1855.


  • 1845-1910


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Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain.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 Elizabeth L. Anderson in 1943.


Arranged in three series: I. Correspondence. II. Writings. III. Special Files.


3 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, lectures, and other papers of Daniel Coit Gilman, educator, university president, and author. Included are papers regarding Gilman's career at Yale, the University of California, and Johns Hopkins University. Important correspondents include Charles M. Andrews, James Dwight Dana, William Henry Brewer, Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Silliman, Theodore Dwight Woolsey, and Andrew Dickson White.

Biographical / Historical

Daniel Coit Gilman, educator, university president, and author, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, July 6, 1831, the son of William Charles and Elizabeth Coit Gilman, descendants of the founders of Norwich. He was educated at Norwich Academy where Timothy Dwight was a classmate. At the age of fourteen Gilman's family moved to New York City where he attended a school under the direction of Calvin Tracy, his old instructor at Norwich Academy. As a result of his excellent penmanship, Gilman was introduced to library work, obtaining a position with Henry Stevens to catalog the books from the library of George Washington which had been purchased in 1848 by the Boston Athenaeum. This was followed by catalog work in the Mercantile Library of New York, with S. Hastings Grant, whose intimate friend Gilman became. From this relationship grew Norton's Literary Gazette, which they edited for several years. Through their efforts there was held the first annual meeting of American librarians in 1853.

Gilman continued his studies at the Cornelius Institute in New York before entering Yale College in 1848. After graduation in 1852, he studied for a few months at Harvard College, living in the home of Professor Arnold Guyot, who aroused in Gilman an interest in geography. In December, 1853, he and Andrew Dickson White, a close friend and classmate at Yale, sailed for Europe as attachés of the American legation at St. Petersburg. After two years abroad, Gilman returned to the United States to become assistant librarian at Yale College. In 1858 he succeeded Edward C. Herrick as librarian. Gilman was also instrumental in founding the Sheffield Scientific School, in which he served for nearly seventeen years as librarian, secretary, and professor of physical and political geography. He was also a member of the New Haven Board of Education and was influential in the adoption by New Haven schools of graded classes.

In 1872 Gilman became president of the University of California, but left that post in 1875 to become president of the newly created Johns Hopkins University. He served as president of Johns Hopkins until 1902, during which period its mode of graduate studies became the model for American universities. Gilman's success was attributable in part to his ability to attract outstanding scholars to Hopkins, but also because he placed great emphasis upon science at a time when most American college presidents regarded science as inimical to the religious and moral development of their students. In addition, Gilman was largely responsible for making Johns Hopkins the leading center of medical education in the country.

Upon retirement from Hopkins, Gilman became the first president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. In addition, he served as vice-president of the American Bible Society; was a member of the U.S. commission investigating the U.S.-Venezuela boundary dispute; served in 1879 as president of the American Social Science Association; was a trustee of various foundations, including the Russell Sage Foundation, the Peabody Education Fund, and the John F. Slater Fund; and served as president of the National Civil Service Reform League from 1901 to 1907.

Gilman was twice married: first, on December 4, 1861, to Mary Ketcham of New York City, who died in 1869, and again, on June 13, 1877, to Elizabeth Dwight Woolsey, who survived him by fourteen months, dying in 1910. Gilman died on October 13, 1908.

Guide to the Daniel Coit Gilman Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Ann Ronberg
February 1971
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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