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Charlton Thomas Lewis papers

Call Number: MS 981

Scope and Contents

The Charlton Thomas Lewis Papers fall into two sections. The first consists of a collection of autographs of famous literary, intellectual, and political figures compiled by Lewis, and of letters addressed to him and his wife, Margaret P. (Sherrand) Lewis by notables of their acquaintence. Beginning with two documents signed by members of the British Privy Council in 1612 and 1615, the collection contains letters and other items from such prominent figures as Robert Browning, Washington Irving, William James, the first duke of Marlborough, John Stuart Mill, Louis Orléans (comte de Paris; an essay,"L'Esprit de conquête en 1870"), the due de Richelieu, Talleyrand, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Voltaire, John Wesley, and Walt Whitman. Also included are several menu cards signed by numerous individuals. These letters and documents have been arranged chronologically, however, an alphabetical list is provided in the register. Note that the folder numbers are listed non-sequentially as a result.

The remainder of the papers consists of writings by Lewis, as well as one by Margaret C. (Lewis) MacVeagh; included are an unpublished novel, sermons, addresses, and essays on historical and legal topics. There are in addition several oversize items, to wit, Lewis' Harvard L.L.D. diploma, two certificates, and a plan of Ticonderoga.

These papers were donated to Yale University in 1947 by James McKeen Lewis and Mrs. Lincoln MacVeagh.


  • 1612-1904


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Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain.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 McKeen Lewis and Mrs. Lincoln MacVeagh in 1947.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The major part of the papers consist of a collection of autographs of literary, intellectual, and political figures, largely English and American, compiled by Charlton T. Lewis.Included are such notables as Robert Browning, Washington Irving, William James, John Stuart Mill, Louis Orléans, comte de Paris, Richelieu, Talleyrand, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Voltaire, John Wesley, and Walt Whitman. There is also personal correspondence addressed to Lewis and his wife, Margaret P. Sherrand Lewis, as well as essays, addresses, and an unpublished novel by Lewis, and a speech on Italian immigrants by Margaret P. Lewis.

Biographical / Historical

CHARLTON THOMAS Lewis, son of Joseph J. and Mary Sinton (Miner) Lewis, was born on February 25,1834, in West Chester, Pa. He was Class Poet, and was especially distinguished in mathematics during his college course.

After graduation he studied law in his father's office in West Chester until the spring of 1854, when he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was appointed by the Philadelphia Conference to the Newark Circuit. He was stationed first in Wilmington, Del., in March, 1855, and the following year at the Broad Street Church, Philadelphia. He then accepted an appointment as Professor of Languages in the State Normal University of Illinois, at Bloomington. After a year there, he as Professor of Mathematics a year, and then Professor of Greek in Troy (N. Y.) University. He was Acting President of the latter institution in 1862. In December of that year he became pastor of an Independent Methodist Church in Cincinnati.

In 1863-1864 he was Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue at Washington, and then removed to New York City, where he remained afterward engaged in the practice of law. He began his New York career in association with Hon. Samuel S. Cox, in the firm of Lewis & Cox, which devoted itself largely to suits arising in the construction of Internal Revenue Laws. After the reduction of Internal Revenue to a peace basis, he gained a high reputation as an authority on insurance law, and for more than twenty years was counsel to the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. In 1898 he lectured at Cornell University on the Principles of Insurance, and in 1899 at Harvard and Columbia Universities on Life Insurance. From 1873 to 1878 he was Secretary and Treasurer of the Chamber of Life Insurance of the United States. He was also a Director in the International Bell Telephone Company, North American Trust Company, United States Mortgage and Trust Company, and other business corporations.

For many years he made a study of the question of treatment of criminals, and did most effective service in behalf of reform in the administration of prisons and public charities. From 1881 he was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the New York Prison Association, and from 1893 President of the Association, annually reelected. He was Delegate of the United States to the International Prison Congress at Paris in 1895, in the same year Chairman of the Commission to Revise the Penal Laws of New Jersey, Vice-President of the National Prison Association in 1897, and Delegate of New Jersey to the National Prison Congress at Philadelphia in 1901. He was a member of the Board of Managers of the New Jersey State Reformatory in 1901, and was reappointed in 1903. During the last ten years he was also President of the State Charities Aid Association of New Jersey.

He was a brilliant classical scholar and spent many years in the preparation of "Harper's Latin Dictionary," 1879; new edition 1896. With this as a basis he also published "The Latin Dictionary for Schools," 1889, and "The Elementary Latin Dictionary," 1891. He translated Bengel's "Gnomon of the New Testament," 2 vols., 1861-1863, which has been often republished as the Tract Society's "Critical English New Testament," and wrote "A History of Germany," founded on David Müller's "History of the German People," 1874. In 1895 he edited "Harper's Book of Facts," and in 1901 a translation of "The Letters of Prince Bismarck to his Wife." Besides these he wrote literary, essays, poems, anniversary addresses, and contributions to journals and newspapers. In 1870-1871 he was Managing Editor of the New York Evening Post. He was one of the most steadfast members of the Greek Club of New York, which has met at stated intervals every winter for forty years to read Greek together, and during this time has been in course more than once through the entire range of Greek literature. He was also a member of the New York Historical Society, the American Mathematical Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many social and literary clubs. He gave little time to politics, but was a Delegate from New Jersey to the National Democratic Convention in 1896. He received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from New York University in 1877, and Doctor of Laws from Harvard University in 1903.

Dr. Lewis cared little about personal fame but sought every kind of knowledge for its own sake, and after mastering it delighted in changing his field of study. The night and morning before his sudden illness he passed at Columbia University Library pursuing studies in Dante, in which he bad been greatly interested in his last years.

For many years Dr. Lewis resided at Morristown, N. J., and there he died, of cerebro-spinal meningitis, on May 26 1904. He was 70 years of age.

He married, on July 25, 1861, Nancy Dunlap, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Farley) McKeen, of Brunswick, Me., who died in 1883. He afterward married Margaret P., daughter of Rev. Thomas Sherrard and his wife, Valeria G. Sherrard, of Tecumseh, Michigan. Of the four children by the first marriage three are living. The elder son (Yale 1833) died in. 1887. The younger son (Yale 1886) is Emily Sanford Professor of English Literature in Yale University. One of the daughters graduated from Smith College in 1895. By the second marriage he had a son and a daughter, who, with their mother, survived.

From Yale University Obituary Record.

Guide to the Charlton Thomas Lewis Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
October 1982
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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