Skip to main content

John Quillin Tilson papers

Call Number: MS 1132

Scope and Contents

The papers of John Quillin Tilson, which consist of fragments of what must originally have been more extensive records, reflect both his legal and his political career. The correspondence includes letters concerning Yale Law School alumni and the operation of the Law School dining hall; routine legal business; political issues and responses to letters from constituents; and one family letter (1907 Jun 24). Other letters deal with Tilson's service with the Connecticut National Guard, including recommendations for its reorganization and a description of maneuvers in Texas (1903 Apr 17, 1911 May 21). Also in the correspondence is a letter from Tilson to President Coolidge recommending a tax reduction (1923 Nov 20), and one from Cordell Hull to Tilson concerning a planned visit to Canada (1940 May 13).

Other papers in the collection include speeches and other short writings by Tilson on political and legal subjects; notes and travel diaries on various trips to Europe and the Orient, taken for the most part on behalf of the government; governmental reports concerning the cost of a portrait for the State Department; papers for a Parliamentary Law course taught by Tilson at Yale Law School in 1956; and an assortment of military and legal certificates and diplomas.

The provenance of this collection is unknown, as are the whereabouts of any other papers of John Q. Tilson.


  • 1888-1956


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.


2.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, speeches, travel diaries, and documents relating to John Q. Tilson's public life. The diary of his trip to Europe in 1925 was kept while studying munitions for a report to Calvin Coolidge. Another diary reports on a trip to the Orient in 1927. Correspondence reflects his service in the Connecticut National Guard and his connection with Yale Law School. He lectured there on parliamentary law from 1930 until his death, and papers from this course are also in the collection. Of particular interest in the correspondence is a letter from Calvin Coolidge (1923) and another from Cordell Hull (1940).

Biographical / Historical

The son of a farmer, John Quillin Tilson was born in Clearbranch, Tennessee, on April 5, 1866. He attended public school and graduated with a B.A. from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He then came to Yale University, where he received a B.A. in 1891, an LL.B. in 1893, and an M.L. in 1894. In 1897, he was admitted to the bar in Connecticut. After leaving New Haven to fight in the Spanish-American War, Tilson returned to find himself a partner in the firm of White, Daggert & Tilson. In 1904, he was elected to serve in the Connecticut House of Representatives and in his second term, served as Speaker of the House. Between 1909 and 1912, he served Connecticut as a congressman-at-large. He was re-elected in 1914 and served until 1932. Between 1925 and 1930, he was the Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives. He was considered an expert on ordnance and a strong advocate of military preparedness. He was sent to Europe twice, once by Warren G. Harding in 1923, and again by Calvin Coolidge in 1925. After retiring from Congress, Tilson returned to law, first in Washington, D.C., and then in New Haven. In 1941, he became national treasurer of the Save the Children Federation. He was awarded numerous medals and was a member of many clubs and societies. On November 10, 1910, in New Haven, he was married to Marguerite, with whom he had three children: John Quillin, Margaret Field, and Katharine Sams. He died in New London, New Hampshire, on August 14, 1958.

Guide to the John Quillin Tilson Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
April 1983
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
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours