Skip to main content

Kingman Brewster personal papers

Call Number: MS 572

Scope and Contents

The papers primarily document the personal and professional life of Brewster as a Harvard faculty member (1950-1960) and Ambassador to Great Britain (1977-1981). The papers also include informative (but limited) material from 1940 to 1950. The most substantive material in the collection is that created by Brewster himself. Correspondence, unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, provide extensive documentation of his interests and expertise, including in the areas of the role of government; maintaining a viable center in the political opinion spectrum; American anti-trust laws; American companies doing business abroad; the role of a liberal arts higher education; Anglo-American relations; and the United States in world affairs. The documentation on Brewster as ambassador reflects the public side of his work. Internal Embassy discussions on issues or policies, planning for incident responses, and interactions with the US State Department, are not documented in the papers.

Records, including correspondence and speeches, documenting Brewster’s tenures as Provost and President can be found in the Yale University Archives (see Related Materials note).


  • 1866 - 2008
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1988


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by Kingman Brewster has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact

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 Mary Louise Phillips Brewster, 1991. Gift of the Yale Alumni Magazine, 1992. Gift of Henry Chauncey, Jr., 1994. Transfer from the Office of the President, 1999.


The papers are arranged in six series: I. Correspondence, 1904-1984. II. Personal, 1866-1989. III. Professional, 1936-1989. IV. Writings, 1940-1988. V. Photographs, 1940-1988. VI. Clippings and Interviews, 1940-1986.

Related Materials

Related materials: Kingman Brewster, Jr., President of Yale University, Records (RU 11); and Provost's Office, Yale University, Records (RU 92).


123.33 Linear Feet (356 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, subject files, teaching and research materials, speeches, interviews, photographs, and printed material documenting the career of Kingman Brewster Jr.

Biographical / Historical

Kingman Brewster was born in Longmeadow, Massachusetts on June 17, 1919, the son of Kingman Brewster Sr. and Florence Foster. His parents divorced in 1923 and he and his sister settled with their mother in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother married Edward Ballentine, a Harvard University music professor. Brewster attended the Belmont Hill School, where he participated in debate and drama. Before entering Yale University as an undergraduate student, Brewster traveled to Europe with his family. He attended Yale College from 1937 to 1941, where he was chairman of the Yale Daily News and was involved in the America First campaign, protesting America’s involvement in World War II.

After the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Brewster enlisted. He served as a Naval aviator and flew anti-submarine patrols in South America for three years. After the war ended, he attended Harvard Law School, where he served on the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude in 1948. Following graduation, he went to Paris and served as assistant general counsel to Milton Katz, the United States Special Representative in Europe for the Economic Cooperation Administration. Thereafter he accepted a position in the economics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1950, Brewster was appointed assistant professor at Harvard Law School. He was promoted to full professor in 1953. While at Harvard, he became a noted expert on antitrust matters and international commerce and relations. His well-received publications included Antitrust and American Business Abroad, published in 1958, and The Law of International Transactions and Relations: Cases and Materials, co-authored with Milton Katz and published in 1960.

In 1960, Brewster returned to Yale University as provost under Yale president, A. Whitney Griswold, who had taught at Yale when Brewster was a student and was a friend of Brewster’s parents. After Griswold died from cancer in 1963, Brewster became acting Yale University president and was named president in October. He was inaugurated in April 1964.

Brewster led the university through significant and controversial changes to the faculty, student body, and curricula. For a summary of the work of his presidential administration and the records that document it, see: Guide to the Kingman Brewster, Jr., President of Yale University, Records.

In May 1977, Brewster left Yale to become Ambassador to the Court of St. James's in the United Kingdom. He served as ambassador until 1981 and was well-liked by the British with whom he regularly interacted. He travelled throughout the country to meet people and noted that his job was to try “to advise my Government on British attitudes and concerns in the fullest way possible.” After the ambassadorship ended, Brewster returned to New Haven, and worked for the New York-based law firm of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam, and Roberts. He also served as chairman of the English Speaking Union of the United States, a group that sponsors cultural and educational opportunities for students and educators. He was active in other organizations, serving in positions with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Reuters, Common Cause, and the American Council of Learned Societies. In 1984, he returned to London as resident partner for his law firm. In 1985, he was elected Master of University College at Oxford, an unusual position for an American to hold. He died at the age of 69 on November 8, 1988.

Brewster married Mary Louise Phillips in Jacksonville, Florida in 1942. Mary Louise was a Vassar College student and had met Brewster at a Yale football game. They had five children together: Kingman Brewster III, Constance, Deborah, Alden, and Riley.

Guide to the Kingman Brewster Personal Papers
compiled by Katherine Isham, Monika Lehman, Anna Ellsworth, Christine Weideman, and Alison Clemens
October 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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