Skip to main content

William Bayard Hale papers

Call Number: MS 814

Scope and Contents

The William Bayard Hale Papers, 1888-1939, consist of correspondence, writings, memorabilia, scrapbooks and printed matter written or collected by Hale. The bulk of the material spans the years 1910-1923. Of particular interest are Hale's letters to his wife, which chronicle his career as President Woodrow Wilson's special emissary to Mexico in 1913, and Hale's extensive collection of printed matter relating to World War I.

Series I, PERSONAL PAPERS, begins with Letters of William Bayard Hale to Olga Unger Hale (1910-1921) discussing mainly routine meetings with local and state officials during his stay in Mexico and throughout his travels in Latin America and Europe as a journalist. Hale does, however, write to his wife of the political upheavals in Mexico and Nicaragua in 1913 and 1914 and also of his opposition to United States recognition of the Huerta government in Mexico.

Letters to William Bayard Hale consist of photocopies of letters which William Harlan Hale sold to private collectors in 1971. Included are thirteen letters from Woodrow Wilson to Hale dating from February 10, 1911, to July 12, 1915. Hale was Wilson's confidant until differences over United States policies early in World War I ended their friendship. In his letter of April 2, 1915, Wilson calls Hale's proposal for a United States embargo on arms shipments to belligerent powers "a suggestion of reprisal, and I should be very loath to see this retaliation of anything proposed on the other side of the water. I really think we should cultivate a different spirit in the matter. We are detached and we can keep our minds clear of any sort of feeling that might mislead us."

Other letters to Hale include three from Sigmund Freud (1922 Jan), in which Freud discusses his ideas on the proper use of psychoanalysis, with particular reference to Hale's newly published book The Story of a Style:A Psychoanalytic Study of Wilson. H.L. Mencken also writes of Hale's book, 1919 Aug 20, "You have invented a new form of criticism... The plain people buried Woodrow. You have erected his imperishable tombstone." Other correspondents of note include William Jennings Bryan, John Burroughs, Thomas Hardy, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Dean Howells, B.W. Huebsch, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bernard Shaw.

Series I also contains a small amount of Hale's writings, including an early sermon (1895), his address on "The Making of the American Constitution" delivered at Oxford in 1895, arguments against British activities on the seas and the exportation of munitions (1915), and a copy of The Story of a Style.

Finally, Series I includes memorabilia and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings of Hale's articles and of articles about Hale. The scrapbooks cover the years 1908-1923 but also contain an article written in 1934 by Hale's son, William Harlan Hale, and an article which appeared in the New York Times in 1939, in both of which Hale's secret interview with Kaiser Wilhelm in 1908 is discussed.

Series II, PRINTED MATTER, consists of pamphlets and periodicals collected by Hale relating to World War I. Materials included were published both during and after the war. Found here is a sizable collection of pro-German pamphlets and periodicals published in the United States, including The American Monthly, Bull, The Fatherland, New Yorker Bezirks-Nachrichten and Viereck's. Of special interest is material documenting the German response to the Allied occupation after the war, particularly the "shame" caused by the presence of black American troops. Also included here are pamphlets dealing with political prisoners, prisoners of war, German war guilt and the Versailles Treaty.


  • 1888-1962


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 Mrs. William Harlon Hale, 1975. Gift of Susan Hale-de Seve, 2009.


Arranged in two series and one addition: I. Personal Papers. II. Printed Matter.


4.25 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


Correspondence, writings, memorabilia, scrapbooks and printed matter chiefly concentrated in the years 1910-1923. The correspondence includes photocopies of thirteen letters from Woodrow Wilson to Hale (1911-1915) discussing various aspects of United States foreign policy. Between 1913 and 1914, Hale travelled in Central America as Woodrow Wilson's special emissary to Mexico and then to Nicaragua. His letters to his wife during this period describe the political upheavals in those countries and his opposition to United States recognition of the Huerta government in Mexico. Also of note are three letters from Sigmund Freud in which Freud discusses the proper use of psychoanalysis in connection with Hale's just published study of Woodrow Wilson. Other important correspondents include William Jennings Bryan, John Burroughs, Thomas Hardy, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Dean Howells, H. L. Mencken, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bernard Shaw. There is only a small sampling of his writing and one sermon. The largest part of the collection is made up of scrapbooks and printed matter (1914-1923), reflecting Hale's position during World War I as a secret agent of the Germans. Included are pro-German periodicals and pamphlets published before the United States entry into the war and post war pamphlets on the question of German war guilt and the Versailles Treaty.

Biographical / Historical

William Bayard Hale: ordained in 1893; active in politics and writing; turned to journalism in the early 1900s and divested himself of clerical orders in 1909; worked for Cosmopolitan, the World; edited the Philadelphia Public Ledger for four years; worked for the Times and then World's Work; author of numerous books, especially on politics and Woodrow Wilson; from 1914-1918 travelled in Central and South America and acted as a German propagandist.

Guide to the William Bayard Hale Papers
compiled by Miriam Levi
November 1980
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