Skip to main content

George Sherwood Eddy Papers

Call Number: RG 32

Scope and Contents

These papers, dating from 1851 to 1981, document the activities and associations of Sherwood Eddy throughout his long career as a Y.M.C.A. secretary, seminar leader, author, and lecturer. Eddy's insightful letters and writings reveal much about his interests and involvements, which ranged from Christian evangelism to world politics to cooperative farms in the South to spiritualism. The controversies that accompanied Eddy's liberal views on various issues are documented.

The Eddy Papers complement numerous other collections at the Yale Divinity School Library, including the John R. Mott Papers and the archives of the Student Volunteer Movement and World Student Christian Federation. Of particular interest to the YDSL focus on China missions are the documentation of Eddy's evangelistic meetings in Asia 1911 to 1914 and letters that report on visits to China throughout the 1920s and 20s, revealing Eddy's evolving estimation of China's leadership.

The Eddy Papers came to the Library in three nearly equal sections, one during Eddy's lifetime, one donated by Eddy's widow in 1977 and one following her death in 1982. The original group of papers plus the 1977 addendum have been reorganized and integrated with the third increment.

CORRESPONDENCE, the first series, is divided into six sections:

  1. a. Correspondence: Family. These letters, dating from 1912 to 1946, read as a travelogue telling of Eddy's activities and encounters with notable personages such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lloyd George, Sun Yat-sen and John R. Mott. Many of the letters exchanged between GSE and his brother, D. Brewer Eddy, deal with management of the financial resources which allowed Eddy to pursue his independent activities.
  2. b. Correspondence: General. These letters date from 1906 to 1963. Notable correspondents include Reinhold Niebuhr, Kenneth Scott Latourette, Kirby Page, Nels F. S. Ferre', G. Bromley Oxnam, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Henry P. Van Dusen and representatives of the Student Volunteer Movement. Eddy's activities overseas are described as well as his efforts to finance various projects and arrangements for speaking engagements and publications. Letters related to the formation and development of the interracial Delta Cooperative farms in Mississippi are of particular interest.
  3. c. Correspondence: Report Letters. These are circular type letters written from around the world.
  4. d. Correspondence: Seventieth Birthday. A bound volume of congratulatory letters from his friends was presented to Eddy on his seventieth birthday, January 19, 1941. There are letters in this bound volume from many of the individuals who appear in the Correspondence: General section.
  5. e. Correspondence: Kirby Page. The letters in this section, primarily written in 1953, came in response to Kirby Page's appeal to friends and acquaintances of Eddy for any material that would aid in his efforts to write a biography of Eddy. Eddy's personality and the lasting impressions he made on people are evident in these letters.
  6. f. Correspondence of others. These are letters of Eddy family members which are neither to nor from GSE. The majority of the letters are those of Eddy's second wife, Louise Gates Eddy. A sampling of condolence letters written to her after the death of GSE has been retained as well as correspondence which relates to the symposium honoring GSE in October and the deposit of GSE's papers in the Yale Divinity School Library.

The Writings of the second series are divided into five sections:

  1. a. Writings: Articles and Speeches. This section includes published and unpublished articles, papers,and speeches dating from 1896 to 1956. The listing of titles reveals the wide range of Eddy's interests - from world affairs to race relations to personal belief.
  2. b. Writings: Pamphlets. These publications in pamphlet format date from 1893 to 1942 and address many of the same topics as Eddy's articles and speeches.
  3. c. Writings: Related to Major Works. This section contains primarily drafts, notes and correspondence related Eddy's booklength works, both published and unpublished. Many of the drafts are for books written late in Eddy's life for which he was not able to find a publisher. 0f particular interest are the source materials and the notes for Eddy's book You Will Survive After Death.
  4. d. Writings: Notes and Fragments. These more ephemeral writings and notes of Eddy are topically arranged and date from 1926 to 1955, n.d.
  5. e. Writings: Published Works. Included in this section are noncirculating copies of Eddy's major works, both pamphlets and books. Most of these works also appear in the Library's cataloged collection.

The Collected Material of Series III is a compendium of articles, books, and pamphlets on a variety of topics that Eddy had retained in his files. The wide range of Eddy's interests is reflected here as elsewhere in his papers.

Series IV, Personal Items and Memorabilia, is divided into four sections:

  1. a. Biographical Documentation. This section contains a wide variety of primarily printed material documenting Eddy's life and background. Articles and tributes written about Eddy are included as well as a few autobiographical writings.
  2. b. Material Related to Seminars and Lectures. Announcements, programs, newspaper articles and other items dating from 1919 to 1958 document Eddy's seminar trips to Europe and his activities as a lecturer and evangelist in the Untied States and abroad. In 2007, additional materials related to the 1938 European Seminar were donated by John M. and Sharon D. Ewing. These consist of a VCR copy of an 8mm film taken by Joseph S. Ewing during the Seminar, a DVD made from the film footage, with audio voice-over by John M. and Sharon D. Ewing from the original journals of Ewing, the roster of participants in the Seminar and a photocopy of a photograph of the participants.
  3. c. Financial Records. The records in this section are not comprehensive but they do provide a glimpse of the financial arrangements that allowed Eddy to be largely independent of a salary throughout his career. Finances were also a frequent topic in letters exchanged between Eddy and his brother. (see Series I)
  4. d. Genealogical Material. These materials collected by Eddy do not document his personal family history in any detailed way.
  5. e. Photographs. Most interesting in this section are the early photographs from China that document meetings led by Eddy in 1913 and 1914.


  • 1851-1981


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1912-1977, n.d.
  2. II. Writings, 1893-1956, n.d.
  3. III. Collected Material, 1913-1958, n.d.
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1851-1981, n.d.


10.5 Linear Feet (25 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The collection consists of correspondence, writings, collected material, personal items, and memorabilia that document the activities and associations of George Sherwood Eddy throughout his career as a YMCA secretary, seminar leader, author, lecturer, and evangelist. George Sherwood Eddy was born in Leavenworth, Kansas on January 19, 1871. He earned a Ph.B. degree from Sheffield Scientific School, Yale University in 1891, attended Union Theological Seminary and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. Eddy worked for the YMCA, Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, and American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He was appointed YMCA secretary for Asia in 1911. Eddy wrote and published numerous books and pamphlets from 1895-1955. He died in Jacksonville, Illinois on November 4, 1963.

Biographical / Historical

1871, January 19
Born Leavenworth, Kansas, son of George Alfred and Margaret Louise Norton Eddy
1887, 1888
Preparatory School at Phillips-Andover Academy, Massachusetts
Ph.B. Sheffield Scientific School, Yale University
1891 -1896
Worked for Y.M.C.A. and Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions in New York City; Attended Union Theological Seminary; Graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary
Worked in India under auspices of the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A. and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; Traveling Secretary for the S.V.M. in India and Ceylon; While visiting in India, Eddy's mother organized the Kodaikanal School
1898, November 10
Married Alice Maud Harriet Arden (1873-1945) - Children: Margaret M. (d. 1932); Arden (d. 1917)
Attended Tokyo Conference of the World Student Christian Federation
Appointed Y.M.C.A. Secretary for Asia; Worked with students of Japan, Karea, China, India, the Near East and Russia--an honorary worker without salary; Addressed Chinese provincial parliaments and boards of government institutions.
1912, 1913
Held evangelistic meetings with John R. Mott throughout Asia
Y.M.C.A. Secretary working with British and American armies in France during World War I
M.A. (Honorary) LL.D. College of Wooster; M.A. (Honorary) Yale
Led traveling seminars to England and the continent; more than 1500 American leaders participated
Retired from the Y.M.C.A.
Aided in organization of the interracial Delta Cooperative Farms in Mississippi
Married Catherine Louise Gates
Moved to Jacksonville, Illinois; Taught at Illinois College and MacMurray College
Wrote and published numerous books and pamphlets including God in History (1947), You Will Survive After Death (1950), and his autobiography, Eighty Adventurous Years (1955).
1963, November 4
Died Jacksonville, Illinois

Biographical information taken from: Who Was Who in America, Volume IV 1961-1968, Sherwood Eddy, Eighty Adventurous Years, and Biographical Documentation, Series IV

Processing Information

Place names were modernized in the description, with the name originally used in the collection material or in an older version of the finding aid in parenthesis: e.g. “Beijing (Peking)” or “Benin (Dahomey)”.

Guide to the George Sherwood Eddy Papers
Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
1985, 2021
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

409 Prospect Street
New Haven CT 06511 US
(203) 432-5301

Opening Hours