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George Albert Coe Papers

Call Number: RG 36

Scope and Contents

The first series, Correspondence is divided into three sections:

  1. a) General
  2. b) Letters of sympathy received at the time of the death of Mrs. Coe.
  3. c) Letters received at the time of Coe's retirement in 1927

The General section includes correspondence with Coe's professional colleagues and personal friends. Correspondence with friends sheds light on Coe's personality and character. Substantive letters to and from colleagues give insight into the development of Coe's thought throughout his long career, a development which led Coe to write at age eighty-two: "I have reexamined my own position with the result of becoming to a significant extent a dissenter from some of my own published writings." (Preface of Coe's book, What is Religion Doing to Our Consciences?) Notable correspondents include: William Clayton Bower, Emil Brunner, Adelaide Case, Harrision Elliott, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Hugh Hartshorne and A. J. W. Myers. Correspondence from the period before 1915 is included in the scrapbooks maintained by Coe to document the reception of his published works.

The second series, Writings, dates from 1883 to 1951. The writings are primarily articles and essays in printed or reprint form with a few typescript drafts. Manuscripts of Coe's major works are not represented in this series.

  1. a) Reviews of Coe's books (1924-1943). Reviews of earlier publications are included in the four scrapbooks which follow Series IV.
  2. b) Reports and minutes of the Committee on Militarism in Education of which Coe was chairman for many years (1936-1940).
  3. c) Miscellaneous (1924-1947,n.d.): Includes material from the Military Intelligence Association, Inc., which disapproved of Coe's pacifist stance and of the activities of the Committee on Militarism in Education.

The fourth series, Personal Items and Memorabilia, includes three folders. The first contains biographical material regarding Coe, including bibliographies of his published works. The second folder contains photographs of Coe and ones taken by him. The third folder contains material regarding Coe's wife, Sadie Knowland Coe, including photographs, newspaper clippings regarding her death, and music composed by her.

The four bound volumes date from 1900 to 1920. They contain reviews and correspondence regarding Coe's published works.


  • 1883-1952


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of George Albert Coe


  1. I. Correspondence, 1915-1950, n.d.
  2. II. Writings, 1893-1951
  3. III. Printed Material, 1924-1947, n.d.
  4. IV.Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1905-1952, n.d.


4 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence with personal friends reveals Coe's personality and character, while correspondence with professional colleagues gives insight into the development of Coe's thought. Notable correspondents include William Clayton Bower, Emil Brunner, Adelaide Case, Harrison Elliott, and A. J. W. Myers. Writings include articles, essays, and drafts. Printed material includes reviews of Coe's books and committee reports and minutes. George Albert Coe was born in Mendon, New York on March 26, 1862. He received degrees from the University of Rochester and Boston University. He was a prominent author and professor in the fields of psychology of religion, philosophy, and religious education at the University of Southern California, University of Berlin, Northwestern University, Yale University, Union Theological Seminary, and Columbia University. Coe was chairman of the Committee on Militarism in Education and Honorary President of the Religious Education Association. Coe died on November 9, 1951.

Biographical / Historical

1862 Mar 26
Born in Mendon, N.Y., son of a clergyman
B.A., University of Rochester
S.T.B., Boston University
M.A., University of Rochester
1888 Sep 3
Married Sadie E. Knowland; she later became a professor at the Northwestern University School of Music and died in 1905.
Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California
At University of Berlin as Jacob Sleeper Fellow of Boston University
Ph.D., Boston University
Professor of Philosophy, Northwestern University
LL.D., University of Rochester
Instructor in Religious Education, Yale
Professor of Religious Education and Psychology of Religion at Union Theological Seminary; organized and supervised the Union School of Religion, an experimental and demonstration Sunday School.
Professor of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
1951Nov 9
Died (Biographical Material, Box 7, Folder 58)

George Albert Coe has been called one of the three foremost pioneers in the field of psychology of religion along with William James and Edwin D. Starbuck. Coe served for many years as chairman of the Committee on Militarism in Education and was Honorary President of the Religious Education Association. He was a prolific writer throughout his life, producing noteworthy articles through his eighth decade. In one of the many tributes which appeared after Coe's death, Stewart G. Cole wrote: "He enlisted his germinal mind and his social passion in rethinking religion in terms of the needs of man's experience, the growth of human personality and the social issues affecting the well-being of every individual." (Cole, Stewart G., "A Tribute", Religious Education, March-April, 1952, p. 88.)

Guide to the George Albert Coe Papers
compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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