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Henry Burt Wright Papers

Call Number: RG 40

Scope and Contents

These papers provide a thorough picture of Wright's life and work and are particularly useful for their documentation of his involvement in religious activity-at Yale from 1894 to 1923 and in Y.M.C.A. work during the first World War.

Series I, Correspondence, dates from 1901 to 1925 and is divided into Family Correspondence and General Correspondence. Letters from his wife, sister and parents during times of separation give insight into the rich family life which was so important to Wright. Letters in the General Correspondence section reveal the various facets of Wright's career--his interests in Ancient History, Yale history, religious activity at Yale, Y.M.C.A. work, mission work and the community affairs and baseball team of Oakham, Mass. Wright was a disciplined man who took a personal interest in the lives of many people. His character is reflected in the substance and detail of his correspondence. Notable correspondents include John R. Mott, Robert P. Wilder, David R. Porter, Kenneth S. Latourette, Anson Phelps Stokes, E. Hershey Sneath, Charles R. Brown, George Sherwood Eddy and Robert E. Speer.

Series II consists of a topically arranged file which documents Wright's involvements and interests. Included in the file are class notes taken by Wright, notes for lectures, talks and sermons, drafts of unpublished writings, schedules, printed material and student papers. The topics range from "Studies in the Life of Christ" to "Fraternities and Secret Societies" to "Yale: School of Religion, Publicity Committee" to "Y.M.C.A.: Commission on Advance Program Among Students". This file provides valuable insight into the issues and concerns of religious work among college students during the first quarter of the 20th century. It is particularly useful in documenting the course of Christian activity at Yale and the development of the Yale School of Religion. Another large group of material documents the role played by the Y.M.C.A. during World War I.

Series III, Published Writings, consists of one box of material arranged alphabetically by title. The writings date from 1909 to 1921 and reflect Wright's interests in student religious work, Y.M.C.A. war work and Ancient History.

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

  1. Biographical Material
  2. Financial material related to Wright's book, Two
  3. Centuries of Christian Activity at Yale
  4. Material related to Josephine H. Wright
  5. Photographs
  6. Miscellaneous material


  • 1728-1928


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1901-1925
  2. II. Subject File
  3. III. Published Writings, 1909-1924, n.d.
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1903-1928., n.d.
  5. V. Addendum


15 Linear Feet (30 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers detail Wright's personal life and professional work. They are particularly useful for their documentation of his involvement in religious activity at Yale from 1894-1923 and in YMCA work during the first World War. Henry Burt Wright was born in New Haven, Connecticut on January 29, 1877. He received the B.A. (1898) and Ph.D. (1903) degrees from Yale University. He was a professor at Yale from 1903-1923. He was active in Christian work among university students and in the work of the YMCA during World War I. He died in Oakham, Massachusetts on December 27, 1923.

Biographical / Historical

1877 Jan 29
Born in New Haven, son of Henry Parks and Martha Burt Wright. H. P. Wright was Dean of Yale College from 1884 to 1909. HBW studied at home until entering the New Haven high school; summers were spent in Oakham, Mass.
B.A., Yale. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon and the Skull and Bones society and was president of the Christian Association during his senior year.
Ph.D., Yale. While pursuing his graduate studies, Wright served as General Secretary of the Yale Y.M.C.A. from 1898 to 1901 and as Graduate Secretary from 1901 to 1903.
Co-editor of Two Centuries of Christian Activity at Yale.
Throughout his teaching career, Wright continued to aid the work of the Yale and New Haven Y.M.C.A.'s by leading Bible study groups and serving as an advisor. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Yale Hope Mission. Wright was active in the leadership of various student conferences and in evangelistic campaigns. He was a leading force in the formation of the Young Men's Club of Oakham, Mass. and was involved in Oakham community affairs. He was also a trustee of the Yale-in-China Association.
Tutor in Greek and Latin, Yale
Instructor in Greek and Latin
Assistant Professor, Roman History and Latin Literature
1907 Jul 24
Married Josephine L. Hayward. The couple was childless but opened their home to various young people whom they considered as their family.
1907-1908, 1911
Study in Europe
Assistant Professor, History department
Seriously ill with a respiratory ailment
Stephen Merrell Clement Professor of Christian Methods, Yale Divinity School. Courses taught by Wright included "Personal Evangelism", "Rural Sociology", "Leadership of Voluntary Bible-study Groups" and "Religious Aspects of Student Problems". He was the leader in the establishment of a department at Yale for the training of Y.M.C.A. secretaries.
Chief of Y.M.C.A. religious work at First Reserve Officers' Training Camp, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
1917 summer
Taught at the Y.M.C.A. College, Springfield, Mass.
1917 Aug-1919
Jun Director of religious work for Y.M.C.A., Camp Devens, Ayer, Mass. Wright was in New Haven periodically during this time period due to illness or family and academic commitments.
Editor of the Centennial Catalogue of Yale Divinity School
1923 Dec 27
Died in Oakham, Mass.
Guide to the Henry Burt Wright Papers
Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
1977, 1978
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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