Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926Alternative names
Eliot served as president of Harvard University (1869-1909).
From the description of Correspondence of Charles W. Eliot, 1870-1920. (Harvard Law School Library). WorldCat record id: 234339031
Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) was President of Harvard University from March 12, 1869 to May 19, 1909. He also taught mathematics and chemistry at Harvard University (1858-1863) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1865-1869). Eliot was one of the most influential educators of his day and the innovations he introduced at Harvard University influenced higher education throughout the United States.
From the description of Papers of Charles W. Eliot, 1834-1869 and 1909-1926 (bulk), 1807-1945 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 68706702
From the description of Charles William Eliot letter, 1886. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71009898
Charles William Eliot, Harvard A.B. 1853, served as president of Harvard from 1869 to 1909.
From the description of Miscellaneous correspondence and other papers, 1850-1948. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77063751
Charles W. Eliot served as President of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909.
From the description of Papers of Charles W. Eliot, 1894-1930 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76972552
Educator; president of Harvard, 1869-1909.
From the description of Charles William Eliot papers, 1870-1915. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 181588294
President of Harvard College.
From the description of Charles W. Eliot autograph, between 1850-1926. (Cornell University Library). WorldCat record id: 642169757
Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) was President of Harvard University from March 12, 1869 to May 19, 1909. He also taugh mathematics and chemistry at Harvard University (1858-1863) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1865-1869). Eliot was one of the most influential educators of his day and the innovations he introduced at Harvard University influenced higher education throughout the United States.
From the description of Papers of Charles William Eliot, 1807-1945. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 236231885
Charles William Eliot was President of Harvard University.
From the description of Letters to Horace Howard Furness, 1872-1900. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155883146
Eliot was president of Harvard University, 1869-1909.
Snell graduated from Oberlin College (1893), studied at Oxford University (1904-1905), received her master's degree from the University of Good Hope (1908) and her doctorate from Yale University (1914). She was for many years a professor of English literature at Huguenot College in Wellington, South Africa.
Benjamin Stolberg, the subject of the Yeomans letter, later became an author and journalist in the field of American labor, editor of The Bookman and major columnist for the New York evening post, The New York times and The New York herald tribune.
From the description of [Letters] / Charles W. Eliot. [1909-1917] (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 214281091
Charles William Eliot was President of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909.
Nathan Appleton (1843-1906, Harvard AB 1863) was the son of Samuel Appleton, for whom the Chapel was named.
From the description of Letter from Charles W. Eliot to Nathan Appleton regarding the ivy on Appleton Chapel, 5 Oct. 1900. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77067934
Charles William Eliot was President of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909.
The Clarke to whom this letter is addressed is possibly James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888, Harvard AB 1829) who served as a Harvard Overseer, Professor of Natural Religion and Christian Doctrine, and Lecturer at the Divinity School.
From the description of Letter from Charles William Eliot to Rev. James F. Clarke, urging him to accept a call to a Cambridge church, 27 Jan., 1870. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77067929
Louis Agassiz (1807-1873, APS 1843) was a zoologist and geologist. A student of Georges Cuvier, Agassiz was renown for his six-volume work Poissons fossils, a study of more than 1,700 ancient fish. Equally important was his Ètudes sur les glaciers (1840). In 1845 Agassiz moved to the United States on a two-year study grant from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to compare the flora and fauna of the United States and Europe. While in the United States he was invited to deliver a course of lectures at the Lowell Institute in Boston. He took America and New England by storm and as a result in 1847 was appointed professor of zoology and geology at Harvard’s new Lawrence Scientific School.
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was born in Motier, Switzerland on May 26, 1807, the son of a Protestant minister Rodolphe Agassiz and his wife Rose Mayor. Despite family pressure to enter business, Agassiz early decided to devote himself to the study of nature. At the age of twenty-one he predicted that he would become “the first naturalist of his time, a good citizen and a good son.” His determination gained Agassiz an excellent education in the natural sciences at the Universities of Heidelberg and Munich. He also made important contacts in early life that formed his outlook and provided the basis for his early career. The naturalist Johann B. Spix allowed him to publish on a collection of fish from Brazil that Spix had gathered, while the anatomist Ignaz Döllinger trained him to use the microscope and introduced him to the field of embryology. Philosophically, Agassiz was influenced by the German idealism of Lorenz Okenfuss, who built a system of biological classification based upon increasing complexity of sense organs. Agassiz’s scientific thought and practice was characterized by two separate and often contradictory outlooks. One was exact and pragmatic; the other was transcendental. His approach was clearly influenced by French zoologist and paleontologist Georges Cuvier, who passed on to Agassiz his remarkable collection of fossil fish illustrations. He also impressed the geographer Alexander Humboldt, an adviser to the king of Prussia who arranged an appointment for him at the Collège de Neuchâtel in 1832, where he taught natural history for more than ten years. During these years (1832-42) he studied fossil fish in museums and private collections throughout Europe, resulting in his six-volume Poissons fossils that described more than 1,700 primeval fish, that he analyzed according to Cuvier’s comparative method. The work, which won high praise from major Bristish naturalists Sir Charles Lyell and Richard Owen, provided the basis for Agassiz’s scientific fame and fortune. His natural philosophy was infused with the belief in an all-powerful diety, who planned and created every single living being, plant and animal, undercutting any genetic connection between ancient and modern creatures.
In addition to his work on fish, between 1837 and 1843 Agassiz did ground breaking work on glacial geology, presented in a paper presented to the Sociètè Helvétique des Sciences naturelles (July 1837) and in his book Etudes sur les glaciers in which he theorized that a massive glacier had once covered all of Europe. Although the idea had first been suggested by Swiss naturalist Jean de Charpentier, Agassiz was the first to publicize the idea and to apply it to all of Europe. A prolific writer, who wished to be personally involved with the production of his works, Agassiz developed a publishing house in Neuchâtel, that employed the latest technology in photo duplication and produced bibliographies, dictionaries and monographs by Agassiz and his assistants. In the spring of 1845 Agassiz’s fortunes abruptly shifted. His wife Cécile Braun Agassiz left her husband and Neuchâtel, his printing business closed due to accumulated debts, and he was forced to leave the Collège de Neuchâtel. Just as his luck seemed to run out, he received word of a 2-year grant secured for him by Humboldt from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia for $3,000 to do a comparative study of the flora and fauna of the United States and Europe.
Shortly after the arrival of Agassiz in the United States, John Amory Lowell, manufacturer and head of the Lowell Institute in Boston, invited him to deliver a course of public lectures. New Englanders found the Swiss naturalist, who spoke enthusiastically about primitive fish and prehistoric glaciers, intriguing. New England scientific luminaries such as Harvard botanist Asa Gray and Yale chemist Benjamin Silliman lauded Agassiz as “full of knowledge on all subjects of science.” His lectures created such a demand for speaking engagements, that within less than two years Agassiz was able to repay $20,000 in European debt. In the fall of 1847 Harvard University offered him a chair of zoology and geology at its newly established Lawrence Scientic School. In July 1848, after his wife’s death, he arranged for his children to join him in the United States. These events, together with his 1850 marriage to a bright well-connected Bostonian Elizabeth Cabot Carey, sixteen years Agassiz’s junior, permanently anchored the Swiss scientist in America. Soon afterward Agassiz’s home in Cambridge became a center of intellectual life. As a Harvard professor he badgered the University continually for funds to build a major natural history museum to instruct the public and help to train advanced students. His efforts paid off in November 1859, when the Museum of Comparative Zoology opened its doors. The Museum provided a unique resource for American students to gain unrestricted, first hand access to natural specimens. Many practicing American naturalists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were trained by Agassiz and worked in his museum. The Museum testified to Agassiz’s passion for collecting and identifying the “entire natural kingdom all at once,” a desire that quickly filled the repository to overflowing with specimens. From a philosophical perspective Agassiz planned the Museum as a demonstration of the “master plan” that the diety had executed in the creation of the natural world, displaying the “type plan” of different classes and stressing the separate creation of each species. Agassiz’s core belief in the special creation of species by God undergirded his quest to locate new species. However, some colleagues criticized him as “species mad,” arguing that his museum and his methods added little to the conceptual understanding of natural history.
Agassiz’s reputation took a major hit in a series of Boston debates on evolution, after the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859. Agassiz made a poor defense of special creation against Darwin’s defenders Asa Gray and William Barton Rogers. Furthermore, Agassiz’s understanding of special creationism as applied to human beings led him to view various races as distinct species, a rationale quickly adopted by the proponents slavery, who asserted a scientific basis to white supremecy.
Concerned about the decline of his professional reputation in the 1850s, in 1855 Agassiz announced the forthcoming publication of a projected ten-volume entitled Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America. A total of 2,500 subscribers made advanced purchases at $12.00 each. The initial volume entitled Essay on Classification elaborated Agassiz’s views on classification, the philosophy of nature and the species concept. Appearing two years after Darwin’s Origin of Species, the work drew mixed reviews. Many were put off by the author’s dogmatism, others thought his views dated and moribund. Three more volumes appeared, but the publication of the projected set was never completed.
Many years later in 1872 Agassiz did reconsider evolution, trying to understand Darwin’s views by making a trip around South America, retracing Darwin’s voyage. However, he only became more convinced that the concept of evolution was “a scientific mistake, untrue to the facts, unscientific in its method, and mischievous in its tendency.” To the dismay of the scientific community Agassiz authored strident attacks on Darwinism in the popular press, infuriating Asa Gray and James Dana. Consequently, Agassiz was increasingly excluded from the politics of American science.
Agassiz remained at Harvard University until the end of his life. When he died at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was deeply mourned by his adopted country.
From the guide to the Louis Jean Rodolph Agassiz papers, 1833-1873, 1833-1873 1833-1873, (American Philosophical Society)
1834 March 20:
Charles William Eliot is born in Boston, Massachusetts.
Eliot graduates from Boston Public Latin School; enters Harvard College
Eliot graduates from Harvard, second scholar in his class.
Eliot becomes a tutor in mathematics at Harvard
The Eliot family suffers severe financial losses
1858 October 27:
Eliot marries Ellen Derby Peabody
Eliot becomes Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Chemistry
1859 November 1:
Ellen Derby Peabody Eliot gives birth to son, Charles
Eliot takes charge of the Chemical Laboratory at the Lawrence Scientific School (Harvard University)
1862 August 24:
Ellen Derby Peabody Eliot gives birth to a second son, Samuel
Eliot leaves Harvard
Eliot declines a commission as Lieutenant Colonel of the Cavalry from Governor Andrews of Massachusetts
1863- 1865: Eliot spends two years in Europe with his family
Eliot declines an offer to become superintendent of Merrimac Mills, Lowell, Massachusetts
Eliot returns to Boston to become Professor of Chemistry in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1867- 1868: Eliot spends winter in Europe
Eliot publishes articles in the Atlantic Monthly on The New Education : its Organization
1869 March 12:
The Harvard Corporation elects Eliot as President of Harvard University
1869 March 13:
Ellen Derby Peabody Eliot dies
1869 October 19:
Eliots' inauguration as President of Harvard University
Eliot buys a cruising yacht and begins spending summers on the coast of Maine
1877 October 30:
Eliot marries Grace Mellen Hopkinson
Eliot builds a summer cottage at Northeast Harbor, Maine
Harvard faculties commemorate Eliot's twenty-fifth anniversary as president
1897 March 24:
Eliot's son Charles dies
1904 March 20:
Harvard honors Eliot on his seventieth birthday
1908 October 26:
Eliot sends in his resignation from the Harvard University presidency
1909 May 19:
Eliot's resignation takes effect
Eliot accepts a proposal from P.F. Collier and Son to edit the Harvard Classics
1911- 1912: Eliot travels around the world as an emissary of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (November 5, 1911 to August 10, 1912)
Eliot urges the election of Woodrow Wilson as President of the United States
Eliot supports the United States policy of neutrality in World War I, but urges the complete defeat of Germany
Eliot advocates the adoption of the Treaty of Versailles and United States entrance into the League of Nations
1924 March 20:
Harvard commemorates Eliot's ninetieth birthday
1924 August 16:
Grace Mellen Hopkinson Eliot dies
1926 August 22:
Charles William Eliot dies at Northeast Harbor, Maine
Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) was President of Harvard University from March 12, 1869 to May 19, 1909. He also taught mathematics and chemistry at Harvard University (1858-1863) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1865-1869).
Eliot was one of the most influential educators of his day and the innovations he introduced at Harvard University influenced higher education throughout the United States. Eliot oversaw the transformation of Harvard from a regional institution to a world-class university.
Charles W. Eliot was born into a prominent Boston family with strong ties to Harvard University. His grandfather, Samuel Eliot (1739-1820), amassed the family's fortune in the trans-Atlantic trade. When he died he gave twenty thousand dollars to Harvard University to establish a Greek professorship. His father, Samuel Atkins Eliot (1798-1862), was a Harvard graduate (A.B. 1817), and Treasurer of the University from 1842 to 1853. Eliot's mother, Mary Lyman (1802-1875) came from a wealthy family of traders and textile mill owners.
A bright student, Eliot attended the Boston Public Latin School. At 15 he entered Harvard University with particular interests in English, mathematics, and science. Immediately after graduation in 1853, Eliot became a Tutor in Mathematics (1854-1858). Later he became an Assistant Professor of Mathematics (1858-1861) and Assistant Professor of Chemistry (1858-1863).
Eliot's organizational abilities and administrative skills were evident when he was placed in charge of the Lawrence Scientific School. Here Eliot introduced the first written exams given at Harvard University, emphasized laboratory instruction and exercises, and introduced the beginnings of and elective system of instruction.
When Eliot was denied re-appointment in 1863, he left the United States for two years to study in Europe. Traveling throughout the major capitals of the continent, Eliot studied and surveyed the organization of French and German universities. While on his trip abroad, Eliot was offered the position of the superintendent of Merrimack Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. After some deliberation, Eliot turned down the opportunity to enter the business world and decided to return to academia with the acceptance of a Professorship of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1865-1869).
Widely regarded as a strong administrator and recognized for his innovative educational philosophy, Eliot was selected as Harvard University’s twenty-second president after the resignation of President Thomas Hill in 1869. Under Eliot's forty-year stewardship, Harvard University made the transition from a small college to a modern university.
- the development of graduate schools(medicine, law, and arts and sciences)
- the broadening of religious training at the Unitarian divinity school to include many other religious denominations,
- the promotion of the "Harvard Annex" which offered women, who were not allowed to earn Harvard degrees, college-level educational opportunities and later, in 1894, chartering Radcliffe College as a degree-granting institution for women,
- the establishment of exchange professorships with French and German universities,
- and the improvement of the administration of athletics with the introduction of stricter intercollegiate eligibility rules.
- Finally, Eliot championed the introduction and expansion of the elective system at Harvard University, by which students were allowed to choose from a wide range of subjects, thereby enlarging liberal arts study.
Eliot retired from Harvard University in 1909 as one of the most recognized and influential leaders in education in the United States. Not willing to spend his retirement years quietly, Eliot took an active interest in the social reform movements of his day, lending his name, time, and administrative talents too many organizations. He joined the General Education Board to promote various American educational reforms, served as a board member of the National Education Association, joined the Rockefeller Foundation, was a member of the International Health Board, and was a trustee for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
As a Vice-President for the National Committee on Mental Hygiene, Eliot took an active interest in promoting preventive medicine. He worked on a wide variety of organizations helping to combat venereal diseases, including the American Social Hygiene Committee of which he was the founding President. As an exponent of the arts, Eliot served as a trustee for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and became the chairman of the Museum's Special Advisory Committee on Education. Civil Service reform was one of his earliest favorite reform efforts. He became one of the National Civil Service Reform League's vice-presidents and later assumed the position of president.
Eliot spent his retirement years in active service to more than 200 leagues, associations, and committees dedicated to reform and the improvement of society. Each of them involved correspondence of some kind and in many cases Eliot was called upon to contribute an address, publication, or printed statement.
Eliot was one of the most eminent university and college presidents in the United States, reforming and forever changing the most prominent university in the country, Harvard University. He was distinguished by his pioneering leadership in the field of education, his many reform activities, and most importantly, his interest in his fellow man.
Charles William Eliot married Ellen Peabody Eliot (1836-1869) on October 27, 1858. They had four children: Charles (1859), Francis (1861), Samuel Atkins (1862), and Robert (1866). After Ellen’s death in 1869, Eliot married Grace Mellen Hopkinson on October 30, 1877. Grace died on August 16, 1924.
- Cotton, Edward H.The Life of Charles W. Eliot.Boston:Small, Maynard, and Company1926.
- James, Henry.Charles W. Eliot, President of Harvard University, 1869-1909.Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,1930.
- Perry, Ralph Barton. Charles William Eliot. In Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. VI. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,1933.
Below is a list of the members of the Charles William Eliot Family. Each is preceded by their relationship to him.
- Parents and Siblings
- Father: Samuel Atkins Eliot (1798-1862)
- Mother: Mary Lyman Eliot (1802-1875)
- Sister: Mary Lyman Eliot (1827-1924); married Charles Eliot Guild in 1854.
- Sister: Elizabeth Lyman Eliot (1831-1895); married Stephen H. Bullard in 1859.
- Sister: Catherine Atkins Eliot (1836-1882); married Francis H. Storer in 1871.
- Sister: Frances Anne Eliot (1838-1897); married by Henry Wilder Foote in 1863.
- Spouses and children
- Wife: Ellen Derby Peabody (1836-1869)
- Wife: Grace Hopkinson Eliot (1846-1924)
- Son: Charles (1859-1897)
- Son: Francis (b.1861)
- Son: Samuel Atkins (1862-1950)
- Son: Robert (1866-1867)
- Father-in-law: Ephraim Peabody (1807-1856)
- Mother-in-law: Mary Jane Derby Peabody (1807-1892)
- Brother-in-law: Francis Greenwood Peabody (1847-1936)
- Brother-in-law: Robert Swain Peabody (1845-1917)
- Sister-in-law: Anna Huidekoper Peabody (b.1838)
From the guide to the Papers of Charles William Eliot, 1807-1945., (Harvard University Archives)