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COLLECTION Identifier: HUM 309

Charles W. Eliot personal expense records

Overview

Charles William Eliot (1834-1926), educator and leader in public affairs, was president of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909. The records in this collection including bills, receipts, and canceled checks, document the personal expenses of Eliot from 1857 to 1923. Correspondence and accompanying records chronicle Eliot’s purchase of land in Mount Desert Island in Maine for the construction of his family’s summer home. Additional bills and receipts document Harvard College related payments for the purchase of blankets, wood, and the repair of carpeting.

Dates

  • 1857-1923

Creator

Researcher Access

Open for research.

Extent

2.97 cubic feet (9 document boxes)
The records in this collection including bills, receipts, canceled checks, and correspondence document the personal expenses of Charles W. Eliot from 1857 to 1923. The expenses include payments for household goods, the maintenance and repair of property, building construction, entertainment, commercial investments, education, and medical necessities. Also included are United States Internal Revenue income tax bills Eliot paid during the Civil War. The records reveal Eliot’s purchasing patterns and document his wealth and social position in the Boston community. The bills and receipts from 1857 to 1872 represent many nineteenth-century occupations including plumbers, painters, engravers, photographers, printers, jewelers, and tailors from Boston and Cambridge; and include a record of items purchased, prices, and services rendered. The bills and receipts document what Eliot and his family ate, wore, and how they lived. The canceled checks in the collection from 1869 to 1923 offer an example of formal printed checks and banking practices in the nineteenth century. The collection also includes correspondence from 1880 to 1882 regarding Eliot’s purchase of land on Mount Desert Island in Maine for the construction of a summer home. A limited amount of Harvard College related bills and receipts chronicle the purchase of blankets, wood, and the repair of carpeting.

Biographical note

Charles William Eliot (1834-1926), educator and leader in public affairs, was president of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909. He also taught mathematics and chemistry at Harvard (1858-1863) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1865-1869). Eliot was one of the most influential educators of his day and oversaw the transformation of Harvard from a regional institution to a world-class university. As Harvard president, Eliot strengthened the science program in the Harvard course curriculum, eliminated required courses, and raised entrance requirements.

Eliot’s connection with Mount Desert Island in Maine began in the summer of 1871. Eliot and his sons, Charles and Samuel, frequently took sailing trips along the Maine coast to Southwest Harbor from Boston. Sharing a love of nature and walking the trails of Mount Desert with his wife Grace, Eliot built a summer house in Northeast Harbor in 1881. Eliot, his wife, and family spent many summers in Maine until his death in 1926.

Arrangement

The collection is organized in three series: (1) Bills and receipts, 1857-1872; (2) Correspondence, plans, and other records regarding Eliot’s purchase of land in Northeast Harbor, 1880-1882; (3) Checks written by Charles W. Eliot, 1869-1923.

Acquisition information

Charles W. Eliot personal expense records donated to the Harvard University Archives by Roger Cheever.
  1. Accession number: 2018.006; 2017 July 18.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives
  1. Papers of Charles William Eliot, 1807-1945 (UAI 15.894).
  2. Records of the President of Harvard University, President Charles W. Eliot, 1869-1925 (UAI 5.150).

References

  • "Charles William Eliot." Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 Nov. 2017. academic.eb.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/levels/collegiate/article/Charles-William-Eliot/32395. Accessed 25 Jan. 2018.
  • Roth, Jaylene B. Charles W. Eliot and John Gilley: Good Hope for our Island, no date. http://mdihistory.org/wp-content/uploads/Charles-Eliot-and-John-Gilley.pdf. Accessed 25 Jan. 2018.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2020 September 14.

Processing Information

Charles W. Eliot personal expense records was processed in January 2018 by Dominic P. Grandinetti. Processing included rehousing the records into appropriate containers and the creation of this finding aid. Folder titles supplied by the archivist.
Link to catalog
Title
Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926. Charles W. Eliot personal expense records, 1857-1923 : an inventory
EAD ID
hua05018

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
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