Henry Merritt Wriston Presidential Papers
This collection is composed of the papers that document the presidency of Henry Merritt Wriston, president of Lawrence University from 1925 to 1937. Materials include both incoming and outgoing correspondence, speeches and statements Wriston gave while at Lawrence University, and publications he wrote during his presidency. Correspondence between Wriston and Lawrence after his presidency is also included. The inauguration of Wriston is documented through programs and correspondence from other colleges welcoming Wriston to the presidency. Biographical materials are also included. The correspondence arranged chronologically consists of letters sent to Wriston and Wriston’s reply to the sender of the letter. Letters are from other colleges and presidents of other colleges, parents of current and prospective students, and committees and organizations of which Wriston was a part. The correspondence covers a variety of topics, including programs at Lawrence, speeches and public appearances of Wirston’s, new buildings at Lawrence, including Alexander Gymnasium, and reports on buildings such as the Carnegie Library. Correspondence also includes invitations for Wriston to attend public events, and in some cases, serve as the speaker of the event. Correspondence between art exhibitors and Wriston discusses paintings and catalogues, and exhibits held at other institutions. Wriston also discusses the purchase of pieces of art to add to Lawrence’s art collection and discusses the importance of stimulating the interest of art at Lawrence. Wriston also discusses Lawrence joining art organizations throughout the country and also arranges for art exhibits to be brought to Lawrence from off-campus organizations.
- Wriston, Henry M. (Henry Merritt) (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Lawrence University does not hold the copyright for all materials in this collection. Uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) require the researcher to secure permission from the copyright holder.
5.60 Linear Feet (6 boxes)
This collection is composed of the papers that document the presidency of Henry Merritt Wriston, president of Lawrence University from 1925 to 1937. Materials include both incoming and outgoing correspondence, speeches and statements Wriston gave while at Lawrence University, and publications he wrote during his presidency. Correspondence between Wriston and Lawrence after his presidency is also included. The inauguration of Wriston is documented through programs and correspondence from other colleges welcoming Wriston to the presidency. Biographical materials are also included.
Biographical or Historical Information
Henry Merritt Wriston, president of Lawrence University from 1925-1937, was born in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1889. The son of a Massachusetts Methodist minister, he received both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree from Wesleyan University and received a doctorate in political science from Harvard University. He taught history at Wesleyan University and became the head of that history department. In 1925, Wriston accepted the presidency at Lawrence University at the age of 36. During his tenure as president at Lawrence, Wriston worked to define the purpose of the college and raise its academic standards, revised the curriculum, expanded the library, and increased the number of faculty members. Wriston implemented a mandatory retirement policy at age 65 for faculty. In reshaping the curriculum, Wriston did away with courses he believed were incompatible with a liberal arts college, including bookkeeping, accounting, and business administration. Wriston also founded and became the first director of the Institute of Paper Chemistry, an institution of research and graduate study supported by the paper industry. Wriston was the first Lawrence president who was not a Methodist minister and severed the ties the Methodist church had with Lawrence by removing the Board of Visitors, a group of Methodists, from the Board of Trustees. He allowed social activities on campus that had been frowned upon by the Methodists and even attended the first dances held on campus. Wriston also wrote a book, The Nature of a Liberal College, which was published in 1937. New buildings were also added to the campus during Wriston’s time, including Alexander Gymnasium. Wriston was also a strong supporter of the Conservatory of Music at a time when the Board of Trustees wanted to abandon it. He was very pro-active in building the college’s art collection, and his goal was to build a center for the arts. This goal did not happen during his presidency due to the Great Depression that was occurring at the time. Wriston’s work at Lawrence and establishment of standards for what a liberal arts college should be set a precedent that has been followed to the present. Wriston left Lawrence in 1937 to become the President of Brown University, a position he held until 1955. He then became executive director, president, and chairman of the American Assembly from which he retired in 1965. He died on March 8, 1978, in New York, New York.
The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of material. General correspondence is arranged chronologically. Correspondence with organizations and people that resulted in numerous letters between Wriston and the organization is arranged alphabetically.
Method of Acquisition
The donor and date the collection was transferred to the University Archives are unknown.
Preliminary processing done prior to 2005, date and processor unknown. Processed by Julia Stringfellow, 2006.
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