Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Eric L. McKitrick Papers, 1934-2001

Summary Information


Eric. L McKitrick, a historian of American History, was a professor at Columbia University from 1960-1989. He is known for his work on the development of the party system, slavery and the Old South, and Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (1960). His papers include teaching materials and files, correspondence, and extensive research files related to The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800 (1993). There is also documentation of his activities with Grace Church, the Century Association, and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1450
Bib ID 5420132 View CLIO record
Creator(s) McKitrick, Eric L
Title Eric L. McKitrick Papers, 1934-2001
Physical Description 21.42 linear feet (21.42 linear feet 51 manuscript boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.



This collection is arranged in six series. Series I: Personal Files and Activities, 1944-2001 Subseries I.1: Personal Files, 1944-2001; Subseries I.2: Personal Activities, 1964-2001; Series II: Columbia University, 1952-1999 Subseries II.1: General Files, 1952-1999; Subseries II.2: History Department, 1961-1990; Subseries II.3: Teaching Activities, 1952-1990; Series III: Teaching Activities Outside of Columbia University, 1955-2000 Subseries III.1: Personal Business and Other Material, 1955-2000; Subseries III.2: Courses, 1955-1980; Series IV: Professional and Research Activities, 1947-2001 Subseries IV.1: Organizations, Seminars, and Projects, 1951-2001; Subseries IV.2: Writing Projects, 1950-2001; Subseries IV.3: Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, 1950s-1960, 1989-1990; Subseries IV.4: The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, 1967-1998; Subseries IV.5: Speeches and Lectures, 1950s-1995; Subseries IV.6: Publications, 1947-1999; Series V: Correspondence, 1937-2001 Subseries V.1: Professional, 1940s-2001; Subseries V.2: Alphabetical File, 1953-2000; Subseries V.3: Personal and Family Correspondence, 1937-1946; Series VI: Student Material and Juvenilia, 1934-1953 Subseries VI.1: Juvenilia, 1934-1944; Subseries VI.2: Student Material, 1940-1953



The papers document McKitrick's teaching activities, professional activities and relationships, and research work on "The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800" (1993). There is also material related to McKitrick's activities with Grace Church, the Century Association, and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

The papers include comprehensive coverage of McKitrick's teaching activities. He kept files for all of his lectureships and professional appointments (1952-1990). These files include general teaching files for particular course topics and chronological files for individual classes that he taught at several institutions. His teaching files include syllabi, reading lists, and extensive lecture outlines. His files on individual classes include class-specific syllabi, examination questions, notes, and correspondence with students and teaching assistants. McKitrick kept files on teaching assignments for masters and doctoral seminars, and on individual students, doctoral candidates, and orals and defenses. These files, as well as the alphabetical correspondence files, document not only McKitrick's teaching activities but also his working relationships with graduate students pursuing academic research work.

The papers are rich in professional correspondence. McKitrick's correspondents include many prominent historians, including Eric Foner, Richard Hofstadter, Mike Wallace, and C. Vann Woodward. There is extensive correspondence with Stanley Elkins, with whom he co-wrote several articles and "The Age of Federalism." The papers also include correspondence with many of his current and former students and dissertation advisees. The correspondence documents McKitrick's relationships within the scholarly community and also shows, together with his book reviews, his thoughts on other historical research projects.

The papers do not comprehensively document all of McKitrick's research activities. There are personal business files that relate to many of his articles and book reviews; these files contain correspondence, notes, and drafts. There are extensive research files available only for "The Age of Federalism." These files include correspondence with co-author Stanley Elkins, communications with research assistants, drafts, and notes. McKitrick also kept fan letters, reviews, and files on a related symposium and prizes received for the book.

There is also some documentation of McKitrick's professional activities outside of Columbia University, but it is not extensive in scope. McKitrick served on the Executive Board of the Society of American Historians for many years, and was also involved in the University Seminars held at Columbia University. There are records related to both of these activities. There is also documentation of his work on consulting projects, grant submissions and projects, evaluation teams, advisory committees, and award committees. Also included are files related to speeches, lectures, and comments and presentations related to specific conferences.

There is little personal material in the papers, although there is some documentation of McKitrick's activities outside of his professional career. McKitrick kept correspondence received from his friends, parents, and future wife during World War II. There is also material related to McKitrick's membership and activities in Grace Church, the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, and the Century Association. McKitrick also kept a small amount of juvenilia, student material, and a file on his father's singing career with the Flint Civic Opera.

General Note

Official records for University Seminars are held by the Columbia University Archives

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Eric L. McKitrick papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Catherine N. Carson.

Finding aid written by Catherine N. Carson, June 2008.

Revision Description

2008-11-07 File created.

2009/01/12 xml document instange created by Patrick Lawlor

2009-05-13 xml document instance edited by Catherine N. Carson

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Columbia University. Department of History -- Faculty Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Elkins, Stanley M -- : Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Grace Church (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Historians -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
McKitrick, Eric L Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Trilling, Lionel, 1905-1975 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Woodward, C. Vann (Comer Vann), 1908-1999 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Born on July 5, 1919, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Eric L. McKitrick graduated from Flint Central High School in 1937, and attended Flint Junior College (1937-1939) and Hillsdale College (1940-1941). He served in the United States Army from 1941-1945, and spent time stationed in New York City. In 1947, he enrolled in the Columbia University School of General Studies. He received a Bachelor's degree in 1949, and subsequently received two degrees in history from Columbia University; a Master's degree in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1959. He was also a Columbia University Fellow (1951-1952) and taught as a Lecturer in American History in the School of General Studies (1952-1954).

McKitrick taught at the University of Chicago (1955-1959) and Douglass College at Rutgers University (1959-1960) before joining the history department faculty at Columbia University in 1960. McKitrick became a full professor in 1965 and a professor emeritus upon his retirement in 1989. During his career, McKitrick also held visiting professorships at Vassar College, Smith College, Cambridge University, and Oxford University.

Much of McKitrick's research focused on the development of the American party system and slavery and the Old South. His best-known work is "Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction" (1960). In this book, McKitrick argued that Johnson was at fault for the failures of his policies, a position that challenged the prevailing theory that these failures were caused by Republican Radicals. The book received the American History Association's John H. Dunning Prize. It was reissued in 1988, and remains an important work in the historiography of the Reconstruction. He also co-authored "The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800" (1993) with Stanley M. Elkins of Smith College. The book represented the culmination of over twenty-five years of research work. It received the Bancroft Prize in 1994 and the Cox Book Prize from the Society of the Cincinnati in 1995.

Outside of his professional career, McKitrick devoted many years of service to Grace Church and served on many of its committees. He was also involved in the Century Association and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

McKitrick married Edyth Carol Stevenson of Flint, Michigan on December 26, 1946. The couple had two sons and two daughters. McKitrick died on April 24, 2002 in New York City.