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   Eric McKitrick Papers, 1934-2001.

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Preferred Citation

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

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

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

Bib ID:5420132 View CLIO record
Creator(s):McKitrick, Eric L.
Title:Eric McKitrick Papers, 1934-2001.
Physical description:21.42 linear feet (51 manuscript boxes).
Language(s):In English, with a few items in French .
Access: This collection has no restrictions.. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »



This collection is arranged in six series.

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Scope and Content

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.

Series I: Personal Files and Activities

This series contains biographical material and files related to McKitrick's family, personal business, and activities outside of his professional career.

Subseries I.1: Personal Files, 1944-2001

consists of curriculum vitae, headshot photographs, and a few files on personal business. It includes a file on the singing career of McKitrick's father, Fred McKitrick, with the Flint Civic Opera.

Subseries I.2: Personal Activities, 1964-2001

documents McKitrick's activities with the Century Association, Grace Church, and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

Series II: Columbia University, 1952-1999

Material related to McKitrick's professional career at Columbia University comprises this series. The teaching material relates both to his work as a lecturer (1952-1954) and as a faculty member of the History Department (1960-1990) at the University

Subseries II.1: General Files, 1952-1999

is made up of personal business files on personnel matters and material related to general events, occasions, and University committees.

Subseries II.2: History Department, 1961-1990

consists of McKitrick's files on "department business" and committee work related to the History Department. The committee files include documentation of McKitrick's work on the Curriculum, Executive, and Master's Program committees. McKitrick's chronological files on department business include announcements, correspondence, memoranda, and notes on dissertation defenses.

Subseries II.3: Teaching Activities, 1952-1990

includes course material, chronological files on individual classes, and files on McKitrick's activities with graduate seminars, students, orals and defenses. McKitrick kept files of general course material by course title; these files include syllabi, detailed lecture outlines, and examination questions. He also kept chronological files on individual classes that he taught in the history department. These files include class-specific examination questions, reading lists, syllabi, and correspondence with individual students and teaching assistants. Some of these files, particularly the oldest files, also have additional notes written by McKitrick.

McKitrick kept separate files related to his teaching of the masters and doctoral seminars and on individual graduate students, doctoral candidates, and orals and defenses. These files include course material, student research proposals, notes, and correspondence. There is additional correspondence with dissertation advisees filed in the Alphabetical File of Series V: Correspondence.

Series III: Teaching Activities Outside of Columbia University, 1955-2000

This series includes personal business files and teaching material on positions and visiting professorships that McKitrick held outside of Columbia University.

Subseries III.1: Personal Business Files, 1955-2000

documents personal business issues and activities related to McKitrick's appointments and visiting professorships, and include information on the appointments, housing, departmental meetings, social and speaking engagements, and invitations. There is some general information related to courses taught during these appointments filed with this material.

Subseries III.2: Courses, 1955-1980

includes teaching material for individual classes taught at the University of Chicago, Douglass College at Rutgers University, Vassar College, Cambridge University, and Oxford University. The files include detailed lecture outlines, examination questions, and syllabi.

Subseries IV: Professional and Research Activities, 1947-2001

This series contains files on activities related to professional organizations and research, writing, and other projects outside of Columbia University.

Subseries IV.1: Organizations, Seminars, and Projects, 1951-2001

includes material related to McKitrick's work in professional associations, seminars, consulting, and research projects. The files include information on his work on grant submissions and projects, evaluation teams for academic programs, advisory committees, and award committees. The files also contain comments on exhibits and projects in his area of expertise, including the Jefferson Papers project. The material includes correspondence, memoranda, notes, proposals, reports, and other materials.

Subseries IV.2: Writing Projects, 1950-2001

consists primarily of files related to published articles or book reviews, and include correspondence, notes, and drafts. A full set of book reviews, as well as reprint copies of several published articles, are filed in Subseries 6: Publications.

Subseries IV.3: Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, 1950s-1960, 1989-1990

includes one research file (a topical index of correspondence) and files related to reader's opinions, reviews, and the Dunning Prize.

Subseries IV.4: The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, 1967-1998

This subseries includes drafts, fan letters, reviews, research files, and files on prizes received for the book and a related symposium. The research files are extensive. These files are usually grouped together by chapter, but there are also some files on general topics. The files include correspondence with co-author Stanley Elkins, communications with research assistants, conference notes, research notes, source material, and drafts.

There are also several annotated drafts. Each full annotated draft is in three parts and there are four copies; three copies and a "master copy." It appears that these drafts were distributed to readers for comments, but there is no clear identification of the commentator on the drafts - one full set is initialed "K.E.," another single draft has the name Ervin written on it.

Subseries IV.5: Speeches and Lectures, 1950s-1995

includes files on McKitrick's radio and television appearances, lectures, and activities at professional conferences where he either presented or commented on papers. These files include correspondence, notes, drafts, and other material.

Subseries IV.6: Publications, 1947-1999

includes a complete set of McKitrick's published book reviews (1947-1999) and reprint copies of several articles (1951-1978). The book reviews include McKitrick's reviews of juvenilia (1947-1948) and his professional reviews of works relating to American history (1954-1999).

Series V: Correspondence, 1937-2001

This series contains three sets of correspondence files: professional, alphabetical, and a small amount of personal correspondence from the 1930s-1940s.

Subseries V.1: Professional Correspondence, 1940s-2001

includes correspondence on job offers, reprint permissions, and with publishers. McKitrick kept chronological files for both general professional and publisher correspondence. He also kept files on specific publishers. The files on publishers include correspondence, contracts, royalty statements, and information on McKitrick's reading and consulting projects.

Subseries V.2: Alphabetical File, 1953-2000

is comprised of files on both personal and professional correspondents. Many files also function as subject files; these files include correspondence not only with the named persons, but also in reference to them in relation to manuscripts, recommendations, and projects. In addition to correspondence, many files include clippings, manuscripts, and memorials prepared by McKitrick.

Most of the correspondents in the alphabetical file are colleagues, dissertation advisees, former students, and historians, but correspondence with members of Grace Church and the Century Association is also included in the files. Important correspondents include Bishop Christopher FitzSimons Allison, Stanley Elkins, Richard Hofstadter, Elizabeth McCaughey (Ross), Lionel Trilling, C. Vann Woodward, and Mike Wallace (co-author of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 ).

Subseries V.3: Personal and Family Correspondence, 1937-1946

This subseries includes several files of "old letters" kept by McKitrick. These files include correspondence that McKitrick received from his parents, friends, and future wife during World War II.

Series VI: Student Material and Juvenilia, 1934-1953

This series contains juvenilia, drawings, and material related to McKitrick's college education at Hillsdale College and Columbia University.

Subseries VI.1: Juvenilia, 1934-1944

This subseries includes correspondence, dramatic works, drawings, a high school transcript, a short story, and a few items of printed ephemera.

Subseries VI.2: Student Material, 1940-1953

contains McKitrick's college terms papers and course material. There are two folders of college term papers; the first is from a history class at Hillsdale College (1940-1941) and the second contains several terms papers from McKitrick's work at Columbia University. McKitrick also kept several files of material related to specific courses that he took at Columbia University. These files include syllabi and lecture notes, and include material on classes taught by Jacques Barzun, Robert Merton, and Lionel Trilling.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

This collection has no restrictions..

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

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts and University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; 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.

Finding aid in repository; folder level control.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Catherine N. Carson.

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

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion November 7, 2008 Finding aid written in English.
    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

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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.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Columbia University.--Dept. of History--Faculty.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Elkins, Stanley M.--Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Grace Church (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Historians--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McKitrick, Eric L.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Trilling, Lionel, 1905-1975--Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--History--Constitutional period, 1789-1809.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--History--Outlines, syllabi, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--History--Study and teaching (Higher)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Politics and government--1789-1809.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Woodward, C. Vann (Comer Vann), 1908-1999--Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

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.

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