Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Robert College records, 1858-2018

Series II: Records of the Trustees

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Subseries II. 1: Christopher Robert

From the earliest days of the college, the trustees played an important role. Christopher Robert was the central figure on the Board of Trustees until his death in 1878; he was both a leader and I benefactor. The first two presidents, Cyrus Hamlin and George Washburn, wrote regularly to Robert reporting the College's progress, describing their negotiations with Ottoman officials, and each relating his own views of disputes between them. Hamlin's I correspondence covers the period 1864-1875, while Washburn's runs from 1867-1879. Robert followed developments carefully, became involved in decisions large and small, and endeavored to encourage g them in their efforts. He became the arbiter of conflicts between Hamlin and Washburn, and was also asked to mediate between Hamlin and a sometimes aggrieved faculty. (Some typescripts of the II correspondence appear in Series 13.)

For the first fifteen years of the College, Robert's records as a trustee offer the most comprehensive documentation of its development as an institution. Moreover, his records, as well as those of other trustees, contain letters from Hamlin and Washburn sprinkled with commentaries on political developments within the Ottoman Empire, including the Bulgarian rebellion and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877.

One of the College's major concerns was recruitment of faculty. Instructors lived under rudimentary conditions with each having to teach a variety of subjects. Hamlin's long teaching hours, and the difficulties he encountered clearing title to land for the college, as well as his acerbic personality, all combined to produce strained relations with his colleagues. To aid faculty recruitment Robert kept up a lively correspondence with several seminaries in the it Northeast, notably Auburn, New York. They were asked to provide young tutors in place of the more experienced faculty alienated by Hamlin.

There is correspondence from Albert L. Long spanning 1873-1877. Long served as secretary of the faculty and he writes of faculty appointments, financial matters, and other concerns of the institution. He provided Christopher Robert with numbers of students and the nationalities from which they were drawn.

Long's correspondence also reflects his concern with the wider world of diplomacy and politics, and with the coming of the Russo-Turkish War. His letters discuss the origins of that conflict and its economic impact on the college. He reports the death of Sultan Abdulaziz and subsequent signs of discontent in the Ottoman Empire.

Washburn's correspondence to Robert is particularly notable for the wealth of information it conveys. There are statistics of the nationalities represented in the student body, detailed financial reports, and accounts of student activities.

The rift between Washburn and Hamlin is documented in the letters from both men to Robert. Hamlin became openly resentful of Washburn's enhanced role, while both Robert and Washburn advised him to concentrate his efforts on supervising the new construction and on fundraising in the U.S. to build an endowment.

Washburn also devotes considerable attention to the political crisis in the Ottoman Empire, the Bulgarian revolution, and the Russo-Turkish conflict. His correspondence will be valuable to students of Near East history.

A sizable portion of the records are concerned with detailed administrative reports, the purchase of books and supplies, matters attendant on the construction of new buildings, hiring of new teachers, and the securing of property rights for RC in Turkey.

Robert's friend in the U.S. Treasury Department, W. F. Clarke, writes of his efforts to gain support from the State Department and I influential Congressmen on behalf of RC's property rights vis-a-vis the Turkish Government.

Following the death of Christopher Robert in 1878, letters and reports from the college were directed to C. H. Merriman, Robert's personal secretary. This correspondence covers the years 1878-1898. However, it lacks the personal quality of the letters to Robert and is more businesslike and routine.

Box 9 contains correspondence among the trustees, notably Reverend David B. Coe, Walter Badger, and William A. Booth, all of whom were also active in the governance of the American Home Missionary Society. Contents include letters from Christopher Robert, Cyrus Hamlin, George Washburn, Alexander van Millingen, Caleb Gates, John S. Kennedy, and Cleveland H. Dodge. Correspondence spans the period 1869-1903. There are the usual trustee concerns, though the board members also undertook to hire tutors, in consultation with the RC administration.

There are letters from Christopher Robert to Reverend Coe describing his travels abroad in 1870 and 1875 that included trips to the college. While in England he heard Prime Minister Disraeli address the Parliament and the Archbishop of Canterbury speak in Exeter Hall. Moreover, in Turkey he records his meetings with missionaries, teachers, students and public officials. Robert is an informative and enthusiastic correspondent. The college is the embodiment of his vision and his letters are of particular interest.

Cyrus Hamlin's estrangement from the college is documented in his letters to Reverend Coe.

Box 4 Folder 1-9 Correspondence to Robert from Hamlin, 1864-1867

Box 4 Folder 10 Hamlin memo on the presidency of the college, 1868

Box 4 Folder 11 Hamlin memo on printing a catalog of RC, 1868

Box 4 Folder 12 Hamlin memo on the Corliss Fund, 1868

Box 4 Folder 13-35 Correspondence to Robert from Hamlin, 1868-1875

Box 5 Folder 36-42 Correspondence to Robert from Hamlin, 1876-1878

Box 5 Folder 43-49 Correspondence to Robert from Edward North, 1865-1883

(after Robert's death in 1878 North wrote to Coe and Washburn)

Box 5 Folder 50-51 Correspondence to Robert from Luther Ostrander, 1865-1867

Box 5 Folder 52-53 Correspondence to Robert from John A. Paine, 1866-1867

Box 5 Folder 54-55 Correspondence to Robert from Edwin A. Grosvenor, 1874-1877

Box 5 Folder 56 Correspondence to Robert, 1878

Box 5 Folder 57 Correspondence to Robert from Albert Long, 1873-1874

Box 5 Folder 58-63 Correspondence to Robert from Long, 1876-1878

Box 6 Folder 64-100 Correspondence to Robert from George Washburn, 1867-1878

(Folder 99 contains letter from Washburn to Mrs. Robert re. her husband's death)

Box 7 Folder 101 Correspondence to Robert from James Gordon (treasurer, Missionary House) re purchase of books,, 1861-1864

Box 7 Folder 102 General Correspondence to Robert re purchase of books, 1864-1866

Box 7 Folder 103 Correspondence to Robert re filing of Certificate of 1864 Incorporation, 1864

Box 7 Folder 104 Correspondence to Robert re faculty positions, 1864-1865

Box 7 Folder 105 Correspondence to Robert from Langdon Ward, treasurer of The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,, 1861-1866

Box 7 Folder 106-107 General correspondence to Robert, 1867-1868

Box 7 Folder 108 Correspondence to Robert from William Clarke, 1868-1869

Box 7 Folder 109 Correspondence to Robert from Samuel D. Wilcox, 1869

Box 7 Folder 110 General correspondence to Robert, 1869

Box 7 Folder 111-112 General correspondence to Robert about construction, equipment and administrative matters,, 1869

Box 7 Folder 113-128 General correspondence to Robert, 1871-1875

Box 8 Folder 1-5 General correspondence to Robert, 1876-1878

(Folder 5 is empty)

Box 8 Folder 6-8 Correspondence to Robert from M. Hamlin, 1873-1877

(Folder 8 is empty)

Box 8 Folder 9 Correspondence to Robert from Henrietta L. Washburn, 1874

Box 8 Folder 10 Correspondence to C.H. Merriman from Hamlin, 1878-1880

Box 8 Folder 11-12 General correspondence to Merriman, 1875-1880

Box 8 Folder 13 Correspondence to Merriman from Washburn, 1878-1884

Box 8 Folder 14 Correspondence to Merriman from Long and others, 1881-1883

Box 8 Folder 15-17 General correspondence to Merriman, 1884-1886

Box 8 Folder 18 Correspondence to Merriman concerning sale of property owned by Robert at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee,, 1886-1887

Box 8 Folder 19-26 General correspondence to Merriman, 1887-1898

Box 9 Folder 27 Correspondence to D.B. Coe from Milton Badger, 1869-1870

Box 9 Folder 28-29 Correspondence to D.B. Coe from Robert, 1870-1876

Box 9 Folder 30 Correspondence Hamlin/D.B. Coe (typewritten) re Hamlin's relationship with college, 1878-1880

Box 9 Folder 31 Correspondence to D.B. Coe from Hamlin, 1879-1880

Box 9 Folder 32 Correspondence to William A. Booth from Washburn, 1880-1884

Box 9 Folder 33 General correspondence to Jacob D. Vermilye, treasurer, 1879-1882

Box 9 Folder 34 Correspondence to D.B. Coe from Washburn, 1879-1880

Box 9 Folder 35 Correspondence to D.B. Coe, Merriman and others from Washburn,, 1883-1889

Box 9 Folder 36 Correspondence to D.B. Coe and Merriman from Washburn, 1890-1892

Box 9 Folder 37 Correspondence to D.B. Coe from Badger, 1874, 1876, 1874, 1876

Box 9 Folder 38 Correspondence to D.B. Coe from Van Millingen, 1879

Box 9 Folder 39 Correspondence Booth/D.B. Coe, 1879-1880

Box 9 Folder 40 General correspondence to D.B. Coe and Grosvenor, 1879-1880

Box 9 Folder 41 Correspondence to D.B. Coe from Grosvenor, 1880

Box 9 Folder 42-44 General correspondence to D.B. Coe, 1879-1890s

Box 9 Folder 45-46 General correspondence to Booth, 1880s-1905

Box 9 Folder 47 Caleb Gates to trustees re acceptance of presidency, 1902

Box 9 Folder 48 General correspondence to John S. Kennedy, 1899-1901

Box 9 Folder 49 General correspondence to Cleveland H. Dodge, 1899

Box 9 Folder 50 Report submitted to RC trustees by D.B. Coe (announces resignation of Washburn),, 1903

Box 9 Folder 51 Reports to the trustees submitted by D.B. Coe, 1903

Box 9 Folder 52 Correspondence to Kennedy from Gates, 1905

Box 9 Folder 53 Special report to the trustees on the physical conditions of property and buildings at RC campus prepared by Gates and Alfred D. Hamlin,, 1909

Subseries II.2: General

Caleb Frank Gates succeeded to the presidency of RC in 1903 and Box 10 contains correspondence between Gates and Trustee Cleveland H. Dodge from 1914-1919. Earlier years are missing from this correspondence, but there is important material on World War I and I its powerful impact upon the college. (Despite the wartime censorship, Gates's reports are substantive because he was able to send them through the U.S. embassy via diplomatic pouch.) When I Turkey severed diplomatic relations with the U.S. in 1917 the college continued to function despite several attempts by the Turkish military to take possession of the buildings.

Box 10 Folder 1 Address of Gates to the trustees, 1907

Box 10 Folder 2-10 Correspondence Dodge/Gates, 1914-1919

Box 10 Folder 11 RC Library statement prepared for the Library Committee of RC trustees,, 1927

Box 10 Folder 12 Reports on farm prepared for trustees, 1927-1932

Box 10 Folder 13 Report on visit to Turkey re merger of ACG and RC [author unknown],, 1930

Box 10 Folder 14 Library account, financial statements, 1932-1934

Box 10 Folder 15 Correspondence to Henry Sloane Coffin and notes of an interview [interviewee unknown],, 1935

Box 10 Folder 16-18 Correspondence Walter Wright/Bayard Schieffelin, 1935-1938

Box 10 Folder 19 Report of Survey of Near East College Association Office submitted by the Advisory Committee on Administration,, 1937

Box 10 Folder 20 Memorandum re proposed American college for Hungary, 1946

Box 10 Folder 21 Statements re Robert College prepared by Floyd Black 1947 and Harold Scott, 1947, 1947, 1947