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   James Truslow Adams Papers, 1918-1949.

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); James Truslow Adams Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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

Summary Information

At a Glance

Bib ID:4078384 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Adams, James Truslow, 1878-1949.
Title:James Truslow Adams Papers, 1918-1949.
Physical description:15 linear ft. (24 document boxes; 1 oversize folder; 1 roll).
Language(s):In English
Access: The following boxes are located offsite: 5-24. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. The unpublished manuscript of "An American Family" is closed to all use except by J.T. Adams' family; others must have the written permission of his heirs.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in seven series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of the correspondence files of the James Truslow Adams. The majority of the letters were written to Adams by various contemporary historians, educators, public figures, business associates, friends and family. The material ranges in date from 1918-1949. The letters are concerned with the following: Adams' literary activities and the publication of his writings; contemporary politics; personal and business affairs; requests and solicitations from individuals and groups for support, etc.; scholarly and academic activities. While very few original letters sent by Adams are present, there exist margin notes in his own hand on incoming letters indicating the nature of his reply. Of special note are six volumes of mounted letters and clippings relating to President Roosevelt's plan to reorganize the United States Supreme Court. Adams was an opponent of the plan.

Included are a series of three hundred letters (photostat, carbon, typescript, etc.) written by Adams to friends and family during his service in World War I; also included are a carbon copy of Adams' "American Tragedy"; carbon and typescript of Adams' "American Family". Among his miscellaneous family documents is an extract from the Hearings before un-American Activities Committee, February 1948. 1,235 letters between himself and his publisher, Little Brown & Co., pertaining mainly to the publication of Adams' historical writings. Of special interest are the letters of Mr. Adams dated Feb. 5, 1932, Jan. 20, 1932, Nov. 4, 1931, Oct. 21, 1931, Oct. 11, 1931, Sept. 8, 1931, Dec. 10, 1929, May 11, 1929, Sept. 4, 1928, May 28, 1928, Oct. 2, 1927, July 13, 1927, May 12, 1926, and May 8, 1927 (in the 1926 file), which contain Mr. Adams' comments on British political affairs and the economic crisis. Of interest is a letter dated June 10, 1923 on the teaching of history in secondary schools and the texts used. There is also one volume "Memorials of Old Bridgehampton" (1916), privately printed at Bridgehampton, Long Island.

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Using the Collection

Partially Offsite

Access Restrictions

 The following boxes are located offsite: 5-24. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. The unpublished manuscript of "An American Family" is closed to all use except by J.T. Adams' family; others must have the written permission of his heirs.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

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, 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); James Truslow Adams Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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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

Papers Processed 03/--/80 BRC

Additional papers Processed 1980 BRC

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion June 26, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-06-26 File created.
    2011-11-1 EAD created by PTL

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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.

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Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Adams, James Truslow, 1878-1949.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
HistoriansPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Historians--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Judges--Selection and appointment--United States--History--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Little, Brown and Company.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States.--Congress.--House.--Committee on Un-American Activities.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States.--Supreme Court.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, American.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

History

James Truslow Adams was successful businessman who became a celebrated historian, writing chiefly about the history of early New England.

In 1912, having worked for twelve years as a businessman in a New York brokerage house, Adams moved to Bridgehampton, L.I., and began writing. His first books--"Memorials of Old Bridgehampton" (1916) and "History of the Town of Southampton" (1918)--established him as a credible historian. During World War I he was appointed the Paris Peace Conference as part of the American delegation.

After the war Adams began researching and writing on the history of New England, which resulted in his epic three-volume series comprising "The Founding of New England", which was published in 1921, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922; "Revolutionary New England", 1691-1776, which was published in 1923 and became a bestseller; and "New England in the Republic, 1776-1850", which was published in 1926.

Adams wrote biographical sketches of famous historians for the "Dictionary of American Biography". In 1929 Adams moved to London and began working for magazines. While in London he published two collections of essays: "Our Business Civilization: Some Aspects of American Culture" and "The Tempo of Modern Life", as well as his history of the Adams family, "The Adams Family", was a financial success.

In his "The Epic of America", published in 1933, Adams attempted to address the historic development and philosophic vision of America. It was in this book that Adams coined the term "The American Dream" which he defined as, "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

In due course, Adams gave up writing in favor of editing, working on such titles as the "Dictionary of American History", the "Atlas of American History", and the "Album of American History". In 1968, Allan Nevins published his biography of Adams: "James Truslow Adams: Historian of the American Dream".

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