Culver's Gift to Biology

After contacting President Harper informally in a hand-written note, Helen Culver prepared this formal letter (below) in December 1895 offering property worth $1,000,000 whose sale would support the biological sciences at the University of Chicago. This bequest, which was very large for the times, was reported in the New York Times. Part of the gift was to support “a Marine Biological Laboratory.” From Whitman’s correspondence, it seems likely that he influenced the inclusion of this set of projects, and clearly had the MBL in mind. In any case, none of the funds ever went to the MBL, although a later Harper overture to Miss Culver suggested that he would be open to purchasing the Laboratory for the University (see Harper letter in this exhibit).

Letter from Helen Culver Offering a Gift to Biology

Office of the President, Harper, Judson, Burton Administrations Papers, Box 37.  Special Collections Research Center.  The University of Chicago Library.

Hull Court buildings constructed with funds from the Culver bequest

The Photographic Archive: Special Collections Research Center. The University of Chicago Library. Identifier: apf2-00301