University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Edwin Herbert Lewis Papers 1886-1939

© 2006 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Lewis, Edwin Herbert. Papers




5.5 linear ft. (11 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Edwin Herbert Lewis, writer and rhetorician. The Edwin Herbert Lewis Papers contain correspondence, diaries, notebooks, manuscripts, teaching materials, offprints, photographs, and memorabilia. Correspondents include Rabindranath Tagore and George Carman. The collection also includes the words to the University of Chicago "Alma Mater" which Lewis wrote in 1894.

Information on Use


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When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Lewis, Edwin Herbert. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Edwin Herbert Lewis, rhetorician, novelist, and poet, was born in Westerly, Rhode Island, in 1866. He received an A.B. and A.M. from Alfred University in 1887, a Ph.D. in Latin from Syracuse University in 1892, and in 1894 was awarded the first Ph.D. in English by the University of Chicago. At the University of Chicago, he was successively a Fellow in English (1892-1893), Assistant in Rhetoric (1893-1894), Associate in Rhetoric (1894-1895), Instructor in English (1895-1896), and Associate Professor of Rhetoric (1896-1899). During this period, he completed his first works for publication: his dissertation, The History of the English Paragraph (1894), A First Book in Writing English (1896), and An Introduction to the Study of Literature (1899).

In 1896, while still teaching at the University of Chicago, Lewis joined the faculty of the Lewis Institute in Chicago as Associate Professor of English (1896-1899). The Lewis Institute, established in 1895 with a bequest from the estate of Allen C. Lewis, was a polytechnic school offering training in mechanical arts, liberal arts, and domestic economy for high school and college students. After resigning his position at the University of Chicago in 1899, Lewis remained on the faculty of the Lewis Institute as Professor of English until his retirement in 1934. In addition to his duties as a teacher, Lewis was also named to a number of administrative posts at the Institute, including Examiner of the Collegiate Division, Dean of College Students, and, after 1914, Dean of the Faculty. Working closely with George N. Carman, the Director of the school, Lewis was a vigorous advocate of the Institute's vocational curriculum, but his hopes for a strengthened collegiate program were often frustrated by financial constraints and a Board of Trustees unwilling to consider substantive reforms.

During his years at the Institute, Lewis continued his publication of basic textbooks in English, including Specimens of the Forms of Discourse (1900), A Text-Book of Applied English Grammar (1902), A Second Manual of Composition (1903), Business English (1911), and Senior High School English (1934). He also wrote a book of juvenile fiction, Almost Fairy Children (1909); a collection of verse, University of Chicago Poems (1923); and three novels, Those About Trench (1916), White Lightning (1923), and Sallie's Newspaper (1924). Lewis completed a final, unpublished novel, Belief, during retirement in Palo Alto, California shortly before his death in 1938.

Scope Note

The Edwin Herbert Lewis Papers contain correspondence, diaries, notebooks, manuscripts, teaching materials, offprints, photographs, and memorabilia. Correspondents include Rabindranath Tagore and George Carman. The collection also includes the words to the University of Chicago "Alma Mater" which Lewis wrote in 1894.

The Collection is comprised of six series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Diaries; Series III: Notebooks; Series IV: Teaching Materials; Series V: Writings; and Series VI: Memorabilia

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Subject Headings


Series I: Correspondence

The small group of chronologically organized correspondence in this series includes exchanges with publishers and friends such as Sir Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian poet and philosopher, as well as several letters to George N. Carman regarding efforts to improve educational standards at the Lewis Institute. One folder contains correspondence with Janet Lewis Winters concerning the research and writing of her historical novel, The Invasion. The series also includes a group of letters written by Lewis in 1921 from his summer home at Everens Point, Ontario; these letters, which describe the scenery and residents of the area and recount the experience of building a cabin, are mounted in a loose-leaf binder with sketches of the Everens Point property and photographs of the Lewis family.

Box 1   Folder 1

Correspondence, 1909, 1919

Box 1   Folder 2

Correspondence, 1921

Box 1   Folder 3

Correspondence, 1923-1925

Box 1   Folder 4

Correspondence, 1926-1931

Box 1   Folder 5

Correspondence, 1931, concerning The Invasion: A Narrative of Events Concerning the Johnston Family of St. Mary's (1932), by Janet Lewis Winters

Box 1   Folder 6

Correspondence, 1932-1937

Box 1   Folder 7

Correspondence, 1938

Box 1   Folder 8

Correspondence, 1939 and undated

Series II: Diaries

Lewis's diaries, documenting the daily routine of his life from 1899 to 1937, are arranged here in chronological order. The diaries contain notes on Lewis's friends and professional colleagues at the University of Chicago and the Lewis Institute, information on the course of his professional career, and remarks on the progress of his literary work.

Box 1   Folder 9

Diary, 1899

Box 1   Folder 10

Diary, 1904, 1905-1909

Box 2   Folder 1

Diary, 1910-1914, 1915

Box 2   Folder 2

Diary, 1916, 1917

Box 2   Folder 3

Diary, 1918, 1919

Box 2   Folder 4

Diary, 1920-1922, 1923-1926

Box 2   Folder 5

Diary, 1927, 1928

Box 3   Folder 1

Diary, 1929, 1930, 1931

Box 3   Folder 2

Diary, 1932, 1933

Box 3   Folder 3

Diary, 1934, 1935

Box 3   Folder 4

Diary, 1936, 1937

Series III: Notebooks

In addition to daily diaries, Lewis kept a series of notebooks in which he recorded drafts of lectures and other talks, examination questions, comments on student papers, poetry, and miscellaneous aphorisms and observations. The earliest of these notebooks preserves class notes from Professor Paul Shorey's 1894 seminar on Literary Criticism and Rhetoric of the Ancients.

Box 3   Folder 5

Notebooks, 1894, Greek 28, Literary Criticism and Rhetoric of the Ancients, Professor Paul Shorey

Box 3   Folder 6

Notebooks, 1909-1916

Box 4   Folder 1

Notebooks, 1913

Box 4   Folder 2

Notebooks, 1914

Box 4   Folder 3

Notebooks, 1915

Box 4   Folder 4

Notebooks, 1915-1916

Box 4   Folder 5

Notebooks, 1916-1917

Box 4   Folder 6

Notebooks, 1920

Box 4   Folder 7

Notebooks, 1921

Box 4   Folder 8

Notebooks, "Encampment (Reward)," undated

Box 5   Folder 1

Notebooks, "Old English Seminary," undated

Box 5   Folder 2

Miscellaneous notes, undated

Series IV: Teaching Materials

These notes, lists, and other materials, all from Lewis's years at the Lewis Institute, reveal his fascination with the development of scientific knowledge and the etymology of words and personal names.

Box 5   Folder 3

"Common Words in Common Uses," with Ernest Horn, A Basic Writing Vocabulary (1926), annotated

Box 5   Folder 4

Chronology of scientific discoveries, 1400-1922

Box 5   Folder 5

Examination questions, word lists, and miscellaneous notes

Series V: Writings

The series of papers devoted to Lewis's writings includes a printed copy of his University of Chicago dissertation and drafts of three lengthy unpublished works: Belief, The Idealism of the Bible, and Just Alike. While the drafts of Belief and Just Alike are typewritten and thus presumably in their final form, the manuscript of The Idealism of the Bible is partially handwritten and seems to reflect an earlier state of composition.

The series contains both published and unpublished works. Of particular note is a tribute to Rabindranath Tagore written for the Chicago Literary Club in 1917. Poetry, the third sub-series, includes an autograph copy of the University of Chicago "Alma Mater". Written in 1894 for performance by the Men's Glee Club, the "Alma Mater" was set to music originally composed by Frank N. Mandeville as the school song of the University of Rochester. A second Lewis poem, "Mater Humanissima," was written for the University's fifteenth anniversary in 1906 and was subsequently incorporated with the "Alma Mater" and other related verse in University of Chicago Poems.

The series also includes a variety of speeches prepared for public and private occasions. Titled and dated manuscripts are arranged chronologically by date of delivery, followed by undated and untitled material. Two of the most important were delivered before sessions of the American Philosophical Association: "The Origin of Certain Philosophical Words" in 1930, and "What a Linguistic Contextualist Thinks of Philosophers" in 1935. Many of Lewis's other addresses explore the sequence of modern scientific discoveries and examine the distinction he draws between "Science and Literature" or "Physics and Poetry".

Box 5   Folder 6

Belief, typescript, pp. 1-110

Box 5   Folder 7

Belief, typescript, pp. 111-228

Box 5   Folder 8

Belief, typescript, pp. 229-321

Box 5   Folder 9

Belief, typescript, pp. 322-407

Box 6   Folder 1

Belief, typescript carbon, pp. 1-228

Box 6   Folder 2

Belief, typescript carbon, pp. 229-407

Box 6   Folder 3

The History of the English Paragraph, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1894

Box 6   Folder 4

The Idealism of the Bible: A Historical Sketch, draft, Preface, Prologue, and Chapters 1-3

Box 6   Folder 5

The Idealism of the Bible: A Historical Sketch, draft, Chapter 4

Box 7   Folder 1

The Idealism of the Bible: A Historical Sketch, draft, Chapters 5-7

Box 7   Folder 2

The Idealism of the Bible: A Historical Sketch, draft, Chapters 8-9

Box 7   Folder 3

The Idealism of the Bible: A Historical Sketch, draft, Chapter 10

Box 7   Folder 4

The Idealism of the Bible: A Historical Sketch, draft, Chapters 11-12 and Appendix A

Box 7   Folder 5

Just Alike: A Historical Romance, notes

Box 7   Folder 6

Just Alike: A Historical Romance, typescript carbon, pp. 1-108

Box 7   Folder 7

Just Alike: A Historical Romance, typescript carbon, pp. 109-203

Box 7   Folder 8

Just Alike: A Historical Romance, typescript carbon, pp. 204-300

Box 7   Folder 9

Essay, "The Beginnings of History"

Box 7   Folder 10

Essay, "An Eastern University"

Box 8   Folder 1


  • "Enfranchised Bondman"
  • "English for Fun and Use"
Box 8   Folder 2


  • "The Habit of Good Manners"
  • "The Huguenot Daland"
Box 8   Folder 3

"Machines and Ideals"

Box 8   Folder 4


  • "On Being an Animal"
  • "The Principles of Biography"
Box 8   Folder 5


  • "Reflections for the Fourth of March"
  • "Report of [the] Committee of the Doctor's Association on the Teaching Doctorate"
  • "The Reviser"
Box 8   Folder 6

"A Significant Life"

Box 8   Folder 7

"The Work of Tagore"

Box 8   Folder 8

Scrapbook containing miscellaneous articles

Box 8   Folder 9

Untitled essay on the nature of vulgarity in English

Box 8   Folder 10

"The Alma Mater"

Box 8   Folder 11


Box 8   Folder 12

"Mater Humanissima: An Ode for the Fifteenth Anniversary"

Box 8   Folder 13

University of Chicago Poems (University of Chicago Press, 1923)

Box 8   Folder 14

Miscellaneous poems

Box 9   Folder 1

"Inspiration," 1886 Commencement address, Alfred University, 1887

Box 9   Folder 2


  • "Tacy Maxson Lewis," 1901
  • "The Book of Job," 1904
Box 9   Folder 3

"The Individualism of the Future," 1910

Box 9   Folder 4

"Some Definitions of Individualism," 1911

Box 9   Folder 5

"On Behalf of the Alumni of the Graduate and Professional Schools," 1916 Remarks at the annual meeting of the Western Society of Engineers, 1916

Box 9   Folder 6


  • "Education by Limitation," 1917
  • "Variety of Expression," 1917
Box 9   Folder 7

"The Wagon and the Star," 1918

Box 9   Folder 8

"Art as Victory," 1920

Box 9   Folder 9

"Three Traits of Doctor Daland," 1921

Box 9   Folder 10


  • "Alice Carter Butler," 1924
  • "Mary Lewis Langworthy," 1924
  • "Thirty-Eight Years After," 1925
Box 9   Folder 11


  • "Elizabeth Harrison," 1927
  • Introduction of Bertrand Russell, 1927
Box 10    Folder 1

"Science and Literature," 1927

Box 10    Folder 2


  • "Physics and Poetry," 1929
  • "What Alfred Has Given Her Students," 1929
Box 10    Folder 3


  • "Face to Face," 1930
  • "The Origin of Certain Philosophical Words," 1930
  • "Summary Only of Personality," 1930
  • "The Testimony of a Philologist," 1930
Box 10    Folder 4


  • "Jesse Myron Owen," 1932
  • "Quiet and Concentration: Two Secrets of Joy," 1932
  • "Anna Lowry Taylor," 1933
  • "Progress of Science, 1866-1933," 1933
  • "Science and Religion," 1934
Box 10    Folder 5

"What a Linguistic Contextualist Thinks of Philosophers," 1935, Remarks to Lewis Institute alumni, 1937

Box 10    Folder 6


  • "The Arts Here Represented," undated
  • "Closing Words," undated
  • "The Future of Easter," undated
Box 10    Folder 7


  • "The Graduate's Resources," undated
  • "Hardy's Poems," undated
  • "The Idealism of the Bible," undated
Box 10    Folder 8


  • "Prose Structure," undated
  • "A Religious View of Physics and Biology," undated
  • "Science Since Allen C. Lewis's Death," undated
  • "To Teachers of German in Time of War," undated
Box 11   Folder 1

Untitled addresses, undated

Series VI: Memorabilia

The miscellaneous memorabilia in this series consists largely of newspaper clippings and other material related to the Lewis Institute and the Seventh-Day Baptist church. The six photographs of Hugo Händler are mementos of a life-long friend Lewis first met in Rome in 1889.

Box 11   Folder 2

Clippings, brochures, and other memorabilia

Box 11   Folder 3

Photographs of Hugo Händler

Box 11   Folder 4

Photograph of Lewis home,"Kettlestrings House, North Euclid Ave., Oak Park, undated

Box 11   Folder 5

Edwin Herbert Lewis, University of Chicago Poems (1923), inscribed by Lewis

Box 11   Folder 6

J. H. Jeans, EOS or the Wilder Aspects of Cosmogony (1929), inscribed by Lewis

Box 11   Folder 7

Lewis Institute, Lewis Annual 1903, dedicated to Lewis