University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin Papers 1881-1944

© 2006 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


McLaughlin, Andrew Cunningham. Papers




2 linear ft. (4 boxes)


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


Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin, Historian. The Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin Papers contain personal and professional correspondence, notes, and manuscripts. The collection documents McLaughlin's interest in improving the quality of teaching history and teacher training; the role of the historian in American society, in particular during and after World War I; and the writing of constitutional history.

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

Biographical Note

Andrew C. McLaughlin (1861-1947), the son of Scottish immigrants, was born in Beardstown, Illinois and grew up in Muskegon, Michigan. He received a bachelor's degree (1882) and law degree (1885) from the University of Michigan, practiced law in Chicago for several months, and returned to Ann Arbor as an instructor in Latin. When a mentor, Thomas Cooley, became chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887, McLaughlin moved to the history department and assumed Cooley's courses in constitutional history. In 1890, he married Lois Angell, daughter of University President James B. Angell. In 1891, he was appointed professor of history.

During these years, McLaughlin published several books on the history of Michigan and became increasingly involved in national historical affairs as head of an American Historical Association committee on secondary teaching and as managing editor of the American Historical Review. By 1903, when McLaughlin was appointed director of the Carnegie Institution's Bureau of Historical Research in Washington, he was a widely respected historian. In early 1906, following the death of Hermann von Holst and the resignation of J. Franklin Jameson at Chicago, President William Rainey Harper and Henry Pratt Judson persuaded McLaughlin to join the faculty of the new Midwestern university. McLaughlin served as chairman of the Department of History from 1906 until 1927, as professor until 1929, and as emeritus from 1929-1936.

While administrative duties took much of McLaughlin's time at Chicago, his Papers reflect three intellectual interests, which dominated the mature years of his career. He was concerned first with the quality of teaching in history. McLaughlin devoted himself to the careful training of students and collaborated with Claude H. Van Tyne of the University of Michigan in writing a textbook on American history. The correspondence between these two scholars is a commentary on the difficulties of conveying historical knowledge without sacrificing its integrity to popular expectations.

McLaughlin was equally concerned with the role of the historian in American society. As council-member and president of the American Historical Association, he argued for an active professional interest in contemporary political issues. When America entered the war against Germany in 1917, McLaughlin led a group of noted historians to form the National Board for Historical Service. "In my judgment," he wrote to Jameson, "the value of the historian now is chiefly in pointing out the route into the future which his various experiences have enabled him to see. In other words, it is time for us to dare to use our historical information for purposes of prophecy and actual guidance". Sponsored by the Bureau, McLaughlin went to Britain in the spring of 1918 to deliver a series of lectures explaining American war aims and endorsing the alliance of the Atlantic democracies. The British tour was one of the proudest moments of McLaughlin's life, and neither the death of his son Rowland on the battlefield nor the later American rejection of the League of Nations could dim his Wilsonian confidence in the elemental justice of the war.

The third concern of McLaughlin's Chicago years was the writing of constitutional history. Beginning with his first major work on the subject, The Confederation and the Constitution, 1783-1789 (1905), he produced a steady stream of articles, lectures, and books on the development of American constitutional democracy: The Courts, the Constitution and Parties (1912); Steps in the Development of American Democracy (1920); The Foundations of American Constitutionalism (1932); and the culminating work of his life of scholarship, A Constitutional History of the United States (1935), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history. McLaughlin's distinctive contribution to the historiography of the Constitution was his conviction that American political institutions were less the fruit of revolutionary fervor than the product of organic development rooted in the British colonial experience. This emphasis on evolution and continuity marked a sharp departure from the interpretations of earlier scholars and laid the basis for a fundamental revision of their work.

Scope Note

The Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin Papers contain personal and professional correspondence, notes, and manuscripts. The collection documents McLaughlin's interest in improving the quality of teaching history and teacher training; the role of the historian in American society, in particular during and after World War I; and the writing of constitutional history.

The collection is comprised of three series: Series I: Family Correspondence, 1881-1936; Series II: Professional Correspondence, 1890-1944; and Series III: Notes and Manuscripts. Among McLaughlin's correspondents are George Burton Adams, Henry Steele Commager, Edward Samuel Corwin, William Edward Dodd, Max Farrand, Albert Bushnell Hart, John Franklin Jameson, Waldo Gifford Leland, James Harvey Robinson, James Thomson Shotwell, Frederick Jackson Turner, Carl Van Doren and Claude Halstead Van Tyne.

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Subject Headings


Series I: Family Correspondence, 1881-1936

Box 1   Folder 1

1881-1882, Letters to and from ACM's mother

Box 1   Folder 2

1935-1936, and undated Letters from James C. McLaughlin (brother), Lois Angell McLaughlin (wife), and James Angell MacLachlan (son)

Box 1   Folder 3

1915-1923, Concerning Rowland Hazard McLaughlin (son)

Box 1   Folder 4

1929-1935, Concerning Isabel Lois McLaughlin (niece)

Series II: Professional Correspondence, 1890-1944

Box 1   Folder 5

Professional Correspondence, 1890-1904

Box 1   Folder 6

Professional Correspondence, 1905-1907

Box 1   Folder 7

Professional Correspondence, January 1908-September 1908

Box 1   Folder 8

Professional Correspondence, October 1908

Box 1   Folder 9

Professional Correspondence, November 1908

Box 1   Folder 10

Professional Correspondence, December 1908

Box 1   Folder 11

Professional Correspondence, January 1909

Box 1   Folder 12

Professional Correspondence, February-November 1909

Box 1   Folder 13

Professional Correspondence, 1910

Box 1   Folder 14

Professional Correspondence, January 1911

Box 1   Folder 15

Professional Correspondence, February-July 1911

Box 2   Folder 1

Professional Correspondence, December 1913; January 1915

Box 2   Folder 2

Professional Correspondence, 1916

Box 2   Folder 3

Professional Correspondence, February-December 1917

Box 2   Folder 4

Professional Correspondence, January-April 1918

Box 2   Folder 5

Professional Correspondence, May 1918

Box 2   Folder 6

Professional Correspondence, June-December 1918

Box 2   Folder 7

Professional Correspondence, 1919

Box 2   Folder 8

Professional Correspondence, 1923-1924

Box 2   Folder 9

Professional Correspondence, 1925

Box 2   Folder 10

Professional Correspondence, 1926

Box 2   Folder 11

Professional Correspondence, 1927-1935

Box 2   Folder 12

Professional Correspondence, 1936-1944

Box 2   Folder 13

Professional Correspondence, Undated and fragments

Series III: Notes and Manuscripts

Box 3   Folder 1

Notes on Antinomianism

Box 3   Folder 2

Notes on the American Revolution

Box 3   Folder 3

Notes on political parties

Box 3   Folder 4

Notes on state sovereignty

Box 3   Folder 5

Notes on Reconstruction

Box 3   Folder 6

"Education in a Democracy"

Box 3   Folder 7

"What is Constitutional History?"

Box 3   Folder 8

"History and Its Neighbors"

Box 3   Folder 9

"The Need of Political Science"

Box 3   Folder 10


Box 3   Folder 11

"From Spectator to Participant"

Box 3   Folder 12

"War and Diplomacy"

Box 3   Folder 13

Lectures connected with the War

Box 3   Folder 14

Lecture and memorabilia from 1918 British tour

Box 3   Folder 15

"The League of Nations"

Box 3   Folder 16

"International Relations after the War"

Box 4   Folder 1

"The Federal Convention"

Box 4   Folder 2

"Divided Sovreignty-Binding Compact"

Box 4   Folder 3

"Outlines of Party History from Hayes to Wilson, 1877-1913"

Box 4   Folder 4

"The Tariff as a Party Issue"

Box 4   Folder 5

"The East and the West, the Factory and the Farm"

Box 4   Folder 6


Box 4   Folder 7

"The Farmers Movement"

Box 4   Folder 8


Box 4   Folder 9

"Foreign Affairs: The Monroe Doctrine, 1871-1896"

Box 4   Folder 10

"Early 20th"

Box 4   Folder 11

"The Money Question Again-The Income Tax"

Box 4   Folder 12

"Woman Suffrage and Prohibition"

Box 4   Folder 13

Constitutional History, Ch. IV "The Writs of Assistance"

Box 4   Folder 14

Constitutional History, Ch. V "The Stamp Act"

Box 4   Folder 15

Constitutional History, Ch. VI "After the Stamp Act"

Box 4   Folder 16

Constitutional History, [Ch. VII] "The Obdurate Parliament"

Box 4   Folder 17

Constitutional History, Ch. VIII "The Intolerable Acts"

Box 4   Folder 18

Constitutional History, Ch. IX "The Congress of 1774-1775"

Box 4   Folder 19

Constitutional History, Ch. X "The Philosophy of the Revolution"

Box 4   Folder 20

Constitutional History, Ch. XI "Early State Constitutions"

Box 4   Folder 21

Constitutional History, [Ch. XVII] "The Establishment of the Authority of the Executive in Foreign Affairs"

Box 4   Folder 22

Constitutional History, [Ch. LI] "Interstate Commerce"

Box 4   Folder 23

Miscellaneous manuscript fragments

Box 4   Folder 24

Reviews of ACM's books

Box 4   Folder 25

Copies of articles by ACM

Box 4   Folder 26

Copies of articles by ACM.

Box 4   Folder 27