University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Goldwin Smith Collection circa 1860

© 2016 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Smith, Goldwin. Collection


circa 1860


0.25 linear feet (1 box)


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


Goldwin Smith (1823 –1910) British historian and journalist. The collection contains four autograph letters from Smith. The letters primarily discuss social engagements, and are believed to date to about 1860.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


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

Biographical Note

Goldwin Smith was born on August 13, 1823, in Reading, Berkshire, to Richard Pritchard Smith and Elizabeth Breton. He was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford, and went on to be elected to a fellowship at University College. He was very involved in the cause of university reform. In 1850, Smith served as the assistant-secretary on the Royal Commission of reform. He was later appointed to a seat on the Popular Education Commission of 1858. In 1868, when educational reform was once again growing in public consciousness, he published a pamphlet, entitle The Reorganization of the University of Oxford.

Smith also held the regius professorship of Modern History at Oxford from 1858-1866. His work as a historian, however, is not particularly remembered as it lacked original research, though it is praised for Smith’s skill as a writer. The outbreak of the American Civil War found Smith supporting the North, unlike many of his upper-class peers in England. In 1863, Smith published a pamphlet, Does the Bible Sanction American Slavery?, which is credited with helping to alter English opinion on the matter. In 1868, Smith left England and settled in the United States where he held the professorship of English and Constitutional History at Cornell University. In 1871, he moved to Toronto, Canada, where he edited The Canadian Monthly and founded the Week and the Bystander. Smith also continued to contribute to a number of journals, including The Farmer’s Sun, and the Spectator. Smith died at his Toronto residence, The Grange, on June 7, 1910.

Scope Note

The Goldwin Smith Collection contains four letters written by Smith. Three of the letters are addressed to someone referred to only as “Principal” while the fourth is to “Mr. Waring.” The primarily discuss social engagements. Unfortunately, there are no dates on the letters, but it is suspected that they were written circa 1860.

The collection was previously part of the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:


Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Correspondence, circa 1860

  • Goldwin Smith to Principal, March 16
  • Goldwin Smith to Principal, May 21
  • Goldwin Smith to Principal, Friday
  • Goldwin Smith to Mr. Waring, Monday