University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Albert Harris Tolman Notebooks 1892-1925

© 2006 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Tolman, Albert Harris. Notebooks




5 linear ft. (10 boxes)


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


Albert Harris Tolman, Professor of English at the University of Chicago from 1892 to 1925. His notebooks contain notes for research and teaching on English language and grammar; Shakespeare; ballad and epic poetry; literary periods and individual authors They reveal how courses were organized, how they were taught, what approaches were taken, and what materials were used.

Information on Use


No restrictions


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

Biographical Note

Albert Harris Tolman was born in New Englands' Berkshire Hills in 1856. Tolman acquired his BA from Williams College in 1877. He then earned his. Ph.D. at Strassburg University, 1889. First serving as the principal of Chicopee Falls High School, in Massachusetts (1878-1882) Tolman then acted as a Professor of English at Ripon College (1884-1893) before moving to the University of Chicago as an Assistant professor (1893-1907). At the University of Chicago Tolman then assumed the position of Dean of the College (1895-1900) before rising to Associate Professor (1907-1914) and then full professor (1914-1925).

Tolman was an expert on Shakespeare and ballad and epic poetry with a special interest in song.

Tolman attended Williams College during the era of Mark Hopkins, the college Pastor and professor of Moral philosophy. Hopkins' philosophy was that education should prepare the student to make the proper moral decisions in life and this idea had a large impact on Tolman's teaching style. Tolman focused on directing the students toward philosophical questions that would help them to grow as scholars and as individuals. Although Tolman was friendly and generous in scholastics he was known for being independent and preferred to address people as individuals. Serious, stern, and severe in demeanor, Tolman preferred to pursue knowledge on his own abilities.

Tolman's colleague, Gerald B. Smith described the professor as "…a high-minded descendant of the Puritans set down in the very un-puritanic city of Chicago. His real home was the realm of scholarship." Smith saw Tolman as a righteous man defending his ideals against an increasingly corrupt world.

Tolman passed away on the 25th of December in 1928.

Scope Note

The Tolman notebooks have been divided into five series, reflecting Tolman's class duties and research interests.

Series I, English Language and Grammar, consists primarily of Tolman's well-organized notes for English 33, a course in grammar, and the manuscript of an untitled study of English grammar. Shorter studies include "The Laws of Tone-Color in the English Language" and "Sign-Words and Pro-Words in Modern English."

The bulk of the Shakespeare section, Series II, is made up of notebooks in which Tolman prepared his class assignments and lectures. The same Shakespeare play may appear in a number of notebooks, for Tolman's approach would vary from course to course and year to year. Tolman's own numbering system has been followed in the organization of these notebooks. The manuscript of Tolman's Questions on Shakespeare is also included in this section, as is some incidental material that can be identified in the Index.

Series III comprises notebooks of lectures on epic and Old English poetry and a number of studies of dialect songs, popular ballads, and folk songs.

Series IV includes notebooks which cover a wide range of literary periods and authors. Most of these notebooks seem to have been prepared for particular courses, although the course is not always specified. There is additionally, in Box 9, some material of a miscellaneous nature. Of particular interest here are some notes on the theory of fiction and an essay entitled "Some Suggestions about Method in the Teaching of English Literature."

Series V is a typescript of Edward T. Owen's "Linguistic Aberrations."

Related Resources

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


Frederick Ives Carpenter. Papers

Edward K. Putnam. Notebooks

Subject Headings


Series I: English Language and Grammar

Box 1   Folder 1

English 33. English Grammar. Sections I-XIV

Box 1   Folder 2

English 33. English Grammar. Sections XV-XX

Box 1   Folder 3

English 33. English Grammar. Sections XXI-XXIV

Box 1   Folder 4

English 33. English Grammar. Sections XXV-XLIII

Box 1   Folder 5

English 33. Examination questions; bibliography; letter from W. A. Craigie

Box 1   Folder 6-8

Study of English Grammar (in manuscript and untitled)

Box 2   Folder 1

Study of English Grammar

Box 2   Folder 2

Study of English Grammar Typed chapters

Box 2   Folder 3

"The Laws of Tone-Color in the English Language" (in manuscript and bound)

Box 2   Folder 4

"Sign-Words and Pro-Words in Modern English"

Series II: Shakespeare

Box 2   Folder 5-7

English 73. Problems in Shakespeare. Lecture Subjects

Box 2   Folder 8

"Do We Possess a MS Written by Shakespeare's Hand?"

Box 2   Folder 9

"The Structure of Shakespeare's Tragedies."

Box 2   Folder 10

"Why Falstaff?"

Box 3   Folder 1

"Questions on Shakespeare" (MS of book)

Box 3   Folder 2

"Questions on Shakespeare" (cont.)

Box 3   Folder 3

Book review of Shakespeare's England

Box 3   Folder 4

Shakespeare Notebooks

  • C. Romeo and Juliet; King John; Richard II
  • D. 1,2 Henry IV; Henry V
  • E. Merchant of Venice; Taming of the Shrew; Merry Wives of Windsor; Much Ado about Nothing
  • F. Much Ado about Nothing (cont.); As You Like It; Twelfth Night; All's Well that Ends Well
  • G. Measure for Measure; Troilus and Cressida; the Sonnets; Julius Caesar
  • H. Hamlet; Othello; King Lear
Box 3   Folder 5

Shakespeare Notebooks

  • I. King Lear (cont.); Macbeth; Antony and Cleopatra
  • J. Coriolanus; Timon of Athens; Pericles
  • K. Cymbeline; Winter's Tale
  • L. The Tempest; Henry VIII
Box 3   Folder 6

Shakespeare Notebooks

  • III. Two Noble Kinsmen; Macbeth; Titus Andronicus; Pericles; Timon of Athens; King John; Taming of the Shrew; 2,3 Henry VI; Romeo and Juliet
  • IV. As You Like It; Merchant of Venice; The Tempest; King Lear; Hamlet; 1 Henry VI
  • V. King Lear, Hamlet, As You Like It; Midsummer-Night's Dream; Winter's Tale; Julius Caesar; Othello
  • VI. Hamlet; Coriolanus, Midsummer-Night's Dream; Much Ado About Nothing; The Tempest
Box 4   Folder 1

Shakespeare Notebooks

  • VII B. Early Plays of Shakespeare
  • VIII. Shakespeare's Plays
  • VIII B. Shakespeare's Plays
  • VIII C. Shakespeare's Plays
Box 4   Folder 2

Shakespeare Notebooks

  • IX. As You Like It; Hamlet; The Tempest; Macbeth; Julius Caesar; King Lear; Coriolanus
  • X. Macbeth; Julius Caesar; Midsummer-Night's Dream; 1 Henry IV; Winter's Tale
  • XIII. Macbeth; Two Gentlemen of Verona; Twelfth Night; Cymbeline; The Winter's Tale; A Midsummer-Night's Dream
  • XIV. Julius Caesar; Richard III; A Midsummer-Night's Dream; King Lear
Box 4   Folder 3

Shakespeare Notebooks

  • XV. Sources of Shakespeare's Plays
  • XVI A. Bibliography
  • XVI B. Bibliography
  • XVII. The Tempest; Hamlet; As You Like It; 1 Henry IV; The Tempest; The Merchant of Venice
Box 4   Folder 4

Shakespeare Notebooks

  • XVIII. Outlines of Shakespeare's Plays.
  • XX. Much Ado About Nothing; G. B. Shaw on Shakespeare; Comedy of Errors; Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • XIX. Twelfth Night; A Midsummer-Night's Dream; 2 Henry IV; Henry V
Box 4   Folder 5

Lecture Notes. Julius Caesar; How to Read a Novel; Coriolanus; King Lear; Macbeth

Series III: Ballad and Epic Poetry

Box 5   Folder 1

Lectures on Epic Poetry (four notebooks)

Box 5   Folder 2

English 91. Epic Poetry. Class Work

Box 5   Folder 3

Old English Poetry. Lectures

Box 5   Folder 4

Dialect Songs in English Poetry; Popular Ballads of England and Scotland, I, II; folk songs found by students

Box 5   Folder 5-6

"The Folk-Songs of England"

Box 5   Folder 7

Long Words in Poetry; Quantity in English Verse.

Series IV: Part IV. Notebooks on Literary Periods and Individual Authors

Box 6   Folder 1-2


Box 6   Folder 3

Spenser Memoranda; Spenser Bibliography; Spenser Class Plans

Box 6   Folder 4

English 40. Introduction to English Literature. Notes

Box 6   Folder 5-6

English 42. 1557-1599

Box 7   Folder 1

English 43. 1599-1642

Box 7   Folder 2

English 47. 1798-1832

Box 7   Folder 3

English 48. 1832-1892

Box 7   Folder 4

English 74. Ben Jonson

Box 7   Folder 5

English 84. Drama, 1500-1600

Box 7   Folder 6

English 85. Drama in England, 1580-1642

Box 8   Folder 1

Art of the Canterbury Tales; Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney

Box 8   Folder 2

Elizabethan Fiction; Voyages of Discovery and Adventure; English Drama before Elizabeth; Notes on John Heywood

Box 8   Folder 3

Outlines of Elizabethan Plays

Box 8   Folder 4


Box 8   Folder 5

Bacon and other 17th Century Topics

Box 8   Folder 6

Introduction to English Romantic Poetry; Poetry of Keats

Box 8   Folder 7


Box 9   Folder 1


Box 9   Folder 2

Arnold, Swinburne, Rossetti

Box 9   Folder 3

Clough, Morris

Box 9   Folder 4

Nature and Laws of Allegory; Religious Element in English Literature; English Folk-Drama

Box 9   Folder 5

Theory of Fiction. Class notes

Box 9   Folder 6

Romanticism and Classicism in English Literature; Theory of the Drama; the Iliad and the Egoist; The study of Literature; Some Suggestions about Method in the Teaching of English Literature

Box 9   Folder 7

Bernhard ten Brink as an Historian of Literature; Poetic Extracts

Box 9   Folder 8

Lydus and Claudia (poem by Tolman)

Box 10   Folder 1-4

Edward T. Owen. "Linguistic Aberrations" (typescript of book)