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Daniel Coit Gilman papers

Identifier: MS-0001

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Scope and Contents note

The papers document Gilman's wide-ranging interests especially his travels in Europe and work as attaché in St. Petersburg (1854-1855), his years (1855-1858) at Yale, and his presidencies of the University of California (1872-1875) and the Johns Hopkins University (1876-1902)

Gilman's correspondence contains a number of letters from prominent, contemporary educators, scientists, politicians, and literary figures. The collection includes a large number of photographs of Gilman's contemporaries.

The collection includes some papers of Gilman's two wives Mary Ketcham Gilman (1838-1869) and Elisabeth Dwight Woolsey Gilman (1839-1910) as well as those of his daughter Alice Gilman Wheeler (born 1863).

The collection also includes genealogical information regarding the entire Gilman family.


  • Creation: 1773-1942


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Daniel Coit Gilman was born July 6, 1831 in Norwich, Connecticut. He was the fifth of nine children of William Gilman, a wealthy mill owner. Daniel attended Yale from 1848 to 1852, and after his graduation attended Harvard University briefly before making a trip in 1854 to Europe, where he eventually served as attaché to the United States Legation in St. Petersburg. After his return to America in 1855, Gilman worked as a fund-raiser for the Sheffield Scientific School (affiliated with Yale) and also as assistant librarian at Yale. In 1858 he was promoted to the position of head librarian, a post which he resigned in 1865. In the meantime, he had become school visitor for New Haven. In that job, and in his subsequent post on the State Board of Education, he developed a reputation as an educational reformer.

In 1872 Gilman became the president of the University of California. When the trustees of the newly-endowed Johns Hopkins University wrote to presidents Eliot of Harvard, Angell of Michigan and White of Cornell in 1874 to ask for suggestions for the presidency of the new university, all three independently recommended Gilman. The post was formally offered in early 1875; Gilman accepted, and soon achieved prominence as an educator and administrator. He is credited with having created the first full graduate program in America, and until his retirement in 1901 Gilman consistently stressed research and scholarship. After his retirement from Hopkins, he was for two years president of the new Carnegie Institution of Washington. He died in 1908, survived by his second wife Elisabeth Dwight Woolsey Gilman and by two daughters Alice Gilman Wheeler and Elisabeth Gilman, the latter of whom was a leader of the Socialist Party in Maryland in the 1930s.

Among Gilman's publications are James Monroe (1883), University Problems (1898), and The Launching of a University (1906). There are two published biographies of Gilman; one by Fabian Franklin published in 1910 and one by Abraham Flexner in 1946.


45.9 Cubic Feet (13 letter size document boxes, 73 legal size document boxes, 4 legal half-size document boxes, 1 flat box (20.5 x 14.5 x 1.5 inches), 2 flat boxes (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches), 2 flat boxes (11 x 9 x 3 inches), 2 flat boxes (21 x 17 x 3.5 inches), 2 flat boxes (21 x 17 x 3 inches), 10 pamphlet boxes (7.25 x 4 x 10 inches), 1 telescoping box)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

MS.0235, the Elisabeth Gilman Papers, was originally part of this collection. MS.0235 was created in 1989.

A part of this collection was combined with other material to form the Oliver Wendell Holmes collection (MS.0025).

Correspondence from this collection was separated to form the Benjamin Silliman collection (MS.0030).

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The papers apparently were donated by Gilman's daughter Elisabeth Gilman.

Sponsor Information

Portions of this collection were digitized with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Processing Information note

This collection was processed by M. C. Beecheno in 1985. Additional reprocessing and description was completed by Emily Davidson in 2015. Updated by Jordon Steele in December 2017, and Annie Tang in May 2018.


Guide to the Daniel Coit Gilman papers
M. C. Beecheno, Emily Davidson, Jordon Steele, Annie Tang
May 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Portions of this collection were digitized with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA