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Guide to the Administrative Papers of the Chancellor Harry Woodburn Chase

New York University Archives

Collection processed by Phyllis A. Klein, 1978. Finding aid amended by Nancy Greenberg, 2007.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on January 18, 2022
Finding aid written in English

Scope and Content Note

The Harry Woodburn Chase Papers contain 23 linear feet and 7 inches of materials from the period of his Chancellorship at New York University (1933-1951). With a very few exceptions, materials from his early years and his administrations at the University of North Carolina and the University of Illinois are not included.

The Papers are divided into four sections: Memberships, Public Addresses and Articles, Statements, and General Correspondence. They consist of correspondence, memoranda, handwritten and printed drafts of speeches and statements, reports, studies, surveys, minutes, promotional literature for non-New York University organizations, invitations, budgets, clippings, photographs,. architectural sketches, and a partial bibliography. The Membership files, arranged alphabetically, document the public role of the university Chancellor and contain requests for sponsorship of or membership in a vast array of social, political, literary, civic, cultural, reform, peace, and war-related organizations, some municipal and others of national scope. Chase lent his name to most non-political sponsorships but was an active participant in only a few, usually as a Trustee or Member of the Board specializing in financial and fund-raising matters. The largest files are those of the Lotos Club, Trinity Church, the American Committee for Christian German Refugees, the Metropolitan Opera Association, and Memorial Hospital. His service as committee Chairman of a federal Committee on the Older Worker in 1938 and a state Committee for the Retail Trade Minimum Wage Board in 1945 was primarily supervisory.

Public Addresses and Articles, filed chronologically, include many handwritten drafts. Delivered before various academic audiences and sometimes radio broadcast, they shed light on his belief in the value of general education, the important role of education in safeguarding democracy, freedom of expression, academic freedom, racial and religious tolerance, adult education, awareness of international affairs, and Negro education.

Statements, arranged chronologically, give further insight into Chase's views. Mainly his replies to inquiries about his policies or N.Y.U. events or incidents, they also include Letters to the Editor (one unpublished) and an interview with the Herald Tribune in 1934.

The General Correspondence, comprising two-thirds of the Papers, is arranged alphabetically by subject and name. It reveals the range of the Chancellor's policies and activities and the development of N Y U in the 1930's and 1940's. The bulk deals with the N.Y.U. Council (finances, policy, and planning); surveys of the university; deans and matters relating to the various schools, divisions, and Institutes; the affiliation with Hofstra (1934-39); the selection of 3 new deans; athletics; the Law and Medical Centers; and other university financial, real estate, and public relations affairs. There is substantial material on the ROTC (1934-43). Several files relate to radio programs and the use of radio for promotion of education. Chase's correspondence and memoranda to Provost Rufus Smith and Assistant Chancellor Harold O. Voorhis and a number of faculty members, while few in number, are the best examples of his unpublished views about N.Y.U. A small number of files document N.Y U 's participation in Depression relief agencies.


The files are grouped into 4 series: I. World War II; II. Administrative Correspondence; III. Memberships; IV. Adresses and and Published Writings.

All series are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of the final series entitled, "Addresses and Published Writings," which is arranged chronologically.

Series I: World War II

Series II: Administrative Correspondence

Series III: Memberships

Series IV: Addresses and Publications