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Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain collection

Identifier: M027

  • Staff Only
  • Please use the Collection Organization section below to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains letters, articles, addresses, documents, Civil War related manuscripts, family manuscripts, biographical essays, etc. Much of the correspondence is from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to family members including his parents, Sarah and Joshua, his sister Sarah (Chamberlain) Farrington, brothers John C. and Thomas D. Chamberlain, and wife Francis (Adams) Chamberlain. Other major correspondents, each with five or more letters, include George Thomas Little, Librarian of Bowdoin College; Ira Hobart Evans, banker and attorney; Georgie O. Hutchins, teacher in Madison, Wisconsin; and William E. Webster, a resident of Newton Center, Massachusetts. Published works by Chamberlain are also available in Special Collections.


  • Creation: 1817 - 2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1855 - 1914


Conditions Governing Access

Access to original correspondence in series M027.1 is restricted; photocopies are available for patron use.

Biographical/Historical Note

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Bowdoin Class of 1852) was born in Brewer, Maine in 1828. In 1861, Chamberlain left a Bowdoin professorship to become lt. colonel of the 20th Maine, serving to the rank of bvt. maj. general of volunteers in command of the 5th Corps of the Union Army. He fought at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg (receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor for the defense of Little Round Top), Petersburg and Appomattox (where he accepted the surrender of the Confederate troops).

After the war, Chamberlain served as the Republican governor of Maine, 1867-1871; commander of the state militia during the Legislature's 1880 "count-out" rebellion; and president of Bowdoin, 1871-1883.

In 1884-1892 he was involved in railroad and real estate ventures in Florida and from 1900 was surveyor of the Port of Portland. Chamberlain, Bowdoin's sixth president, also served the College as professor, trustee and overseer. For related materials, see the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Administrative Records.

Chamberlain married Frances Caroline Adams in Brunswick. The couple had four children; two survived. Chamberlain died in 1914.


8.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains letters, articles, addresses, documents, Civil War related manuscripts, family manuscripts, and biographical essays.

Related Materials

For a selection of items drawn principally from this collection, see the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Bowdoin College Digital Archive.

Guide to the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Collection
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011 Repository

3000 College Station
Brunswick Maine 04011 USA
(207) 725-3288