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Edward Chase Kirkland papers

Identifier: M103

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Scope and Content

The collection primarily contains handwritten lectures and lecture notes. Also included are class materials used in his classes at Bowdoin College; drafts of his published works; correspondence and documents regarding published materials; images used in the book Men, Cities, and Transportation; and documents and legal reports regarding Kirkland’s membership and affiliations with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation, and the Phi Beta Kappa Senate.


  • Creation: 1813-1974, undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1943 - 1974


Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Biographical/Historical Note

Edward Chase Kirkland (1894-1975) was a historian, author, and professor of history at Bowdoin College. Kirkland’s main fields of interest included economic history, railroad history, and New England history. He wrote many books, including The Peacemakers of 1864 (1927); A History of American Economic Life (1932); Men, Cities, and Transportation (1948); Business in the Gilded Age, The Conservatives’ Balance Sheet (1952); Dream and Thought in the Business Community, 1860-1900 (1956); Industry Comes of Age (1961) Charles Francis Adams Jr., 1835-1915: The Patrician at Bay (1965); and A Bibliography of American Economic History Since 1861 (1971). His textbook A History of American Economic Life was widely used in American classrooms for nearly thirty years.

Kirkland received an A.B. degree from Dartmouth (1916) and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard (1921, 1924). He also received honorary degrees of Litt.D. from Dartmouth (1948), Cambridge (1956), Princeton (1957), and Bowdoin (1961).

In 1917, Kirkland enlisted in the United States Army. During WWI, he served in the Army Ambulance Corps attached to the French Army. A wound earned him the Croix de Guerre.

Kirkland took a position at Bowdoin College in 1930, where he stayed until 1959 when he retired to become a full-time writer. He also held positions as Messinger Lecturer at Cornell (1956), Knapp Professor at Wisconsin (1951), Commonwealth Lecturer at University College, London (1952), Pitt Professor of American History at Cambridge University (1956-1957), and Guggenheim Fellow (1955)

Kirkland served as president of the American Association of University Professors (1946-1948), the Economic History Association (1953-1954), and the Mississippi Valley Historical Society, later the Organization of American Historians (1955-1956).

Kirkland married Ruth Stevens Babson in 1924 and they had one son, Edward S. Kirkland.


4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection primarily contains handwritten lectures and lecture notes. Also included are class materials used in his classes at Bowdoin College, drafts of his published works, correspondence, and documents regarding published materials.

Guide to the Edward Chase Kirkland Papers
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