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Guide to the John Spencer Bassett Collection, 1802 - 1998(bulk 1893-1911),

Abstract

John Spencer Bassett, a professor in the History Department of Trinity College from 1893-1906, was a renowned educator and advocate of freedom of expression. A native of North Carolina, Bassett received his A.B. from Trinity College in 1888 and his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University in 1894. He returned to Trinity College to teach and was active in teaching, writing and collecting southern Americana. Bassett began publication of an annual series of Historical Papers of the Trinity College Historical Society; founded the honorary society 9019, a precursor to Phi Beta Kappa; founded and edited the scholarly journal, the South Atlantic Quarterly; and encouraged his students to publish and fostered their interests in Southern history. In 1903, Bassett published an article, Stirring Up the Fires of Race Antipathy in the South Atlantic Quarterly, that praised the accomplishments of African Americans and offered views on how to improve race relations. Bassett's views brought on a controversy that became known as the Bassett Affair that helped to establish the concept of academic freedom in higher education in the United States. The collection contains personal and professional papers related to the life and work of John Spencer Bassett. Materials range in date from 1802 to 1998 (bulk 1893-1911) and include biographical information, correspondence, printed material, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and souvenirs.

Descriptive Summary

Title
John Spencer Bassett collection, 1802 - 1998 (bulk 1893-1911)
Creator
Bassett, John Spencer, 1867-1928.
Extent
1.0 Linear Feet , 250 Items
Repository
University Archives, Duke University
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.
Language
English.

Collection Overview

The collection contains personal and professional papers related to the life and work of John Spencer Bassett. Materials range in date from 1802 to 1998 (bulk 1893-1911) and include biographical information, correspondence, printed material, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and souvenirs. The correspondence (1893-1917) includes a copy of a 1911 letter to Charles Frances Adams in which Bassett gives his account of the Bassett Affair. Other correspondents include Oswald G. Villard, William Kenneth Boyd, Edwin Mims, and William E. Dodd. Much of the original correspondence concerns affairs of the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association. Clippings ([1802]-1896) include articles about North Carolina politics, Civil War history, the Bassett Affair, Trinity College matters, race relations, the media, and education. The manuscripts include the autobiography of Jessie Lewellin Bassett, wife of John Spencer Bassett, in which she describes her life from 1866 until her marriage to Bassett in 1892; a copy of the paper, "How to Collect and Preserve Historical Material," that Bassett presented to the State Historical Association on Oct. 23, 1900; and John L. Woodward's Ph.B. thesis, "Causes and Progress of the Revolutionary Movement in North Carolina," (1894).

The bulk of John Spencer Bassett's personal papers can be found in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

The collection is open for research. The Jessie Lewellin Bassett autobiography is open for research but not for publication, upon donor request.

warning Use Restrictions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Contents of the Collection

Biographical information on John Spencer Bassett, 1943-1976
Box 1 Folder 1
Correspondence, [1893]-1917
Box 1 Folder 2-9
John Spencer Bassett, "How to Collect and Preserve Historical Material," a paper read before the State Historical Association, Nov. 25, 1900
Box 1 Folder 10
John L. Woodward, Ph.B. thesis, "Causes and Progress of the Revolutionary Movement in North Carolina," 1894
Box 1 Folder 11
Research papers collected by John Spencer Bassett, 1856-1869
Box 1 Folder 12
Catalog of manuscript holdings of the Trinity College Historical Society, [1905]
Box 1 Folder 13
Clippings, [1806]-1902
Box 1 Folder 14-17
Trinity College memorabilia, 1899-1918
Box 1 Folder 18
Roanoke Colony Memorial Association, 1893-1894. Includes copies of the Articles of Incorporation and bylaws, clippings, and printed material.
Box 1 Folder 19
Souvenirs collected by John Spencer Bassett
Box 1 Folder 20
Photographs, 1884-1906 (photocopies)
Box 1 Folder 21
Jessie Lewellin Bassett, Autobiography, [ca. 1940]
Box 2 Folder 22-25
Jessie Lewellin Bassett, Autobiography, [ca. 1940], (photocopy)
Box 2 Folder 26-29

Historical Note

John Spencer Bassett, a professor in the History Department of Trinity College from 1893-1906, was a renowned educator and advocate of freedom of expression. A native of North Carolina, Bassett received his A.B. from Trinity College in 1888 and his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University in 1894. He returned to Trinity College to teach and was active in teaching, writing and collecting southern Americana. Bassett began publication of an annual series of Historical Papers of the Trinity College Historical Society; founded the honorary society 9019, a precursor to Phi Beta Kappa; founded and edited the scholarly journal, the South Atlantic Quarterly; and encouraged his students to publish and fostered their interests in Southern history.

In 1903, Bassett published an article, "Stirring Up the Fires of Race Antipathy" in the South Atlantic Quarterly, that praised the accomplishments of African Americans and offered views on how to improve race relations. Bassett's views brought on a controversy that became known as the "Bassett Affair" that helped to establish the concept of academic freedom in higher education in the United States.

Bassett was named Professor of History at Smith College in 1906. Bassett continued his career as a noted historiographer and became the acknowledged authority on Andrew Jackson. He also served as secretary of the American Historical Association from 1919 to 1928. John Spencer Bassett died in Washington, DC, in 1928.

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • John Spencer Bassett Papers. (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. )
  • Bassett Affair Collection. (University Archives, Duke University. )
  • B.N. Duke Papers. (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. )
  • John C. Kilgo Papers. (University Archives, Duke University. )
  • James Southgate Papers. (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. )
  • Ninety Nineteen (9019) Records. (University Archives, Duke University. )

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John Spencer Bassett Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The John Spencer Bassett Collection was received by the University Archives as a gift in 1960 (A60-233), 1966 (A66-34), 1967 (A67-10), 1972 (A72-32), 1998 (A98-16); as a purchase in 1939 (A39-3130); and as a transfer in 1964 (A64-68).

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Daniel

Completed July 2003

Encoded by Linda Daniel, July 2003

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.