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Guide to the Ernest W. Nelson Records and Papers, 1913 - 1975 (bulk 1926-1974)

Abstract

Ernest William Nelson (1896-1974) was a professor of history at Duke University (1926-1965). His primary interest was Italian Renaissance cultural history. Nelson founded the Durham Chamber Arts Society (1945) and was chairman from 1945-1963. Major subjects include the Duke University Dept. of History, the Chamber Arts Society, and cultural life on campus. The collection contains correspondence, financial records, lectures, reports, student papers, and other printed material.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Ernest W. Nelson records and papers, 1913 - 1975 (bulk 1926-1974)
Creator
Nelson, Ernest William, 1896-
Extent
10.5 Linear Feet , 10500 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 Ernest W. Nelson Records and Papers is divided into three series: Subject Files, the Chamber Arts Society, and Personal and Family Materials. The collection includes correspondence, financial records, lectures, reports, student papers, and other printed material.

The Subject Files Series, 1926-1973, is mainly concerned with the internal functioning of the university, the history department, cultural life on campus, and faculty organizations. A number of student folders are filed in this section, under "History Dept.: Students." Nelson selected these particular folders to give examples of his grading system, to show some of his students' work, and to cover the span of Nelson's years at Duke. The folders of those students who achieved prominence are also included in this section.

The Chamber Arts Society Series, 1945-1975, contains financial records, membership lists, programs, and correspondence. Nelson founded the Durham Chamber Arts Society in 1945 to offer members of the Durham and Duke communities an opportunity to further their appreciation of the fine arts. The Chamber Arts Society began by presenting chamber music concerts in the East Duke Music Room at Duke University. Nelson was chairman of the Chamber Arts Society until 1963.

Most of the Personal and Family Materials Series, 1913-1966, is made up of correspondence and concerns family matters, health problems, and descriptions of short excursions such as bicycle outings and shopping trips.

Some of the correspondence includes information about current world events. In letters to Nelson, economics professor Calvin Bryce Hoover described life in the Soviet Union in 1929, and the upcoming German elections in 1932. In 1939, Shelby McCloy described the reaction in France to the outbreak of World War II and faculty members' assignments during the war. In 1943, several Duke faculty members described the effects of the war on Duke University. Professor William B. Hamilton wrote about how teaching loads had greatly increased due to the large number of V-12 naval and marine cadets who were sent to Duke. Alan K. Manchester described the Navy syllabus used to teach World History and how the war changed civilian life. Several letters from William T. Laprade discussed the impact of the war on the history department and the effect of the draft on faculty.

Nelson carried on lengthy correspondence with some of his students, many of whom either went abroad or entered graduate schools, and with a number of scholars at other institutions. Among these scholars are Carl Becker, Roland Bainton, Preserved Smith, George Lincoln Burr, Theodore Mommsen, and Hans Baron.

A folder list is available as part of the collection file. Please consult University Archives staff.

Box 1 and Box 6 are closed pending processing.

Access to the folders containing student records is RESTRICTED. Please consult University Archives staff before use.

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.

For a period of twenty-five years from the origin of the material, permission in writing from the office of origin and the University Archivist is required for use. After twenty-five years, records that have been processed may be consulted with the permission of the University Archivist.

In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

Box 1 and Box 6 are closed pending processing.

In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.

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

The Subject Files are arranged alphabetically. The box titles describe the alphabetical range found within each box. A folder list is part of the collection file. Please consult University Archives staff.

The Subject Files Series is mainly concerned with the internal functioning of the university, the history department, cultural life on campus, and faculty organizations. A number of student folders are filed in this section, under "History Dept.: Students." Nelson selected these particular folder to give examples of his grading system, to show some of his students' work, and to cover the span of Nelson's years at Duke. The folders of those students who achieved prominence are also included in this section.

Box 1 is closed pending processing.

Access to the folders containing student records is RESTRICTED. Please consult University Archives staff before use.

American Association for the Advancement of Science -- History Department, 1930-1959 and undated
Box 1
History Department -- History Department: Students: Kirwan, A.D., 1926-1973 and undated
Box 2
History Department: Students: Knowles, Joan, -- Wannamaker, W.H. (Dean), 1927-1968 and undated
Box 3

Nelson founded the Durham Chamber Arts Society in 1945 to offer members of the Durham and Duke communities an opportunity to further their appreciation of the fine arts. The Chamber Arts Society began by presenting chamber music concerts in the East Duke Music Room at Duke University. The name of the East Duke Room was later changed to the Nelson Music Room in honor of Nelson's dedication to the arts and his love of music. Nelson was chairman of the Chamber Arts Society until 1963. The Chamber Arts Society Series contains financial records, membership lists, programs, and correspondence.

Chamber Arts society records
Box 4

The Personal and Family Materials Series is arranged alphabetically. The box titles describe the alphabetical range found within each box.

Most of the Personal and Family Materials Series is made up of correspondence and concerns family matters, health problems, and descriptions of short excursions such as bicycle outings and shopping trips.

Some of the correspondence includes information about current world events. In letters to Nelson, economics professor Calvin Bryce Hoover described life in the Soviet Union in 1929, and the upcoming German elections in 1932. In 1939, Shelby McCloy described the reaction in France to the outbreak of World War II and faculty members' assignments during the war. In 1943, several Duke faculty members described the effects of the war on Duke University. Professor William B. Hamilton wrote about how teaching loads had greatly increased due to the large number of V-12 naval and marine cadets who were sent to Duke. Alan K. Manchester described the Navy syllabus used to teach World History and how the war changed civilian life. Several letters from William T. Laprade discussed the impact of the war on the history department and the effect of the draft on faculty.

Nelson carried on lengthy correspondence with some of his students, many of whom either went abroad or entered graduate schools, and with a number of scholars at other institutions. Among these scholars are Carl Becker, Roland Bainton, Preserved Smith, George Lincoln Burr, Theodore Mommsen, and Hans Baron.

Box 6 is closed pending processing.

A Correspondence -- Enthoven, Henri Emile,
Box 5
Epstein, Fritz T. -- O Correspondence
Box 6
Organist -- Z Correspondence
Box 7

Historical Note

Born Feb. 5, 1896, in Brockton, Mass., Nelson was educated at Clark University (A.B., 1916; A.M., 1921) and Cornell University (Ph.D, 1925). He was an assistant in Medieval History at Cornell (1922-1923), assistant professor at the University of South Dakota (1923-1925), professor of Medieval History at Cornell University (1926),and assistant curator of the President White Historical Library. In 1926, he came to Duke University and stayed until his retirement in 1965.

Nelson received a number of awards and grants. He was named an Andrew D. White Fellow in European History (1921-1922) and studied at the Sorbonne, Ecole de Droit, Ecole des Hautes Etudes, and the University of Cologne. He also received an American Council of Learned Societies Grant (1930-1931) and spent the year in Italy. Nelson was a member of the Medieval Academy of America, the American Historical Association, and the Phi Kappa Phi scholarship society.

Nelson's special interests in research and teaching were Renaissance civilization, the history of liberty and ideas of tolerance, heresy and persecution, church and state relations, italian origins of modern diplomacy, and balance-of-power relationships.

Nelson married in 1927 and had four children.

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • History Department Records. (University Archives, Duke University.)
  • News Service Biographical Files. (University Archives, Duke University.)
  • Office of University Life Records. (University Archives, Duke University.)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ernest W. Nelson Records and Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Ernest W. Nelson Records and Papers was received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1979 (A79-10).

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Daniel

Completed March, 2004

Encoded by Linda Daniel, March 2004

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.