UR.01.001 James MacAlister papers, Bulk, 1900-1905

James MacAlister papers 1889-1941 (bulk 1900-1905)UR.01.001

Summary Information

Title
James MacAlister papers
Creator
Worrell, Harriet E
Inclusive Dates
1889-1941
Extent
0.66 Cubic feet
Abstract
James MacAlister (1840-1913) served as the first president of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry from 1891 to 1913. He was a proponent of vocational and technical education throughout his career. This collection documents his term as president, his views on education, and his involvement in the early history of the Drexel Institute. Records include MacAlister’s letters, a book that he published, lectures, and his personal notebook, as well as research notes believed to have been compiled by Harriet Worrell for the book Drexel Institute of Technology 1891-1941: A Memorial History.
Call Number
UR.01.001
Language
English
Finding Aid Prepared By
Finding aid prepared by Megan Manchester (2006)
Repository
W. W. Hagerty Library 3300 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 215.895.6706 archives@drexel.edu

Preferred Citation

James MacAlister papers, Drexel University Archives.

Preferred Citation

James MacAlister papers, Drexel University Archives.

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Access and Use

Acquisition Information

Date and circumstances of transfer to the archives unknown.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Preferred Citation

James MacAlister papers, Drexel University Archives.

Preferred Citation

James MacAlister papers, Drexel University Archives.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Wilson Brothers and Co.

Genre(s)

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts (document genre)

Personal Name(s)

  • MacAlister, James, 1840-1913
  • Worrell, Harriet E

Subject(s)

  • Education, Higher -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia

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Biographical note

James MacAlister served as the first president of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry from its opening in 1891 until his retirement in 1913. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1840 and emigrated with his family to Wisconsin in 1850. After attending Brown University for three years, receiving a degree from Albany Law School in 1864, and practicing law for several years, MacAlister was appointed superintendent of the Milwaukee public school system in 1874 and regent of Wisconsin normal schools in 1878. He was chosen to become the first superintendent of the Philadelphia public school system in 1883, where he was a proponent for technical and vocational education. He wrote a book on the subject, Manual Training in the Philadelphia Public Schools, in 1890 [copy available in the collection].

MacAlister was chosen as the first president of the Drexel Institute because of his belief in the value of practical training in the industrial fields, and he was an advocate for vocational education throughout his term. During his tenure, the institute offered informal courses of study in art and illustration, mechanic arts, domestic arts and sciences, commerce and finance, teacher training, physical education, and librarianship. Public lectures and programs, evening classes, and access to the library and museum were also organized to open the institute to the general public. MacAlister presided over the closing of the department of art (except for the architecture program) in 1905, the physical expansion of the school from the Main Building to additional buildings on Chestnut and 32nd streets, and the growth in the graduation rate from approximately 70 in 1891 to over 500 in 1913.

MacAlister was a member of the board of trustees of the University of Pennsylvania from 1885 to 1897. He joined the board of the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1893. MacAlister retired as Drexel’s president in June of 1913 due to failing health. He died shortly thereafter, on Dec. 11.

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Scope and content note

The MacAlister papers consist largely of correspondence, mostly by Dr. MacAlister but some letters addressed to him; subjects covered include MacAlister’s views on technical education and the administrative and financial concerns of operating the Drexel Institute. Of particular interest among the correspondence are a set of letters to Wilson Brothers and Co., an engineering and architectural firm, pertaining to the construction of Drexel's Main Building, as well as correspondence with notable figures such as Booker T. Washington and Andrew Carnegie. In addition to correspondence, the collection also contains a copy of MacAlister’s book, Manual Training in the Philadelphia Public Schools; addresses and a set of lectures by Dr. MacAlister; a brief set of financial records; and Dr. MacAlister’s personal notebook.

Before coming to the archives, the collection was used as research material for the writing of the book Drexel Institute of Technology 1891-1941: A Memorial History. MacAlister’s correspondence was arranged and heavily annotated by Harriet E. Worrell, who worked as a research assistant for the book. Ms. Worrell served as secretary to President Matheson from 1924 and secretary of the Alumni Association from 1925. The series labeled “research files” includes records produced or gathered by her in preparation for the book. Within the correspondence series, all of the handwritten notes on typing paper, and any of the typed copies of letters that are interfiled with the originals, are believed to be the work of Ms. Worrell.

Series within the collection are arranged alphabetically by subject, with the exception of correspondence, which is placed first because of its size. Within the series, correspondence is arranged chronologically. Many letters have been clipped, annotated, and/or retyped by Harriet Worrell. Photocopies and retyped copies of letters found in Ms. Worrell’s research notes, as well as some typed copies of letters not found in the original form, have been interfiled with the original MacAlister letters compiled by Ms. Worrell. Ms. Worrell’s research notes have been divided by the archivist into biographical notes about James MacAlister and notes pertaining to the early history of the Drexel Institute. Within the Drexel history file, broad overviews of the institute and its departments are at the beginning, followed by correspondence and research notes, and the list of faculty toward the end.

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Bibliography

Bibliography

McDonald, Edward D., and Edward M. Hinton. Drexel Institute of Technology 1891-1941: A Memorial History. Philadelphia: Haddon Craftsmen, Inc., 1942.

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Collection Inventory

 Series I Correspondence 1891-1913   25.0 folders

Series description

This series includes a number of letters with prominent national figures, especially in the field of education, including Booker T. Washington; Andrew Carnegie; Major General John R. Brooke, military governor of Cuba, regarding the establishment of a school there; James H. Garfield, president of Ohio State University; and D. B. Johnson, president of Winthrop Normal and Industrial College. Prominent figures in Drexel’s history represented in the collection include Howard Pyle, art instructor at the Drexel Institute; the Wilson Brothers, architects of the Main Building; Mother Katharine M. Drexel; George W. Childs; Colonel Anthony J. Drexel Jr.; and James W. Paul, a founding member of the board of trustees. Many of Dr. MacAlister’s letters focus on his views on technical and vocational education and practical advice to other educators in the same field. Other subjects include the day-to-day administration of the Drexel Institute, student and faculty affairs, the curriculum, and faculty recommendations to other education administrators. Arrangement is chronological.

BoxFolder

Correspondence 1891 April-Aug 

11

Correspondence Sept.-Dec. 1891 

12

Letter from Wilson Brothers Inc. 1891 October 23 

20080390028, 1891 October 23

Correspondence 1892-1895 

13

Correspondence 1899 

15

Correspondence 1896- 1898 

14

letter from Howard Pyle to MacAlister 1898 October 12 

20080390001a, October 12, 1898

20080390001b, October 12, 1898

Letter to Board regarding exhibition of the work of Howard Pyle 's illustration students 1898 June 1   1.0 item

20080390002, June 1, 1898

Letter from Howard Pyle to MacAlister 1898 February 3   1.0 item

20080390003, February 3, 1898

Correspondence January 1900 

16

Letter to William T. Harris 1900   3.0 items

20080390004 1900 

20080390004_2, 1900

20080390004_1, 1900

20080390004_3, 1900

Letter to Edward S. Martin January 26, 1900   1.0 items

20080390005 January 26, 1900 

20080390005_1, January 26, 1900

20080390005_2, January 26, 1900

20080390005_3, January 26, 1900

Correspondence Feb.-April 1900 

17

Correspondence May-Dec. 1900 

18

letter to Professor Thomas Smit 1900 November 8 

20080390017, November 8, 1900

Correspondence Jan.-April 1901 

19

Correspondence May-Aug. 1901 

Scope and Contents note

Contains a letter to Booker T. Washington.

110

Letter to Joseph Wilson May 20, 1901 

Correspondence Sept.-Oct. 1901 

Scope and Contents note

Contains a letter to Booker T. Washington.

111

Correspondence Nov.-Dec. 1901 

Scope and Contents note

Contains a letter to Andrew Carnegie.

112

Letter to Andrew Carnegie 1901 November 8   1.0 item

20080390012_1, November 8, 1901

20080390012_2, November 8, 1901

20080390012_3, November 8, 1901

Correspondence Jan.-April 1902 

Scope and Contents note

Contains a letter to Booker T. Washington.

113

Letter to Booker T. Washington 1902 January 27   1.0 item

20080390022

Correspondence May-Aug. 1902 

114

Letter to H. C. Schaefer 1902 May 7 

Correspondence Sept.-Dec. 1902 

115

Correspondence Jan.-April 1903 

116

Letter to Dr. S. Weir Mitchell 1903 March 27 

20080390023

Letter to James W. Paul 1903 January 14 

20080390029, 1903 January 14

Letter to Thomas S. Fiske 1903 January 26 

20080390030, 1903 January 26

Letter to James W. Paul 1903 January 28 

20080390030, 1903 January 28

Correspondence May-Aug. 1903 

117

Letter to Howard J. Rogers June 8, 1903 

20080390010 June 8, 1903 

20080390010, June 8, 1903

Letter to Calvin M. Woodward June 8, 1903 

20080390009 June 8, 1903 

20080390009_1, June 8, 1903

20080390009_2, June 8, 1903

Letter to Dr. S. Weir Mitchell 1903 June 8 

20080390024

Correspondence Sept.-Dec. 1903 

118

Letter to Dr. Mitchell 1903 October 22 

20080390025, 1903 October 22

Letter to Miss B. Endmann 1903 November 3 

20080390026, 1903 November 3

Announcement of Picture Gallery 1903 December 15   1.0 item

20080390007, December 15, 1903

Correspondence 1904 

119

Letter to Miss Mason 1904   1.0 item

20080390013, 1904

Correspondence Jan.-April 1905 

120

Correspondence May-Aug. 1905 

121

Correspondence Sept.-Dec. 1905 

122

Letter to Lucy Walker 1905 October 2   1.0 item

20080390027, 1905 October 2

Correspondence 1906 

123

Letter to Andrew Carnegie 1906 March 26   1.0 item

20080390006, March 26, 1906

Correspondence 1908 

124

Correspondence 1913 

125

Correspondence relating to Standish collection 1897-1913 

Box
2
Folder
8

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 Series II Addresses 1891-1894   1.0 folders

Series description

Addresses by MacAlister and by Hon. Wayne MacVeagh at the dedication of the Drexel Institute, 1891; MacAlister’s address in honor of George W. Childs, 1894; undated address by James MacAlister entitled “A Business Man’s Education.”

BoxFolder

Addresses 1891-1894 and undated 

21

Address in the Memory of George W. Childs 1894 

20080390014, 1894

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 Series III Book 1890   1.0 folders

Series description

MacAlister's book, Manual Training in the Public Schools of Philadelphia.

BoxFolder

Book: Manual Training in the Philadelphia Public Schools 1890 

22

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 Series IV Financial records 1893   1.0 folders

Scope and content note

A brief set of financial records containing estimates for construction projects, undated, and a receipt verifying a deposit from the registrar to the treasurer.

BoxFolder

Financial records 1893 and undated 

23

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 Series V Lectures 1906-1911   1.0 folders

Series description

A set of seven lectures entitled “President MacAlister’s Lectures on the History of Books” (lecture one: “President MacAlister’s Lectures on the History of Books and Printing”). Lectures are undated, but attached to the first lecture are two invitation cards dated 1906 and 1911.

BoxFolder

Lectures 1906-1911 and undated 

24

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 Series VI Notebook 1897   1.0 folders

Series description

Entitled “Extracts and notes” and written in MacAlister’s own hand. Contains scripture passages, quotations, clippings from newspapers, and some comments by MacAlister. Quotations and clippings are usually labeled by topic, such as “The Ideal Life,” “Marriage,” “Growth of Intelligence in England,” “Immortality.” Entries deal with topics such as religion, happiness, art, language, education, historical figures, and morality and ethics.

BoxFolder

Notebook 1897 

25

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 Series VII Research notes 1891-1941   2.0 folders

Scope and content note

This series represents the research notes believed to be compiled by Harriet Worrell in her research for the third chapter of Drexel Institute of Technology 1891-1941: A Memorial History, which is entitled “James MacAlister.” The folders contain an assortment of materials and formats, such as typed and handwritten notes on MacAlister’s life and on the early history of the Drexel Institute, original and retyped newspaper clippings, correspondence with and about prominent figures in the institute’s history, responses to reference inquiries, copies of early public announcements, and Ms. Worrell’s notes and handwritten lists.

Materials dated before 1924 are retyped copies of or excerpts from original documents. Some of the handwritten notes are in shorthand. Items of particular interest to individuals researching Drexel Institute history include a list of the faculty at the time of the founding.

BoxFolder

Research notes / Biographical information on James MacAlister 1891-1941 

26

Research notes / Background research on early Drexel history 1891-1941 

26

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