Guide to the George A. Coe (1862-1951) Papers

Collection Title: George A. Coe (1862-1951) Papers
Dates: 1904-1974
Identification: 11/3/20/1
Creator: Coe, George Albert, 1862-1951
Extent: 1 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: George Albert Coe was born in Monroe County, New York, on March 26, 1862, the son of Reverend George W. and Harriet Van Voorhis Coe. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor of arts degree in 1884 and a master of arts degree in 1888. Coe took both his bachelor of sacred theology (1887) and his Ph.D. (1891) from Boston University. Coe studied from 1890 to 1891 at the University of Berlin. He was a distinguished scholar in the field of religious education, particularly the psychological interpretation of religion.
Acquisition Information: The George A. Coe Papers were donated to the University Archives by Dr. and Mrs. Ernest McEwen on June 19, 1985 (Accession #85-115). Addition The University Archives acquired these materials from Mrs. James C. Bonbright on October 14, 1986 (Accession #86-205). Addition 2 The University Archives received the addition on February 12, 1991.
Processing Information: Joseph R. DeRose; March 1986 Addition William K. Beatty; November, 1986. Addition 2 Tyler Walters, 2/13/91
Separated Materials: The following books by George A. Coe were added to the University Archives' Faculty Authors Collection: The Spiritual Life, The Religion of a Mature Mind, Education in Religion and Morals, The Psychology of Religion, Law and Freedom in the School, What Ails our Youth, Law and Freedom in the School, The Motives of Men, What is Christian Education?, Educating for Citizenship, and What is Religion Doing to Our Consciences?
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

George Albert Coe was born in Monroe County, New York, on March 26, 1862, the son of Reverend George W. and Harriet Van Voorhis Coe. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor of arts degree in 1884 and a master of arts degree in 1888. Coe took both his bachelor of sacred theology (1887) and his Ph.D. (1891) from Boston University. Coe studied from 1890 to 1891 at the University of Berlin. He was a distinguished scholar in the field of religious education, particularly the psychological interpretation of religion.

Coe taught at the University of Southern California during the period 1888-1890. From 1891 to 1909, Coe taught at Northwestern University. While at Northwestern he held positions as acting professor of moral and intellectual philosophy (1891-1893), John Evans Professor of moral and intellectual philosophy (1893-1909), and honorary professor of philosophy and psychology of religion (1905-1951). Coe left Northwestern to join the faculty of the Union Theological Seminary in 1909. He remained at Union as professor of religious education until 1922. Later that year he occupied the chair of religious education at Teacher’s College of Columbia University. Coe retired from teaching in 1927. Recognizing his accomplishments in the field of religious education, both the University of Rochester (1909) and Northwestern University (1927) awarded Coe honorary doctorates.

Coe was a distinguished scholar in the field of religious education, particularly the psychological interpretation of religion. He authored eleven books and scores of articles in his field. Coe was a founder of the Religious Education Association of America and served as that organization’s president in 1909-1910. He also held memberships in the American Philosophical Association and the American Psychological Association.

Coe married Sadie E. Knowland on September 3, 1888. She also served on the faculty of Northwestern University: as an instructor (1898-1901) and professor (1902-1905) of piano and music history. Mrs. Coe died on August 24, 1905. The couple had no children. Coe died in Claremont, California on November 9, 1951; he had never remarried. A special memorial edition of Religious Education (March-April, 1952), Vol. 47, No. 2, includes brief biographical sketches of Coe, tributes, a list of his publications, and selections from his writings.

Scope and Content

The George A. Coe Papers, filling one box, are comprised primarily of correspondence arranged chronologically by date. The papers span the periods between 1850-1858 and 1904-1974. Included is one folder of biographical material, which contains a copy of Coe's will; genealogical materials relating to Coe's mother, Harriet Van Voorhis; correspondence; and a folder of some of Coe's brief publications.

The bulk of the correspondence spans the years 1929-1951, and consists of letters Coe wrote to his close friends the McEwens, Dr. Mary (or May), mother of Ernest McEwen (or Aac), Ernest's wife Gretchen and their young daughter Mary. The correspondence falls into four major categories: 1) letters to May while on her travels around the world, 2) letters written from Coe's summer camp in Ontario, 3) letters pertaining to World War II and 4) letters written during Coe's fatal illness. Other material and correspondence relates to Coe's wife Sadie Knowland Coe, the Sadie Knowland Coe Music Collection at the Evanston Public Library and Coe's involvement with the Illinois Writers' Project.

Addition:

One folder of correspondence, mainly between George A. Coe and James C. Bonbright and dating from 1911 to 1951 has been interfiled within this series. The early letters concern the death of Bonbright's father, Daniel, a longtime Northwestern University faculty member and the University's acting president between 1900 and 1902. Later correspondence pertains, for the most part, to visits between Coe and James Bonbright and frequently includes commentaries on literary matters and contemporary politics. A copy of Coe's statement, "My Search for What Is Most Worthwhile," has been added to the series' folder of biographical materials.

Addition 2:

The addition consists of volume 47 number 2 of Religious Education, a memorial issue to George Albert Coe. The issue contains articles written by colleagues regarding Coe's contributions to the field, a bibliography of Coe's publications, and many reprinted articles authored by Coe. The issue was published during March/April, 1952.

Arrangement of Materials

The correspondence is arranged at the folder level by year and within folders by date.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Philosophy--Faculty

Personal Name

Coe, George Albert, 1862-1951

Coe, George Albert, 1862-1951--Correspondence

Subjects

Religious education--United States

Theologians--Illinois--Evanston


Container List / Contents

  • Biographical Materials, 1950, 1952, n.d.Box 1, Folder 1
  • Genealogical Materials, 1850, 1856, 1858Box 1, Folder 2
  • Correspondence, 1904-1939Box 1, Folder 3
  • Correspondence, 1940-1942Box 1, Folder 4
  • Correspondence, 1943-1944Box 1, Folder 5
  • Correspondence, 1945-1946Box 1, Folder 6
  • Correspondence, 1947-1948Box 1, Folder 7
  • Correspondence, 1949-1950Box 1, Folder 8
  • Correspondence, 1951-1974Box 1, Folder 9
  • Publications, 1904-1952Box 1, Folder 10