Guide to the Ulysses Sherman Grant (1867-1932) Papers

Collection Title: Ulysses Sherman Grant (1867-1932) Papers
Dates: 1886-1930
Identification: 11/3/14/2
Creator: Grant, U. S. (Ulysses Sherman), 1867-1932
Extent: 6 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The papers include biographical material, correspondence, publications, autographs and field course notes. The biographical material includes a number of obituaries, clippings, and articles. The bulk of the correspondence is from Ulysses to Avis Winchell Grant before and after their marriage. Of special interest are Grant's long and detailed letters (1905) describing his investigations of glaciers and mineral resources in Alaska. Also of interest are letters concerning the Geological Survey in Alaska.
Acquisition Information: The bulk of the U. S. Grant Papers were donated to the University Archives by his daughter, Mrs. Avis Grant Swick, during the summer of 1977. A small amount of material from the University Archives biographical files was incorporated into this series.
Processing Information: William K. Beatty September 1977
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Ulysses Sherman Grant was born in Moline, Illinois, on February 14, 1867, the son of Lewis Addison Grant and Mary Helen (Pierce) Grant. His father had served in the Civil War, retired as a major-general, and had been Assistant Secretary of War in the Administration of President Benjamin Harrison. His mother was a niece of President Franklin Pierce. Lewis and Mary Helen Grant had one other child, Colfax, who became a lawyer. Lewis Addison Grant had had a daughter, Augusta, by an earlier wife.

Growing up in Moline and Des Moines, Ulysses Grant developed a broad interest in biology. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota in 1888 with such high honors that he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and given a fellowship in zoology for the following year. In the fall of 1889 Grant entered Johns Hopkins University to begin work on a doctoral degree in biology. However, the influence of George Huntington Williams, together with Grant's summer jobs, turned his interest toward geology. He won the fellowship in geology for two years and received his Doctor of Philosophy in 1893.

Grant was Assistant State Geologist of Minnesota from 1893 to 1899, Instructor in Geology at the University of Minnesota, 1897-1898, and one of the editors of the American Geologist. He served as acting Chief Editor of the journal for a year while his mentor, Professor Newton H. Winchell, was on leave. In 1899 President Henry Wade Rogers invited Grant to Northwestern to succeed long-time faculty member Oliver Marcy. Grant served for a short time as Acting Professor of Geology and then became full professor and chairman of the department. He held both of these positions until his death, following an operation for stomach cancer, on September 21, 1932. Grant served twice as Acting Dean of the College of Liberal Arts during the 1907-1908 and 1916-1919 academic years.

Work in the field occupied most of Grant's summers. He was active with the Geological Surveys of Illinois and Wisconsin, and also worked in Michigan, Oregon, and other states as a consultant for state and local governments and commercial concerns. His work with the U. S. Geological Survey in Alaska is of particular importance.

Grant also wrote extensively. Bibliographies of his work are included in the memoirs of Grant's contributions by Bain and Keyes. His first published paper, on conchology, appeared in 1886, and his last, an abstract with J. F. Stark on the structure and stratigraphy of a portion of the Minnesota Pre-Cambrian, was published in 1931. His major work, The Petrographic Geology of the Crystalline Rocks of Minnesota, written with Newton Horace Winchell, for many years the State Geologist of Minnesota, a pioneering report of almost 900 pages, was published in 1900. His articles and reports on copper, lead, and zinc deposits, and on the movement of glaciers are also important.

An indication of Grant's desire to motivate his students to do their best was his selection as the first president of the Northwestern chapter of Sigma Xi. Places on summer field trips into the

Lake Superior wilderness organized by Grant were sought by undergraduate and graduate students not only for the opportunity of acquiring geological knowledge and experience but also

for the chance to absorb some of Grant's love for and understanding of the forests, lakes, and other elements of life outdoors.

Grant was active in many organizations. He became Vice-President of the Geographical Society of Chicago, the Geological Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was deeply involved in the National Research Council.

On October 1, 1891, Grant married a student at the University of Minnesota, Avis Winchell, the daughter of Professor Winchell. Four children were born of this marriage, Addison Winchell, Lois, Avis Harriet, and Willard Winchell. Lois married George Malcolm Fowler of Joplin, Missouri, and Avis Harriet married Edwin E. Swick of Van Wert, Ohio.

Ulysses Sherman Grant had a reputation as an excellent teacher for both students majoring in geology and those who took only a course or two. He was an original investigator, a meticulous observer, and a concise and lucid writer. His work on crystalline rocks and their ores and on the movement of glaciers was of seminal importance His work in the field of applied geology (iron in Minnesota; lead and zinc in Wisconsin and Illinois; copper in Wisconsin and Alaska) proved to be of considerable economic value.

The four children of Ulysses Sherman and Avis Winchell Grant were married. Addison married Alice Sullivan of Massachusetts and had a daughter, Marilyn Ruth, born in 1936. Addison later married Maryl Putnam Brown who died in 1977. Addison died in 1954. Willard married Hazel Singleton of Evanston, Illinois, in 1933, and they had two sons : Willard Singleton, born in 1941, and Davison Winchell, born in 1945. Hazel Singleton Grant died in Bogota, Colombia, in 1967. Willard later married Alice Pickering Coners, a Canadian residing in Colombia, in 1969. In 1977Willard and Alice were living in West Palm Beach, Florida. Avis Harrietand Edwin Swick had one son, Edwin Grant, born in 1931. In 1977 Edwin and Avis Swick were living in St. Charles, Illinois, to which they had moved in 1929. Edwin Grant Swick, his wife, Kathryn (Soutar) Swick, and their three children were living in Bartlett, Illinois, in 1977. Lois and George Fowler had no children; he died in 1972 and she in 1976.

Scope and Content

The Ulysses Sherman Grant Papers are arranged in three main categories: biographical material; correspondence; and publications.

The biographical material includes a number of obituaries, clippings, and articles. The Grant family is represented by obituaries of Mrs. U. S. Grant (Avis Winchell), who died in 1964, and Lois Grant Fowler, who died in 1976, and a substantial amount of material concerning General Lewis Addison Grant (1829-1918), the father of Ulysses. A reprint of Charles Keyes' “Biographical Sketch” of General Grant, presented to Addison Grant, contains telegrams of condolence to Colfax Grant (Ulysses' brother) from William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. There is also a folder of lists, tables, and planting plans of Ulysses' flowers, mainly iris and peonies. Ulysses' love for his flowers was indicated by the fact that his ashes were spread over the garden.

The bulk of the correspondence, which is arranged chronologically by date, is from Ulysses to Avis before and after their marriage. The letters before their marriage (1886-Sept., 1891) deal with the relationship between the two, family news, and school incidents. Later, especially after Ulysses received his Ph.D. (1893) the letters contain some information and descriptions of his geological work in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. Of special interest are Grant's long and detailed letters (1905) describing his investigations of glaciers and mineral resources in Alaska. Many of the other letters are from and to various members of the Grant and Winchell families.

Also of interest are letters concerning the Geological Survey in Alaska and correspondence between Grant and Thomas Holgate, A. W. Harris, and others about administrative and academic matters at Northwestern. Among Grant's general correspondence is a letter from Harold L. Ickes thanking Grant for the help and advice he gave to Ickes' son, Wilmarth, a student at Northwestern.

The publications consist of four reprints of articles written by Grant.


Personal Name

Grant, Avis Winchell, -1964

Grant, U. S. (Ulysses Sherman), 1867-1932


Geological surveys--Alaska


Geology--Study and teaching

Container List / Contents

  • Correspondence
    • Avis Winchell Grant to U.S. Grant, 1888Box 3, Folder 8
    • Addison W. Grant, 1898-1903Box 4, Folder 1
    • Lois Grant, 1903, 1905Box 4, Folder 2
    • Mrs. C. S. Winchell, 1893-1904Box 4, Folder 3
    • Lewis A. Grant, 1893, 1899, 1904Box 4, Folder 4
    • Miscellaneous, Family, 1889-1923Box 4, Folder 5
    • U. S. Grant, General, 1889-1930Box 4, Folder 6
    • Avis W. Grant, General, 1889-1904Box 4, Folder 7
    • Geological Survey, Alaska, 1908-1910, 1912Box 4, Folder 8
    • Thomas Holgate and U. S. Grant, Far Eastern Trip, 1921Box 4, Folder 9
    • U.S. Grant to Avis Winchell (Grant)
      • 1886Box 1, Folder 4
      • 1887Box 1, Folder 5
      • 1888Box 1, Folder 6
      • 1889(?)Box 1, Folder 7
      • 1889Box 1, Folder 8
      • 1890 (Jan.-June)Box 2, Folder 1
      • 1890 (July-Dec.)Box 2, Folder 2
      • 1891Box 2, Folder 3
      • 1892-1893, 1895Box 2, Folder 4
      • 1896-1899Box 2, Folder 5
      • 1900Box 3, Folder 1
      • 1901Box 3, Folder 2
      • 1902Box 3, Folder 3
      • 1903-1904Box 3, Folder 4
      • 1905 (June)Box 3, Folder 5
      • 1905 (July)Box 3, Folder 6
      • 1905 (Aug.)Box 3, Folder 7
  • Biographical MaterialBox 1, Folder 1
  • Lewis Addison Grant,, 1829-1918Box 1, Folder 2
  • Flowers, 1918-1932Box 1, Folder 3
  • Northwestern University, 1906-1920Box 4, Folder 10
  • Publications - ReprintsBox 4, Folder 11