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Richard W. Leopold (1912-2006) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 11/3/16/21

  • Staff Only
The Richard W. Leopold papers are prodigious in both volume and scope. They document not only the long and productive career of an eminent scholar but also reflect many significant issues and developments in the historical profession and at Northwestern University during the twentieth century.

The material spans the period of Leopold's life although the vast bulk date between 1938 and 1980, the years of his teaching career. His papers include correspondence and other materials of considerable importance to the historiography of American foreign policy and diplomacy, to the historical profession in the United States, to Northwestern University and the development of the Northwestern University Department of History, and to the Northwestern unit of the United States Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). The papers include valuable information pertaining to Leopold's efforts on behalf of professional organizations such as the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations. Of considerable interest, are files documenting his work with governmental agencies and organizations such as the United States National Archives and Records Service, the Secretary of the Navy's Advisory Committee on Naval History, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Library and the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Considerable material relating to the courses that he taught is also present.

The Leopold papers are organized into five major categories: biographical materials, correspondence files, teaching materials, records relating to Northwestern University and especially its Department of History and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit, and writings and public addresses.

Biographical materials fill twenty-five boxes and include clippings; family and genealogical records; financial records; materials relating to his early travel; educational records; tributes from colleagues, friends and students; biographical and autobiographical records and materials pertaining to Leopold's military service. Of particular note are the calendars (“Daily Aides”) and engagement books (“Diaries”) that span the periods 1928-1930 and 1937-1997 and provide brief, daily accounts of Leopold's personal and professional activities.(See note 1) Additionally, a file of vitae (Box 25, Folder 6) and some of the clippings, profiles and tributes (Box 8, Folders 10-13; Box 9, Folder 6; Box 14, Folder 7; Box 24, Folder 9; Box 25, Folder 1) summarize his major interests and accomplishments. Researchers seeking general information concerning Leopold's life and career will be well served to consult these files. Other key sources of biographical information are the annual Christmas letters, which he started sending in 1980, (Box 8, Folder 9), Leopold's May, 1981 address before the students of Exeter Academy (Box 180, Folder 25), and the autobiographical account of his research on the life of Robert Dale Owen (Box 183, Folder 2; see also Box 180, Folder 18) published in the March, 1977 edition of the Indiana Magazine of History. Biographical materials are categorized topically and folders are arranged alphabetically by their topical headings. Materials within folders are arranged in chronological order.

General and subject correspondence forms the bulk of the collection and fills nearly one hundred boxes. Included are both incoming and copies, usually carbons, of outgoing letters. Most of Leopold's correspondence with other individuals or with institutions and organizations will be found here. Individual correspondents represented here include, for the most part, other scholars and Leopold's students. Many renowned historians, such as Arthur Link, Dumas Malone, Bruce Catton and Frederick Merk, are among colleagues and friends represented in these files. The Leopold-Link correspondence is nearly a linear foot in volume. Dozens of the students among the correspondents grew to become Leopold's close personal friends. Many, including Richard Gephardt, George McGovern and James Kolbe, attained positions of prominence and influence in politics, government, the military, law, business and academics.

A considerable amount of correspondence pertains to institutions and organizations, especially professional associations. Among these are colleges and universities, historical agencies and associations, governmental departments and agencies, branches of the Unites States military, and publishers. Noteworthy here are voluminous amounts of material relating to the American Historical Association, the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. A significant volume of correspondence concerns Leopold's advisory work on behalf of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the Harry S. Truman Museum & Library, the U.S. Department of State and branches of the U.S. military. Leopold served on the historical advisory committees of the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Navy. He worked as well on the Historical Advisory Committee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

The correspondence files are arranged alphabetically by name of organization or other entity addressed or by surname of correspondent. Also, at the beginning of each letter section of the alphabetized files will be found one or more folders of general correspondence between Leopold and individuals and organizations whose surnames or corporate names begin with that letter. Items of correspondence within these folders, arranged alphabetically, represent single or infrequent communications between Leopold and his correspondents. Items within all the other correspondence folders are arranged chronologically.

Teaching materials consist of nineteen boxes of material and represent an exhaustive and meticulously maintained record of Leopold's career as a respected and influential teacher at Harvard and Northwestern. Materials are arranged first by the academic institution at which he taught and thereafter by formal course number and then by date. Included in these materials are course syllabi, examinations, lecture outlines and, often, texts of lectures, seating charts, correspondence with teaching assistants and students, progress reports and evaluations of students' performances and aptitudes, grade records and related items. A significant amount of these materials consists of records relating to Leopold's celebrated Northwestern course on American diplomatic history and the history of American foreign policy. Several volumes of detailed grade records complete the teaching materials.

Records relating to Northwestern University and its Department of History fill more than twenty boxes and document Leopold's work on behalf of the university to which he devoted much of his life. His files pertaining to the Department of History are divided into the following subcategories: general administrative records, correspondence on departmental affairs with other members of the department, correspondence and research materials relating to Leopold's history of the department, records pertaining to the establishment of the department's annual Richard W. Leopold Lecture, departmental memoranda and minutes, the Department of History Newsletter and the working files from Leopold's editorship of that publication, and files of correspondence with departmental secretaries. In his history of the department Leopold was assiduous in his efforts to secure reminiscences of past faculty and students and relentless in his work to locate pertinent documentary records. His history and the departmental Newsletters published under his direction will serve as key sources for researchers investigating the Department of History.

Records pertaining to Leopold's service as a member of the Northwestern University community relate mainly to his work on a variety of committees. These files are arranged in alphabetical order according to committee name. Of particular significance are the records of his work with the Council on Undergraduate Life and the University Discipline Committee. Leopold with his colleagues closely examined issues central to student life such as deferred rushing of fraternities and sororities and the possible implementation of an honor system. Also of considerable importance are files from his tenure on the University's Committee on the Department of Naval Science and a separate set of files relating to the Northwestern unit of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). During the Vietnam War era, Leopold was instrumental in defeating efforts to remove the unit from campus, which he maintained was one of the foremost achievements of his distinguished career. He corresponded with both the commanding officers and the midshipmen of the NROTC unit. His files include material touching on every major event in the unit's history for over forty years. Known for meticulous research and recognizing the value of historical records Leopold was an advocate of the work of the Northwestern University Archives and served as an influential chair of Northwestern's University Archives Committee.

Leopold's files on publications and public addresses form the last category of the papers. Major publications represented here include The Growth of American Foreign Policy, Robert Dale Owen: A Biography, Elihu Root and the Conservative Tradition and the “Final Report of the Joint AHA-OAH Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Charges Against the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Related Matters.” Publications files are grouped according to the title to which they pertain.

The Growth of American Foreign Policy, A History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962), which is his comprehensive treatment of American foreign policy, is documented by three preliminary drafts present as well as by the voluminous notes Leopold took in preparation of the book. Related to these materials are the lecture notes that he used for courses both at Northwestern and at Harvard (see especially Boxes 121-137).

His work, Robert Dale Owen, A Biography (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Harvard Historical Studies, Volume 45; 1940), is represented by correspondence, a personal journal and records pertaining largely to the research entailed in writing the book. Leopold published a reminiscence of his research on Owen in, “The Adventures of a Novice in Research: New Harmony and Indianapolis, 1935.” That article serves as a guide to this period of his life as well as to selected files of his correspondence with individuals associated with the Owen project.

Leopold's Elihu Root and the Conservative Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1954) was part of the Library of American Biography series. Many reviews of the work will be found in the papers along with outlines and preliminary drafts.

Records relating to Leopold's work chairing the joint committee to investigate charges against the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library are organized under the heading “Final Report of the Joint AHA-OAH Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Charges Against the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Related Matters.” This case arose from the complaints of historian Francis L. Loewenheim over perceived prejudicial treatment governing his access to and use of materials held by the Roosevelt Library. The issues raised in this case were of major concern to the historical profession, impugned the ethics of representatives of the Roosevelt Library, and questioned broad policies and procedures of the National Archives and Records Service. Leopold's files, the most significant source of information pertaining to the affair, include notes from the interviews that were conducted and correspondence with the individuals associated with the case. Also found here are several drafts of the joint committee's final report that exonerated the Roosevelt Library of Loewenheim's charges and made a series of important recommendations concerning the operations of the National Archives and the presidential library system. Report drafts are organized by chapter. Also included in these records is a detailed chronology of the joint committee's activities on this matter. More extensive, official records of the Joint AHA-OAH Ad Hoc Committee are held by the Library of Congress.

A number of distinguished scholars, including Edward Mead Earl, Arthur S. Link, Elting E. Morison, John Morton Blum and Ray Billington, read Leopold's book manuscripts prior to publication. Appraisals of the works may be found in pertinent correspondence files.

Leopold's articles, book reviews and public addresses follow the materials pertaining to his major publications. These are arranged, first, into unpublished and published categories. Within these categories items are arranged chronologically by date of publication, of unpublished report or public address. Correspondence pertaining to a particular article or speech is sometimes included with the pertinent text. Leopold compiled master lists of book reviews he authored and of his published materials; these lists are filed with this portion of his papers (see Box 178, Folders 8-10; Box 179, Folders 1-2; and Box 181, Folder 23).

Note 1: Users should note that the largely numerical information which appears near the top of each page of the “Daily Aides” pertains to weather measurements. Leopold's observations begin as minimal notations and evolve over a period of years to often include the following categories: temperature expressed in degrees Fahrenheit, time of day at which the temperature was recorded, relative humidity percentages, barometric pressure expressed in inches, and prevailing wind direction. Also commonly recorded are temperature readings reported from Chicago's Midway Field [MF], Grant Park [GP], and O'Hare Field [OH]. The times of sunrise and sunset commonly are noted beside the date printed on each calendar page.

Dates

  • 1912-2007
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1938-1980

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Course and teaching materials, grade books, Northwestern University administrative and committee files, and Northwestern University History Department files may be used only with permission of the University Archivist. Also subject to the same restriction are files relating to the funding of Northwestern University's Leopold Professorship and Leopold Lecture.

This collection is stored off-site and requires 48 hours advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the Northwestern University Archives at archives@northwestern.edu or 847-491-3136 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.

Extent

185.00 Boxes

Abstract

The Richard W. Leopold papers are prodigious in both volume and scope. They document not only the long and productive career of an eminent scholar but also reflect many significant issues and developments in the historical profession and at Northwestern University during the twentieth century.
The material spans the period of Leopold's life although the vast bulk date between 1938 and 1980, the years of his teaching career. His papers include correspondence and other materials of considerable importance to the historiography of American foreign policy and diplomacy, to the historical profession in the United States, to Northwestern University and the development of the Northwestern University Department of History, and to the Northwestern unit of the United States Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

Arrangement Note

Due to the extensive quantity of documents and the extremely detailed description of these papers there are many series and subseries contained within the Richard Leopold papers. The main series contained here are: biographical materials, general and subject correspondence, teaching materials, northwestern university: department of history, northwestern university: committees, northwestern university: NROTC, writings, unpublished materials, published materials, and biographical materials (oversize). Generally, each series, subseries, and folder is arranged alphabetically by title or surname, then chronologically.

Method of Acquisition

Richard W. Leopold donated his papers to the Northwestern University Archives in several accessions: 75-2, 78-74, 78-90, 79-99, 79-102, 79-111, 83-7, 84-196, 85-10, 86-22, 86-282, 98-45 and 98-223. Between 1998 and 2006 Mr. Leopold frequently added small volumes of correspondence to the papers.

Separated Materials

An audiotape recording of Leopold's remarks made at a John Evans Club meeting on June 15, 1980, and a videotape of his lecture on the history of the Northwestern Naval R.O.T.C. unit have been separated to the Northwestern University Archives' audiovisual collections (accessions 81-20 and 91-79; audiotape #2; videotape #365). A signature stamp and a desk name plate have been separated to the University Archives' artifacts collection. Two plaques awarded to Leopold by the Northwestern NROTC unit have been separated to the artifacts as has been a framed photograph of Leopold's Northwestern 1966-1967 C-13 class presented by former student Richard O. Briggs. All artifacts have been grouped within accession 03-84.

Processing Information

Kevin B. Leonard; January 22, 2007.
Title
Guide to the Richard W. Leopold (1912-2006) Papers
Author
Kevin B. Leonard
Date
10/01/2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Contact:
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US
847-491-3354