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George A. Coe (1862-1951) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/20/1

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Scope and Contents

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.


  • 1904-1974


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


1.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



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.

Arrangement Note

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

Method of Acquisition

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.

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?

Processing Information

Joseph R. DeRose; March 1986

Addition William K. Beatty; November, 1986.

Addition 2 Tyler Walters, 2/13/91

Guide to the George A. Coe (1862-1951) Papers
Joseph R. DeRose
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US