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Office of the President, George Colby Chase records

Identifier: CA02.04

Scope and Content Note

These records contain material pertaining to the presidency of George C. Chase at Bates College, although some material pre- and post-dates his tenure. Much of the material is correspondence to a variety of educators, politicians, Bates alumni, and others, mostly relating to the academic and financial issues at Bates. Some correspondence folders contain letters about the name on the folder, not necessarily material to or from that person. Of particular note is the Carnegie Foundation correspondence folders, which contain much information on a significant fundraising event in Bates College history. The "General Education Board" folder also contains much corrrespondence about early fundraising efforts. A few of the folders contain notes added by Harry Rowe in the 1950s, probably during his various gatherings of historical material as the unofficial college archivist and historian. These notes often add interesting insight to the material contained within the folders. See also the scope and content notes for each individual series.


  • 1867 - 1920


Access Restrictions

The records in Series 3, Originals, are closed to patrons, owing to the records condition. Patron-use photocopies of all Series 3 material exist in the first two series.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

George Colby Chase, the second president of Bates College, was born March 15, 1844 in Unity, Maine to Freewill Baptist parents. In 1862, at the age of eighteen, he entered the Maine State Seminary and, despite having his studies interrupted by periods of country school teaching and helping his father on the farm, he graduated in 1864. In the fall of 1864, with the encouragement of his mother, he enrolled in Bates College, graduating in 1868. Chase then spent the next two years teaching Latin, Greek and Philosophy at the New Hampton Literary Institute.

Although Chase thoroughly enjoyed teaching and had a strong aptitude for it, his mother's hope had been that he would enter the ministry. In 1870, in order to resolve the question of his life's work, he returned to Lewiston and enrolled in the theological school which had just become a department of the College after having been previously located at New Hampton, N.H. Meanwhile the College offered him a position teaching Greek and he spent the next year teaching and pursuing his studies in theology. At the end of that year, after he realized that the ministry was not his calling, the College offered him a position teaching English. In order to better prepare himself, he spent a year as a graduate student at Harvard, returning in 1872 to join the Bates faculty as Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature.

George Chase taught for 22 years and during that time his administrative skills were also being developed. President Cheney was often gone for long periods of time soliciting funds for the College, and Professor Chase served as Acting President during these absences. When the College found itself in a tight financial situation, Professor Chase offered to do what he could to raise money. He was so successful that President Cheney and the Trustees came to depend on him and eventually the solicitation of funds was added to his responsibilities. In 1894, upon President Cheney's resignation, George C. Chase became the second President of Bates College. During Chase's 25 years as president, the College grew in many areas-the endowment, the number of buildings and the number of faculty and students. However, what he strove to see realized were the ideals that he felt Bates stood for: scholarship, democracy, a spirit of service and most of all, Christian character.

President Chase received several honorary degrees: a Doctor of Divinity from Colby College and Doctors of Laws from Bowdoin College, the University of Colorado and the University of New Brunswick. He was a member of the Lewiston School Board from 1874-1890 and served two years as its president.

In 1872 George Chase married Emma F. Millett, a former member of the College's first graduating class. They had five children: George, Emma, Muriel, Elizabeth and Caroline. President George C. Chase died at his home in Lewiston, Maine on May 27, 1919 at the age of 75.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection, which is primarily correspondence, contains both hand and typewritten letters written to and by George C. Chase. The letters concern matters of both a business and personal nature- the Andrew Carnegie subscriptions, the hazing of freshmen, amending the College charter, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, efforts to obtain a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Chase's desire to retire and the plans for his successor and letters written by Chase to his son, George M. Chase. Also included are many letters from people who supported the work of the College as well as letters of introduction written on behalf of Chase to help him in the solicitation of funds. Among the correspondents in the collection are Robert Frost, Theodore Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, Edward Everett Hale, Sarah Orne Jewett, Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards, William P. Frye, Percival Lowell, Wilfrid Laurier, William Howard Taft, Nelson Dingley, Jr., John Davis Long, and Benjamin E. Bates, the son of the college's namesake. There are also eight volumes of George Chase's diaries (1868-1913), a few newspaper clippings and several notes and memos from Harry W. Rowe concerning his reminiscences of certain people and events mentioned in the collection.

Organization and Arrangement

The records are arranged into two series: Administrative records and Diaries. The Administrative series is arranged alphabetically by folder title; the Diaries are arranged chronologically.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Accession No.: xx-002, xx-008.

Guide to the Office of the President, George Colby Chase records, 1868-1921
Edited Full Draft
Pat Webber
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America