Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / Manuscript Collections / Cyrus Hamlin Collection, 1798-1984

Cyrus Hamlin Collection, 1798-1984

0.80 linear feet.

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Agency History / Biographical Note:
Cyrus Hamlin (Bowdoin 1834), was born in Waterford, Maine, on January 5, 1811, to Hannibal and Susan Faulkner Hamlin. Hamlin had little formal schooling, but was encouraged by his mother and her boarder, an aunt of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Apprenticed at age 16 to his brother-in-law, a Portland silversmith, Hamlin joined the Congregational Church there. He impressed church elders so much that they offered him $1000 toward an education to prepare for missionary work. He decided instead to work his way through Bridgton Academy and Bowdoin College (A.B. 1834, A.M. 1837), where he became a student assistant to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. While at Bowdoin, Hamlin established himself as a radical scientific and social thinker and built the first steam engine seen in Maine, which is preserved at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Rockland, Maine.

Hamlin completed his studies for the ministry at Bangor Theological Seminary (1837) and became a missionary in Turkey (1838-1860), where he worked with the Armenian minority and established a progressive school, Bebek Seminary, for Armenian boys. The school flourished, only to fold during the Crimean War.

In 1860, Hamlin established Robert College in Constantinople, Turkey, in buildings that had once housed Bebek Seminary, and served as its first president from 1860 to 1877. Robert College eventually became one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the Middle East and was incorporated into Bogazici University in 1971.

After a forced retirement from Robert College at age 66, Hamlin served for three years on the faculty of Bangor Theological Seminary and then assumed the presidency of Middlebury College (1880-1885).

In 1850, Henrieta Jackson, whom Hamlin had married in 1838, died of tuberculosis. Two years later, he married Harriette Martha Lovel, who died in 1857. He had a son and four daughters. Hamlin was a friend of Samuel Morse and a cousin of Hannibal Hamlin, who served as vice president of the United States. Hamlin died in Portland, Maine, on August 8, 1900.

Scope and Content:
The collection contains letters mostly written by Hamlin (1798-1902 and undated), articles and manuscripts, clippings and printed material (1855-1984 and undated), and biographical information. Related correspondence can be found in the Abbott Memorial Collection (M1) and the Peleg Whitman Chandler Papers (M29, b.1, f. 19). An address by Cyrus Hamlin can be found in the Peucinian Society records, 1832. Cyrus Hamlin's commencement speech can be found in Class Records (1.6.29). "Against the Devil's Current: The Life and Times of Cyrus Hamlin," a biography by Marcia and Malcom Stevens, can be found in the main library.

Cite as: Cyrus Hamlin Collection, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

Access Restrictions: None.

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
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