Summary Information

Repository
George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011
Creator
Curtis, Thomas A., [1776]-1868
Title
Thomas A. Curtis ("Diogenes") collection
ID
M239
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1849-1867
Date [inclusive]
1849-2014, undated
Extent
0.25 linear feet
Language
Abstract
Includes two albums that contain Bowdoin students' remembrances of Curtis (including one from Oliver Otis Howard, Bowdoin 1850), as well as student autographs and records of student subscriptions to Curtis' library.
Abstract
This collection includes two albums, kept by Thomas Curtis, that contain Bowdoin students' remembrances of Curtis as well as student autographs and records of student subscriptions to Curtis' library

Preferred Citation note

Cite as: Thomas A. Curtis ("Diogenes") Collection, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine


Historical Note

Thomas A. Curtis arrived in Brunswick in the summer of 1840 with a small puppet show. Soon after his arrival he began cleaning and mending clothes for the townspeople and Bowdoin students, then did menial jobs on campus such as carrying wood, building fires in early morning to warm the classrooms, and running errands. Perhaps because he carried a lantern from dorm to dorm or because he was mildly cynical, Curtis was named "Diogenes" by the students. Curtis lived in a small shack which he built himself; he was known for wearing a silk hat, having a strong liking for whiskey, and being an avid reader. Not only did he occasionally recite verse, he also composed a poem, "Morning, Spring Term, 1864" which was published in the January 29, 1864 Brunswick Telegraph. Of special note was his large collection of books, some of which he purchased by assessing Bowdoin freshmen twenty-five cents. In return for the students' payment, Curtis was to leave his library to the College. In the 1901 "Tales of Bowdoin" by Minot and Snow, Henry L. Chapman (Bowdoin 1866) reports that after Curtis' death in 1868, no kin could be found and Curtis' books were transferred to the Bowdoin College Library with the label, "From the Library of Thomas A. Curtis."


Scope and Content Note

This collection includes two albums, kept by Thomas Curtis, that contain Bowdoin students' remembrances of Curtis (including one from Oliver Otis Howard, Bowdoin 1850), as well as student autographs and records of student subscriptions to Curtis' library. Printed material about Curtis, newspaper clippings, including Curtis' obituary/biography, and photocopies of images of Curtis and his home are also in the collection.


Organization and Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.


Administrative Information

Publication Information

 George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011

3000 College Station
Brunswick, Maine, 04011
(207) 725-3288
scaref@bowdoin.edu

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.


Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Bowdoin College -- History.
  • Bowdoin College -- Students -- History -- 19th century.

Personal Name(s)

  • Curtis, Thomas A., -- [1776]-1868 -- Archives.
  • Howard, O.O., (Oliver Otis), 1830-1909

Subject(s)

  • Autograph albums.
  • Education
  • Social Life and Customs

Collection Inventory

Box Folder
1 1

1849, undated - An autograph album containing a certificate of appreciation for Curtis from seniors, Bowdoin class of 1849, as well as the seniors' autographs 

1 2

1850-1867, undated - Curtis' autograph album and account book. Among the student autographs is one from O.O. Howard (Bowdoin 1850). Freshmen signed when they subscribed to Curtis' library and seniors signed when they contributed to a class memorial 

1 3

1864 Jan 29 - clipping from the Brunswick Telegraph containing Curtis' poem, "Morning, Spring Term, 1864" 

1 4

1868 May 8 - clipping from the Brunswick Telegraph with Curtis' obituary/ biography (2 copies) 

1 5

1901, 2014 - printd material about Curtis 

1 6

1989 Nov 20, Dec 4 - clippings from the Pejepscot Cryer, "Thomas A. Curtis - the 'Diogenes' of Bowdoin College" 

1 7

undated - photocopy of image of Curtis' house 

1 8

undated - photocopy of two images of Curtis