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Thomas A. Curtis ("Diogenes") Collection M239

Title:
Thomas A. Curtis ("Diogenes") collection
Creator:
Curtis, Thomas A., [1776]-1868
ID:
M239
Date [bulk]:
Bulk, 1849-1867
Date [inclusive]:
1849-2014, undated
Extent:
0.25 linear feet
Language:
English
Repository:
George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011
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
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Preferred Citation note:

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

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."

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.

Arranged chronologically.

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

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

Box 1 Folder 1

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

Box 1 Folder 2

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

Box 1 Folder 3

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

Box 1 Folder 4

1901, 2014 - printd material about Curtis

Box 1 Folder 5

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

Box 1 Folder 6

undated - photocopy of image of Curtis' house

Box 1 Folder 7

undated - photocopy of two images of Curtis

Box 1 Folder 8
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