Summary Information

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011
William John Curtis Papers, 1888-1954, undated
Date [inclusive]
1888-1954, undated
0.25 linear feet.

Preferred Citation note

Cite as: William John Curtis Papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine

Biographical/Historical note

William John Curtis was born in Brunswick, Maine, on August 28, 1854. He attended Bowdoin College and was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity. After graduating in 1875, he studied law in Bangor and was editor of the Daily Whig and Courier. He was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1878 and, after studying a course at the Columbia University Law School, began to practice in New York. In 1887, he joined the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell where he was involved in legal matters pertaining to the building of the Panama Canal. Curtis also served as the first president of the United States Steel Company. He married Angeline Sturtevant Riley of Boston in 1881. In 1901 he became a member of the Bowdoin College Board of Overseers, was elected as a Trustee in 1915 and became chairman of the Finance Committee of the College in 1923. Curtis made numerous gifts to Bowdoin College, including the Class of 1875 Gate and the Class of 1875 prize in American history. He died on October 8, 1927, in Camden, Maine.

Scope and Contents note

Consists of the correspondence of William John Curtis, including lettersfrom Andrew Carnegie and President Grover Cleveland, and a number of holograph essays on U.S. politics. Also included are biographical materials, such as eulogies, newspaper clippings, images, and a "Town and Country Club" essay by Orren C. Hormell concerning Curtis.

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

Conditions Governing Access note

No restrictions.

Collection Inventory

M41.1: Correspondence, 1889-1919, undated 

Scope and Contents note

Contains correspondence between Curtis and such people as Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, and Professor George T. Little of Bowdoin College. Most of the correspondence concerns the gifts of the public library to Brunswick and a bird bath to Bowdoin College. Also includes correspondence relating to the Curtis Memorial Library that is neither to nor from Curtis himself.

Arrangement note

Arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
1 1


1 2


1 3

1917-1919, undated 

1 4

Correspondence relating to the Curtis Library [not to or from WJC] 

M41.2: Writings 

Scope and Contents note

Contains writings by William John Curtis, including two essays on 19th Century political topics. Also included is his account of the burning of the ship "Winsor Forest," of which his father was captain.

Arrangement note

Arranged alphabetically by title.

Box Folder
1 5

"Account of the Burning of the Ship 'Windsor Forest'" by Capt. Curtis, undated 

1 6

"Crime of Political Apathy, The" by William John Curtis, undated 

1 7

Untitled. re: the Democratic Party, by William John Curtis, 1888 

M41.3: Biographical Information 

Scope and Contents note

Consists of biographical information pertaining to William John Curtis, including an essay written on Curtis by Orren Hormell for the Town and Country Club. Also includes eulogies and information on the John Curtis Memorial Library.

Arrangement note

Arranged alphabetically by material type.

Box Folder
1 8

Clippings: Capt. John Curtis Memorial Library 

1 9

Clippings: miscellaneous 

1 10

Clippings: obituaries 

1 11

Ephemera: the Captain John Curtis Library 

1 12

Essay: for the Town and College Club by Orren Hormell. Bowdoin College. 17 December 1954 

1 13


1 14

Miscellaneous biographical information 

1 15

Notes on W.J. Curtis' life [by Orren C. Hormell?]