Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Archibald Cary Coolidge (March 6, 1866 – January 14, 1928)[1] was an American educator. He was a Professor of History at Harvard College from 1908 and the first Director of the Harvard University Library from 1910 until his death. Coolidge was also a scholar in international affairs, a planner of the Widener Library, a member of the United States Foreign Service, and editor-in-chief of the policy journal Foreign Affairs.

Archibald Cary Coolidge
Archibald Cary Coolidge.jpg
Archibald Cary Coolidge on a bookplate
Born (1866-03-06)March 6, 1866
Died 14 January 1928(1928-01-14) (aged 61)
Nationality American
Occupation Librarian


Archibald Coolidge was born in Boston, Massachusetts as the third of five boys. His parents were Joseph Randolph Coolidge and Julia Coolidge née Gardner, both from prominent and wealthy Boston families. Coolidge attended seven different elementary and preparatory schools, the Adams Academy in Quincy, and Harvard College, from which he emerged summa cum laude in history in 1887. He also attended the University of Berlin and the École des Sciences Politiques in Paris. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg in Germany 1892.[1]

From 1893 on he taught various history courses at Harvard, first as an instructor, from 1899 on as Assistant Professor, and in 1908 he was made a full Professor of History.[1] Coolidge turned the Harvard College Library into a major research institution. In 1908 he was appointed to the Harvard Library Council and was chairman of this council in 1909. In 1910 he became the first Director of the Harvard University Library. Coolidge's tenure saw the building of the Widener Library.[2]

Between college terms and parallel to his post at Harvard, Coolidge also pursued a career in diplomacy, which fit his travel interests and his desire and aptitude for learning languages well.[1] He held posts as secretary to the American legation in Saint Petersburg, Russia (1890–1891), as private secretary to the American minister in France (1892), and as secretary to the American legation in Vienna (1893).

At the end of World War I, more important assignments followed. Coolidge joined the Inquiry study group established by Woodrow Wilson.[2] The U.S. State Department sent him in 1918 to Russia to report on the situation there. In 1919, he was made the head of the so-called Coolidge Mission, which was "appointed by the American Delegation on 27 December and set up headquarters in Vienna.".[3] Secretary of State Robert Lansing informed Coolidge in a telegram dated 26 December 1918, that "You are hereby assigned to the American Commission to observe political conditions in Austria-Hungary and neighboring countries.".[4] Coolidge and his group in Vienna analyzed the state of affairs on Central Europe and the Balkans and made recommendations for the benefit of the U.S. participants at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919.[5] In 1921 Coolidge worked as a negotiator for the American Relief Administration and helped organize the humanitarian aid to Russia after the famine of 1921.[1] Coolidge also was one of the founders of the Council on Foreign Relations, which grew out of the Inquiry study group, and served as the first editor of its publication Foreign Affairs from 1922 until his death in 1928.[6]

Archibald Cary Coolidge was a member of the Monticello Association and its president from 1919 to 1925.[7]


  • The United States as a World Power (1908)
  • The Origins of the Triple Alliance (1917)
  • Ten Years of War and Peace (1927)
  • Editor-in-Chief, Foreign Affairs, a journal of the Council on Foreign Relations


  1. ^ a b c d e Coolidge, Harold Jefferson; Lord, Robert Howard: Archibald Cary Coolidge: life and letters, 1932 (reprinted 1971), ISBN 0-8369-6641-4. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  2. ^ a b Harvard University Archives, call no. HUG-1299: Coolidge, Archibald Cary, 1866-1928. Papers of Archibald Cary Coolidge : an inventory, with a biography. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  3. ^ Arno J. Mayer, Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking. Containment and Counterrevolution at Versailles, 1918-1919 (New York, 1967), 369
  4. ^ U.S. Department of State, Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol II, p. 218. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  5. ^ U.S. Department of State, Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol XII. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  6. ^ Grose, P.: Continuing the Inquiry: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996. New York: Council on Foreign Relations: 1996, reprinted 2006. ISBN 0-87609-192-3. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  7. ^ Coolidge, H.J.; Lord, R.H.: Archibald Cary Coolidge: life and letters, p. 328.