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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

William O. Aydelotte Papers
RG 99.0093
Collection Dates: 1924-1996
83 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

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Acquisition and Processing Information: These materials were donated to the University Archives by Mr. and Mrs. Aydelotte in August 1994. Guide created by Denise Anderson, July 2007.

Photographs: Box 70

William O. Aydelotte, professor, University of Iowa Department of History

Professor William O. Aydelotte

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the professional career of Dr. William O. Aydelotte, professor of history from 1947 to 1978 at the University of Iowa.  Lecture notes, speeches, publications, correspondence, and Department of History reports and minutes are included.  These papers also contain Dr. Aydelotte's publications reviews, and document his participation in history conferences, committees and councils.

Dr. Aydelotte was a prolific writer, and preserved his notes about everything from a 1924 meeting of the home room boys during his tenth grade, to the diaries he kept over a sixty-year period, to his vacation in Ireland, and to notes on the meetings of the Know-Nothing Club -- a group of University of Iowa professors who met informally, with no official minutes recorded.  Dr. Aydelotte classified and indexed his major research notes, and filed them in a dozen card catalog drawers, as noted in the box list below.

The focus of Dr. Aydelotte's research, in the area of political science, was the British Parliament.  Such research topics are represented as the Victorian reformation, social attitudes in the work of Charles Dickens, politics in detective stories, as well as his research about using computers to analyze research statistics.  Dr. Aydelotte maintained detailed files on subjects that interested him, such as the Latin hexameter verse machine, exhibited in London during 1845. 

This collection includes some material about Dr. Aydelotte's family.  Box 58 contains information about his father, Frank (1880-1956), who was president of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania from 1921 to 1940.  Genealogical material about William O. Aydelotte's Irish cousins is housed in box 52.

Dr. Aydelotte was diagnosed with tuberculosis in September 1950, and he recorded the course of treatment he received at Oakdale Sanatorium, as well as descriptions of the facility, in nearly daily letters to his mother and brother during a nine-month period.  These letters are arranged in chronological order in box 70.

[D. Anderson; 07/2007]

Biographical Note

William Osgood Aydelotte was born September 1, 1910, in Bloomington, Indiana.  His parents were Marie Jeannette Osgood and Frank Aydelotte, who were Quakers.  William O. Aydelotte graduated from Harvard University, with a major in classics in 1931.  He took his Ph.D. in history at the University of Cambridge, England, in 1934.  He then worked for two years at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Aydelotte held an appointment at the University of Minnesota during the summer of 1937.  Over the next ten years, he taught at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; and Princeton University.

Dr. Aydelotte joined the faculty at the University of Iowa Department of History in fall 1947 as assistant professor.  He and others immediately began work to reform the department.  Dr. Aydelotte served as chairman of this committee, replacing Professor Winfred Root, who died December 9, 1947.  One result of this reform was the involvement of the entire department in the appointment process.  Dr. Aydelotte was promoted to full professor in 1950, with his area of research being political behavior.  During the 1950s, his studies of the British Parliament of the 1840s garnered him the honor of the Order of the British Empire in 1961.  He served as Carver Professor of History, 1976 to 1978, and retired from the University in June 1978.

In June 1956, Dr. Aydelotte married Dr. Myrtle Kitchell, who became the first director of the College of Nursing in September 1949.  They had two daughters, Marie and Jeannette.  William O. Aydelotte died January 17, 1996.

[D. Anderson; 07/2007]

Related Materials

Folder, "Aydelotte, William O. ," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Persons, Stow. "History at Iowa: The First Century, 1855-1948."  Iowa City, 1996.  21 pp., Historical Papers Collection (RG01.01.03)

Persons, Stow.  "History at Iowa: The Modern Era." Iowa City, 1996. 24 pp., Historical Papers Collection (RG01.01.03)

Papers of Stow Persons (RG99.0104)

Papers of Allan G. Bogue (RG99.0103)

Papers of Harry Plum (RG99.0107)

Records of the Dept. of History (RG06.17)

The University of Iowa Libraries Dept. of Government Publications. British Parliament publications.

Know-Nothing Club, Organizations and Clubs Vertical Files (RG01.15.04)

Records of the Oakdale Sanatorium (RG27.20)

Oakdale Campus Buildings vertical file (RG01.15.02)

Papers of Frank Aydelotte (MsC232)

Papers of Myrtle Kitchell Aydelotte, Iowa Women's Archives

National Academy of Sciences. Biographical Memoirs. (

Box Contents List

Box 1

Course lecture notes


Thesis committee work

William C. Lubenow (Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and President of the North American Conference on British Studies, and student of Dr. Aydelotte during the mid-1960s)

Box 2

Placement correspondence, 1971-1975

Rhodes Scholarship, 1948-1955

Box 3


Box 4

Lecture notes

Box 5

Lecture notes, cont.

Box 6

Quantification in History

---. Article title in American Historical Review, April 1966

---. Book title, 1971

History department

American Association of University Professors (AAUP)

Box 7

AAUP, cont.

American Historical Association (AHA)

Woodrow Wilson fellowships

Box 8


Guttman scales, statistical tools for analyzing the Corn Laws Parliament

British political party materials

Box 9

Subject folders

Box 10

Printouts on House of Commons, 1841-1847

Box 11

Printouts, subjects of parliamentary politics and home rule

Box 12

Outline file

Box 13

Outline file, cont.

Box 14

Course materials

---. Modern European Intellectual History, 1958-1969

---. Social Science History Association (SSHA), 1973-1976


---. American Historical Review editorial board, 1976


---. Legislative Behavior, fall 1967

---. Modern English History (course number 16:251), fall 1963

---. Congressional Behavior, 1816-1828, March 9, 1965

---. Modern England (course number 16:252),1968, 1971

---. Modern Europe (course numbers 16:241, 16:242), 1959-1965

---. On topics proposed by students, fall 1957


Ph.D. theses topics, 1949-1963

Princeton University Press correspondence, 1971-1976

Box 15

Course materials

---. Philosophy of History (course number 16:298), 1963-1973

---. Historiography (course number 16:297), 1960-1961

---. Historiography and Philosophy of History (course number 16:297), fall 1948-1960

Speech to Graduate History Society, and at Conference on the Use of Computers in Humanistic Research

Quantification in History, December 1964

Speech about Scattergood, September 30, 1958


Notes about writers of history, 1940s

Lecture by historian Arnold J. Toynbee, November 6, 1955

Criticism of Toynbee's November 1955 lecture, by Abba Eban, Israel's ambassador to U.S., January 18, 1956

Walter P. Metzger (UI Department of History) paper on economist Thorstein Veblen

James R. Wiegand undergraduate college thesis, 1953

"Ten Hours," on welfare legislation in England, 1833-1867

Box 16

Modern England, lectures

Box 17

"Serendipity," background

Latin Hexameter Verse Machine

---. Machine for Making Hexameter Latin verses, by John Clark, 1837

---. "Latin Hexameter Machine," exhibition by John Clark at Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London, 1845

Box 18

Publications of other authors, and bibliography technical offprints, A-L

Box 19

Publications of other authors, and bibliography technical offprints M-Z

Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California, 1976-1977


---. Oxford, 1968

---. Visiting professor at University of Leicester, 1979

Kenya travel information

Box 20

Aydelotte publications

---. Books

---. Articles

---. Reviews

Box 21


American Historical Review

Shady Hill School, elementary school in Cambridge, England

National Academy of Sciences (NAS) biography of Allan George Bogue

NAS biography of Samuel P. Huntington

Social Science History Association (SSHA)

Box 22

Philosophy of History course materials 1-8, 1970s

Box 23

Philosophy of History course materials 10-13, 1970s

Box 24


Box 25

Colloquiums, seminars and lectures, 1963-1981

"History of English University," bibliography and offprints

Know-Nothing Club presentation notes

---. 1945

---. 1955

---. 1962

---. 1968

---. 1969

---. 1971

---. 1974

---. 1976

---. 1979

---. 1980

---. 1982

---. 1983

---. 1987

Know-Nothing Club membership lists

---. 1961-1962

---. 1964-1965

---. 1965-1966

---. 1966-1967

---. 1967-1968

Know-Nothing Club, description and philosophy of, 1954

Charles H. Firth, Fellow of the British Academy, publications, 1918-1920

Harold Temperley biographical information, Aydelotte's Cambridge University professor

Box 26


---. "Minutes of the Home Room Meeting of the Tenth Grade Boys," 1924

---. 1940s

---. 1950s

---. 1960s

---. 1970s

---. 1980s

---. 1990s

Address books

Correspondence from Germany,1933

Academic advice for others

Academic career of Aydelotte

---. Appointments

---. Curriculum vitae

---. Retirement

---. Bibliography of publications

Box 27a

History Department

---. Administrative notes, 1950-1989

---. Reports, 1949-1968

---. "On Coming Into the Country, or the Rocky Road to Iowa," by Stow Persons, 1993

---. Professor Harrison John Thornton, 1951-1984

---. Administrative, 1950-1951


------. Graduate Council minutes

------. Clippings

------. Speakers

------. Courses

Department, 1980-1994

Box 27b


---. 1947-1949

---. 1975-1979

Box 27c

Employee Record, University of Iowa newsletter, 1949, 1950

State Historical Society of Iowa, 1948-1972

Correspondence, 1949-1959

Reports, Department of Political Science Review Committee, January 1972


---. Winfred Trexler Root seminar room dedication, March 28, 1952

---. Oscar Handlin

------. Correspondence, 1948-1949

---. Appointments


------. 1948, 1953

------. 1955-1956

---. Correspondence


------. 1947-1951

------. Allan Bogue, 1959

Chairman, 1959-1973

"Informal Guide to Administrative Procedures," September 1950

Box 27d

History Department meeting minutes

---. September 1950-April 1951

---. April 1959-August 1981

Box 28


Box 29

House of Commons, chapter 1

Box 30

House of Commons, chapter 2

Box 31

House of Commons, chapter 2

Box 32

House of Commons, chapter 2

Box 33

House of Commons, chapter 2

Box 34

House of Commons, chapter 2

Box 35

House of Commons, chapter 3

Box 36

House of Commons, chapter 3

Box 37

House of Commons, chapter 3

Box 38

House of Commons, chapter 4

Box 39

House of Commons, chapter 4

Box 40

House of Commons, chapter 4, cont.

Box 41

House of Commons, chapter 4, cont.

Box 42

House of Commons, chapter 5

Box 43

House of Commons, chapter 5, cont.

Box 44

House of Commons, chapter 6

Box 45

House of Commons, chapter 6, cont.

Box 46

History department administration, 1960s

Box 47

History department administration, 1961-1973

Box 48

History department, 1973-1975

British data bank


---. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1957, 1965

---. Ithaca, New York, 1968

Detective story, 1949


Box 49

Aydelotte's education and employment

---. William Penn Charter School, in Germantown, Pennsylvania

---. Harvard University

---. Trinity College teaching position

---. University of Minnesota position, summer 1937

---. Job offers


"Genius," paper by Aydelotte, 1931

Stanford conference, 1957

Box 50

Charles Dickens research, chapters 1-6, 1944-1970

Dickens Characters Cocktail Set, linen napkins, ca. 1946

Box 51

"The Novelist and the Historian," ca. 1950

Applications for research support

Conference on Mathematical and Statistical Methods in History (CMSMH), Harvard, June 10, 1965


Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

---. 1953-1954

---. 1969

"History and the Social Sciences," research material for

Quantitative History Project, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, July 14-August 4, 1967

Box 52

Genealogy of Aydelotte's cousins, the Childers and Barton families

---. "Notes on Glan," by Aydelotte, June 1963

---. "Glendalough House," by Aydelotte

Ireland postcards and travel information

---. The Book of Kells, published by Trinity College, Dublin

---. Glendalough and the Seven Churches of St. Kevin, 1962

Book reviews by Aydelotte, 1955-1972

Correspondence about publications

American Association of University Professors (AAUP), 1961

American Historical Association (AHA), 1964

Ann Arbor lectures, 1965

Box 53

Course materials

---. Diplomatic History (course number 16:155)

---. Intellectual History

---. Modern England

---. Drafts

Box 54

Modern England course materials, including Harvard summer session, 1966

Box 55

Quantification in History

Bismarck and British Colonial Policy

American Historical Association (AHA), 1971

Ann Arbor conference, 1967


Metzger, Walter P., UI Department of History faculty

The Business Interests of the Gentry in the Parliament of 1841-1847

Box 56

Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Aydelotte's German-language article ("Notes on the Problem of Historical Generalization") "Bemerkungen zum Problem historischer Generalisierungen," 1963

Social Science History Association (SSHA)

National Research Council panel on relation of non-response to promises of confidentiality, 1978

Box 57

Legislative conference, 1972

SSRC, 1965-1970

Box 58


Lectures on Victorian studies, University of Leicester, 1971




Midwest conference of British Historical Studies, 1962-1963

Legislative Behavior conference suggestions, 1971

Conferences, 1971-1972

History of Parliamentary Behavior, introduction

Correspondence about trip to England, 1968

Paper delivered at Ithaca, New York

Frank Aydelotte biographical material

Correspondence with Abraham Flexner, Institute for Advanced Study, 1933-1947

Frank Aydelotte autobiography material

Correspondence with Frances Blanshard about biography, 1954-1966


---. William O. Aydelotte's report cards, 7th and 9th grade

---. Frank Aydelotte at Swarthmore College

---. Journal to Frank Aydelotte from his son, February-June 1953

---. Correspondence, 1922-1929

Box 59

Appointment booklets

---. 1927

---. 1929

---. 1930s, except 1931

---. 1940s

---. 1950s, except 1952

---. 1960s

---. 1970s

Box 60

Card catalog, Members of the Corn Laws Parliament, 1-380

Box 61

Card catalog, Members of the Corn Laws Parliament, 381-526

Box 62

Card catalog, Members of the Corn Laws Parliament, 527-671

Box 63

Card catalog, Members of the Corn Laws Parliament, 672-815

Box 64

Card catalog, Members of the Corn Laws Parliament, 450-600

Box 65

Card catalog, divisions, British legislative behavior, 1841-1847

Box 66

Card catalog, divisions, British legislative behavior, 1841-1847

Box 67

Card catalog, divisions, British legislative behavior

Box 68

Correspondence, 1951-1975

Box 69a

Correspondence, A-C

Box 69b

Correspondence, D-H

Box 69c

Correspondence, H-L

Box 69d

Correspondence, M-P


Box 70

Correspondence to his mother, brother, paternal grandmother, and one early photograph, 1922-1938

Correspondence to his mother and brother, 1928-1951

---. During tuberculosis treatment at Oakdale Sanatorium, September 12, 1950-June 1951

---. Regarding comparative studies of religious group's influence on social history, 1941-1943

---. Description of problems at Trinity, Smith, and Yale, 1941-1943

Code book preparation

Order of the British Empire honor

---. Clippings and correspondence, May-November 1961

---. Prints and negative of document, 1961

Book review, Sir James Graham, by John Towers Ward

Box 71

Card catalog

Box 72

Card catalog, cont.

Box 73

Card catalog, cont.

Box 74

Card catalog, cont.

Box 75

Card catalog, cont.

Box 76



High School albums

Box 77