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Chauncey M. Depew papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS2095
This collection consists of fifty boxes of material documenting Chauncey M. Depew's career in public speaking from approximately 1880-1920. It features many published speeches, handwritten and typescript speeches, and notes, in addition to scrapbooks, memorial books, clippings, and photographs demonstrating Depew's prominence as an orator and capturing public reaction to his death. In addition, correspondence in this collection includes letters from Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, John D. Rockefeller, William Vanderbilt, and many U.S. Presidents. In all, these materials provide insight into the politics and the communications techniques of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

While the collection does contain a few letters from the Vanderbilts and some speeches about railroads and legislation, there are no records from Depew's tenure with the New York Central Railroad or from his terms in political office.

Dates

  • 1856-1934

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Some records may be restricted.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Extent

25 Linear Feet

Abstract

Collection consists of fifty boxes of material documenting Chauncey M. Depew's career in public speaking from approximately 1880-1920. It features many published speeches, handwritten and typescript speeches, and notes, in addition to scrapbooks, memorial books, clippings, and photographs demonstrating Depew's prominence as an orator.

Historical or Biographical Note

Chauncey Mitchell Depew (1834-1928) was a prominent railroad executive and U.S. Senator from New York and the namesake of the Chauncey M. Depew Professor of Communication at The George Washington University.

Depew was born in 1834 in Peekskill, New York. He attended Yale College, graduating in 1856 with high honors and was admitted to the bar. Depew first gained fame as an orator while campaigning for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He then served in the New York State Assembly in 1862-63 as a Republican, and was elected Secretary of State in 1863, a position he held until 1865.

Depew became counsel for the New York Central Railroad in 1875, and later served as its vice president (1883) and president (1885). He resigned as president in 1898, at which time he became chairman of the board of directors of the Vanderbilt system of railroads.

In 1898, Depew was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican from New York and was reelected in 1905, serving until 1911. He was again nominated by the State legislature in 1912, but was defeated.

In 1871, Depew married Elise Ann Hegeman. They had one son, Chauncey Mitchell Depew, born 1879. Elise died in 1893 and Depew married May Palmer in 1901. They had no children.

Chauncey M. Depew died in 1928 in New York City.

After the death of her husband, May Palmer Depew donated $120,000 in 1929 to The George Washington University to establish a department of public speaking in her husband’s memory. The Chauncey M. Depew Chair of Public Speaking was dedicated in January 1930; Professor Willard Hayes Yeager was the first appointed to that position. The endowed chair is now known as the Chauncey M. Depew Professor of Communication.

Collection Organization

Organized into nine series: Correspondence, Speeches and Articles, Scrapbooks, Memorial Books, Newspapers and Clippings, Photographs, Genealogical and Biographical Publications, Awards and Certificates, and Memorabilia.

Acquisition Information

Chauncey M. Depew's widow May Palmer Depew donated this collection to The George Washington University in 1929.
Title
Guide to the Chauncey M. Depew papers, 1856-1934
Status
completed
Author
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Date
2005
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

Contact:
2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America