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Collection Overview

Gauss, Christian, 1878-1951
Christian Gauss Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1863-1952 (mostly 1900-1951)
94 boxes
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-94


Christian Gauss was one of Woodrow Wilson's original preceptors, the first Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages, and the third Dean of the College. The Christian Gauss papers include personal and professional writings, correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, and assorted ephemera and printed matter, as well as numerous documents related to the Gauss family.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of personal and professional writings, correspondence, printed documents, and other materials of Gauss. The bulk of the writings consist of annotated drafts for essays, lectures, and books he authored and edited. Also included are personal wirings, such as diaries, notebooks, and unpublished poetry. The bulk of the correspondence is professional in nature. However, some personal correspondence with family members and close friends is included. The subjects of much of the correspondence pertains to his tenures as professor and dean at Princeton. Memorabilia, photographs, printed material, and miscellaneous emphemera Gauss collected, span his days in Ann Arbor and Princeton. Included here are group photographs, newspaper clippings, pamplets, and calling cards. There are also some documents pertaining to Gauss's wife and family.

Collection Creator Biography:

Gauss, Christian, 1878-1951

Born on February 2, 1878, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Christian Gauss was the son of German immigrants. Gauss attended the University of Michigan and later became an instructor there after graduating with an A.B. in 1898. In 1901, Gauss left Michigan to become Instructor of Modern Languages at Lehigh University. Gauss moved to Princeton in 1905 and became one of Woodrow Wilson's original preceptors. Two years later he was promoted to full professor. In 1912, Gauss became chairman of the Department of Modern Languages, a position he held until 1936. As a professor, Gauss became known for his lectures. He often drafted several versions, honing them to the point where he felt they could be delivered.

In 1925, he was appointed Dean of the College. Gauss, the professor and dean, was often described as being firm but fair. Students described his courses as being both rigorous and rewarding. He often invited students to his family's home to discuss intellectual or personal matters they may have been dealing with or simply to listen to sports on the radio. In 1929, Gauss was named first incumbent of a chair in modern languages endowed by his friends in the Class of 1900. Gauss was committed to Princeton University throughout his career, even beyond his professional responsibilities. He edited the Princeton Alumni Weekly, served as trustee and vice president of Princeton University Press, was chairman of the University Council on Athletics, and helped found and served as first chairman of the Creative Arts Council. He eventually retired from Princeton University in 1946 but remained active in alumni affairs until his death in 1951.

Gauss became one of the foremost voices on liberal education while at Princeton. He published articles and essays on the subject throughout his career. He also wrote extensively on literature, penning numerous critical essays and reviews, and he authored several books, including Life in College and A Primer For Tomorrow. Gauss also edited several works, such as The Teaching of Religion in American Higher Education, a collection of essays by prominent commentators on higher education.

Collection History


The initial accession occurred on May 8, 1952 , when the bulk of the Christian Gauss material was given to Princeton as a gift from Alice Gauss. Several pieces of correspondence were added in November 1967 as a gift from Dr. Eric Kahler. A single letter was added in July 1968 as a gift from R. Sturgis Ingersoll. Princeton received Gauss's 1929 diary, notes, drafts, lectures, professional correspondence, and printed matter as a gift from Dr. Stuart A. Jackson in May 1976 .


No accruals are expected.


No appraisal information is available.


These papers were processed with a general operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Casey Babcock in June-July 2007. Finding aid written by Casey Babcock in July of 2007.

In 2022, restrictions on two Ernest Hemingway letters where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Christian Gauss Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-94

Find More

Related Materials

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library holds material related to Christian Gauss in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty Records and the Faculty Files.


Portions of the correspondence were reprinted in The Papers of Christian Gauss (New York: Random House, 1957), edited by Katherine Gauss Jackson and Hiram Haydn.

The Papers of Christian Gauss (New York: Random House, 1957), edited by Katherine Gauss Jackson and Hiram Haydn, and A Princeton Companion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978) were consulted during preparation of the biographical note.

Subject Terms:
Critics -- United States -- 20th century.
Deans (Education) -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Education, Higher -- United States -- 20th century.
Educators -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Languages, Modern -- Study and teaching -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Student administrative relationships -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
Correspondence -- 20th century
Diaries -- 20th century.
Lectures -- 20th century.
Photographs -- 20th century.
Speeches -- 20th century.
American Association for a Democratic Germany
American Committee on Democracy and Intellectual Freedom
World Federalists, USA
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association
Modern language association of America
Phi beta kappa
Princeton University
Princeton University. Dept. of Modern Languages
Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972.