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Henry Davidson Sheldon papers

Identifier: Coll 155

Scope and Contents note

Henry Davidson Sheldon left a rich collection of correspondence, manuscripts, and research materials with span the years 1890-1948 and document his long career as a progressive educator and his commitment to the University of Oregon. Several photographs are included.


  • 1890-1948


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Henry Davidson Sheldon, born October 3, 1874 en route to California, was the son of New York emigres who settled in San Luis Obispo, and later Santa Clara, California. He was educated at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California and received his BA (1896) and MA (1897) from Stanford. His doctoral work was done at Clark University. Sheldon married Florence Perry whom he met in Worcester, Massachusetts and, with her, raised a son and daughter.

Sheldon began his career at the University of Oregon in 1900 as a professor of education and history, bringing with him a progressive view of education. With the child-centered school as their focus, he and his colleagues, Joseph Schafer, O.F. Stafford and Herbert C. Howe, worked to professionalize teacher training, raise state certification requirements, broaden the curricula of the University, and extend its reach through correspondence courses, extension classes, and summer school. Sheldon also worked hard to increase financial support for the University.

From August, 1911 to June, 1912 Sheldon studies in England and Germany. He returned to the University of Oregon in 1913 as Dean of the School of Education, which graduated the greatest number of high school teachers in the states. He joined the presidential advisory council in 1917 and served that body until 1933. During the 1920's the School of Education grew both in size and prominence under Sheldon's guidance. In this period he published a bibliography on the history of Oregon, began documenting the history of the University of Oregon, pressed for higher base salaries at the University, and directed several theses on the history of education in Oregon.

The 1930's was a period of production and recovery for Sheldon. He began to write the history of the University of Oregon, postponing a history of political liberalism and its relation to education. In 1933 he fell victim to tuberculosis and remained in the state TB hospital at Salem through March, 1935.

In 1942 he retired to emeritus status, continuing to teach only American civilization and the history of education. Sheldon retired from all teaching in 1947 at age 73 and died in 1948, leaving unfinished the history of liberalism project and a history of education in Oregon.


13.5 linear feet (51 containers)

Language of Materials



Henry Davidson Sheldon was a faculty member at the University of Oregon in the field of education. This collection contains biographical material, correspondence, manuscripts and research materials, and photographs.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series I: Biographical MaterialSeries II: CorrespondenceSeries III: Letters to Florence SheldonSeries IV: ManuscriptsSeries V: Research MaterialsSeries VI: Photographs

General Physical Description note

51 container

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Mary Anteaux and Megan Dazey.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Henry Davidson Sheldon Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Mary Anteaux
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA