Selections from Letters to and by
Alfred C. Chapin, Class of 1869

Willard E. Hoyt, Secretary of Williams College, to A.C. Chapin, 12 May 1915, following Mr. Chapin’s initial gift of books to form the Chapin Library: I know that Dr. Garfield [Harry A. Garfield, then President of Williams College] has already written to you thanking you on behalf of the College for the most generous gift of books which we received a short time ago, and now to me falls the pleasant duty of extending the formal thanks of the Board of Trustees. . . . To possess such rare and priceless books as you have presented to the College falls to the lot of few institutions and their possession is prized not only by the Trustees but by the members of the Faculty and by the student body and I know that I but voice their sentiments when I thank you again.

Bentley C. Warren, Trustee, to A.C. Chapin, 5 October 1916: I read your letter to the Trustees at their meeting this morning – the letter which you said I might so use – and also portions of other letters in which you mentioned some of your more recent acquisitions. From my possession of the letters, I evidently shone in a reflected glory as if in some way I were connected with the mouth-watering articles therein described. Consequently to me was delegated the agreeable privilege of expressing to you the Trustees’ deep appreciation of your proposed gift and of your generosity in making it.
     Every man there was impressed with the significance of such a collection to the College and with the distinction which its possession will bring to the College.

Solomon B. Griffin, Trustee, to A.C. Chapin, 13 October 1916: I was surprised and delighted to learn at the recent meeting of the Trustees something of the extent and exceptional character of the treasures you are laying up for Williams College. Before that I had gathered only a general impression, sadly inadequate. Now I see a great purpose and a remarkable achievement . . . you are offering to the students such a source of information as will appeal and endure through all the years to come. This is something worth any man’s while and I rejoice in your vision and method.

Bentley W. Warren, Trustee, to A.C. Chapin, 18 May 1917: [President] Garfield has sent me your latest report to him of acquisitions – that recording the three volumes from Washington’s library and the draft of the proposed Constitution. They are wonderful additions to what you already have, and I am sending this line merely to congratulate both you and the College.

Francis Lynde Stetson, Trustee, to A.C. Chapin, 17 November 1918: Your generosity to our Alma Mater is overwhelming and will make her site a Mecca for lovers of literature. She will, through you, acquire a distinction beyond rivalry.

Bentley W. Warren, Trustee, to A.C. Chapin, 20 November 1918: I flatter myself as a Trustee of the College that we shall make some sensation in the literary world when your collection has been properly housed for suitable exhibition in Williamstown and suitable announcement of its contents has been made. Has it occurred to you that perhaps you ought to stock my ice pond and my trickle of a brook so that the students may utilize the knowledge they will acquire from those first five editions of the Compleat Angler?

Henry D. Wild, Instructor in English, to A.C. Chapin, 26 November 1918: I thank you for your letter of November 19th and for letting me know about your acquisition of the four Shakespeare Folios. . . . The College, fortunate before in the prospect of becoming the home of your wonderful collection of books, is now more than ever so. Williams is to become famous in a new and distinct way, and I can hardly wait for the time when all this shall become known and the books shall be housed here in a fitting building.

Francis Lynde Stetson, Trustee, to A.C. Chapin, 1 July 1919: How splendidly your magnificent library scheme is working out! It is most fortunate that Cram and Ferguson have been secured as architects. What you have done and are doing is so far beyond all the gifts of Amos Lawrence that I think it would be absurd to allow the building which is to contain your unequalled gifts to bear the name of Lawrence Hall. [In fact, no such suggestion had been made.] I am going to write to President Garfield asking him to ask your permission to call the new edifice “Chapin Library”.

Willard E. Hoyt, Secretary of the College, to A.C. Chapin, 22 June 1921: In accordance with the vote of the Trustees, I take this opportunity of expressing to you on their behalf, their appreciation of your latest gift of $25,000 Spokane International first 5s to increase the Chapin Library Maintenance Fund.
     In attempting to write and thank you, I feel that it is almost beyond my power to adequately express the appreciation of what you have done and are doing for the College and how fortunate we are in having a friend like you who is stepping in and taking the place of dear Mr. Stetson [died 1920], not only in the financial aid in which you are generously contributing, but also in the unfailing interest and devotion to the College.

Alfred C. Chapin to Dr. G. Stanley Hall, Clark University, 12 June 1922: In the period of my own senescent senectitude, I am endeavoring to be of some use to man-kind by doing something for the College. When the new library building is finished, and as you know it is to be called Stetson Hall, a group of five rooms in it will be occupied by a special library or collection which I am gathering and which should be of decided use to the College, and when established and catalogued and made available, it should place the College in the small class of American institutions possessing libraries of uncommon interest or distinction.

Harry A. Garfield, President of the College, to A.C. Chapin, 29 April 1923: As the books appear on the shelves [in the Chapin Library Gallery] and begin to show their assembled character, the quality [of] each and of the collection as a whole amazes me. My imagination failed to picture it. I can only say again it is a great gift. Time only will reveal how great.


Copyright © 2009 by the President and Trustees of Williams College
This page was last updated on 17 September 2009