Archibald Cary Coolidge

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Archibald Cary Coolidge
Archibald Cary Coolidge.jpg
Archibald Cary Coolidge on a bookplate
Born(1866-03-06)March 6, 1866
DiedJanuary 14, 1928(1928-01-14) (aged 61)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationAdams Academy
Alma materHarvard College
University of Berlin
École des Sciences Politiques
University of Freiburg
Parent(s)Joseph Randolph Coolidge
Julia Gardner
RelativesJohn G. Coolidge (brother)
Harold J. Coolidge (brother)
Julian L. Coolidge (brother)

Archibald Cary Coolidge (March 6, 1866 – January 14, 1928)[1] was an American educator and diplomat. He was a Professor of History at Harvard College from 1908 and the first Director of the Harvard University Library from 1910 until his death. Coolidge was also a scholar in international affairs, a planner of the Widener Library, a member of the United States Foreign Service, and editor-in-chief of the policy journal Foreign Affairs.[2]

Early life[edit]

Archibald Coolidge was born in Boston, Massachusetts as the third of five boys. His parents were Harvard University Law School graduate Joseph Randolph Coolidge and Julia (née Gardner) Coolidge, both from prominent and wealthy Boston Brahmin families.[3] His siblings included U.S. Minister to Nicaragua John Gardner Coolidge, noted lawyer Harold Jefferson Coolidge Sr. (the father of zoologist Harold Jefferson Coolidge Jr.), and mathematician and fellow Harvard professor Julian Lowell Coolidge.[3]

His paternal uncle was Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, the Boston businessman and U.S. Minister to France. His father, Joseph Randolph Coolidge, was a great-grandson of the 3rd United States President Thomas Jefferson, through his maternal grandparents, Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson Randolph. Archibald's great-uncles were Thomas Jefferson Randolph, George Wythe Randolph, Andrew Jackson Donelson, and his grandfather, Joseph Coolidge, was a distant relative of President Calvin Coolidge.[4]

Through his mother, Archibald was the nephew of John Lowell Gardner II. His mother and uncle John were the grandchildren of merchant Joseph Peabody, one of the wealthiest men in the United States at the time of his death in 1844.[5]

Coolidge attended seven different elementary and preparatory schools, the Adams Academy in Quincy, and Harvard College, from which he emerged summa cum laude in history in 1887. He also attended the University of Berlin and the École des Sciences Politiques in Paris. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg in Germany 1892.[1]


From 1893 on, he taught various history courses at Harvard, first as an instructor, from 1899 on as Assistant Professor, and in 1908, he was made a full Professor of History.[1]

Coolidge today is recognized as having turned the Harvard College Library into a major research institution. In 1908, he was appointed to the Harvard Library Council and was chairman of this council in 1909. In 1910, he became the first Director of the Harvard University Library. Coolidge's tenure saw the building of the Widener Library.[3]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Between college terms and parallel to his post at Harvard, Coolidge also pursued a career in diplomacy, which fit his travel interests and his desire and aptitude for learning languages well.[1] He held posts as secretary to the American legation in Saint Petersburg, Russia (1890–1891), as private secretary to the American minister in France (1892), and as secretary to the American legation in Vienna (1893).

At the end of World War I, more important assignments followed. Coolidge joined the Inquiry study group established by Woodrow Wilson.[3] The U.S. State Department sent him in 1918 to Russia to report on the situation there. In 1919, he was made the head of the so-called Coolidge Mission, which was "appointed by the American Delegation on 27 December and set up headquarters in Vienna.".[6] Secretary of State Robert Lansing informed Coolidge in a telegram dated December 26, 1918, that "You are hereby assigned to the American Commission to observe political conditions in Austria-Hungary and neighboring countries.".[7] Coolidge and his group in Vienna analyzed the state of affairs on Central Europe and the Balkans and made recommendations for the benefit of the U.S. participants at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919.[8]

In 1921, Coolidge worked as a negotiator for the American Relief Administration and helped organize the humanitarian aid to Russia after the famine of 1921.[1] Coolidge also was one of the founders of the Council on Foreign Relations, which grew out of the Inquiry study group, and served as the first editor of its publication Foreign Affairs from 1922 until his death in 1928.[9]

Coolidge was also a member of the Monticello Association, which was created in 1913 to care for and preserve President Jefferson's home, Monticello, serving as its president from 1919 to 1925.[10]


Coolidge died at his home in Boston, Massachusetts on January 14, 1928.[11][2]


  • The United States as a World Power (1908)[3]
  • The Origins of the Triple Alliance (1917)[3]
  • Ten Years of War and Peace (1927)[3]
  • Editor-in-Chief, Foreign Affairs, a journal of the Council on Foreign Relations.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Coolidge, Harold Jefferson; Lord, Robert Howard: Archibald Cary Coolidge: life and letters, 1932 (reprinted 1971), ISBN 0-8369-6641-4. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  2. ^ a b "PROMINENT HARVARD PROFESSOR DEAD AT 61 Archibald C. Coolidge Served Long in Diplomatic Service WORKED AT PEACE PARLAY". The Indianapolis News. 16 Jan 1928. p. 26. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Harvard University Archives, call no. HUG-1299: Coolidge, Archibald Cary, 1866-1928. Papers of Archibald Cary Coolidge : an inventory, with a biography. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  4. ^ Wead, Doug (2004). All the Presidents' Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America's First Families. Simon and Schuster. pp. 127–129. ISBN 9780743446334.
  5. ^ Hunt, F. [1858]. Lives of American merchants - Vol 1. (via Google Books)
  6. ^ Arno J. Mayer, Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking. Containment and Counterrevolution at Versailles, 1918-1919 (New York, 1967), 369
  7. ^ U.S. Department of State, Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol II, p. 218. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  8. ^ U.S. Department of State, Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol XII. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  9. ^ Grose, P.: Continuing the Inquiry: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996. New York: Council on Foreign Relations: 1996, reprinted 2006. ISBN 0-87609-192-3. URL retrieved 2011-01-11.
  10. ^ Coolidge, H.J.; Lord, R.H.: Archibald Cary Coolidge: life and letters, p. 328.
  11. ^ "Scholar and Diplomatist". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 17 Jan 1928. p. 12. Retrieved 21 April 2018.

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