Edwin A. Grosvenor

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Edwin A. Grosvenor.

Edwin Augustus Grosvenor (1845–1936) was a historian, author, chairman of the history department at Amherst College, and longtime president of the national organization of Phi Beta Kappa societies. Grosvenor was called "one of the most cosmopolitan of Americans" by author and abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson.[1] His son, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, was the first employee and longtime editor of National Geographic Magazine.

Early years[edit]

Grosvenor was born in 1845 in West Newbury, Massachusetts, the son of Dr. Edwin Prescott Grosvenor and the author Harriet (Sanborn) Grosvenor. He prepared at Brown High School in Newburyport, MA, and graduated from Amherst College in 1867 as class poet and salutatorian.[2] After graduating, he served as a tutor at Robert College in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul, Turkey). After returning to the U.S., he obtained an M.A. from Amherst College and was ordained as a minister in Newburyport, 1872.


In 1872 Edwin Grosvenor returned to Robert College with his young wife and began teaching.

Grosvenor then taught at Amherst College from 1892 to 1914, and was professor emeritus until his death in 1936.

His two volume Constantinople was "the most important treatise ... that has yet appeared in English," wrote a reviewer in the Springfield Republican. "One of the books of the year."[3] The New York Times said that Grosvenor was "uniquely suited to the task."[4] Grosvenor was President of the United Chapters Phi Beta Kappa from 1907 to 1919 and a frequent commencement speaker, often talking on the subject of "the love of wisdom is the guide of life … knowledge applied to right uses and to the service of man."[5] Grosvenor received honorary degrees from Wabash College, Alfred University, Marietta College, and the College of William & Mary. Grosvenor was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1896.[6] He was a member of the Authors' Club, and numerous other societies.

Personal life[edit]

On October 23, 1873, Grosvenor married Lilian Hovey Waters, of Millbury, MA, granddaughter of the gunsmith Asa Waters, and they resided for a number of years in the Waters Mansion in Millbury.[7] Just over two years later, the couple gave birth to twins Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor and Edwin Prescott Grosvenor, on October 28, 1875.[8]



Selected articles[edit]

  • "Address for the United Chapters," in Addresses at the Presentation of the Chapter Rooms in Morris Pratt Memorial Library, Phi Beta Kappa, 1913
  • "Constantinople and Sancta Sophia," National Geographic, May, 1915, pp. 459–482.
  • "Evolution of Russian Government," National Geographic, July, 1905, pp. 309–332.
  • "Growth of Russia," National Geographic, May, 1900, pp. 169–185.
  • "Last Night of the Misolonghi," published in the New Century Speaker, a collection of extracts by Prof. Henry Allyn Frink, Ph.D., Ginn & C., Boston, 1898, page 52.
  • "Races of Europe," National Geographic, December, 1918, pages 441–553.


  1. ^ Higginson, Thomas Wentworth (1902). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Cambridge: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. p. 3. 
  2. ^ Hills, William Henry; Luce, Robert (January 1896). "Sketches of Writers: Professor Edwin A. Grosvenor". The Writer Magazine. IX: 9–11. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Advertisement for the book Constantinople". The Literary news: a monthly journal of current literature. 17. February 1896. 
  4. ^ "THE CITY OF CONSTANTINE; CONSTANTINOPLE. By Edwin A. Grosvenor, Professor of European History at Amherst College". The New York Times. December 25, 1895. 
  5. ^ Phi Beta Kappa. Alpha of New York (Union College) (1917). The Centenary of Alpha of New York of Phi Beta Kappa: Celebrated at Union College June 11 and 12, 1917. Schenectady, N.Y.: Gazette Press. p. 3. 
  6. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  7. ^ "History of the Asa Waters Mansion". Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  8. ^ http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/l/a/m/M-F-LaMont/GENE3-0072.html

Further reading[edit]

  • Poole, Robert M. Explorers House: National Geographic and the World it Made. New York: Penguin, 2004. ISBN 1-59420-032-7
  • The Writer magazine, "Sketches of Writers: Professor Edwin S. Grosvenor," Vol. IX. January, 1896. Pages 9–11.