John B. McMaster papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
John Bach McMaster (1852-1932) was an American writer and professor best known for his landmark history of the United States, A History of the People of the United States, which appeared in eight volumes from 1883 to 1913. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he graduated from the Free Academy (now the College of the City of New York) in 1872, at which point he became a clerk in the United States Engineer Corps. Over the next ten years he wrote several pamphlets on engineering and began work on his landmark History.
In 1877, he was appointed Instructor in Geodesy at Princeton University, and in 1878, led the Princton's anthropological expedition to the Wyoming Badlands to gather fossils. In 1883, McMaster moved to Philadelphia and accepted an appointment as Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania; the first volume of his History appeared that same year. In addition to his History, McMaster produced a popular primary school textbook, A Primary School History of the United States (1901), The Life and Times of Stephen Girard (1918), The United States in World War I (two volumes, 1918-1920), and The History of the People of the United States During Lincoln's Administration (1927), as well as numerous articles and newspaper editorials. McMaster's historical technique was notable in its use of newspaper material—revolutionary at the time—to provide a portrait of American society, as well as his insistence on providing social context from all classes, not simply the political leaders of the time. McMaster taught American history at the University of Pennsylvania until 1920.
McMaster married Gertrude Stevenson in 1887 and they were the parents of three children. His son, Philip McMaster (1891-1973), graduated from Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and was a well-known physiologist and pathologist. John B. McMaster died on May 24, 1932.
This collection contains material related to McMaster's work as a professor, scholar, and author. It is arranged in four series. Series I: Correspondence contains correspondence between McMaster and publishers, historical societies, fellow scholars, and admirers of his work, as well as a small amount of personal correspondence, including with prominent writers William Dean Howells, Upton Sinclair, and Howard Pyle. Series II: Writing includes partial manuscript drafts of most of his published books, as well as published articles and assorted notes. Series III: Research Material contains material which McMaster used during his research, including copies of letters, newspaper material, maps, and historical documents. Series IV: Personal Material includes newspaper clippings that referenced McMaster's life and work, celebrations of his completion of A History of the People of the United States, memorabilia which McMaster collected, and testimonials given after his death, as well as financial material collected by him and his children. Series V: Scrapbooks contains scrapbooks of clippings and correspondence related to McMaster's books. Care has been taken to separate newspaper clippings which McMaster used for research and clippings which he collected to commemorate his own achievements, but in some cases (such as his work on World War I) there may be overlap. Additional information about contents can be found at the series level.
Gift of Philip D. McMaster, 1965.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Sam Allingham
- Finding Aid Date
- 2018 February 23
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.