This collection primarily covers the period 1945 to 1959, with some scattered correspondence shortly before and after these dates. Most pertains to administrative matters, including dealings with such foundations as the Carnegie Corporation, (which sponsored a seminar on science and technology in the U.S.), the Danforth and the Ford Foundations, the activities of the American Studies Association, summer activities of the American Studies program and a seminar on the centenary of Harpers Ferry, at which Martin Luther King was one of many notable individuals invited to speak. Tremaine McDowell's personal and professional activities are well documented in this collection. He was especially interested in American literature and conducted notable research on the poet William Cullen Bryant.
Material of Mary Turpie, David Noble and Gayle Graham Yates, long-term faculty members in the department, are represented in the collection. Materials of Mulford Q. Sibley found in the collection have been removed and placed in the Mulford Q. Sibley papers.
This collection contains the records of the American Studies program at the University of Minnesota.
The American Studies program at the University of Minnesota was established in 1945. Tremaine McDowell, who joined the University of Minnesota English faculty in 1928, founded the American Studies program and served as chair until he retired in 1958. The goal of the program was to bridge the gap from the past and the present and draw upon the resources of many different academic departments, including English, history, sociology, anthropology, law, journalism, art, and political science, to form a curriculum to study American culture. The undergraduate program at the University of Minnesota was one of the first of its kind developed in the U.S. A Ph.D. program was established in 1946.