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James Gray papers

Identifier: ua-00728

Scope and Content

Papers in this collection include notes gathered in preparation for writing the history, The University of Minnesota, 1851-1951, correspondence about the history, two early manuscripts and the final revision of the book. Also included are transcripts of speeches by Gray, material about James Gray’s father, James Gray, a newspaper man and mayor of Minneapolis, samples of Gray’s work as a columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch, a manuscript of Open Wide the Dooralong with correspondence relating to it and a history of the University's School of Nursing.

Collection also consists of a photocopy of an unpublished manuscript with the working title Studies of Teachers, consisting of biographical sketches of three of Gray’s University of Minnesota professors: Edgar E. Stoll, Oscar W. Firkins, and Joseph Warren Beach.


  • Creation: 1869-1967


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of James Gray (1899-1984)

James Gray, B.A. (1920) University of Minnesota. Professor of English at the University of Minnesota and author of the University of Minnesota' centennial history.

James Gray was born in Minneapolis in 1899. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism in 1920 and was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Literature, by Hamline University in 1939.

Gray joined the staff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatchin 1920. He resigned in 1946 to accept the position of literary editor with the Chicago Daily News. While in Chicago he also taught creative writing and English at the University of Chicago. In 1948 he returned to the University of Minnesota as a professor of English and was commissioned to write a history of the university as part of its centennial celebrations, The University of Minnesota, 1851-1951(Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press [1951]). Gray took a two-year leave of absence from the university starting in 1951 in order to research and write, Business without Boundary(Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press [1954]), a history of General Mills. He left the university in 1954.

James Gray also wrote a history of the school of nursing, Education for Nursing(Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press [1960]) as well as Open Wide the Door(New York, Putnam [1958]) which is a condensed history of the University of Minnesota published as part of a series on great American universities. Some of Gray’s other publications include a collection of critical essays, On Second Thought(Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press [1946]), and Pine, Steam, and Prairie: Wisconsin and Minnesota in Profile(New York, Knopf, [1945]).

In 1964 the University of Minnesota awarded James Gray the Outstanding Achievement Award. James Gray died in Stamford, Connecticut on August 6, 1984 at the age of 85.


1.24 Cubic Feet (2 boxes (1 record carton, 1 hollinger))


This collection contains the papers of James Gray, a professor of English at the University of Minnesota and author of the University's centennial history, The University of Minnesota, 1851-1951 (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press [1951]).

Arrangement of the Collection

This collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Notes, Research, and Correspondence, circa 1869-1967
  2. Writings and Speeches, 1938-1967
  3. Miscellaneous, 1913-1951
James Gray Papers, 1869-1967
University Archives Staff
June 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

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