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William Watts Folwell

The Autobiography and Letters of a Pioneer of Culture

Author:

William Watts Folwell
Solon J. Buck, editor

William Watts Folwell

A man who we should like to believe was a typical American . . . The type to which out national idealism aspires but which we rarely meet.

Minnesota History

William Watts Folwell: The Autobiography and Letters of a Pioneer Culture was first published in 1933. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original

In a three-room farmhouse in Romulus, New York, where a spinning wheel stood by the fireplace and home-dipped candles lighted the long evenings, William Watts Folwell was born on February 14, 1833. His life of ninety-six years spanned the Century of Progress. It was on February 14, 1933, exactly one hundred years from the day of his birth, that the University of Minnesota Press brought out this volume containing Dr. Folwell’s own story of his long life. He traveled in early Victorian Europe, met Browning in Italy and Jakob Grimm in Germany, corresponded with Matthew Arnold, served as an officer in the Civil War, and in 1869 became the first president of the University of Minnesota. From that time until his death in September 1929, he maintained an unflagging interest in the affairs of the university and the state, finishing the four-volume History of Minnesota only a few months before his death.

William Watts Folwell

William Watts Folwell became the first president of the University of Minnesota in 1869. He served as president until 1884 when he became a professor of political science and librarian until his retirement in 1907.

Solon J. Buck, who edited this collection of Folwell’s writings, was a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and director of publications for the National Archives in Washington D.C.

William Watts Folwell

A man who we should like to believe was a typical American . . . The type to which out national idealism aspires but which we rarely meet.

Minnesota History

This work is of considerable historical value. Many letters and documents have been included which will prove of importance to future students of education and history, especially of Minnesota and the Central West.

Library Quarterly

Dr. Folewll’s History of Minnesota, truly the crowning achievement of his life, even if undertaken at an age when most men would have retired, already has been given a place among the annals of the state. His autobiography, in a sense a supplement to this history, should be similarly honored.

Minneapolis Star

The University of Minnesota does well to print this autobiography of a man who ornamented its faculty in the capacities of president, professor and librarian for thirty-eight years. Of conscious, formal biography there are 162 pages, dictated when Mr. Folwell was between the ages of 87 and 96, clear, smooth, interesting. To these the editor has added 112 pages of pertinent letters of an informality, charm, and substance which add greatly to the interest and value of the book. The seven illustrations are carefully chosen. The editing is thoroughly praiseworthy. No reader willingly would spare a word from… this simple, straightforward, fascinating story.

Journal of Higher Education