The resources available at this site consist of selected documents from the William Holmes McGuffey Papers, held by the Walter Havighurst Special Collections Library at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The major portion of the McGuffey Papers was collected by Mrs. Mary (Thompson) Hughes and purchased from her estate about 1948. Mary Hughes was a curator at the McGuffey Museum, a division of the Miami University Art Museum, and her keen interest in William Holmes McGuffey led her to amass this collection of materials relating to him and his family. The papers also include two manuscript sermons of William Holmes McGuffey which were received from the estate of his granddaughter, Katherine W. Stewart, about 1953, and a collection of nearly forty book contracts for the McGuffey Readers, donated by Richard Long of the American Book Company in 1996. Part of the collection is on long-term loan to the Walter Havighurst Special Collections from the McGuffey Museum. The McGuffey Museum is housed in the former Oxford home of William Holmes McGuffey.
William Holmes McGuffey began teaching school at the age of 14. He was a professor of ancient languages at Miami University from 1826 until his resignation in 1836. He then served as president of Cincinnati College (1836-1839) and Ohio University (1839-1843). Returning to Cincinnati, McGuffey taught at Woodward College from 1843 until 1845, when he became a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Virginia. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1829. It was during his years at Miami when McGuffey was approached to write a series of readers for school children. In addition to the work done on these by William Holmes McGuffey, he was assisted by his brother, Alexander Hamilton McGuffey, who also compiled a speller and had sole responsibility for the Fifth Reader. Alexander taught school while working on his law degree and opened a law office in Cincinnati in 1839. The McGuffey Readers sold over 125,000,000 copies.
The McGuffey Papers consist primarily of correspondence sent or received by William Holmes McGuffey between 1826 and 1873, although dates extend from 1814 to 1932.
The following persons are represented in the collection: John Ebenezer Annan, Catharine Esther Beecher, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, Joseph C. Cabell, John H. Corke, Daniel Drake, James Hoge, Andrew Dousa Hepburn, Charles M. Hepburn, Henrietta McGuffey Hepburn, Harriet McGuffey Love, Alexander H. McGuffey, Charles Spining McGuffey, William Holmes McGuffey, Edward Deering Mansfield, Robert Cumming Schenck, John Witherspoon Scott, Winthrop B. Smith, Robert Livingston Stanton, Charles L. Telford, Noah Webster, Henry A. Wise, and Andrew Wylie.
William Holmes McGuffey in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections