Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to Floyd Seyward Lear papers, 1881-1975 MS 335

creator Lear, Floyd Seyward
Title: Floyd Seyward Lear papers
Dates: 1881-1975
Abstract: The papers of medieval historian Dr. Floyd Seyward Lear include correspondence, departmental and university reports and memoranda, teaching materials, research notes, and a variety of memorabilia, including photographs which document his long tenure at Rice University (1925-1975) as well as the history of the University itself.
Identification: MS 335
Quantity: 8.5 Cubic Feet(17 boxes)
Language: English
Language: English
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Biographical Note

Floyd Seyward Lear was a member of the faculty at the Rice Institute (later Rice University) in the Department of History from 1925 to 1975, the year of his death. He was born in Corfu, New York, on July 7, 1895, received an A.B. degree from the University of Rochester in 1917, and Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1920 and 1925, respectively. He first came to Texas in 1917 for military duty in the United States Army, serving from 1917 to 1919 in the Army Air Service at the new Ellington Field near Houston.

He married Elsie Laura Mann in 1920, and after completing his graduate work at Harvard returned to Houston in 1925 to join the faculty at the Rice Institute, then beginning its fourteenth academic year, as Instructor in history. He taught a wide range of courses at Rice over the next fifty years, including ancient and medieval literature and history (his particular areas of expertise), as well as courses in political theory and American history as the needs of a growing Department of History required. He was Assistant Professor from 1927 to 1945, Professor in 1945, Harris Masterson Jr. Professor of History in 1953 (the first to hold this chair), and Trustee Distinguished Professor from 1965. He served as chairman of the Department of History from 1933 to 1960, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and from 1925 a charter member of the Medieval Academy of America.

As a teacher, Dr. Lear took a personal interest in his students, coming to regard many as friends while remaining closely involved in their intellectual development. He was instrumental in developing a graduate program in history at Rice and in encouraging students interested in pursuing academic careers, including young women for whom opportunities in this area were just beginning to grow. He witnessed the extensive physical expansion that took place at Rice following World War II, and was involved in recruitment of faculty and in changes to the curriculum brought about by post-war shifts in national priorities.

Dr. Lear's papers reflect the broad interests of a humanist, teacher, and scholar. When writing in 1965 to the family of another of Rice's early faculty members whose papers had recently been given to the University Archives, he expressed his thoughts concerning the value of such papers for preserving a university's collective memory, saying:

In a very short time there will be no one left in active service here who recalls or has direct knowledge of the old school. And the depth of ignorance about almost everything prior to the Second War would appear quite unbelievable to graduates of a generation ago. The amount of correspondence and other memorabilia associated with the original faculty is all too small in the archives and the likelihood of preserving this material decreases with every passing year.

Dr. Lear's own papers help to fill this need by providing a record of years critical in the development of Rice University.

Scope and Contents

The Floyd Seyward Lear Papers total 8.5 cubic feet of material, arranged in 17 boxes and dated from 1881 to 1975. The papers of medieval historian Dr. Floyd Seyward Lear include correspondence, departmental and university reports and memoranda, teaching materials, research notes, and a variety of memorabilia, including photographs which document his long tenure at Rice University (1925-1975) as well as the history of the University itself. Much of the material was loose and unorganized when received; material already in folders was generally kept in its original order and folder titles retained as given.


The Lear papers have been arranged into 6 series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1925-1975 (Boxes 1-4)
Series II. Lecture Notes and Examinations, 1925-1974 (Boxes 5-7)
Series III. Addresses and Publications, 1929-1973 (Boxes 8-9)
Series IV. Memorabilia (Boxes 10-11)
Series V. Oversize Material (Box 12)
Series VI. Addendum: Correspondence (Boxes 13-17)


Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Floyd Seyward Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.

Index Terms

Lear, Floyd Seyward
Rice University. Department of History
Rice University
Muir, Andrew Forest
Drew, Katherine Fischer
Nelson, William H.
Pattie, Frank A.
Vandiver, Frank Everson
Ogg, David
Phillips, Edward Hake
Peckham, Edward T.
Potter, David
Lovett, Edgar Odell
Lear, Floyd Seyward
Fornell, Earl Wesley
Lear, Floyd Seyward
Masterson, William H. (William Henry)
Lowenheim, Francis L.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Floyd Seyward Lear Papers, 1881-1975, MS 335, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Acquisition Information

Prof. Lear's papers were given by Prof. Katherine Fischer Drew, Department of History, on the following dates: August 27, 1980; October 29, 1980; August 19, 1982, July 19, 1995, August 6, 2002, and October 17, 2002. An addendum of corrrespondence was donated in 2014 and 2016.

Detailed Description of the Collection

1-4 Series I. Correspondence, 1925-1975
Scope and Contents note
Series I. Correspondence consists of personal and academic correspondence. Of particular interest are letters from the 1940s during World War II, and from the post-war period in which Dr. Lear expresses concern over the future of the liberal arts as changes take place in the Institute's curriculum to accommodate new national priorities. Correspondence in Boxes 3 and 4 reflects Dr. Lear's activities both in the Department of History and university-wide. Book Orders (Box 4) record the establishment from 1928 of a core collection of books in medieval history, including works on Roman and Germanic law.
Subseries A: Personal Correspondence
Box Folder
1 1-2 Sub-subseries: Biographical and personal
1 Biographical Material 1950-1969
2 Letters - Personal 1951-1959
1-2 Sub-subseries: Selected Rice Institute/Rice University Faculty
Box Folder
1 3 Drew, Katherine Fischer 1947-1974
4 Fornell, Earl Wesley 1950-1964
5 Loewenheim, Francis L. 1959-1969
6 Lovett, Edgar Odell 1937-1943
7 Masterson, William H. 1947-1960
8 Muir, Andrew Forrest 1943-1959
9 Nelson, William H. 1953-1963
10 Ogg, David 1958-1961
11 Pattie, Frank A. 1945-1965
12 Peckham, Edmund T. 1952-1958
13 Phillips, Edward Hake 1949-1958
14 Potter, David 1945-1965
15 Vandiver, Frank E. 1953-1971
Box Folder
2 1 1935-1945
2 1946-1950
3 1951-1955
4 1956
5 1957
6 1958
7 1959
8 1960-1962
9 1963-1965
10 1966-1970
11 1971-1972
12 1972-1974
13 1975
Subseries B: Rice Institute/Rice University
Box Folder
3 1 Letters of Academic Appointment and Salary 1925-1960
2 Letters of Academic Appointment and Salary 1961-1975
3 Appointments - Faculty 1945-1947
4 Appointments - Faculty 1948-1960
5 Admissions 1946-1950
6 Admissions 1951-1960
7 Recommendations 1941-1953
8 Recommendations 1954-1960
9 Recommendations 1961-1969
Box Folder
4 1 Department of History and Government 1933-1958
2 Department of History 1959-1973
3 Departmental Minutes 1963-1964
4 Departmental Budget Material, [ "Dr. Lear - Confidential"] 1963-1964
5 Student Graders 1925-1945
6 Library/History Department 1948-1960
7 Book Orders 1928-1948
8 Book Orders 1953-1975
9 Establishment of Curriculum 1941-1947
10 Notices [departmental and university] 1969-1971
11 Rice Institute Administrative Material 1942-1956
12 Rice University Administrative Material 1962-1970
13 Faculty Club 1933-c. 1938

5-7 Series II. Lectures Notes and Examinations 1924-1974
Scope and Contents note
Series II. Lecture Notes and Examinations includes material arranged more or less chronologically to indicate curriculum changes over time. Material ranges from sets of year-long lecture notes (as in History 100) to single-item exams. Of special interest are student essays and examination answers from 1934 to 1970 (Box 7), most of which were apparently re-typed by Dr. Lear for his own files.
Box Folder
5 1 Chautaqua Course Outline (undated)
2 University of Texas Extension Course (History 9) 1926
3-8 Rice Institute/Rice University Courses
3 History 100 - First Semester (undated)
4 History 1000 - Second Semester (undated)
5 History 100 [European History], with additions to 1925-1926, 1938
6 History 100. Map Suggestions (undated)
7 History 100. Exams, Direction Sheets 1930-1939
8 History 100. Exams and Direction Sheets 1940-1965
Box Folder
6 1 History 110. Ancient History and Civilization. Course regulations 1925-1929
2-3 History 110. Ancient History and Civilization. Lectures and exams 1925-1926
4 History 110. Ancient History and Civilization. Lecture Notes and exams 1926-1927
5 History 110. Ancient History and Civilization. Exams and lecture notes 1927-1940
6-7 History 320. Intellectual History of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance. 1926-1927
(folder 1)
8 History 320. Intellectual History of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance. Lecture notes, and 1935-1936 undated
9 History 320. Intellectual History of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance. Exams 1927-1970
10 History 420. Mediaeval Latin. 1928-1959
11 History 520/Political Science 520. Topics in Legal History and Political Theory. 1928-1952
12 History 530. Political Theory 1930
Box Folder
7 1 History 200. Modern European History, Exams 1500-1815. 1932-1937
2 History 350. Europe since 1815. 1932-1953
3 History 250. English History. Exams 1934-1936
4 History 300. American Government. Exams 1936-1960
5 History 330. Medieval Literature. 1936-1952
6 History 410. Advanced English History. 1940-1941
7 History 510. Topics in Medieval History. Graduate Research. 1940-1941
8 History N-3, N-3a. Naval Science. 1944-1945
9 History 110 [American History]. Notes and Exams 1945-1953
10 Political theory lectures, (Political Science 340?) 1945-1946
11 History 340. Political Geography. 1945-1947
12 Political Science 340. Foundations of National Power. 1951-1964
13 Political Science 410. Ancient and Medieval Political Theory. 1951-1961
14 History/Classics/Humanities 430. Topics in Classical and Medieval Letters. 1951-1970
15 Humanities 101-102a and b. The Classical Foundations of Political Thought. 1961-1970
16 History 321a and b, Classics 321a and b. Trends in European Culture during Antiquity and the Middle Ages. 1970-1972
17 History 431a. Topics in Ancient and Medieval Intellectual History. 1971-1973
18 History 432b. Social Influences in Classical Thought. 1972-1974
19 History 434b. The Classical Foundations of Political Thought. 1973
20 Miscellaneous exams (History, English, Italian). 1934-1953
21 Lecture fragments undated
22 Student essays and examination answers 1934-1970
23 Teaching guides:
23 A Syllabus for Ancient History (Finkelstein, ) 1937
23 "The Lost Tools of Learning" (essay, Dorothy Sayers, ) 1959
23 The Writing on the Wall, Or, Glimpses from Pompeian Graffiti into The Daily of the Ancient Romans (Dr. Helen Wieand Cole, The Service Bureau for Classical Teachers, Bulletin XXIV, ) March 1931

8-9 Series III. Addresses and Publications, 1929-1973
Scope and Contents note
Series III. Addresses and Publications includes copies of addresses or lectures given by Dr. Lear and manuscripts of his published works with early notes and drafts; Box 8 also contains a list of Dr. Lear's publications and book reviews from 1929 to 1969.
Box Folder
8 1 Lists of publications and book reviews 1929-1969
2 "The Modern Cornificians, or Social Science at the Bar of the Humanities." (post-1938?)
3 "Edward Gibbon on 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'." (undated paper)
4 Book reviews and related correspondence 1935-1973
5 "Some Notes on the Idea of Majesty" and "The Idea of Majesty in Roman Political Thought." ( presumably for chapter in McIlwain Essays (Harvard University Press, ) Undated; 1936
6 Draft and notes for "Crimen Laesae Maistatis in the Lex Romana Wisigothorum." (published in Speculum, IV, ) 1929
7 "Patriotism and Some Related Aspects of Roman Character." Reprint, Rice Institute Pamphlet, XXIX, no. 4. October 1941
8 Manuscript and correspondence for "The Public Law of the Ripuarian, Alamannic, and Bavarian Codes. (published in Medievalia et Humanistica, II 1944.
9 "Treason and Related Offences in the Anglo-Saxon Dooms." (published in Rice Institute Pamphlet, XXXVII, ) 1950
10 Manuscript and correspondence for "The Public Law of the Visigothic Code." (published in Speculum, XXVI, ) 1951
11 "History and the Humanities in Our Earlier Years." (Draft copy; published in The Flyleaf, XV, no. 2, ) 1965
12 "History and the Humanities at Rice between Two Wars." (Address presented under sponsorship of Association of Rice Alumni) January 11, 1967
13 Notes on treason (ancient, Greek, Roman). (undated)
14 Treason thru 1352 - Outline. (Undated)
15 Draft of Thesis on "Treason in England." (undated)
16 Correspondence regarding publication of book on treason 1960-65
Box Folder
9 1 Ms. of work on treason (notation on original folder: 'Mrs. Alsobrook - Lear MS') (undated)
2 Ms. of Treason in Roman and Germanic Law: Collected Papers. (ch's 1-5)
3 Ms. of Treason in Roman and Germanic Law: Collected Papers. (ch's 6-14)

10-11 Series IV. Memorabilia, 1912-1974
Scope and Contents note
Series IV. Memorabilia includes memorandum books and guest lists from dinners given by the Lears from 1927-1963, Class Record books, pamphlets, various mementos from Rice Institute (University), and Dr. Lear's yearbooks from the University of Rochester.
10 Six memorandum books with guest lists and dinner menus 1927-1963
Two Riggs' Class Record books with students' names and grades 1955-1974
Three pamphlets entitled "The Rice Institute" pre-1924-c. 1941
Medallion, Rice University Semicentennial - 1912-1962
World War II ration books
Log of automobile gasoline usage and costs (undated)
U.S. Postal Savings System card with $.10-cent savings stamps 1941
Miscellaneous Rice Institute/University greeting cards and announcements
11 Four yearbooks from the University of Rochester 1915-1918

12 Series V. Oversize Material, 1881-1967
Scope and Contents note
Series V. Oversize Material includes photographs, awards, books, and newspaper clippings.
Photographic portrait of Floyd Seyward Lear
Meritorious Service Award presented by The Association of Rice Alumni: Meritorious November 12, 1966
Distinguished Scholar Award presented by the Association of Rice Alumni January 11, 1967
13 photographs, evidently taken at Ellington Air Field c. 1917-1919
Miscellaneous photographs
Darwin, Charles, The Original of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, part 2, The Humboldt Library, no. 59 (New York, ) 1884
Darwin, Charles, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (partial copy, cover and title page missing)
Huxley, Thomas H., On the Origin of Species, The Humboldt Library of Science, no. 16 (New York, ) 1881
Newspaper clippings 1930s-1960s

Series VI. Addendum: Correspondence, 1911-1976, undated

Sub-Series I. Correspondence, 1911-1959, undated
Scope and Contents
Correspondence consists of personal and academic correspondence. Correspondence includes letters from Lear's family (brothers William and Leighton, nieces, and nephews) and former students. Correspondence from Andrew Forest Muir are also interspersed. Of particular interest are letters from the 1910s and during World War I when Lear was enlisted in the Army Air Service.
Box Folder
13 1 1911-1915
2 1916-1917
3 Mann, Elsie 1917
4 1918
5 1919-1924
6 1939-1940
7 January-April 1941
8 May-July 1941
Box Folder
14 1 August-December 1941
2 January-May 1942
3 June-July 1942
4 August-December 1942
5 January-April 1943
7 May-August 1943
Box Folder
15 1 September-December 1943
2 January-April 1944
3 May-July 1944
4 August-December 1944
5 January-March 1945
6 May-December 1945
7 January-May 1946
8 May-December 1946
Box Folder
16 1 January-June 1947
2 1948, 1953, 1957
3 1958-1959, n.d.
4 Rice Institute, 1940-44
5 Correspondence scraps, clippings, n.d.
Sub-Series II. Correspondence, Katherine Fischer Drew to Floyd Seward Lear 1944-1976
Scope and Contents
This subseries contains letters from Katherine Fischer Drew to Dr. and Mrs. Lear. The letters include both personal and professional notes from Drew. From these letters one could gather that Dr. Lear and Katherine Fischer Drew had a mentor/mentee relationship. Many are postcards or descriptions of her travels. Drew talks about her experiences as a woman in academia in the mid-twentieth century. These letters also offer insight on how World War II affected student life and on Drew's time at Cornell.
Box Folder
17 1 1944-1947
2 1948
3 1949
4 1953-1956
5 1971-1976