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Henry F. May Papers, BANC MSS 89/61 c
BANC MSS 89/61 c  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library
    Title: Henry F. May Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 89/61 c
    Physical Description: 18 linear feet 6 boxes, 13 cartons, 1 oversize folder
    Date (inclusive): 1940-2011
    Abstract: The papers deal principally with May's career as an historian and educator. Correspondence includes chronological files (1946-1983), former students, and other correspondents, colleagues, and friends. Included are working notes and drafts of his books and aricles, and related correspondence and criticism; as well as records of May's teaching, with course outlines and lecture notes. There is material relating to the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Finally, the papers include files kept by May as an active member of the History Department, University of California, Berkeley from 1952 until his retirement in 1980.
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.


    Collection is open for research, with the following exceptions:
    Within "Series 1 Correspondence", access to sub-series, "Former Students" and "Other Correspondents, Colleagues, and Friends" is only by the written permission of one of May's literary executors until 2022 (ten years after his death).

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Henry F. May papers, BANC MSS 89/61 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Acquisition Information

    The Henry F. May Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Professor May on November 18, 1988, with additions made in May and August of 1990, 1999 and 2013.


    Henry Farnham May was born in Denver, Colorado on March 27, 1915, the son of Henry F. and May (Rickard) May. He received an A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1937, with his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard in 1938 and 1947. May worked as an instructor of history at Lawrence College from 1941 to 1942 and from 1942 to 1945, served as a lieutenant (j.g.) in the United States Navy Reserve. He returned to his teaching career as an assistant professor, and then associate professor, at Scripps College from 1947 to 1949. He was a visiting associate professor at Bowdoin College from 1950 to 1951.
    May became a member of the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1952 and was made professor in 1956. From 1963 to 1980, he served as the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History and was made an emeritus professor in 1980. May served as chairman of the history department from 1964-1966 and also held many temporary assignments during his career, including Faculty Research Lecturer in 1980. He was a summer teacher at the Salzburg Seminar of American Studies and at the University of Minnesota. May was Fulbright lecturer at the Belgian Universities from 1959-1960, Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University from 1971-1972, and visiting professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1980.
    May is the author of Protestant Churches and Industrial America (1949), The End of American Innocence (1959), A Synopsis of American History (with C. G. Sellers, 1963), The Enlightenment in America (1976), Ideas, Faiths, and Feelings (1983), Coming to Terms (1987), The Divided Heart (1991), and Three Faces of Berkeley (1993), as well as numerous articles.
    Throughout his career, Henry May was honored with numerous awards, including the Berkeley Citation (1980), the Beveridge Prize (1977) from the American History Association, and the Merle Curti Prize (1976) from the Organization of American Historians. In 1996, the same organization awarded him its annual citation for Distinguished Service. May has served as Fellow on the Social Science Research Council (1946-1947 and 1963-1964), on the American Council of Learned Societies (1963-1964), and as a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for Humanities (1974-1975). He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    Henry May married Jean Louise Terrace on June 18, 1941 and has two children, Hildy May and Ann Rickard May. May died on September 29, 2012.

    Scope and Content

    The papers of Professor Henry F. May span the years from 1940 to 2011 and primarily concern his career as a historian and educator. The collection consists of correspondence, working drafts and notes of his writings, including books, articles, essays, speeches, reviews, and related correspondence and criticism. Also included are records of May's teaching, including course outlines and his lecture notes. Finally, the collection includes files kept by May as an active member of the History Department at Berkeley from 1952 until his retirement in 1980.
    The time of May's tenure at Berkeley was a period of crucial change in the University, which can be divided into two overlapping phases: first, a time of increasing growth and prosperity; second, a period of cultural upheaval, continuing through the sixties and to some extent into the seventies. During all of these years, May devoted most of his time and energy to the teaching and writing of history, especially American intellectual and religious history. He also took some part in History Department affairs during the period of expansion and the University controversies during the time of upheaval. He was also moderately active in national and international professional activities.
    The arrangement of May's papers was and remains his own. From the time of his retirement, his files were kept in their original and personal form and arrangement in his department office. In 1988, since May no longer had access to office storage space, he made a gift of the papers to The Bancroft Library. To facilitate future access to his papers, Professor May himself undertook their necessary reorganization and listing in the summer of 1994. In the course of his research on a study of U.C. faculty and administration during the presidency of Benjamin Ide Wheeler (1899-1919), Professor May used the papers of faculty members of that period. It is the best of those collections that furnished him with models for organizing his own papers, with the purpose of making them approachable and usable for future historians of the University.
    [Excerpted from a note by Professor Henry F. May, July 1994]