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Theophilus Capen Abbot papers

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-2.1.3

Scope and Content

The collection consists of correspondence, poetry, speeches, and diaries. There are also Abbot's testimonial records from the State Board of Agriculture.


  • Creation: 1844 - 1893


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Theophilus Capen Abbot was the third president of Michigan State University, 1863-1885. He was born April 29, 1826 in Vassalboro, Maine and spent his early life in Augusta, Maine. At the age of fifteen he entered Waterville College (later Colby College) at Waterville, Maine. He graduated in 1845 at the age of nineteen. He received his A.M. degree from Waterville four years later.

After earning his A.M. degree, Abbot taught in Vermont, at a seminary in northern Maine, and at Waterville College. Just prior to his teaching Greek at Waterville College, Abbot took a two-year course at the Bangor Theological Seminary.

In 1856, Abbot moved to Michigan, where he taught for part of a year in Berrien Springs. A year later he began teaching at the Union School in Ann Arbor.

In 1858, Abbot accepted the professorship of English literature at the State Agricultural College (now Michigan State University). He also served as the treasurer of the college in 1860, and as secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, the college's governing body, from 1861-1871.

The State Board of Agriculture elected Abbot president of the college in December, 1862. Abbot assumed an active role in both the administration of the school as well as continuing to teach. In constant pain from severe headaches and arthritis, Abbot continued as president until 1885. In 1866, Abbot became a professor of mental philosophy and logic. Four years later he received an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of Michigan.

On July 5, 1860 Abbot married Sarah Merrylees, a teacher at the Union School in Ann Arbor. Sarah (1828-1911) and Theophilus Abbot had two children, Mary Mouat Abbot Moore (1863-1903) and Joseph Rodney Abbot (1865-1947).

Following his resignation in 1885, Abbot remained at the college as professor until 1889 when he was forced to retire due to ill health. Abbot's health declined perceptibly after 1889 and he died on November 7, 1892.


1.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Office of the President. Theophilus Capen Abbot Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
R. Harms
December 1978
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US