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Eliot Family Collection

Identifier: WUA-04-wua00123

The Eliot family collection contains published sermons and talks by William Greenleaf Eliot (1811-1887); published books and articles about the Church of the Messiah and the Mission Free School; articles about William Greenleaf Eliot; correspondence between family members; photos, books, phonograph records, and newspaper clippings of articles written by or about Thomas Stearns Eliot (T.S. Eliot); programs of plays written by T.S. Eliot; articles regarding the history of Washington University (originally Eliot Seminary, then Washington Institute, and ultimately Washington University); and other materials.


  • 1837-1990


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


2.50 linear feet

6 boxes


This collection contains items by and about the family of William Greenleaf Eliot (1811-1887) and his ancestors, notably, T.S. Eliot.

Biographical Information

William Greenleaf Eliot (1811-1887), was born in Bedford, Massachusetts, attended Harvard Divinity School, and became a Unitarian minister before arriving in St. Louis in 1834. That same year, he founded the Church of the Messiah in St. Louis at Locust and Garrison Streets. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (1980). In 1840, he and his congregation began a school for the poor and homeless called the Mission Free School. In 1837, Eliot married Abby Adams Cranch.  Of their 14 children, only five lived to adulthood: Thomas Lamb, Henry Ware, Christopher Rhodes, Edward Cranch, and Rose Greenleaf. William Greenleaf Eliot, along with Wayman Crow (a merchant), co-founded Washington University (originally Eliot Seminary) in 1853.

T.S. Eliot (Thomas Stearns Eliot) (1888-1965), the youngest son of Henry Ware Eliot and Charlotte Stearns Eliot, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1927, Eliot became a British citizen. He was a Nobel Prize-winning poet (Literature, 1948) and playwright. Also in 1948, King George VI bestowed the Order of Merit upon him.  Eliot’s book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats inspired Cats, one of the longest-running musicals in history. T.S. Eliot died on January 4, 1965 (in London) at age 76.


This collection is arranged into four series.

Series 01 – Files

Series 02 – Scrapbook

Series 03 – Books

Series 04 – Phonograph Records

Series 05 - Oversized Materials

Series 01, 03 and 04 are arranged alphabetically by name, either person or organization.  The arrangement scheme was imposed during processing in the absence of a usable original order.

Series 02 is arranged in the order in which the items were placed by the creator.

Method of Acquisition

This material was donated to the University Archives, May 3, 2010

Related Materials

William Greenleaf Eliot Personal Papers

William Greenleaf Eliot, Jr. Papers

Letter from Wayman Crow to William Greenleaf Eliot speaking of the incorporation of Washington University, then named  "Eliot Seminary"

Scott, Henry Eliot. The family of William Greenleaf Eliot, 1811-1887, and Abby Adams Eliot, 1817-1908. 5th ed. Wasilla, Alaska: H.E. Scott, 1988.   Available in Olin Library.

Processing Information

Processed by Louise Cheli in July 2012.

Eliot Family Collection
Description rules
Language of description

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495