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Colin S. Buell Papers

Identifier: PP-A01

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the records pertaining to the founding of Connecticut College and the role of Colin Buell therein, including fundraising and campaign material; correspondence with Morton Plant, George Palmer, Elizabeth Wright, and other benefactors; and a portion of Buell’s diary.


  • 1906-1938
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1917



This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical History

Colin Sherman Buell was an educator, civic leader, and a key figure in the founding of Connecticut College for Women. Born in Killingworth, Connecticut, on January 3, 1861 to J. Sherman and Frances J. (Hull), Buell graduated from Yale in 1885 and taught at the Lackawanna School in Scranton, Pennsylvania, before ill health forced him home to Connecticut a year later. Buell studied law before returning to teaching in 1887 at the Harvard School in Chicago. In 1888, Buell was hired as first assistant at the Bulkeley School, a boys’ high school in New London, Connecticut. He remained there until 1891, when he was elected first principal of the Williams Memorial Institute (WMI), a newly established high school for girls.

It was at the Williams Institute that Buell began his efforts to establish an institute of higher learning for women in New London. At the WMI commencement in 1894, Buell spoke of the necessity of a women’s college for Connecticut, and his hopes that the citizens of New London would rally around the cause. When his plan to expand WMI into a women’s college fell through, Buell turned his attention to prominent civic leaders, approaching Sebastian Duffy Lawrence (then-president of the National Whaling Bank) in 1907 to assist in drawing up plans, and then Rockefeller’s General Education Board in 1910. These efforts were ultimately rejected as too costly, as were further entreaties to private financiers.

In 1910, Buell wrote to Elizabeth Wright and the Hartford College Club of Wesleyan, who were leading their own campaign for a woman’s college in Connecticut in response to Wesleyan’s decision to stop admitting women to the university a year earlier. Wright and Buell combined efforts, and by 1911, had secured the funding to establish the new institution, thanks in large part to a frenzied campaign by the citizens of New London, who raised $135,000, and a million dollar bequest by financier and railroad tycoon Morton F. Plant. Buell was elected a trustee of the Connecticut College for Women, and later served as chair of the endowment committee.


0.20 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, notes, and fundraising material documenting Colin Sherman Buell’s role in the founding of Connecticut College.


Organized chronologically in a single series.

Acquisitions Information

Donated to Connecticut College by Mrs. Colin S. Buell, February 22, 1951.

Processed By

Rebecca Parmer, 2015; updated April 2016.

Guide to the Colin S. Buell Papers
Amber Pero
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives Repository

Connecticut College
270 Mohegan Ave
New London CT 06320 United States