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Carl Stephens Ell papers

Identifier: M002

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Carl Stephens Ell (CSE) consist of approximately 4 cubic feet of material spanning the years 1912-1981. The collection was transferred to the Archives in four groups. The first two accessions were prior to August 1994. The third accession was transferred in June 1995; the fourth was donated in April 1996. The personal papers of CSE were intermingled with his professional records (see Northeastern University, Office of the President (Ell), 1940-59 (A2)). The personal materials were separated from the archival collection; however, all of CSE's writings and speeches are located in A2 (boxes 6 and 34-39) as the bulk are professional rather than personal.

The collection is arranged in two series: Subject Files and Material Culture. Series I. Subject Files is arranged alphabetically. Curriculum vitae, newspaper clippings and narrative summaries of CSE's life can be found in Biographical Material, n.d., 1924-78 (Box 1, folders 2-7 and Box 5, folder 30); materials relating to honors and awards received by CSE, including notes written by CSE's secretary Marjorie Prout regarding his honorary degrees, are arranged alphabetically by folder title under the headings General and Honorary Degrees in Honors and Awards, 1927-1981 (Box 1, folders 9-22; Box 2, folders 23-25; Box 3, folder 28; Box 5, folders 32-34; box 7; Box 8; flat file 1, drawer 1, folder 1; and flat file 3, drawer 3).

Papers documenting CSE's activities as a fund raiser for his alma mater, DePauw University, and as head of alumni contributions for the Class of 1909 are found in Box 1, folder 8 and Box 5, folder 31. Also in the collection are two signed poems by the writer Edwin Markham (1852-1940) (Box 3, folder 29) and CSE's scrapbook from his early years at NU (Box 6).

Series II. Material Culture comprises various personal objects from CSE's office.


  • Creation: 1912-1981


Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.

Historical Note

Carl Stephens Ell was born in Staunton, Indiana on November 14, 1887, son of Jacob and Alice (Stephens) Ell. He graduated from DePauw University with an A.B. in 1909. Ell went on to receive an S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1911, an M.S. in Civil Engineering in 1912 from the same institution, and an Ed.M. from Harvard University in 1932. He married Etta May Kinnear on June 10, 1913 and had one daughter, Dorothy. Ell was the second president of Northeastern University, from 1940-59, and was associated with Northeastern from 1910 to his death on April 17, 1981.

In the fall of 1910, as a student in Civil Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ell became a part-time Instructor of surveying at the Co-operative School of Engineering of the Boston YMCA. After graduating from MIT with an M.S. in Civil Engineering in 1912, Ell became a full-time member of the faculty at what was to become Northeastern University. Over the years, Ell was promoted until, in 1940, he became the second president of Northeastern University (see chronology of Ell's career at NU below).

Ell was also director of the Arkwright Mutual Insurance Company, and a corporator of Charlestown Savings Bank. He was a member of the corporation and trustee of New England Deaconess Hospital and Northeastern University. CSE was also an active member of Newtonville Methodist Church. He was a Trustee of the church from 1935 until 1966, when he resigned from the Board due to circumstances related to the merging of Newtonville Methodist Church and Newton Methodist Church into a single congregation, Newton Methodist Episcopal Church.

Ell was a Fellow of the American Society of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Society of Engineering Education, the Engineering Societies of New England, the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Advancement of Education, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Upsilon, and Phi Delta Kappa. Ell was also a Mason and a member of the Union, Algonquin, University, and Brae Burn Country Clubs.

Ell received many honors and awards throughout his career, both from NU and from other institutions and organizations. Many of his awards are documented in the collection. The following is a list of honorary degrees Ell received:

DePauw University, Sc.D (Hon.) 1935

Tufts College, LL.D (Hon.) 1948

Boston University, L.H.D. (Hon.) 1952

University of Rhode Island, LL.D. (Hon.) 1955

Emerson College, LL.D. (Hon.) 1956

Northeastern University, D.S.Ed. (Hon.) 1959


Instructor, Civil Engineering
Head of the Department of Civil Engineering
Assistant Dean of the School of Engineering
Dean of the School of Engineering
Vice President of the University
President of the University
Honorary Chancellor and President Emeritus


4.00 cubic feet (8 containers, 12 flat file folders)




Carl Stephens Ell was the second President of Northeastern University from 1940 to 1959. He was born in Staunton, Indiana on November 14, 1887, son of Jacob and Alice (Stephens) Ell. His education included an A.B. in 1909 from DePauw University, a S.B. in 1911 and M.S. in 1912 in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Ed.M. in 1932 from Harvard University. He married Etta May Kinnear on June 10, 1913 and had one daughter, Dorothy. He began teaching at Northeastern in 1910, and remained affiliated with the university until his death on April 17, 1981.


The collection documents the personal interests and activities of Carl Stephens Ell. It includes correspondence, diplomas and certificates, biographies, newspaper clippings, honors and awards, annual reports, a scrapbook, and various personal objects from Carl Stephens Ell's office.

System of Arrangement:

Organized into two series: I. Subject files; II. Material Culture.

Physical Location

73/1, FF1/D1

Finding aid for the Carl Stephens Ell Papers
Finding aid prepared by Abigail Schoolman
April 1996
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US