MSS 83
Ely, Charles Russell, 1870-1939
Papers of Charles Russell Ely, 1870-1942

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 83
Title: Papers of Chares R. Ely, 1870-1942
Quantity: 1.0 Linear Feet (2 document boxes)
Note: This document last updated 2005 December 2.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: The Charles R. Ely papers were given to the Gallaudet University Archives by Marian Stewart Wenzel in 1991.
Processed by: Michael Olson and Staci Rensch. 1997 October 1.
Processing Note:
Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.

Related Material in the Archives: 

Deaf Film

  • [Scenes at Gallaudet College] [motion picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Deaf Film 20-8, 52-8


  • Papers of Leon Auerbach, 1930-1986. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: MSS 142
  • Papers of Charles R. Ely 1870-1942. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: MSS 83

See ALADIN for complete listing

  • Charles R. Ely [picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Portraits

Vertical Files

  • Charles R. Ely. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Deaf Biographical
  • Ely Center. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Gallaudetiana 
  • Ely Hall. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Gallaudetiana

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Charles Russell Ely was born on February 20, 1870 in Columbus, Ohio. The family soon relocated to Frederick, Maryland when Ely's father, Dr. Charles Wright Ely was appointed superintendent of the Maryland School for the Deaf. Due to his father's affiliation with the Deaf, Charles Russell Ely quickly picked up sign language and became immersed in the local Deaf Community.

In 1891, Ely graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, continuing on to complete his master's degree in 1892 from Gallaudet College, and completing his PhD at George Washington University in 1900. Ely's interest in the Deaf Community remained strong; he started teaching at Gallaudet College in 1891, he employed positions as: instructor, assistant professor, professor in chemistry and vice president. Only briefly did he leave his busy post at Gallaudet when he took over his recently deceased father's position as principal of the Maryland state school for the Deaf (1912- 1913).

Dr. Ely was very involved in science, especially botany. He was actively a member of numerous organizations, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Chemists, the Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf, the American Chemical Society and The Entomological Society of America and very involved in the local Washington DC ward.

December 25, 1897 Ely married Louise Day Crane of Orange, New Jersey. They later expanded their family to include 3 daughters: Elizabeth Day, Grace Darling, and Sylvia Louise. On February 22, 1939, Dr. Ely died suddenly at age 69 in his Kendall Green home, of a heart attack.

Scope and Content

The Charles R. Ely collection consist of notes, loose pages, receipts, advertisements, letters, correspondence, and membership cards.

The collection consists of approximately 100 pages, dates from 1890-1942. The bulk of the collection consists of articles, letters, pamphlets, notes, and loose pages. Included in the collection are his letters to his wife, Mrs. Louise Crane Ely, which Dr. Ely wrote when he was away on trips. Letters to both of his daughters were enclosed as well. This collection also included various letters from Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.

Various personal items of memorabilia are included in the collection, such as papers from the Maryland School for the Deaf, which obviously held sentimental value. A letter press book is in the collection which belonged to his father, Charles W. Ely. The most interesting item in this collection is Charles. R. Ely's grade book called Mr. Bowen's School for Boys report book of which he attended as a little boy.

Series Descriptions and Folder Lists
No Series

Box Folder Title of Folder Date
1 1 Advertisement                        n.d.
1 2 Arithmetic book used by Ely         1879
1 3 Bell, Alexander Graham -Statement of Dr. A.. G. Bell        1891
1 4 Biography- Ely, Charles R.          n.d.
1 5 The Buff and Blue- Loose pages of n.d.
1 6 Certification- Army Discharged      1898
1 7 Certification of Membership         1904-1907
1 8 Clippings                     1897-1938
1 9 Clippings -comments of papers on principalship at Maryland School for the Deaf 1912
1 10 College Resolutions on Charles R. Ely                      1912
1 11 Essay- Gallaudet College-What Students Need Before Coming            n.d.
1 12 Kappa Gamma Fraternity Yearbooks                     1926-1927
1 13 Letters- Bjorlee, Ignatius          1939
1 14 Letters- Ely, Charles W.            1907
1 15 Letters- Hall, Percival             1913
1 16 Letters- Literary Society, The            1933
1 17 Letters- Munroe, Charles E.         1897-1939
1 18 Letters- Yale University            1897-1939
1 19 Maryland School for the Deaf        1912-1932
1 20 Memberships Cards             1935-1939
1 21 The Nebraska Journal- "Gallaudet College- What Students Need Before Coming"   1924-1925
1 22 Notes                         1932
1 23 Notes- Ely's talk on "Soul of Gallaudet College, The"      n.d.
1 24 Obituary                      1939
1 25 Periodicals- Rochester Advocate of English and Speech for the Deaf  1926
1 26 Photographs                   1928
1 27 Power of Attorney             1903
1 28 Program Books- Gallaudet College Special Convocation                 1931
1 29 Program Book- Testimonial dinner in honor of President and Mrs. Percival Hall  1933
1 30 Receipts- The Columbian University  1895-1896
1 31 Receipt- Tiffany and Co. (Diamond Ring)                1895
1 32 Receipt- Yale University            1897
1 33 School Report Book- Mr. Bowen's School for Boys 1886-1887
1 34 Who's Who's in the Nation's Capital 1926-1927
1 35 Yale University               1887-1888
2 1 Clippings- Death of Ely, Charles W. 1912
2 2 Letter- Board of Visitors of the Maryland School for the Deaf, The 1870
2 3 Letter- Connor, Wesley O.  1877
2 4 Letters- Gallaudet, E.M. 1891
2 5 Letters- Johnson, William  1910-1911
2 6 Letters- Westervelt, Zenas F. 1890-1891
2 7 Letterpress Book   Mrs. Louise Crane Ely 1871-1877
2 8 Corresponding Letter- Entomological Society of America, The 1940
2 9 Letters- Ely, Charles R.  1905
2 10 Letters- Hall, Percival    1939-1942
2 11 List of names    n.d.