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E. Wilson and Carolyn Bartel Lyon papers

Identifier: H-Mss-0493

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection consists of the papers of E. Wilson Lyon and his wife, Carolyn Bartel Lyon.

The bulk of E. Wilson Lyon’s papers consists of raw material (clippings, research notes, minutes, etc.) for his scholarly and administrative work through copies of speeches, to correspondence. Some material is of particular interest to the history of Pomona College including a substantial amount of ephemeral materials pertaining to Pomona College, the Claremont Colleges, and to some extent, Claremont. Included are copies of brochures, leaflets, etc. from World War I and before, early years for the Colleges and community. There is extensive file material bearing on Lyon’s scholarly interests in history and in higher education. The raw material of Lyon’s books is also included – from note cards and reading notes through handwritten drafts and successive typed drafts and onto galleys. Awards, honorary degrees and other certificates of achievement as well as memorabilia in the form of photo albums, scrapbooks can also be found in the collection. Lastly, a variety of commencement hoods and a Pomona College banner are part of the collection.

Carolyn Bartel Lyon’s papers consists of a broken run of diaries covering 1952-1988 as well as file materials covering the 1940s-1980s, work on another women’s college in Claremont, committee work, research on China, correspondence, speeches and sermons as well as information on the Bartel family and Earlham College.


  • Creation: 1824-1991 and undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930 - 1980


Language of materials

Languages represented in the collection: English, some in French.


This collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.


E. Wilson Lyon

Born on June 6, 1904, in Heidelberg, Mississippi, E. (Elijah) Wilson Lyon at first planned to be a journalist. But the love of history soon took over. Lyon went to the University of Mississippi, where his outstanding record and his tenure as senior class president and editor of the college newspaper, helped him win a Rhodes Scholarship to St. John's College at Oxford.

After returning to the United States, he began his career in the world of academics, first as an assistant professor of history at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute and then at Colgate University, where he was named head of the history department in 1934.

In 1941, he was named Pomona College’s sixth president and would go on to serve for 28 years, still the longest presidency in the history of the college. Credited with developing Pomona College into a leading liberal arts institution, he saw the school's endowment rise from $3.5 million to more than $22 million and the student body swell from 790 to 1,200. Nine dormitories and academic buildings were added to the campus, including the highly regarded Seaver Science Complex and the Oldenborg Center, a residential hall for students studying foreign languages and international relations.

After retiring in 1969, Lyon returned once again to history, writing more history books and speaking at major colleges throughout the country. Lyon also spent the first eight years of his retirement dedicated to writing the College's history, a remarkable achievement that can be found in The History of Pomona College, 1887-1967.

E. Wilson Lyon died on March 3, 1989.

Sources: Arnold, Roxane (1989 March 05). E.W. Lyon, 84; Ex-President of Pomona College. Retrieved from

1941: Leadership, President E. Wilson Lyon. Retrieved from

Carolyn Bartel Lyon

Born on March 28, 1908, in Richmond, Indiana, she entered nearby Earlham College at the age of 16 and transferred two years later to Wellesley College, where she graduated in 1928. After earning a master's degree in history from the University of Chicago in 1930, she stayed on at the University to work as an editorial assistant at the Journal of Modern History. While there, she met E. Wilson Lyon, and they were married in 1933.

After their marriage, she accompanied her husband to Hamilton, N.Y., where he was a professor of history at Colgate University. During those years, she gave birth to their two children, Elizabeth in 1936 and John three years later. In September 1941, the family moved to Claremont, Calif., where Wilson Lyon became president of Pomona College.

An active member of the Claremont United Church of Christ for almost 65 years, she served at various times as a member of the church’s Education, Building, Music and Library committees. From 1958 to 1964, she served as alumnae trustee at Wellesley College. Awarded an honorary degree by Pomona College in 1974, she remained active with the College for many years, serving as honorary co-chair of the Campaign for Pomona College which was completed in 2002. She lived in San Antonio Gardens from 1989 until the year 2000 when she moved to New York.

Carolyn Bartel Lyon died on August 4, 2006.

Source: Peters, Cynthia (2006 September 21). Carolyn Bartel Lyon Memorial Service Set for Sept. 30, 2006. Retrieved from

E. Wilson Lyon Chronology

to do

Missing Title

Born, Heidelberg, Mississippi
BA, University of Mississippi
BA (Rhodes scholar), Oxford University, England
B. Litt. (Rhodes scholar), Oxford University, England
Assistant professor, Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, Ruston, Louisiana
From assistant professor to professor of history, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
Ph.D., University of Chicago, Illinois
Married Carolyn Bartel Lyon, Chicago, Illinois
Author, Louisiana in French Diplomacy (1759-1804)
Daughter, Elizabeth was born
Grantee, Social Science Research Council
Son, John was born
President, Pomona College, Claremont, California
Author, The Man Who Sold Louisiana, the Life of François Barbé-Marbois
President, Western College Association
Board editor, Journal of Modern History
LL.D., Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
D.Litt., Occidental College, Los Angeles, California
Member, California Special Crime Study Commission on Organized Crime
L.H.D., Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
Board editor, The American Oxonian
Chairman, Commission on college students, American Council for Education
Member, National Commission on Accrediting
LL.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Chairman, Commission on language and area centers
Member, Commission on federal relations
Member, Pacific Regional Committee for Marshall scholarships
Member, Overseas liaison committee
Decorated honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
LL.D., Grinnell College, Iowa
LL.D., Claremont Men's College, California
LL.D., College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho
Recipient Alumni medal, University of Chicago, Illinos
D.Litt., University of Redlands, California
L.H.D., Claremont Graduate School, California
American Academy Achievement award
Trustee, Latin American scholarship program of American University
Trustee, John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation
Trustee, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California
President emeritus, Pomona College, Claremont, California
L.H.D., Hamilton College, Clinton, New York
L.H.D., Pomona College, Claremont, California
Named to Hall of Fame, University of Mississippi
Author, The History of Pomona College (1887-1969)
Editor, The History of Louisiana by François Barbé-Marbois
Died, Claremont, California



49 Linear Feet ((27 records boxes; 13 document boxes; 3 slim document boxes; 7 pamphlet boxes; 7 flat boxes; 1 textile box) )


The collection consists of the papers of E. (Elijah) Wilson Lyon (1904-1989) and his wife, Carolyn Bartel Lyon (1908-2006). E. Wilson Lyon was appointed the sixth President of Pomona College in Claremont, California, in 1941 and led the college for almost three decades - the longest serving president in the college’s history - retiring in 1969. E. Wilson Lyon’s papers consist of files from his scholarly and administrative work, extensive file material bearing on his scholarly interests in history and in higher education, as well as the raw material from his book research and publishing, most notably from his History of Pomona College 1887-1969. Mrs. Lyon’s papers prominently feature a broken run of personal diaries from 1952-1988.

Oganization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into the following series and subseries:

  • Series 1: E. Wilson Lyon papers, 1824-1991 and undated
  • Subseries 1.1: Awards and honors, 1921-1978 and undated
  • Subseries 1.2: History of Pomona College, 1894-1977 and undated
  • Subseries 1.3: Memorabilia, 1945-1980
  • Subseries 1.4: Papers, 1824-1991 and undated
  • Subseries 1.5: Textiles, undated
  • Series 2: Carolyn Bartel Lyon papers, 1940-1989 and undated
  • Subseries 2.1: Diaries, 1952-1988
  • Subseries 2.2: Papers, 1940-1989 and undated
  • Physical location

    Please consult repository.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Most of the collection was gifted by Carolyn Bartel Lyon and Elizabeth Lyon Webb in 1992. Previous gifts were received in 1986 and 1987 from E. Wilson Lyon. Additions to the collection were made in 1993, 1999 and 2009 by the Lyon family.


    No additions to the collection are anticipated.

    Related Material

    E. Wilson Lyon Collection (MUM01726), University of Mississippi. Department of Archives and Special Collections. University, MS 38677, USA.

    Separated Materials

    The following monographs will be accessible in the library's online catalog, using the keyword search term "Lyon Papers."

    France: a study of French education and guide to the academic placement of students from France in educational institutions in the U.S.A., prepared by Beatrice F. Hyslop. Placement recommendations by the Council on Evaluation of Foreign Student Credentials, meeting March 1-2, 1962. Committee on Foreign Students, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 1964.

    French education: Why Jeannot can read. New Haven: Yale French Studies, 1958.

    La Documentation Francaise: L'Organisation de L'Enseignement en France (undated).

    Publications of the Louisiana Historical Society, Series Two, Volume II (1975).

    Quattrocchi, Angelo and Tom Nairn. The beginning of the end: France, May 1968. London: Panther, 1968.

    The Virginia Quarterly Review, Volume 44, No. 3 (Summer 1968).

    Processing Information

    The collection was minimally processed by Special Collections staff. File folders were left in their original order and transferred from non-archival to archival boxes. Photographs were sleeved in mylar and kept in their original folders. Textiles were removed from non-archival boxes, cataloged, and placed into tissue-lined archival textile boxes. Oversized items were placed into appropriate file folders and a large flat archival storage box.

    Guide to the E. Wilson and Carolyn Bartel Lyon papers
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    Repository Details

    Part of the 01 - Special Collections & Archives, The Claremont Colleges Library Repository

    800 North Dartmouth Ave
    Claremont CA 91711 United States