Collection inventory

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Chancellor Charles N. Sims Collection

An inventory of his collection at the Syracuse University Archives

Finding aid created by: Cara Howe
Date: 2010


Charles N. Sims

Charles N. Sims was born in Fairfield, Indiana on 18th May 1835, where he completed his studies in the district school. He then spent his winters teaching and his summers working on the farm. In 1858 he married Eliza Foster, with whom he had four children: Mary Dumont, M. Estella, Charles G. (died aged 6) and Eliza N. (also known as Lida Newman Sims).

Sims graduated from Indiana Ashbury University in 1859 and received an honorary A.M. from Ohio Wesleyan in 1860. That year he became president of Valparaiso Male and Female College, holding the position for two years before resigning to take on pastoral work. In 1861 he received an A.M. from Indiana Ashbury University, and the next year he began work as a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1871, Indiana Ashbury University conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity upon Sims, and in 1882, the same institution awarded him an honorary LL.D.

Sims had a history as an educator, administrator, and minister. He served as pastor in churches in Maryland, Indiana, and New Jersey before settling at the Summerfield Methodist Church of Brooklyn. It was here that he received the offer to hold the chancellorship at Syracuse University.

Sims arrived on campus in April 1881, and once in Syracuse he began teaching classes in English and often preached at different churches throughout the city as well as gave weekly chapel talks on campus. He was inaugurated as Chancellor on June 28, 1881, the day before the University celebrated its tenth annual commencement. Sims set about defining clear authority and purpose and establishing a presence for the Chancellor in all aspects of University life. Most importantly, he was willing to take on the role of builder and felt that if the University could not pay off its deficits and begin the process of establishing an actual endowment, then its future was not promising. During his tenure, the University Charter was amended to include clauses for the establishment of the University Senate, a reorganization of the Board of Trustees, the creation of a separate fund for endowments, and the incorporation of the Medical College into the University. Sims also established a building program, which saw its first construction finished with the completion of the Holden Observatory.

Sims retired from Syracuse University in 1893. He moved back to Indianapolis but returned to Syracuse in 1898 as the minister of the First Methodist Church. In 1903 he was made a trustee of the University. After a few years he retired once again and moved to his old home in Indiana where he died on March 27, 1908.

Scope and Content Note

The Charles N. Sims Collection spans the years 1843 to 1956 and covers most of Sims’ adult life, including his term as Chancellor at Syracuse University. Included are almost twenty years of writings, notably sermons, addresses, and many lectures given at the University and other institutions.

The collection is split into seven series:

The Correspondence series is split between correspondence to and from Charles N. Sims and correspondence among Sims family members. Notable correspondents are John D, Archbold and James Roscoe Day.

The Lectures series spans Sims' career from 1854 to 1905 and cover a variety of subjects.

The Methodist Episcopal Church Publications series features publications from several different states.

The Photographs and Portraits series includes images of the Sims family and their homestead as well as several unidentified portraits and photographs from Sims' travels.

The Sermons series spans Sims' career with material from 1858 to 1900.

The Subject Files series contains documents spanning Sims' life including certificates, diplomas, journals, his will, travel wallet, and university catalogs. Items of note include Sims' passport, the flag of the Sons of the Revolution used to cover Sims' coffin in 1908, and a silver cup awarded to his father in 1854. There are also several items pertaining to Sims' daughter Mary Dumont and her husband George Parker.

The Syracuse University series contains documents relating to the Board of Trustees of the University and finances of the University while Sims was Chancellor.


Access Restrictions:

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The Archives holds clippings and portrait files on Charles N. Sims and George A. Parker and a clippings file for Mary Sims Parker.

Sims is featured on the Archives' SU History page, "Chancellors of Syracuse University."

Selected Search Terms


Archbold, John D. (John Dustin), 1848-1916.
Day, James Roscoe, 1845-1923.
Sims, C.N., (Charles N.), 1835-1908.
Indiana Ashbury University (Greencastle, Ind.)
Syracuse University -- Buildngs.
Syracuse University -- Chancellors.
Syracuse University -- Trustees.
Syracuse University.


Methodist Church (U.S.)
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- History.
Higher education.

Types of Material


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Charles N. Sims Collection,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the collection was donated to the Archives by Mrs. George Sims Parker and Mrs. C. F. Potter in 1962 and then added to by the former in 1967 and 1968. A photograph of John Sims (along with his silver cup) was donated to the Archives by Hyman and Dolores Share in 1996.

Processing Information

The paper materials have been placed in acid-free folders. The photographs and portraits have been placed in mylar sleeves.


Folders are arranged alphabetically and chronologically within each series.

Table of Contents



Methodist Episcopal Church Publications

Photographs and Portraits


Subject Files

Syracuse University