Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library

Mrs. Widener to President Lowell


Eleanor Elkins Widener to A. Lawrence Lowell [undated, Aug. 1912, Harvard University Archive, UAI 5.160, Folder 998]

In response to Harvard President Lowell's note of sympathy, Harry's mother, Eleanor Elkins Widener, wrote:

"My dear son Harry was a great admirer of yours & often spoke of the pleasure he had while in your classes. He loved Harvard & on our last voyage home, Mr. Frank Millet was a fellow passenger, & he & Harry would sit up very late talking of their love & ambition for the University."

The "Frank Millet" Mrs. Widener refers to was Francis Davis Millet, Harvard Class of 1869, a native of Brockton, Mass., and a well-known artist specializing in mural decoration.

Mrs. Widener was not pleased to read newspaper accounts of her gift to Harvard which mistakenly identified the donor as P.A.B. Widener, Harry’s grandfather. In a letter to President Lowell, Mrs. Widener makes her wishes clear:

“In respect to the press please use your judgment – the only thing I want emphasized is, that the library is a memorial to my dear son, to be known as the “Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library,” given by me & not his grandfather as has been so often stated.”