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Books on Georgetown University History

This guide presents an overview of books on Georgetown University history which are often useful starting points for research projects

Books on general Georgetown University History

The following books provide general information about the history of Georgetown University and are an excellent starting point for many research projects. They are available in the general collection of Lauinger Library; links to their call numbers are included. They are also available in the University Archives. The Archives' copies do not circulate; request them via the Aeon request system


  • Curran, Robert Emmett. A history of Georgetown University.  Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, 2010 

    A three volume set, this is the most comprehensive University history. Volume 1 covers 1789-1889, volume 2 covers 1889-1964, and volume 3 covers 1964-1989. Don’t overlook the appendices which provide statistics about students and student enrollments, rosters of University officials, and construction dates for campus buildings


  • Shea, John Gilmary. Memorial of the first centenary of Georgetown College, D.C., comprising a history of Georgetown University.  Washington, D.C., New York, Pub. for the College by P.F. Collier, 1891

    This book was published to celebrate Georgetown’s 100th anniversary. It lacks a back-of-the-book index or footnotes. Its contents are arranged chronologically, with each of its chapters covering the term of one Georgetown president. Line drawings of campus, buildings, and people are included and transcriptions of a number of key documents in the University's history are provided. Pages 321-456 provide in-depth description of the celebration of Georgetown’s Centennial, February 20-22, 1889. The volume ends with an alphabetical list of graduates of Georgetown University between 1817 and 1891


  • Daley, John M. Georgetown University : origin and early years.  Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, 1957

    This book covers the period from Georgetown’s founding in the 1780s through 1833, although the book’s final chapter, Georgetown: Set for the Future, does touch on some later events. The work is excellently footnoted and researchers can easily see what materials to request for additional information on a mentioned event, person, building or subject. Illustrations are limited to a few line drawings of campus buildings


  • Durkin, Joseph T.  Georgetown University: the middle years, 1840-1900. Washington, Georgetown University Press, 1963

    This publication was published to coincide with the University’s 175th anniversary. Its narrative  continues from the point at which Father Daley’s 1957 publication (see above) stops. It includes detailed footnotes


  • Easby-Smith, James Stanislaus. Georgetown University in the District of Columbia, 1789-1907, its founders, benefactors, officers, instructors and alumni.  New York, Lewis, 1907

    A two volume set.  Volume 1 has sections on: Georgetown College, including histories of the Sodality, Philodemic Society, Philonomosian Society, Observatory, and the Georgetown College Journal;  the Medical School, Hospital and Dental School; and the Law School, including histories of the Moot Court and Debating Society.  Volume 2 contains brief biographical sketches of  founders, benefactors, officers, instructors and alumni. Some of the sketches are accompanied by photographs. The coverage in volume 2 is weighted toward individuals active in the mid to late 19th century. Also included is a history of the Society of Alumni. No footnotes or source notes are included in either of the volumes 


  • Nevils, W. Coleman. Miniatures of Georgetown, 1634-1934; tercentennial causeries.  Washington, D.C., Georgetown University Press, 1934

    This work was published by Father Nevils towards the end of his presidency. He served as University President from 1928-1935 and his association with Georgetown began in 1918 when he was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Science. His book contains detailed and colorful stories about aspects of the University’s history but has no footnotes or bibliography




  • McFadden, William C., ed. Georgetown at two hundred : faculty reflections on the university's future.  Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, 1990

    This compilation includes a number of essays with a historical perspective including:

    Learning, Faith, Freedom, and Building a Curriculum: Two Hundred Years and Counting by Dorothy M. Brown. This provides an excellent overview of curricular changes at Georgetown;

    “Catechism at 4 for All the Schools”: Religious Instruction at Georgetown by William C. McFadden, S.J.;

    Medical Education at Georgetown: A Historical Overview by Milton Corn;

    “From Her Spires and Steeples beaming”: Mission and Image in Bricks  and Stone by Elizabeth Prelinger.  This should be the starting point for anyone interested in researching the architecture on Georgetown’s campus

    The full-text of this publication is available through DigitalGeorgetown


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