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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

Autobiographies and Memoirs


The following list consists of autobiographies and memoirs written by Georgetown alumni. Where 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


  • McLaughlin, J. Fairfax. College days at Georgetown : and other papers. Philadelphia : J.B. Lippincott, 1899

    McLaughlin graduated from Georgetown College in 1860. His memoirs include recollections of faculty and administrators such as President James Ryder, S.J. and classmates such as William and Hugh Gaston



  • Barnum, Frank ,S.J.  Student Life at Georgetown in the Late [18]Sixties

    These 43 page, handwritten and unpublished memoirs provide what are probably the most vivid accounts of day-to-day life for students on Georgetown’s campus after the Civil War. Father Barnum enrolled as a student after the War and returned to Georgetown as the Riggs Librarian in 1898, later serving as University Archivist.  His memoirs are arranged by topic, with headings in the margins designating where one topic ends and the next begins. Found in the Barnum Papers, box 13, folder 4. Available for use in the Booth Family center for Special Collections; request via the Aeon request system


  • Payne, J. Carroll. Some Reminiscences in My Life by [Self-published, undated]

    Payne from Warrenton, Virginia, was a nephew of Confederate Senator Thomas Jenkins Semmes. He enrolled in December 1869 and graduated in 1876. His reminiscences reference his service on the student committee that selected blue and gray as Georgetown’s colors. They also reflect how his family’s economic situation was negatively impacted by the War and how the University accepted him and his brothers even though they were not immediately able to pay the fees. Found in the University Archives Alumni Files. Available for use in the University Archives; request via the Aeon request system


  • McNierney, Leon. The literary gift. New York : Vantage Press, 1971

    Leon McNierney was enrolled at Georgetown between 1915 and 1921. These memoirs begin with descriptions of his childhood in Titusville, Pennsylvania and end with his career as a writer and teacher 


  • McDevitt, William G. The hilltop remembered.  Georgetown University Library : Washington, D.C., 1982

    McDevitt earned multiple degrees from Georgetown: an A.B in 1931, a M.A. in 1932 and a M.D. in 1936. His memoirs span his entire time on campus, beginning with his arrival and first impressions  in 1927. He describes faculty and administrators, buildings, extracurricular activities and his student jobs (in Riggs Library and as a switchboard operator) and writes very vividly of the impact of the Depression on his life as a student. Available for use in the University Archives; request via the Aeon request system



  • Clinton, Bill. My life.  New York : Knopf, 2004

    Bill Clinton graduated from the Foreign Service School in 1968.  Chapters 9-13 cover his years at Georgetown. The autobiography includes descriptions of faculty including Otto Hentz, S.J., Joseph Sebes, S.J., Robert Irving and Carroll Quigley. Chapter 13 includes descriptions of the impact of the assassination of Martin Luther King and the riots which followed in D.C., as well as the assassination of Robert Kennedy


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