Fonds LAPS - Papers of G. T. Lapsley

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Papers of G. T. Lapsley


  • 1901-48 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

7 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

G. T. Lapsley was born in New York in 1871 and originally studied law, graduating from Harvard in 1893. He became an authority on medieval constitutional history and was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1904. He was successively Lecturer, Tutor and Reader until 1937, when ill-health and the advent of war prompted his return to the United States. He died there in 1949. Although The County Palatine of Durham, published in 1900, was his only book, a selection of his articles was published posthumously in a volume entitled Crown, Community and Parliament in the Later Middle Ages. In addition to his interest in medieval history, Lapsley was widely read in English and French literature and a close friend of Henry James and Edith Wharton, and served as Wharton's literary executor.

Archival history

A finding aid was made for this collection in August 1997, at which time it was arranged following the order found. Cards were made for the card catalogue as well.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The provenance of this collection is unknown.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers consist of writings, research papers, printed material, photographs, and miscellaneous materials, and are arranged into seven series: A. Book Reviews by Lapsley of the books of others; B. Notes on Edith Wharton and Henry de Bracton; C. Lecture Notes: files of documents including notes, bibliographies and narrative sequences used in planning 'English Constitutional History to 1485'; D. Pamphlets, Journals and Books; E. Manuscript index cards, in sections, of books relevant to Lapsley's work; F. Photographs; G. Miscellaneous.

The writings reflect Lapsley's interest in medieval history, with a sizeable amount of work on Henry de Bracton, amongst others. Other papers reflect his work as Edith Wharton's literary executor, and a selection of her material survives in this collection, such as a transcript of her speech to the American Academy of Arts and Letters on accepting the Gold Medal for her services to Letters.

There are also a number of lecture notes and reviews published in the 'Cambridge Review' and other periodicals, and a variety of letters from friends, editors and fellow historians.

The printed materials are a mixture of historical journals and college documents including the WWII roll of honour. The photographs consist of three cabinet card photographs, one of them a duplicate, of two images of Edith Wharton posing with dogs.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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      Finding aids

      Finding aid originally created in August 1997.

      Uploaded finding aid

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      Publication note

      The Edith Wharton Papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University (YCAL 42) includes the Gaillard Lapsley bequest, letters to Lapsley from Edith Wharton and a number of her friends for the years 1895-1939.

      Notes area


      Cite as: Trinity College Library Cambridge, Papers of Gaillard Thomas Lapsley, LAPS.

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          Archivist's note

          Collection level description created by Diana Smith in May 2019, using the original finding aid created in August 1997.

          Accession area