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MS028: Zelotes Coombs papers

Identifier: MS028

Scope and Contents

All of the materials in this collection appear to be drafts and finished writing for his unpublished book The History of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Materials are not dated, but the history he describes generally ends by the late 1920s.


  • circa 1930

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public

Conditions Governing Use

Permission of the archivist

Biographical / Historical

Zelotes Wood Coombs was born in 1865 in Worcester. He graduated from Amherst College in 1888, and studied law and taught Physical Education at theUniversity of Virginia. In 1890, he became assistant in languages and clerk to President Homer T. Fuller at WPI. In 1892 he became instructor and in 1895Assistant Professor of Modern Languages. From 1903 to 1913 he served as head of the Department of English and Modern Languages. When the departmentwas divided in 1913, he became head of the Department of English, and served in this capacity for twenty-four years. Beginning in 1910 and until hisretirement in 1937, he was secretary of the faculty. He was chairman of the admissions committee from 1916 until his appointment as Dean in 1935. He wasinterested in WPI's athletics programs, and served for several years as treasurer of the Athletic Association. Professor Coombs wrote several small published books, including a biography of Homer Taylor Fuller. Most of these books are on specific topics, includingthe Worcester Art Society, Worcester and Worcester Common, and the Blackstone Canal.Professor Coombs retired from WPI in 1937. He died in 1946.


1.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Most of Box 1 contains the typewritten manuscript. There are two copies, and the first has been divided into several folders containing sections of the manuscript. A large part of the manuscript is the section titled "History of Worcester Polytechnic Institute," which includes history of the founding of the school, it's land and buildings, and other information about it's early history until about 1927. Beginning at the end of Box 1, with Folder 16, are handwritten drafts of the many sections of the manuscript. Some handwritten sections do not appear to have been included in the typed manuscript, and these are at the end of the collection. Before the collection was processed, all the handwritten sections were together in a box. Because there seemed to be some order, folders were numbered in the order they were found. These numbers, which do not correspond to the final arrangement, are on the right side of the folders. The final arrangement of the handwritten materials corresponds to the typewritten draft. Folder 1 in Box 1 contains an index of the sections of the manuscript.

Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the WPI Manuscript Collections Repository

100 Institute Rd
George C. Gordon Library
Worcester MA 01609 USA