Skip to main content

Charles E. Fay Papers

Call Number: MS162

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, photographs, and articles documenting the life and career of Charles E. Fay. Included are newspaper clippings and articles from 1879 to 1916 that exhibit Fay's interest and relevance in turn-of-the-century mountaineering and alpinism. The collection also includes photographs from 1868 until Fay's retirement in 1928.Significant topics in this collection include Dr. Fay’s publications on linguistics; his personal life as a Tufts University student, as well as student life at Tufts in the 1870s; his professional duties as a Tufts University Professor of Modern Languages (1873-1881), Secretary of the School of Arts and Sciences (1873-1881) and Dean of the Graduate School (1912-1923); and his personal interest in mountaineering and alpinism.


  • Creation: 1866 -- 1942



This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Ernest Fay (1846-1931) had a long career with Tufts. He attended Tufts as a student from 1865-1868 and served as a professor of modern languages for sixty years (1868-1928), as well as the Secretary of the School of Arts and Sciences (1873-1881) and as the Dean of the Graduate School (1912-1923).

Charles E. Fay was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on March 10, 1846. He was the son of Cyrus H. Fay, a Universalist clergyman, and Anne Hyne (Minifie) Fay, a native of England. Upon graduating from high school in Providence, Rhode Island, he began his teaching career in Nashua, New Hampshire. He then took a position as the Master of Middle District Grammar School in Bristol, Rhode Island. Fay decided to attend college in 1864, but spent his first year at Tufts as a private student of Heman A. Dearborn learning Latin in order to meet the ancient language requirement for admission. In 1865 he was admitted to Tufts as a regular student and graduated with honors in 1868.

Upon graduation, Charles E. Fay began his teaching career at Tufts as a Walker Special Instructor of Mathematics. In 1869 he accepted a position as an instructor of modern languages on the terms that he could take a year-long leave of absence in Europe to increase his proficiency in the languages he would be teaching. In Italy, Fay met Mary W. Lincoln, a Boston native, whom he married in 1870. In 1871, Charles E. Fay was promoted to full professor, holding the title of Wade Professor of Modern Languages and teaching undergraduate courses in French, Italian, and German until his retirement in 1928. He was universally respected and liked by students, faculty, and administrators. Fay also served as the Secretary of the Faculty of the College of Letters between 1873 and 1881, and as the Dean of the Graduate School from 1912 to 1924. Throughout his career he was awarded two honorary degrees from Tufts, a Doctorate of Literature (1900) and a Doctorate of Laws (1928).

Fay was also active in a number of local and national professional organizations. He was co-founder of the Modern Language Association of America, secretary of the Southern New England Association of Colleges, a lifelong member of the American Philological Association, and president of the New England Modern Language Association. Fay was also a member of several local clubs, including the Boston Shakespeare Club, the Boston Browning Society, the Round Table of Boston, and the Massachusetts Forestry Association.

Charles E. Fay was an avid mountaineer and alpinist, a pioneer of the Canadian Rockies where he ascended over 18 mountains between 1895 and 1913. He was a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, a founder of the American Alpine Club, and an editor of their journal, Alpina Americana. In 1920, Fay was sent to Monaco as an American delegate to the International Congress of Alpine Clubs, where he was knighted by Prince Albert.

Charles E. Fay died on January 25th, 1931 at Massachusetts General Hospital from complications of appendicitis. He was survived by his widow, Mary Fay, and three children, including Margaret Fay (Tufts Class of 1904). A bas-relief depicting Fay was installed in Goddard Chapel on Tufts Campus. The college was also presented with a memorial portrait of Charles E. Fay on Alumni Day in 1946.


0.55 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection is organized into one series.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by MacKenzie Brigham in fall 2009, supervised by Susanne Belovari. This collection was originally part of the vertical files, collected by Russell Miller and was pulled to create a separate collection due to the size and significance of the material and person. Archivist provided folder titles in brackets, and rehoused material acid-free folders. Since folded newsprint and Fay's folded 1866 Latin thesis were disintegrating along the folds, photocopies were made and housed with the originals; Fay's thesis was housed in a separate folder to prevent further damage. DCA decided to keep newsprint but as these newspapers are available elsewhere, there were not unfolded and stored separately. The collection also contained recent reference requests, which were either discarded or, when including pertinent historical information, were put into the collection documentation folder.

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States