Baldwin, Thomas Whitfield (1890-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Baldwin, Thomas Whitfield (1890-)

Historical Note:

Thomas Whitfield Baldwin (1890-1984) was assistant professor (1925-27), associate professor (1927-28), and professor (1928-58) at the University of Illinois (UI) Department of English. He was a renowned Shakespeare scholar, and his extensive collection of Renaissance books and materials at the UIUC's present-day Rare Book and Manuscript Library is a lasting legacy to his life's work.

Baldwin was born on January 28, 1890, in Laurens County, South Carolina. He earned a bachelor's degree from Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, in 1909. He went on to pursue graduate studies at Princeton University, earning an MA in 1914 and a PhD in 1916. Prior to joining the faculty at UI in 1925, Baldwin held positions as Assistant in Latin and Mathematics at Erskine College (1912-13); Professor of English and Head of the Department at Muskingum College in Ohio (1915-16); Professor of English and Head of the Department at South Dakota State College (1918-20); Professor of English and Head of the Department at Reed College in Oregon (1920-23); and Assistant Professor of English at Goucher College in Maryland (1923-25). Baldwin published extensively on Shakespeare, and his books include The Organization and Personnel of the Shakespearean Company (1927), William Shakspere's Petty School (1943), William Shakspere's Small Latine and Lesse Greeke (1944), Shakspere's Five-Act Structure (1947), and On the Literary Genetics of Shakspere's Poems & Sonnets (1950). In 1931, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in English Literature. He was also granted honorary doctorates from UIUC (1959), the University of Waterloo (DLitt, 1962), and Erskine College.

Over the course of his career, Baldwin developed an extensive scholarly collection of Shakespeare's works as well as Renaissance-era literature, drama, history, pedagogy, and political texts that were contemporary to Shakespeare's experience. In 1966, this collection was acquired by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at UIUC, forming a significant part of its holdings. After his retirement as UIUC Professor Emeritus in 1958, he taught at Southern Illinois University as visiting distinguished professor (1958-72).

Baldwin married Regina Elisabeth Petrick on December 21, 1917, and together they had three daughters, Cynthia, Elisabeth, and Ruth. He died on January 13, 1984.


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"Thomas Whitfield Baldwin," accessed June 3, 2020,

"Thomas Whitfield Baldwin," Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, accessed June 3, 2020,

Wikipedia, s.v. "The Rare Book and Manuscript Library," accessed June 3, 2020,

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