Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Collection

Identifier: MSS.0468

Scope and Contents

The Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Collection consists of material transferred to Vanderbilt University from the Manalapan, Florida, estate after the death of Vanderbilt's widow, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt. The collection spans the years from approximately 1910 to 1978. It contains linear feet of material, largely comprised of correspondence and scrapbooks on contract bridge, yacht racing, and Vanderbilt University.

The collection covers only certain aspects of Harold Vanderbilt's life. It contains little personal correspondence and almost no material on his business affairs, such as his long-term interest in the New York Central Railroad.

Several hundred photographs contained in the collection will be processed and maintained in the Vanderbilt University Photographic Archive. This collection includes photographs from Vanderbilt's childhood, cruises, races; of his family, friends, residences, yachts, and airplanes. Over one third of the photographs are of Gertrude Conaway, her childhood and family. It is a fine depiction of turn-of-the-century costume and customs of the wealthy.


  • circa 1910-1978

Language of Materials


Biographical Sketch

  • 1884 - July 6, Harold S. Vanderbilt born to William Kissam Vanderbilt and Alva Erskine Smith (later Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont) at Oakdale, N.Y.
  • 1901 Gertrude Lewis Pancoast Conaway born
  • 1903 Vanderbilt graduated from St. Mark's School, Southborough, Massachusetts. First race, on the RELIANCE.
  • 1907 Graduated from Harvard University.
  • 1910 Cruise on the VAGRANT. Won the Bermuda Race. West Indies Cruise. 1917 - Patrolled waters from London to Nantucket for the U.S. Navy.
  • 1921 Won the Astor Cup.
  • 1922 Won the Astor Cup; King's Cup.
  • 1925 Invented'contract bridge. King's Cup.
  • 1928 Vanderbilt Cup established.
  • 1930 Successfully defended the America's Cup against Britain's Sir Thomas Lupton, ENTERPRISE vs. SHAMROCK V
  • 1932 King's Cup. Vanderbilt Cup.
  • 1933 Vanderbilt married Gertrude Conaway in New York.
  • 1934 Defended the America's Cup against Britain's T.O.M. Sopwith, RAINBOW vs. ENDEAVOR
  • 1935 Astor Cup. 1937 - America's Cup, RANGER vs. ENDEAVOR II. 1942 - Started farming in Virginia.
  • 1950 Elected to the Board of Trust, Vanderbilt University.
  • 1955 Became President of the Board of Trust. 1967 - Financed the America's Cup defender INTREPID. Retired as President of the Board of Trust.
  • 1970 July 4, Vanderbilt died
  • 1978 August 6, Gertrude Vanderbilt died.

August 6, Gertrude Vanderbilt died.


18.36 Linear Feet

Physical Location

Special Collections & Archives

Finding Aid for the Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

Each finding aid contains a link to request materials from the collections. Collections can also be requested by emailing the repository directly through the library website. Each repository has its own location, hours, and contact information. Please consult the repository with questions about using the materials. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases, the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval.