Henry E. Chambers

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Henry Edward Chambers, Sr.​

(Louisiana historian,
educator, and author)​

Born March 28, 1860​
New Orleans
Louisiana, USA​
Died March 8, 1929 (aged 68)​
New Orleans, Louisiana ​
Political Party Democrat
Spouse Ellen White Taylor Chambers (married 1883)​

John Taylor Chambers
​ Henry E. Chambers, Jr.
​ Joseph and Maria Charles Chambers​
Alma mater:
Boys' Central High School
(New Orleans)
Tulane University
Johns Hopkins University

Religion Presbyterian

Henry Edward Chambers, Sr. (March 28, 1860 – March 8, 1929), was an educator and historian from New Orleans, Louisiana, known principally for his 1925 work, History of Louisiana: Wilderness, Colony, Province, Territory, State, People, a source for much on the 19th and early 20th centuries.[1]


Chambers was born to Captain Joseph Chambers and the former Maria Charles. His paternal grandfather was Anthony Chambers, who came from Ireland; his paternal grandmother was Nancy Palmer of Connecticut. Maria Charles was a daughter of Caleb and Sarah Charles of Lovell in Oxford County, Maine, and a descendant of John Charles, pioneer settler in 1636 of Charlestown, Massachusetts. Many of Chambers' descendants fought in the American Revolution.[2]

Chambers, a Presbyterian, graduated from Boys' Central High School and Tulane University in New Orleans and years later obtained his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, which in 1876 became the first American institution to grant such credentials. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson received a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in history and the new field of political science. Chambers studied at Johns Hopkins under Wilson's instruction.[2]

In 1883, Chambers married the former Ellen White Taylor of Crystal Springs in Copiah County in southwestern Mississippi. Her father was killed in the American Civil War in the 1863 Battle of Tebbs Bend near Franklin in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana.[2] Their sons were John Taylor Chambers, a United States Army officer, who married Marion Monroe, the daughter of Frank Adair Monroe, the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, and Henry Edward Chambers, Jr., who wed the former Fanita McMillan of San Antonio, Texas, a descendant of pioneer Texas families.[1][2]

Educational career

Before he was eighteen, Chambers began teaching in rural schools in Louisiana from 1877 to 1881. Soon he was a job hopper, having in 1881–1882 undertaken the principalship of Mineral Springs High School in Mineral Springs in Howard County near Texarkana in southwestern Arkansas. The following academic year, he was principal of the male and female academies in Monticello in Drew County in southeastern Arkansas. He was superintendent of the Monticello graded schools from 1883 to 1884 and then the superintendent in Beaumont, Texas, from 1884 to 1885. Chambers returned to New Orleans to become principal of the McDonogh No. 12 School, having remained in that position from 1885 to 1887. Then he was a teacher at his alma mater, Boys' Central High School in New Orleans from 1887 to 1890, 1896 to 1900, and 1902 to 1905. In the intervening years, he was assistant professor of science at Tulane University from 1890 to 1893. He spent the 1893–1894 year at Johns Hopkins and was principal of Monroe High School in Monroe in Ouachita Parish from 1894 to 1896. He was affiliated with Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, the normal school in Louisiana from 1900 to 1902.[2]

During the Spanish–American War, the 38-year-old Chambers was a sergeant of the First Troop, Louisiana Cavalry, but the war ended after four months and before the Louisiana troops reached Cuba.[2]​ ​ From 1885 to 1889, Chambers edited The Progressive Teacher. From 1893 to 1894, he was the editor of Louisiana School Review. For ten years, he was a director of the Louisiana State Chautauqua, a summer camp educational organization also promoted by John Ephraim Keeny, a president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, and the LSU president Thomas Duckett Boyd.[3] Chambers was affiliated with the University Club, Louisiana Education Association, National Education Association, Louisiana Historical Society, Mississippi Valley Historical Association (renamed the Organization of American Historians), American Historical Association, and Sons of the American Revolution.[2]

Later years

​ Faced with potential deafness, Chambers in 1905 at the age of forty-five ended his long educational career. For the next seven years until 1912, he operated his Chambers Advertising Agency, Inc., in New Orleans. He was then affiliated with the Vallière Manufacturing Company from 1914 until his death, having been treasurer and vice president of that company.[1]

Chambers' other varied works, often published by either G. P. Putnam or Johns Hopkins University Press included Twenty Lessons in Bookkeeping (1885), A School History of the United States (1887), Questions in American History, The Constitutional History of Hawaii (1896), West Florida and Its Relation to the Historical Cartography of the United States (1898), and Legend of the (Mayan) God Votan (1906). Chambers also wrote short stories and essays. He was affiliated with the New Orleans Chess Club and once played the world champion, José Raúl Capablanca, when the latter visited New Orleans.[2]

Chambers died of a stroke in New Orleans at the age of sixty-eight.[1][4]​ ​


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Chambers, Henry E.. Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved on March 16, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Biography of Henry Edward Chambers, [1] accessed March 15, 2011; no longer on-line.
  3. Keeny, John Ephraim. Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved on December 27, 2010.
  4. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography in its sketch of Chambers uses Who Was Who in America, 1897–1942 and The New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 9, 1929.