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Michael S. Cary Papers

Identifier: DC040

Scope and Contents

The Michael S. Cary Papers consist of documents relating to Michael S. Cary before and after his tenure as headmaster.


  • Creation: 1957 - 2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1987 - 2003


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies and digital photographs may be made for research purposes.

Biographical / Historical

Born and raised in Washburn, Maine, Michael Cary won a scholarship to Bowdoin College where he majored in English, graduating in 1971. He went on to Brown University and earned a master’s degree in teaching, followed by Yale Divinity School, where in 1974 he earned an additional master’s degree in religion. His professional background also includes turns as Assistant Dean of Admissions at Amherst College and Assistant Dean of Students at Bates College in Maine, where he met his wife, Jane.

In 1976, Mr. Cary went to Deerfield Academy where he taught history, religion and philosophy and later became Dean of Admission, and where he was well-known and respected as a true “school man.” He was at the very heart of Deerfield’s shift to coeducation, admitting Deerfield’s first girls and subsequently documenting the transition in the article, “Becoming Coeducational: A Report from Deerfield,” in 1991. This article appeared in tandem with an article about coeducation at Lawrenceville, written by English Master Jim Adams ’65, in a book published by the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University and titled Independent Schools; Independent Thinking.

In 1996, Mr. Cary came to Lawrenceville and was noted for his attention to the faculty and the students. The Houses and housemastering, long among the most distinctive features of Lawrenceville, received a boost when the Circle and Crescent Houses and the faculty apartments in them were refurbished in 2000-02. Thanks to a gift from Harold McGraw, Jr. ’36, Mr. Cary created the housemaster stipends and ensured that living in a residential House with students continued to be the highest priority for the faculty.

Increasing access to Lawrenceville was also a priority for Mr. Cary. In 2000, with the support of the trustees, in particular Art Joukowsky ’50 P ’80 and Ted Stanley ’43, Mr. Cary presided over a substantial increase in the availability of financial aid. By focusing on grants and eliminating loans as part of the School’s financial aid package — before many colleges and universities announced similar moves — Lawrenceville became more affordable for a wider base of students.

Besides renovating the Houses, Mr. Cary also completed the Boat House at Mercer Lake, the Clark Music Building, the Gruss Center of Visual Arts and the Noyes History Building. He was committed to providing the entire faculty with their own classrooms, and the additional space accomplished this goal. The arts at Lawrenceville flourished with the completion of these facilities and the addition of faculty dedicated to art and music. Peer schools had built art and music buildings, and now Lawrenceville too was able to attract students with a primary interest in the arts. Mr. Cary also built new “international”-sized squash courts, the Semans Lawson–Johnston Squash Courts, and replaced the older ones with a state-of-the art fitness center, the Al-Rashid Fitness Center. Lavino Field House and the hockey rink were refurbished.

Michael was most commonly found riding his bicycle around campus and he was fond of attending athletic events and conversing with students. He and Jane often hosted faculty, staff and students at Foundation House. He also introduced a weekly e-mail to the parents.

In 2003, Michael Cary stepped down as Lawrenceville’s 11th Head Master and followed his passion for the outdoors by becoming Executive Director of the Yellowstone Park Foundation. He recently completed two terms as a trustee at Bowdoin College, has worked closely with the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and will return to teach at Deerfield in 2010. His going-away gift from Lawrenceville was a “Big Red” Necky Tesla NM composite fiberglass and carbon kayak, which Head Master Cary immediately tested on the Pond and later paddled on the lakes of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. He and Jane live in Wilmington, Vermont.


5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were transferred after Michael Cary left the Office of the Headmaster.


Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives guidelines.

Related Materials

Items relating to the Office of the Head of School can be found in DC115 Head of School Collection.


Information in the historical note was gathered from material within the Cary papers. The Lawrenceville Lexicon: A Compendium of All Things Lawrenceville, Merrell Noden, editor, was also consulted.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Casey Babcock in November-December of 2011. The biographical sketch was taken from the "Lawrenceville Lexicon."

Collection was reprocessed in 2018.

Processing Information

Collection was reprocessed in 2018, documents relating to Michael S. Carys tenure as Head of School have been moved to DC115 Head of School Collection.

Michael S. Cary Papers: Finding Aid
Casey Babcock
February 26, 2013, reprocessed in 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives Repository

Box 6128
2500 Main St.
Lawrenceville 08648 U.S.A. US