Charles Coleman Sellers (1903-1980)

Charles C. Sellers, c.1970

Charles Coleman Sellers was born in Overbrook, Pennsylvania on March 16, 1903. He attended Haverford College until 1925, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and went on to earn his master of arts degree from Harvard in 1926. He then went on to a career as an historian and librarian. From 1937 to 1949 Sellers was the bibliographic librarian at Wesleyan University. He became a research associate for the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia in 1947 and remained there until 1951.

By then, he was already curator of the Dickinsoniana collection at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a post he took up in 1949. He became the Librarian of the College in 1956 following the retirement of May Morris. He had also earned his doctorate at Temple during this time and it was awarded in 1957. He also became the librarian of the Waldron Phoenix Belknap Jr. Research Library of American Painting in Wintherthur, Delaware in 1956, remaining in this position for three years. In 1959 he became editor of the American Colonial Painting. With the opening of the May Morris Room in the new Spahr Library, Sellers once again became historian and curator of the Dickinsoniana in 1968. He held this post till his retirement. A grateful Dickinson College awarded him an honorary doctorate of letters in 1979.

Sellers was also an accomplished author. He received the Bancroft Prize for distinguished work in history, diplomacy and international affairs in 1970, largely for his work on the painter Charles Willson Peale. He published two books on Peale, a two volume work published in 1947 and another in 1969; in addition, he published Portraits and miniatures by C.W. Peale in 1952. Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture was produced in 1962, as well as Patience Wright in 1976. But Sellers is best known in the Dickinson community for his Dickinson College: A History, published in conjunction with the bicentennial celebration of the College in 1973.

On October 6, 1932, he had married Helen Earle Gilbert, an actress. Helen died in February of 1951 and the following year, on June 12, he married Barbara S. Roberts. In 1980, while visiting his daughter in Australia where she lived, Charles Colman Sellers died. He was seventy-seven years old.

Author of Post: 
Dickinson College Archives
Date of Post: 
College Relationship: 
Faculty - Years of Service: 
Honorary Degree - Year: