Jennie McGraw

The Cornell Chimes

Donated to the Library by Jennie McGraw, the original nine bells of the Cornell Chimes rang for the first time on October 7, 1868, celebrating the formal opening of the University. The bells were made by Meneely & Co. at Watervliet near Troy, N.Y., and were inscribed with verses selected from the “One Hundred Sixth Chant” from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam. Although the Chimes were housed in a temporary wooden structure for the university’s opening ceremonies, they later were placed in the tower of McGraw Hall. Finally, with the completion of the Library and Tower in 1891, the bells and clock found their permanent home.

Alfred Lord Tennyson. Letter to Jennie McGraw, ca. 1868.


Dear Madam,

Hearing thro’ Mr. Macmillan of your having presented to the Cornell University in Western New York a chime of nine bells, & that you had honoured me by having had wrought upon them some verses from In Memoriam, I have thought that possibley [sic] it might not be ungrateful to you to receive these lines from the author in his autograph: believe me

Yours faithfully,
A. Tennyson

Ring in the valiant men & free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land;
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Continue the tour