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COLLECTION Identifier: far00027

Levi Lincoln Thaxter papers

Scope and content

The Thaxter collection consists of three diaries written by Thaxter chronicling trips with his sons John and Roland between 1860 and 1875.


  • 1860-circa 1880

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available by appointment for research. Researchers must register and provide valid photo identification. Please contact for additional information.


1 collection (1 box)

Biographical note

Levi Lincoln Thaxter was born on February 2, 1824, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Levi Lincoln and Lucy White Thaxter. He graduated from Harvard College in 1843 and spent a year in New York City before returning to Cambridge to attend Harvard Law School. He completed his degree in 1846 but never practiced law. Thaxter spent that summer and fall on the Isles of Shoals in New Hampshire, where he met the Laighton family. Thaxter married Celia Laighton at the Laighton family home on Appledore Island on September 30, 1851. With the support of Thaxter’s father, the couple established a home in Newtonville, Massachusetts. They had three sons between 1852 and 1858, Karl, John, and Roland.

The Thaxters divided their time between Newtonville and the Shoals until 1855. In the fall of 1855 Levi and Celia’s brother Oscar were caught in a storm while sailing between Portsmouth and Appledore. They nearly drowned and it was many years before Levi visited the islands again. Celia continued to return to Appledore regularly with her children. She and Levi eventually separated.

Thaxter had no regular occupation for most of his life. He pursued his interest in natural history and made many trips throughout the eastern United States, often accompanied by his younger sons. He was especially interested in ornithology and bryology.

The Newtonville house was sold in 1880. Thaxter moved in with his widowed sister, Lucy Titcomb, and gave readings of Robert Browning’s poetry. In 1881 he moved to Champernowne Farm in Kittery Point, Maine, but his health soon deteriorated. Roland, in medical school at the time, moved in to care for him. Thaxter died on May 31, 1884 and he is buried at First Congregational Church cemetery in Kittery Point. His gravestone bears an original epitaph by Robert Browning.


Mandel NH. 2004. Beyond the garden gate: the life of Celia Laighton Thaxter. Lebanon (NH): University Press of New England.

Pfister DH. 1984. Roland Thaxter: mycologist and entomologist. In: Wheeler Q, Blackwell M, editors. Fungus-insect relationships: perspectives in ecology and evolution. New York (NY): Columbia University Press.


This collection was donated by Thaxter’s relative, Eliot Hubbard in 2000.

Thaxter, Levi. Levi Lincoln Thaxter papers, 1860-circa 1880: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries. The Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany specializes in organisms that reproduce by spores, without flowers or seeds. The Archives of the Farlow Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany houses unique resources including personal papers, institutional records, field notes and plant lists, expedition records, photographs, original artwork, and objects from faculty, curators, staff, and affiliates of the Farlow Herbarium.

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