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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 3478

Henry James Vaux family papers


Correspondence, notes, and photographs of the James family and their descendants.


  • Creation: 1832-1996


Condition Description

In good condition.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


3.5 linear feet (9 boxes)

Papers, including correspondence, notes, and photographs, of the James and Vaux families, including William James, Henry James, and Alice James, as well as their siblings and descendants.

Biographical / Historical

The James family was especially prominent in the intellectual life of New England for several generations.

Henry James, Sr., (1811-1882) was an American theologian. He and his wife Mary Robertson Walsh James (1810-1882) had five children: William James, Henry James, Jr., Garth Wilkinson James, Robertson James, and Alice James.

William James (1842-1910) was a philosopher, psychologist and educator. He and his wife Alice Howe Gibbens James (1849-1922) had five children: Henry James III, William James, Jr., Herman James, Margaret James Porter and Alexander James.

Henry James, Jr., (1843-1916) was an American-British novelist, short-story writer, critic and dramatist. He is regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism. He was born in the United States and moved to England as a young man.

Garth Wilkinson “Wilkie” James (1845-1883) was a Civil War veteran who attempted to establish a cotton plantation in Gordon, Florida following the war, employing Black freedmen. Wilkie, like many northerners who moved south to buy land after the war, knew little about farming. The plantation ultimately failed and Wilkie returned to the north, suffering from malaria. He was married to Caroline Eames Cary (1850-1931) and they had two children, Joseph Cary James and Alice James (Edgar). Wilkie died of malaria at age 38.

Robertson James (1846-1910) was a Civil War veteran, writer and painter. He married Mary Lucinda Holton (1847–1922) and they had two children, Edward Holton James and Mary Walsh James (Vaux). He suffered mental health challenges after the war and lived with his parents in Concord, Massachusetts for a time.

Alice James (1848-1892) was a diarist and the only daughter of Henry James, Sr., and Mary Walsh James. She suffered lifelong health problems, and died at age 43 of breast cancer. Her diary was not published until several decades after her death, first in 1934 and again in 1964.

Edward Holton James (1873-1954) was the son of Robertson James and Mary Holton James. He was an American socialist and activist. He married Louisa Cushing (1865-1848) and they had three daughters, Olivia James (Chapman), Mary James (Brown), and Louisa James (Calder).

Mary Walsh James Vaux (1875–1956) was the daughter of Robertson James and Mary Holton James. She married George Vaux, Jr., (1863-1927) and they had two children, George Vaux III and Henry James Vaux.

Henry James Vaux (1912-2000) was a professor of forestry at University of California, Berkeley. He and his wife Jean had two children, Alice Vaux and Henry James Vaux, Jr.


Collection is arranged in the following series:James, Henry, 1811-1882 (Henry James, Sr.), and James, Mary Robertson Walsh, 1810-1882; James, William, 1842-1910 and James, Alice Howe Gibbens, 1849-1922; James, Henry, 1843-1916 (Henry James, Jr.); James, Garth Wilkinson, 1845-1883; James, Robertson, 1846-1910; James, Mary Lucinda Holton, 1849-1922; James, Alice, 1848-1892; James, Edward Holton, 1873-1954; Vaux, Mary Walsh James, 1875-1956; Vaux, Henry James, 1912-2000; Miscellaneous James family material; Photographs; and Published materials.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2024M-82. Gift of Alice Vaux, 2024 April 11.

Processing Information

Processed by Katherine Gaburo, 2024.

Vaux, Henry J. (Henry James), 1912-2000. Henry James Vaux family papers, 1832-1996 (MS Am 3478): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2024 May 9
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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