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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2132

Palfrey family correspondence


Correspondence of the Boston Palfrey family, including Unitarian minister and U.S. congressman John Gorham Palfrey.


  • Creation: 1808-1913

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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


.1 linear feet (1 folder in 1 box)

Consists chiefly of letters written by John Gorham Palfrey and by Charles Francis Adams. Letters written by Palfrey include several to Ralph Waldo Emerson concerning personal matters but with some references to Emerson's lectures, and some to various Palfrey family members concerning family matters and personal finances. Letters by Charles Francis Adams are addressed to John Gorham Palfrey and Sarah Hammond Palfrey, mostly regarding personal matters. One letter to Sarah explains his increasing indifference to poetry. Many letters are photocopies.

Biographical / Historical

The central figure in this collection, John Gorham Palfrey (1796-1881), was a Unitarian minister, professor at Harvard Divinity School, editor of the North American Review, congressman from Massachusetts (1847-1849), postmaster of Boston (1861-1867), and historian, best known for his multi- volume History of New England. His father John Palfrey (1768-1843) was a merchant in Boston and later owned a plantation in Attakapas, La. John Gorham Palfrey's son, John Carver Palfrey (1833-1906) was a military engineer during the Civil War and was later an officer in the textile manufacturing business. His daughter Sarah Hammond Palfrey (1823-1914) was a novelist and poet.


Arranged alphabetically by author.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

62M-96. Gift of Mrs. Charles A. Woodrow, 1306 Wendell Avenue, Schenectady, New York; received: summer of 1962.

Processing Information

Shelved with bMS Am 2130 and MS Am 2131.

Palfrey family. Palfrey family correspondence, 1808-1913: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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.

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