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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1480

Charles Sumner letters to Francis William Bird


Letters of the American abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner to the antislavery activist Francis William Bird.


  • Creation: 1847-1907

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.5 linear feet (1 box)

Consists of 50 letters from Charles Sumner to Francis William Bird (including one dated the day before Sumner died) sent from Washington while serving as a senator and while on two trips to Europe. The letters primarily concern the Whig party, the Civil War, the rights of African Americans, and American politics. Several are marked "private" or "confidential". Other correspondence includes letters purporting to come from enslaved people in defense of slavery. Includes statements about Sumner's marriage by Bird and funeral notice, program and newspapers clippings about Sumner, among other items.

Biographical / Historical

Sumner was a U.S. senator from Massachusetts (1851-74) and noted abolitionist. Francis William Bird was a radical reformer and antislavery activist in Massachusetts.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

56M-165. Gift of Charles Sumner Bird,Endean, East Walpole, Mass.; received: 1957 February.

Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874. Charles Sumner letters to Francis William Bird, 1847-1907: 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.

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

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