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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2368

Benjamin Peirce papers


Correspondence of the American mathematician and Harvard professor Benjamin Peirce concerning astronomy, coastal surveys and other topics.


  • Creation: 1835-1880

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


18 linear feet (35 boxes)

Chiefly manuscript letters to Benjamin Peirce from various correspondents, including Louis Agassiz, A. D. Bache, Jonathan Ingersoll Bowditch, Benjamin Apthorp Gould, Joseph Henry, Charles S. Peirce, and James Mills Peirce, among others. Letters concern the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Dudley Observatory, and U.S. coastal surveys. Also includes empty scrapbook covers that formerly housed letters.

Biographical / Historical

Peirce (A.B. 1829), mathematician and astronomer, was a tutor (1831-1833) and professor (1833-1880) at Harvard University, where he established the Harvard Observatory.


Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

54M-264 [in part] (for portion from American Academy of Arts and Sciences only).

Deposited by American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and by the Harvard University Archives. received: 1955.

Papers deposited by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences were combined with those kept at the Harvard University Archives in the summer and fall of 1966.

Processing Information

In the summer and fall of 1966, the two collections of Benjamin Peirce Papers held by the Harvard University Archives and the Houghton Library, which were on deposit from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, were united. A preliminary organization of the correspondence from both collections was carried out by Max H. and Ruth B. Fisch; this re-organization incorporated the results of a partial previous organization of the correspondence in the Houghton collection.

The finding aid lists names of persons and institutions, each represented by a folder, containing one or more letters or other communications from the person or institution named to Benjamin Peirce, or one or more letters or drafts of letters or other communications from Benjamin Peirce to the person or institution named, or both. In a few cases that are not indicated in this preliminary list, the communications are both from and to persons other than Benjamin Peirce, and are included in folders bearing their authors' names; and with the further exception of a few reference entries.

At the beginning of the first box of correspondence are two folders, marked A and B. Folder A contains indexes to the correspondence and other materials relating to the acquisition and listing of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences collection mentioned above.

A considerable number of letters had been removed from the scrapbooks before the collection was received. All the remaining letters have now been removed and distributed into folders. However, one volume of Bache letters has been preserved as mounted by Benjamin Peirce (Box 2). The other scrapbook covers are preserved in Boxes 14-18. Finally, a single subject-matter folder has been retained concerning the Dudley Observatory.

List of correspondents

Letters sent to Benjamin Peirce. This list of correspondents is not complete.
Abbe, Cleveland
Abbot, Edwin H.
Abbot, Ezra
Abbot, Francis E.
Abbot, Joseph Hale
Acland, Sir Henry Wentworth
Adams, John C.
Adirondac Club
Adler, J. G.
Agassiz, Alexander
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cary
Agassiz, Louis
Airy, George B.
Albany (N. Y.) Young Mens Association
Alexander, Henry M.
Alexander, J. H.
Alexander, Stephen
Allen, J. H.
Alvoord, Benjamin
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Association for the Advancement of Education
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Insurance Company
American Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics
American Social Science Association
Ames, Sarah Fisher
Amory, J.
Anderson, James
Andrews, Edward R.
Andrews, Stephen Pearl
Andrews, William T.
Appleton, Nathan
Appleton, Thomas Gold
Apthorp, Harrison Otis
Archibald, Raymond Clare
Armsby, J. H.,
see Dudley Observatory
Ashburner, Grace
Ashmun, J. H.
Association Française pour l'avancement des sciences
Astronomical Journal
Athenaeum (London)
Atlantic Cotton Mills, Lawrence; Boyden, Uriah; Francis, James B.; Gray, William; Oliver, H. K.
Avery, Charles
Bache, Alexander Dallas
(one scrapbook and seven folders) (see also Dudley Observatory)
Bache, Evelin B. Coggeshall (Mrs. Henry Wood Bache)
Bache, Nancy Cuyler (Mrs. A. D.)
Bacon, Francis
Bagley, A. P.
Baird, Spencer Fullerton
Bancroft, George
Bancroft, Harriet,
see James, Harriet B.
Barbour, L. G.
Barnard, Frederick A. P.
Barnard, George M.
Barnard, Henry
Barnard, J. G.
Barnard, James Munson, and Augusta (Mrs. J. M.)
Bartol, Cyrus Augustus
Barton, P., Jr.
Batchelder, John M.
Batchelder, Samuel
Bates, William B.
Baxter, Sallie S.
Bayley, John P.
Becker, George Ferdinand
Bellows, H. A.
Berry, Mrs. M. E.
Bethune, George Amory
Bigelow, Jacob
Black, J. W.
Blake, George Baty, and Blake, Stanton.
Blatchford, John S.
Board of Commissioners of Pilots, New York
Bond, George Phillips
(see also Dudley Observatory)
Bond, William Cranch
Book Club, The
Booth, Edwin
Borden, John
Borlase, William C.
Boston Daily Advertiser
Boston Society of Natural History
Boutelle, C. O.
Bouvier, Hannah M.
Bowditch, Charles P.
Bowditch, Henry I.
Bowditch, Henry P.
Bowditch, Jonathan Ingersoll
Bowditch, Nathaniel
Bowen, Francis
Bowron, John S., M.D.
Boyden, Uriah
(see also Francis, James B.)
Boyle, Charles B.
Bradford, John S., and Rosalie M. (Mrs. J. S.)
Brandon, George H.
Brine, Percival J.
British Association for the Advancement of Science
Bromberg, Frederick George
Bryant, Charles
Burgess, Edward
Burnett, W. I.
Burroughs, John C.
Butler, William H.
Byerly, William Elwood
Caithness, Marie (Mariategui) Sinclair, Countess of
Cambridge High School
Cambridge Miscellany of Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy
Cambridge Scientific Club
Cambridge Social Union
Canadian Journal
Canfield, A. B.
Carlton, Oliver
Carpenter, Edward
Cary, Emma Forbes
Cary, Sarah Gray
Cary, Thomas Graves
Caswell, Alexis
Cecil, Sackville A.
Chase, D. K.
Chase, Pliny Earle
Chasles, Michel
Chauvenet, William
Cherriman, John Bradford,
see Canadian Journal
Chestnut Street Club
Child, Francis J. and Elizabeth E. S.
Choate, Charles F.
Clark, Alvan
(see also Sargent, Lucius Manlius
Clark, William S.
Clarke, James Freeman
Clarke, John L.
Coast Survey, U. S.
(see also Bache, A. D.; Cooper, W. W.; Hilgard, J. E.; Patterson, C. P.)
Coffin, J. H. C.
Cogswell, Joseph Green
Combescure, Edouard
Concord Summer School of Philosophy and Literature
Cooke, Josiah P., Jr.
Coolidge, Jefferson
Cooper, W. W.
Cornell, Ezra
Cotting, B. E.
Curtis, Thomas B.
Cushing, Caleb
Cutts, Richard D.
Cuyler, R. R.
Dall, William H.
Dana, James Dwight
Dana, Richard H.
Darwin, Sir George Howard
Davidson, George
Davies, Charles
Davies, Gilman
Davis, Charles Henry (Lt., later Adm.)
Davis, Charles Henry Jr.
Davis, Frank du Pont
Davis, Mrs. G. T.
Davis, H. L.
Davis, James
Davis, John, Judge
Davis, Jonathan Thomas
Desor, Edouard
Devens, Samuel A.
Devereux, George H.
Dixwell, Epes Sargent
Dixwell, Mary (Mrs. E. S.)
Donaldson, Thomas
Dudley, Blandina,
see Dudley Observatory
Dudley Observatory
Du Pont, Mrs. S. F.
Dwight, Edmund
Dwight, John Sullivan
Eastwood, George
Eliot, Charles W.
Eliot, Samuel A.
Ellis, Alexander John
Ellis, Rufus
Ellis, William R.
Emery, Horace L.
Emory, Matilda W.
Equitable Life Assurance Society, New York
Espy, James P.
Esty, William C.
Eustis, Henry Lawrence
Eustis, Caroline B. (Mrs. H. L.)
Evans, Alexander
Evans, E. W.
Everett, Charles Carroll
Everett, Edward
Fairbairn, Andrew
Farmer, J. Q.
Farrar, John (& Mrs.)
Fay, Amy
Fay, Maria Denny
Felton, Cornelius Conway
Ferrel, William
Ferrette, Bishop,
see Ferrel, William
Ferris, Walter M.
Fields, Annie (Mrs. J. T.)
Flügel, J. G.
Foote, Fidelia C.
Forbes, Ralph B.
Force, M. F.
Foster, L. F. S.
Fowler, I. Smith
Francis, James B.
Frazer, John F.
French, B. B.
French, Francis Ormond
French Spoliation Claims, see Nichols, Harry Peirce
Gavit, D. G.
Gibbes, Lewis R.
Gibbs, Wolcott
(see also Hall, James)
Gill, Charles
(and E. A. Gill his son)
Gilliss, James Melville
Gilman, Arthur
Gilman, Daniel Coit
Gilmore, Robert
Godkin, E. L.
Goodwin, W. W.
Göttingen, Die Königliche Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu
Gould, Benjamin Apthorp
Gould, Benjamin Apthorp Jr.
(see also Dudley Observatory)
Gould, John Stanton
Graham, J. D.
Grant, George B.
Gray, Asa
Gray, George Zabriskie
Gray, William
Green, John
Greenough, Frances B.
Greenough, Henry
Greenough, H. S.
Gulliver, John P.
Gurney, Ephraim W. (& Mrs.)
Hale, Charles,
see Boston Daily Advertiser
Hale, Edward Everett
Hall, Asaph
Hall, Charles Francis
Hall, James
Hancock, Charles Lowell
Harbor Commissioners' Office, Boston
(see also Lunt, G.; Mitchell, H.; Quincy, Josiah; Whiting, H.)
Harder, J.
Hardy, W. F.
Harvard College Class of 1829
Harvard College (miscellaneous)
Haskell, Daniel N.
Hawley, Henry J.
Hazeltine, Miss F. C.
Hedrick, B. S.
see Fay, Maria D.
Hendrix, E. R.
Henry, Joseph
(see also Dudley Observatory)
Henry, Morton P.
Higginson, Ida Agassiz
Hilgard, Julius Erasmus
Hill, Thomas
Hillhouse, J. A.
Hillhouse, W.,
see Dudley Observatory
Hinckley, Hargrove
Holbrook, J. E.
Holden, Edward S.
Holland, J. B.
Hooker, J. C.
Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
Horsford, Eben Norton (& Mrs.)
Houghton, Osgood & Co.
Howe, Julia Ward
Howell, Robert
Howison, George Holmes
Humphreys, A. A.
Hun, Thomas
Hunt, T. Sterry
Huntington, Charles Phelps (& Mrs. Ellen G.)
Huntington, Charles W.
Huntington, E. H. Mills
Huntington, Frederic Dan
Huntington, Mary E.
Iasigi, Joseph (& Mrs. & Oscar their son)
International Life Assurance Society of London
Irwin, Agnes
Irwin, Sophia A.
Jackson, Charles T.
Jackson, I. W.
(see also Runkle, J. D.)
James, George Abbot (& Mrs.)
James, Harriet B. (later Mrs. Bancroft)
Jenkins, Thornton A.
Johnston, John
Jones, George
Kane, John K.
Kebler, John
Kiev, University of St. Wladimir in
King, Charles
Kirkwood, Daniel
Lane, Frederick A.
Lane, George M. (Coast Survey)
Lane, George M. (Harvand Professor)
Lane, H. B.
Lawrence, James
Leavitt, Dudley
Le Conte, John
Le Conte, John Lawrence
(see also Dudley Observatory)
Le Conte, Josephine (Mrs. John)
Lenhart, William
Lesley, John Peter
Lewis, J. W. P. (see also Forbes, R. B.)
Library of Congress
Light House Board
Lincoln, David Francis, M.D.
Little, Brown & Co.
Lockyer, J. Norman,
Lodge, Anna Cabot
Lodge, Henry Cabot (& Mrs.)
Longfellow, A. W.
Loomis, Elias
Loring, Edward Greely
(see also McCulloch, Hugh)
Loring, Harriet B.
Loring, Mary B.
Louisville Academy of Science
Lovering, Joseph
Lowell, Augustus
Lowell Institute Lectures,
see Black, J. W.; Cotting, B. E.; Lowell, Augustus)
Lowell, John A.
Lowell, Percival
Lunt, George
Lyman, Mrs. Anne Jean
Magill, E. H.
Maglathlin, Henry Bartlett
Mallet, J. W.
Mann, William
Markoe, Francis Jr.
Marston, William Staples
Martin, Artemas
Maryland Institute
Massachusetts Teachers' Association
Massachusetts, Survey of
Maury, Matthew Fontaine
May, Samuel
Mayer, Alfred M.
Mayo, J.
McCabe, L. D.
McClintock, John N.
McCay, C. F.
McCoy, A.
McCulloch, Hugh
McCulloch, Richard S.
Meech, L. W.
Meigs, M. C.
Merrick, John Mudge
Metropolitan Club, Washington, D. C.
Miller, Lester A.
Mills, Charles H. (& Mrs. Anna Cabot Lodge M.)
Mills, James Kilby
Mills, Sarah Coleman (Mrs. J. K.)
Mills, William Kilby
Mitchel, Ormsby MacKnight
Mitchell, Henry
Mitchell, Maria
Mitchell, William
Mittag, J. F. G.
Moffat, T.
Monson, Sir Edmund
Monti, Luigi
Morison, Nathaniel Holmes
Morse, Alexander Porter
Mory, Charles N.
Moss, Lemuel
Motley, Lothrop
Moulton, Lillie Greenough (Mrs. Charles)
Myers, Philip
National Academy of Sciences
National Intelligencer
National Telegraph Memorial Association
National University Association
(see also Myers, Philip)
Naval Observatory, U. S.
(see also Davis, Charles Henry; Newcomb, Simon; Rodgers, John)
Newberry, John Strong
Newcomb, Simon
Newton, Hubert Anson
Nichol, John Pringle
Nichols, Benjamin R.
Nichols, Harry Peirce
Nichols, Henry G.
Nichols, H. P.
Nichols, Herbert
Nichols, Ichabod
Nichols, John H.
Nichols, John Taylor Gilman
Norton, Charles Eliot
Olmsted, Denison (see also Bowron, John S.)
Olcott, Thomas W.
(see also Dudley Observatory)
Oliver, Henry K.
Oliver, James Edward
(see also Cornell, Ezra; Magill, E. H.)
Osgood, George L.
Osgood, Sam
Oswego Convention on a Trans-Continental Railway,
see Davis, H. L.
Owen, W. P. W.
Paine, John Knowles
Paine, R. T.
Palfrey, John G.
Park, Miss E.
Park, Roswell
Parker, John A.
Parkhurst, Henry M.
Parkman, Mary E.
Parsons, Anna (Mrs. T. W.)
Parsons, S. B.
Parsons, Theophilus
Parsons, Thomas William
Paterson, John
Patterson, Carlile P.
Patterson, Elizabeth (Mrs. C. P.)
Peabody, Andrew Preston
Peabody Institute, Baltimore,
see Morison, Nathaniel Holmes
Peirce, Benjamin Sr.
Peirce, Benjamin Mills
Peirce, Benjamin Osgood
Peirce, Charles Henry
Peirce, Charles Sanders
Peirce, Harriet Melusina Fay (Mrs. C. S.)
Peirce, Charlotte Elizabeth
Peirce, Helen Huntington (later Mrs. William Rogers Ellis)
Peirce, Herbert Henry Davis
Peirce, James Mills
Peirce, Lydia Ropes Nichols (Mrs. Benjamin Sr.)
Peirce, Sarah Hunt Mills (Mrs. Benjamin Jr.)
Perkins, George R.
Perry, B. F.
Peters, Christian Henry Frederick
(see also Dudley Observatory)
Peters, Thomas M.
Phelps, C. H.
Phillips, A. W.
Phillips, George William
Phillips, James
Phillips, Willard
Philosophical Society of Washington
Pickering, Edward C.
Pickering, Henry W.
Pickering, John
Pickering, Mary O.
Pickering, Sarah S.
Pierce, George Winslow
Porter, Fanny
Posi, Giulio
(see also Secchi, P. A.)
Pourtalai, Juliette
(later Mrs. Charles S. Peirce)
Pourtales, Count Louis François
Powalky, C. R.
Price, Bartholomew
Pringle, William B.
Pruyn, John V. L.
Quimby, E. T.
Quincy, Edmund
Quincy, Fanny Huntington
Quincy, Josiah
(President of Harvard University)
Quincy, Josiah.
Redman, G. A.
Reichenbach, O.
Remsen, Ira
Richardson, George W.
Richardson, William A.
Riddell, J. L.
Riddle, George
Rives, William C. Jr.
Robbins, Chandler
Roberts, Edward
Rodgers, John
Rodman, S. W.
Rogers, Fairman
Rood, Ogden N.
(see also Stackpole, William)
Ropes, William
Royal Society of London
Ruggles, Samuel B.
Runkle, John Daniel
Russell, Nathaniel Pope
(see also Somerset Club)
Russell, Samuel H. (& Mrs.)
Russell, Thomas
Rutherfurd, Lewis M.
Sabine, Edward
Safford, T. H.
Safford, T. H. Jr.
Sales, F.
Salmon, George
Saltonstall, Henry
Saltonstall, Leverett
Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin
Sanders, Charles
(see also Tuckerman, J. Francis)
Sanders, Charlotte Nichols (Mrs. Charles)
San Diego Society of Natural History
Sands, Admiral B. F.
San Francisco Academy of Sciences
Sargent, Charles Sprague
Sargent, Lucius Manlius
Saturday Club
Schlegel, V.
Schott, Charles A.
Scudder, Samuel H.
Searle, George M.
Sears, David Jr.
Sears, Philip Howes
Secchi, P. A.
Sedgwick, S. J.
Seymour, C. B.
Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate
Shattuck, Emily C. (Mrs. George O.)
Sherwin, Thomas
Shipley, Murray
Sibenmann, F. A.
Silliman, Benjamin.
Silliman, Benjamin, Jr.
Silsbee, E. A.
Silsbee, Nathaniel
Simmons, Daniel
Simonin, L.
Smalley, George W.
Smith, August W.
Smith, Elbridge,
see Cambridge High School
Smith, Francis H.
Smith, H. L.
Smith, J. Laurence
Smith, S. V. C.
Smyth, Joseph P.
Somerset Club, Boston
Sparks, Jared
Stackpole, S. M.
Stackpole, William
Stearns, W. A.
Steiner, Lewis H.
Stillman, William James
Stone, Ormond
Storrow, C. S.
Story, William E.
Stringham, W. I.
Strong, Theodore
Student elective study applications, Harvard College
Sturgis, Russell
Sullivan, Henrietta (Mrs. Richard)
Sumner, Thomas H.
Swett, Samuel
Sylvester, James Joseph
Tait, P. G.
Talcott, Andrew
Tappan, Henry P.
Taylor, Bayard
Tennessee Historical Society
Thayer, Alexander Wheelock
Thayer, James B.
Thursday Evening Club
Thwing, George
Tilton, McLane,
see Dudley Observatory
Tower, J. M.
Treadwell, Daniel
Trowbridge, John
Tuckerman, J. Francis
Twining, Alexander C.
Underwood, F. H.
United States Sanitary Commission
Venable, Charles S.
Walcott, Anna M.
Waldo, Leonard
Walker, James
Walker, Sears C.
Walling, H. F.
Ward, Annie N.
Ward, Samuel
Washburn, Emory, Governor
Watson, John Lee
Watson, William
Webber, Mary C.
Webster, John White
Wednesday Evening Club
Western Rail Road Corporation
Wheatstone, C.
Whipple, Edwin Percy
Whist Club, Monday Evening
Whiting, Henry
Whitman, S. W.
Whitney, Josiah Dwight
Whitney, Mary W.
Whitney, William Dwight
Williams, D. H.
Williston, L. Richards,
see Cambridge High School
Willson, Robert W.
Winlock, Joseph (& Mrs.)
Winslow, S. E.,
see Dudley Observatory
Winsor, Justin
Winthrop, Robert
Witte, G. A.
Woodman, Cyrus
Woodman, Horatio
Woodward, Dr.
Wright, Elizur
Wright, Fanny (Mrs. Frank)
Wright, George W.
Wright, W. I.
Wyman, Lillie B. Chace
Wyman, Morrill
Young, John Henry
Young, William H.
Peirce, Benjamin, 1809-1880. Benjamin Peirce papers, circa 1835-1880: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

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