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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Hyde 98

Mary Hyde Eccles papers


Correspondence and other personal papers of Mary Hyde Eccles, a collector and literary scholar whose primary interest was Samuel Johnson.


  • 1853-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1939-2003


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

The bulk of this collection is not housed at the Houghton Library, but 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 for retrieval policies and times.

Conditions Governing Use

Certain items relating to personnel or membership decisions have been restricted for a period of fifty years after creation, as noted in the inventory below.


88 linear feet (84 boxes, 3 pf boxes, and 7 volumes)

The Personal Papers series includes: calendars and appointment books showing the Mary Hyde Eccles's daily activities from 1934 to 2003; guest books illustrated with photographs documenting visitors to Four Oaks Farm; financial records including invoices for rare book and manuscript purchases; and files on her travels across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The Property Files series includes documentation of life at Four Oaks Farm, as well as general files relating to the Four Oaks Farm library collection, and material on Mary Hyde Eccles's other residences in North Carolina and England.

The Correspondence series consists of letters to and from friends, fellow Johnson scholars, dealers and collectors, publishers, and research libraries. Among the most frequent correspondents are: Walter Jackson Bate; W.H. (William Henry) Bond; Julian P. (Julian Parks) Boyd; David Buchanan; R.W. (Robert William) Chapman; James Lowry Clifford; Malcolm S. Forbes and his family; Philip Hofer; Arthur Amory Houghton; William A. (William Alexander) Jackson; Robert F. (Robert Frederic) Metzdorf; Lawrence Fitzroy Powell; and William Zachs. The collection also includes letters by Nicholson Baker; Edward Heath; Lady Bird Johnson; John Major; George C. (George Catlett) Marshall; and Christine Todd Whitman.

The Clubs and Organizations series includes particularly extensive documentation of involvement in: the David and Mary Eccles Centre for American Studies; the Grolier Club; Houghton Library (particularly the construction of the Donald Frizell Hyde Rooms); and the Johnsonians.

The Compositions and Research series includes drafts of most of her major works of scholarship; extensive research files for The Thrales of Streatham Park and other works; unpublished plays and fiction; texts of numerous speeches; and research files on the letters of Samuel Johnson, including photocopies of the majority of surviving letters.

The Visual Materials series consists mostly of snapshots taken from 1939 to 2003, depicting social events at Four Oaks Farm and abroad.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Hyde Eccles was one of the world's leading collectors of books and manuscripts from the 1940s until her death in 2003. She was also a distinguished literary scholar and an important benefactor to numerous libraries and cultural institutions.

She was born Mary Morley Crapo on 1912 July 8, to parents Stanford Tappan Crapo and Emma Caroline Morley Crapo. Her early years were spent in and around Detroit, Michigan, where her father was a prosperous railroad executive and cement manufacturer. She received her B.A. from Vassar College in 1934, and her Ph.D. in English from Columbia in 1947.

Mary Morley Crapo married lawyer Donald Frizell Hyde (1909-1966) on 1939 Sept. 16. He was a graduate of Ohio State University and Harvard Law School. During the first year of their marriage, they resided in Grosse Point, Michigan, and then moved to New York City in January of 1941. They spent part of 1942 in Washington, D.C. before returning to New York City. In 1943, they purchased Four Oaks Farm, a large estate in Somerville, New Jersey, which became their primary residence.

Soon after their marriage, the Hydes began collecting books and manuscripts relating to Samuel Johnson and his circle, making their first major acquisitions at the A.E. Newton sales in 1940 and 1941. As they continued to expand their collection, Four Oaks Farm became an important site for research into Johnson and his circle. The Hydes were instrumental in founding the Johnsonians, a select club of American Johnson enthusiasts, which first gathered at Four Oaks Farm on Johnson's birthday in 1946. In 1948, they acquired the great R.B. Adam collection, which established them as the foremost Johnson collectors in the world.

The Hydes had numerous other collecting interests in addition to Johnson. They began collecting Japanese prints and illustrated books in 1960. They also assembled an important collection of Oscar Wilde material, which was later left to the British Library.

Mary Hyde established her repuation as an important literary scholar after Donald Frizell Hyde's death in 1966. She had already published Playwriting for Elizabethans, 1600-1605, an expansion of her doctoral dissertation, in 1949. Her two monographs on Johnson's circle, The Impossible Friendship: Boswell and Mrs. Thrale (1972) and The Thrales of Streatham Park (1977), remain important works in their field. She edited Bernard Shaw and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence (1982) and co-edited James Boswell's Book of Company at Auchinleck, 1782-1795 (1995). Her research, collections, and financial support played an integral role in the publication of The Letters of Samuel Johnson (1992-1994), edited by Bruce Redford. Many of her shorter works were collected in 2002 as Mary Hyde Eccles: A Miscellany of her Essays and Addresses.

In addition to her scholarly and collecting activities, Mary Hyde was an important supporter of cultural institutions in the United States and Great Britain. With her first husband, she established the Four Oaks Foundation in 1953 to provide financial aid to college students. Her Japanese collection was auctioned in 1988 to benefit the Pierpont Morgan Library. She was also the primary supporter of the 1998 effort to restore Auchinleck, James Boswell's ancestral estate in Scotland. Harvard University's Houghton Library owes her a special debt. She funded the construction of its Donald Frizell Hyde Rooms (completed in 1979), and bequeathed the Donald Hyde and Mary Hyde Eccles Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson to the library in 2003.

In 1984 she married David Eccles, Viscount Eccles (1904-1999), a prominent book collector who had served as Great Britain's education minister. They maintained dual residences in England and at Four Oaks Farm, and she assumed the title of Viscountess Eccles. Together they established the David and Mary Eccles Center for American Studies at the British Library in 1992. Lord Eccles died in 1999, and Lady Eccles on 2003 August 26.


Organized into the following nine series:

  1. I. Personal papers: A. Chronological records: 1. Appointment books
  2. I. Personal papers: A. Chronological records: 2. Calendars
  3. I. Personal papers: A. Chronological records: 3. Diaries
  4. I. Personal papers: A. Chronological records: 4. Guest books
  5. I. Personal papers: B. Christmas plans
  6. I. Personal papers: C. Diplomas
  7. I. Personal papers: D. Financial records
  8. I. Personal papers: E. Memorabilia
  9. I. Personal papers: F. Travel files
  10. II. Property files: A. Four Oaks Farm: 1. Development easement
  11. II. Property files: A. Four Oaks Farm: 2. Events
  12. II. Property files: A. Four Oaks Farm: 3. Farm
  13. II. Property files: A. Four Oaks Farm: 4. Houses and grounds
  14. II. Property files: A. Four Oaks Farm: 5. Staff
  15. II. Property files: B. Four Oaks Farm library files
  16. II. Property files: C. Other properties
  17. III. Correspondence
  18. IV. Clubs and organizations
  19. V. Compositions and research: A. Articles and books
  20. V. Compositions and research: B. Plays, poems, and stories
  21. V. Compositions and research: C. Speeches
  22. V. Compositions and research: D. Research notes
  23. V. Compositions and research: E. Compositions by others
  24. V. Compositions and research: F. Letters of Samuel Johnson
  25. V. Compositions and research: G. Manuscripts of Samuel Johnson
  26. VI. Visual materials: A. Artwork
  27. VI. Visual materials: B. Photographs
  28. VI. Visual materials: C. Oversized photographs
  29. VI. Visual materials: D. Film reels
  30. VII. Donald Frizell Hyde Papers
  31. VIII. David Eccles, Viscount Eccles Papers
  32. IX. Additional material received after the bequest

Physical Location

Harvard Depository, b, pf, ms

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2003JM-31, 2003JM-32, 2003JM-34, 2004M-135, 2005M-19. All items are 2003JM-32 unless otherwise noted.

Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004 and 2005.

2004M-135 arrived in 2005 via Sally Bullard, grandniece of Mary Hyde Eccles.

2011M-93. Received from Sarah Crapo Bullard: 2011 October 11. 2020M-19. Found in records of the Printing & Graphic Arts Department, 2019 July.

Related Materials

Three boxes of the papers of Mary Hyde Eccles were bequeathed to the Grolier Club, mostly concerning her Grolier Club membership.

This collection does not include the Samuel Johnson-related manuscripts collected by Mary Hyde Eccles. To see finding aids for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, enter "MS Hyde" in the OASIS search box, using quotation marks.

Additional material relating to the Johnson collection manuscripts can also be found in the collection's curatorial files.


Austin, Gabriel, ed. Four Oaks Farm (Somerville, N.J.: privately published, 1967) Austin, Gabriel, ed. Four Oaks Library (Somerville, N.J.: privately published, 1967) Bond, W.H., ed., Eighteenth-Century Studies in Honor of Donald F. Hyde (New York: Grolier Club, 1970) Zachs, William, ed., Mary Hyde Eccles: A Miscellany of her Essays and Addresses (New York: Grolier Club, 2002)
  • Austin, Gabriel, ed. Four Oaks Farm (Somerville, N.J.: privately published, 1967)
  • Austin, Gabriel, ed. Four Oaks Library (Somerville, N.J.: privately published, 1967)
  • Bond, W.H., ed., Eighteenth-Century Studies in Honor of Donald F. Hyde (New York: Grolier Club, 1970)
  • Zachs, William, ed., Mary Hyde Eccles: A Miscellany of her Essays and Addresses (New York: Grolier Club, 2002)

General note

The bulk of this collection is shelved off-site at the Harvard Depository. Items shelved at Houghton are marked "Hyde Back Stacks." Restricted items are in last box, and stored in vault. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by Alyson E. Reichgott and Rick Stattler.

Processing Information

This finding aid was reviewed in 2024 to address outdated and harmful descriptive language. During that review, it was decided that the potentially harmful and problematic term describing Black Americans is in a formal title of an organization. The title has been left as-is, and a contextual note situating the usage of the term has been added. If you have questions or comments about these revisions, please contact Houghton Library. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

Eccles, Mary Hyde. Mary Hyde Eccles papers, 1853-2005 (MS Hyde 98): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University
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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