Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1092.4

William James letters to his son Henry James and others


A scrapbook of letters from philosopher William James to his son Henry James, with transcripts of letters from William James to his daughter Margaret and other related papers.


  • 1882-1910


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.2 linear feet (1 volume and 4 folders)

Consists primarily of letters written by philosopher William James to his son Henry James (1879-1947), some of them illustrated with pen and ink drawings. Some letters are written jointly by William James and his wife Alice Howe Gibbens James; some letters are addressed jointly to Henry James and his siblings. The collection also includes clippings and ephemera inserted into letters, as well as related letters written by William James to Charles William Eliot, item (46), James Hazen Hyde, item (63), and Lee, Higginson & Co., item (74), and an autograph poem by William James, item (12). One letter includes a postscript by daughter Margaret Mary James Porter, item (15); another is addressed jointly to son Henry James and his uncle, the novelist Henry James (1843-1916), item (78).

Inserted at the end of the scrapbook are a series of typescript transcripts of William James letters, apparently intended for publication in a book of his letters to children. One of these transcripts is directed to brother Henry James the novelist, item (91); and the other 23 are addressed to William James's daughter Margaret Mary James Porter, 1895-1910, item (92).

Biographical / Historical

Philosopher William James and his wife Alice Howe Gibbens James had four children who survived past infancy: Henry James (1879-1947), William James (1882-1961), Margaret Mary James Porter (1887-1950), and Alexander Robertson James (1890-1946).


Arranged chronologically in a scrapbook. Four items have become detached from the scrapbook, and are numbered separately in folders at the end of the group.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

46M-285 Gift of Henry James, 522 Fifth Ave., New York, New York; received: 1947 May 5.

General note

Collection materials are in English.

Processing Information

Processed by: Rick Stattler

James, William, 1842-1910. William James letters to his son Henry James and others, 1882-1910: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440