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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2624

Samuel Williams family papers


Family papers of American Samuel Williams (1743-1817), clergyman, naturalist, and for a time, the Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard College. Includes manuscripts of Williams's friend, Count Benjamin Thompson Rumford.


  • Creation: 1723-1995

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions to physical access for the bulk of this material. Some items are marked restricted, as they are fragile and access to those require the permission of the curators. See Houghton Public Services for details.


3.5 linear feet (8 boxes)

Collection includes correspondence of: Loammi Baldwin (1745-1807); Jonas Fay (1737-1818); Harvard College; Chauncy Landgon (1763-1830); Count Benjamin Rumford (1753-1814); Isaac Tichenor (1754-1838); Timothy Todd (1758-1806); Charles Kilborn Williams (1856-1920); Charles Langdon Williams (1821-1861); Lucy Langdon Williams Wilson (1864-1937); Samuel Williams (1743-1817), and many others. There is also substantial correspondence with the Williams family from repositories and individuals interested in acquiring the Williams family collection for their institution or in doing research using these papers.

Autograph manuscript compositions and documents include sermons by Warham Williams (1699-1751) and Samuel Williams (1743-1817); an essay by Count Benjamin Rumford (1753-1814); two natural history journals by Samuel Williams (1743-1817), titled: Vermont - No. 1. Notes on the state of Vermont (1792), and Natural History (ca. 1783-1786); journals of voyages taken by various Williams family members; and other items. Manuscript documents relating to the Williams family include: financial records; wills; deeds; genealogical charts and lists; estate inventories; transcripts of historical documents on the Williams family from various repositories; and certificates and diplomas.

There is a large series of images of Williams family members, the majority of which are modern prints made of historic photographs. The collection also includes a substantial number of original photographs, such as tintypes, silhouettes, cartes-de-visite (card photographs), daguerreotypes, and a photograph album. Also in this collection are some objects formerly belonging to the Williams family: Comb (hair ornament) mount with detachable frontlet, ca. 1800-1840; man's knee buckles (strap accessories), 17??; sliding-temple spectacles, said to have been worn by Samuel Williams; 19th century? silk woman's lace-up boots and pumps (shoes)); as well as numerous folders of printed materials collected about various Williams luminaries.

Biographical / Historical

Includes materials concerning, but not limited to, the following persons:

  1. Warham Williams (1699-1751): son of Reverend John Williams (Harvard College AB 1683) and Eunice Mather Williams (d1704) of Deerfield. One of the Deerfield captives after the massacre in 1704. Harvard College AB 1719, minister of Waltham. Married 1728 Abigail Leonard of Norton (1703-1789). Children were: John Williams (1729-1729); Abigail Williams Woodward (1730-1805); Anna Williams Cushing (1732-1815); Eunice Williams (1734-1743); Samuel Williams (1735-1743); Sarah Williams Parsons (1737-1800); Leonard Williams (1739-1799) (Harvard AB 1758); Eleazer Williams (1742-1743); and Samuel Williams (1743-1817).
  2. Samuel Williams,1743-1817: son of Reverend Warham Williams (1699-1751; Harvard College AB 1719) and Abigail Leonard Williams (1703-1789) of Waltham, Massachusetts. Harvard College AB 1761. Married 1768 Jane Kilborn Williams (1746-1829) of Rowley (daughter of Eliphalet Kilborn and Jane Prime-(Frazier)). Lived in Bradford, Massachusetts and served as a Congregational minister. 1772 elected to American Philosophical Society. 1780 appointed Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard College. University of Edinburgh LLD in 1785, Yale LLD 1785. Resigned from Harvard in forgery and financial scandal in 1788. Moved to Rutland, Vermont. 1794 published Natural and civil history of Vermont. 1794-1804 editor of Rutland Herald. Later published Rural Magazine (1795-1796). Assisted in founding of University of Vermont. Entered business with Thaddeus Pomeroy (Harvard College AB 1786). Five children:
  3. ___Jane Williams Osgood (b1769): married 1790 Nathan Osgood (1759-1841);
  4. ___Samuel Williams (1770-1774);
  5. ___Leonard Williams (1776-1812);
  6. ___Charles Williams (1779-1779) died in infancy;
  7. ___Charles Kilborn Williams (1782-1853): Williams College AB 1800. Married 1817 Lucy Green Langdon Williams (1793-1876) daughter of Chauncy Langdon (1763-1830) and Lucy Nona Lathrop Langdon (1770-1834); lawyer and second Governor of Vermont (1850-1852). [Also sometimes spelled Kilbourn or Kilbourne]. They had nine children:
  8. ______Lucy Jane Williams Strong (1818-1898): married 1837 John Strong (1812-1896). Children:
  9. _________Charles Kilborn Williams Strong (1839-1892);
  10. _________Moses Strong (1840-1841);
  11. _________Lucy Maria Strong (b1843);
  12. _________Caroline Agnes Strong (1845-1846);
  13. _________John Warham Strong (1848-1848);
  14. _________Ellen Ellsworth Strong (1853-1858).
  15. ______Charles Langdon Williams (1821-1861): Williams College AB 1839. Married 1855 Louise Indiana Bedell Williams (1822-1858) of Brooklyn, New York (daughter of Mott Bedell and Phebe Davison Bedell). Lawyer and author. Children:
  16. _________Charles Kilborn Williams (1856-1920): Harvard AB 1878; attended Harvard and Columbia Law School; practiced law in Rutland, Vermont; married 1889 Gladys Ethra Garrison Williams (1865-1953) daughter of Cantine Garrison and Helen Crain Garrison; moved to Chicago, then to Sioux City Iowa. Two children:
  17. ____________Alice Louise Williams (1901-1934);
  18. ____________Dorothy Cantine Williams Crane Oliver (1891-1978): married 1910 Stanley Parker Crane (1885-1920) son of Belle Parker Crane and Charles D. Crane; 2nd marriage to Ralph A. Oliver (1886-1968) who was Judge of the Superior Court of Iowa, two children:
  19. _______________Dorothy Parker Crane Oliver Sadler (adopted) (b1913): married 1945 John Andrew Sadler;
  20. _______________Frank W. Oliver.
  21. _________Maria Louise Williams (1857-1858).
  22. ______Caroline Maria Williams (1824-1875);
  23. ______Charlotte Eloise Williams (1825-1858);
  24. ______John Warham Williams (1827-1828);
  25. ______Laura Susan Lothrop Williams (1828-1847);
  26. ______Mary Augusta Williams Mann (1831-1895): married 1854 Horatio Eugene Mann. Moved to Minnesota. Children:
  27. _________Laura W. Mann Whiteacre (b1858): married 1883 (or 1893?) Robert Bond Whiteacre;
  28. _________Eugene Langdon Mann (b1861): Hobart College AB 1883; married 1891.
  29. ______Chauncy Kilborn Williams (1832-1879): married 1858 Alexine Virginia Bedell Williams of Brooklyn, New York (1835-1924), daughter of Mott Bedell (1794-1878) and Phebe Davison Bedell (1795-1883); a lawyer and journalist, first in Flint, Michigan, then moved back to Rutland, Vermont in 1861 as a lawyer;
  30. ______Samuel Williams (1837-1909): married 1863 Lucy Elizabeth Crampton Williams (b1837) daughter of Eliada Crampton and Sarepta Stevens ; AB Williams College 1856; moved to Philadelphia. Children:
  31. _________Lucy Langdon Williams Wilson (1864-1937): Philadelphia educator; married 1894 William S. Wilson;
  32. _________Thyrza Crampton Williams (1865-1902);
  33. _________Caroline Maria Williams (1867-1867);
  34. _________Samuel Williams, Jr. (b1874): married 1902 Mary Elizabeth Clarke Williams.
  35. Benjamin Rumford, Graf von, 1753-1814: born as Benjamin Thompson in Woburn, Massachusetts. Physicist and social reformer, and friend of Samuel Williams (1743-1817).
  36. Chauncy Langdon, 1763-1830: (Yale AB 1787); son of Ebenezer Langdon, Jr. of Farmington, Connecticut and Katharine Green Langdon of New York City (parents from Holland). Married 1789 Lucy Nona Lathrop Langdon (d.1834). Moved to Castleton, Vermont. Lawyer and representative in Vermont state legislature and US House (1815-1817). Daughter:
  37. ___Lucy Green Langdon Williams (1793-1876).


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Compositions and documents
  3. III. Financial records
  4. IV. Images
  5. V. Correspondence about the Williams family collection
  6. VI. Realia and printed materials

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

2006M-89. Purchased with the Bayard Livingston and Kate Gray Kilgour fund from The Antiquarian Scientist, Southampton, Massachusetts 01073; received: 2007 June 1.


Formerly owned by Frank W. Oliver (lawyer) of Chicago, then Miami. Bulk of collection was passed down the Samuel Williams line of the Williams family to Oliver. See biographical note below for further information.

Digitization Funding

Collections and items have been digitized with the generous support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Related Materials

Additional Williams materials available at:

  1. Collections of the Memorial Libraries, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
  2. Harvard University Archives.
  3. Special Collections Bailey/Howe Library. University of Vermont. Burlington, Vermont.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Williams, Samuel, 1743-1817. Samuel Williams family papers, 1723-1995: 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.

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