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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2740

John Thomas Codman Brook Farm collection


Papers and records relating to the Brook Farm community and also to resident John Thomas Codman.


  • 1840-1901.

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


2 linear feet (3 boxes)

Collection consists of papers collected by and primarily concerning John Thomas Codman and his connection to the Brook Farm Community. Also includes letters to and from others involved with Brook Farm, especially the community's founder George Ripley, and also some of their record books.

Includes: an 1841-1846 letter book concerning Brook Farm; loose letters primarily to Codman, some to and from Ripley and others; autographs collected by Codman, many with Brook Farm connections; manuscripts with Brook Farm subjects; scrapbooks of printed clippings about Brook Farm and reviews of Codman's book; financial reports for the Farm; record book for the Brook Farm Choir including their constitution and minutes; a copy of the deed for land for Brook Farm; printed pamphlets; and miscellaneous images including a photograph of Codman's son Benjamin Howard Codman and a 19th-century landscape oil painting (on board), possibly depicting Brook Farm.

Prominent signatures are found in the autograph collection including: Amos Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Parker, William Henry Seward, Charles Sumner, and many others. Correspondents include: Louis Agassiz, William Henry Channing, Christopher Pearse Cranch, Charles Anderson Dana, Eugene Victor Debs, Horace Greeley, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, Henry James, James Whitcomb Riley, George Ripley, among others.

Biographical / Historical

Brook Farm was a cooperative community, based on a transcendental utopian model, that was founded in West Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1841. In 1844, it began to run on a model inspired by Charles Fourier and in 1845 officially declared itself a Fourierist Phalanx, but folded by 1847.

George Ripley (1802–1880) was an American Unitarian minister, critic, journalist, and social reformer associated with the Transcendentalist movement. He was an 1823 graduate of Harvard College and also studied at the Harvard Divinity School. In1841 he founded the Utopian community of Brook Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

John Thomas Codman (1826-1907) received a DMD degree in 1870 from the Harvard Dental School, and was a Clinical Instructor of Operative Dentistry there from 1879-1881. He was associated in dental practice for many years with his uncle, Dr. Willard W. Codman, and later with Dr. N. C. Keep of Boston and in 1875 he was the president of the Massachusetts Dental Society. In 1859, he married Kezzie Hinckley Clark of Brewster, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Brook Farm community, a long-time vegetarian, and a writer for newspapers and magazines. In 1894 he was the author of Brook Farm, Historic and Personal Memoirs.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Letter book
  2. II. Letters
  3. III. Other manuscripts
  4. IV. Printed pamphlets
  5. V. Images

Immediate Source of Acquisition

78M-67. Purchased from Edwin Horn Codman (1904-1985); received: 1979 January 23.

Donor was the grandson of John Thomas Codman (1827-1907), a member of the Brook Farm community, and the son of Benjamin Howard Codman (b1868) and Lillian Florence Horn Codman.

Separated Materials

A bound, not annotated, volume of The Harbinger (Volumes I-III) was removed to the Houghton Dept. of Printed Books.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Codman, John Thomas. John Thomas Codman Brook Farm collection, 1840-1901: 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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