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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 3068

Ripley and Thayer families papers

Personal and professional papers of members of the Ripley, Thayer, Ames, and Simmons families.


  • 1759-1964

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English and French.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

A portion 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 retrieval policies and times.


9.8 linear feet (27 boxes)

Contains the personal and professional papers of members of the Ripley, Thayer, Simmons, and Ames families as well as other related individuals. Also includes correspondence from notable personalities including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Woodrow Wilson, John Quincy Adams, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Biographical / Historical

The Ripley family had strong ties to 18th and 19th-century Concord, Massachusetts society and the transcendentalist movement. The Thayer family was related to the Ripley family through the marriage of Sophia Bradford Ripley Thayer and James Bradley Thayer, professor at Harvard Law School. Members of the Ripley and Thayer families occupied the Old Manse in Concord from approximately 1778 until 1939 when the property was sold to the Trustees of Reservations.

Notable family members include Ezra Ripley (1751-1841, Harvard A.M. 1776, D.D. 1816) minister in Concord, MA and the first of his family to live in the Old Manse. Ezra married Phebe Bliss (Emerson) Ripley, widow of William Emerson. Samuel Ripley (1783-1847, Harvard A.M. 1804) son of Ezra and Phebe, was a minister in Waltham, MA and married Sarah Alden (Bradford) Ripley (1793-1867), daughter of Gamaliel Bradford (1763-1824). Mary E. Ripley Simmons (1820-1907), daughter of Samuel and Sarah, married George Frederick Simmons (1814-1855, Harvard A.M. 1832). Sophia Bradford Ripley Thayer (1833-1914) daughter of Samuel and Sarah married James Bradley Thayer (1831-1902, Harvard A.M. 1852, LL.B. 1856, LL.D. 1894) lawyer and law professor at Harvard Law School. Ezra Ripley Thayer (1866-1915, Harvard A.B 1888, LL.B. 1891) son of Sarah and James was a lawyer as well as professor and dean of Harvard Law School. Ezra married Ethel Randolph Clark. Sarah Ripley Thayer Ames (1874-1939) daughter of Sophia and James, married John Worthington Ames (1871-1954, Harvard A.B. 1892) son of Margaret Plumley Ames and John Worthington Ames.


Arranged into the following series:
  1. I. Correspondence
  2. I.A. General correspondence
  3. I.B. Correspondence removed from William Sydney Thayer album
  4. II. Family papers
  5. II.A. Ripley Family
  6. II.B. Thayer Family
  7. II.C. Ames Family
  8. II.D. Simmons Family
  9. II.E. Related persons
  10. III. Materials related to the Old Manse
  11. IV. Photographs
  12. IV.A. Individuals
  13. IV.B. Groups
  14. IV.C. Places

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Collection temporarily housed in MS holding aisle P5 awaiting end-processing



Collection was deposited at the Old Manse by Mrs. Frederick Starr and was transferred to Houghton by the Trustees of Reservations.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

91M-64. Gift of Trustees of Reservations, ; received: 1991 July 31.

Separated Materials

Several books were removed from the collection and cataloged individually.

Processing Information

Processed by: Ashley M. Nary
Link to catalog
Ripley and Thayer families papers, 1759-1964 (MS Am 3068): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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