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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601644

The Lotta Crabtree Will Case

Overview

Materials relating to legal action resulting from the probate of the will of Lotta Crabtree, actress, of Boston. Papers assembled and used by the defense (special administrators of the estate) comprise the bulk of the collection.

Dates

  • 1870 - 1928

Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.

Extent

1 collection (9 linear feet in; 21 boxes and 1 oversize box.)
The majority of the approximately 2,000 items in the collection of papers relating to the Lotta Crabtree Will Case span the years 1924 to 1928; however, some of the research material such as genealogies, play-bills of Lotta's theatrical appearances, birth certificates, etc. date back well into the 1800's. There are a few post-trial items that date later than 1928.

The Papers include correspondence, notes taken by counsel, research notes, so-called "day-books" of correspondence, lists, printed briefs, cancelled checks and bank deposit books (financial records), photographs, Photostats, scrapbooks, registers, clippings, play-bills, and other printed material.

The Papers relate to the legal actions which arose out of the probate of Lotta Crabtree's will. Since Mr. Chase's father was counsel for the special administrators of the Estate, the actual documents in these files are mainly papers assembled and used by the defense, such as the detective reports, lists and statements of witnesses, etc. The collection includes two New Testaments and a copy of The Triumphs and Trials of Lotta Crabtree.

The major portion of the correspondence is with Frederick H. Chase and Frank H. Steward, counsel for the Estate.

Historical/Biographical Information

  • Nov. 7, 1847 Charlotte (Lotta) Mignon Crabtree born N.Y.C.
  • Sept. 25, 1924 Lotta dies at Hotel Brewster in Boston.
  • 1854-1920 John (Jack) Ashworth Crabtree, brother of Lotta.
  • June 30-July 30, 1925 Ida May Blankenburg trial.
  • Aug. 12-14, 1925 Blankenburg contempt hearing.
  • Dec. 13-23, 1926 Carlotta Cockburn trial.
  • March 30, 1927 Judge Prest delivers decision in Cockburn trial.
  • April 18, 1927 Cockburn appeal to Mass. Supreme Judicial Court.
  • April 27, 1927 Annie Fretwell brings suit.
  • June 14, 1928 Cockburn appeal denied.
  • Aug. 25, 1928 Judge Prest dismisses Fretwell petition.
  • Nov. 27, 1928 Gen. Edwards appointed sole executor of will.
Nov. 7, 1847
Charlotte (Lotta) Mignon Crabtree born N.Y.C.
Sept. 25, 1924
Lotta dies at Hotel Brewster in Boston.
1854-1920
John (Jack) Ashworth Crabtree, brother of Lotta.
June 30-July 30, 1925
Ida May Blankenburg trial.
Aug.12-14, 1925
Blankenburg contempt hearing.
Dec.13-23, 1926
Carlotta Cockburn trial.
March 30, 1927
Judge Prest delivers decision in Cockburn trial.
April18, 1927
Cockburn appeal to Mass. Supreme Judicial Court.
April 27, 1927
Annie Fretwell brings suit.
June 14, 1928
Cockburn appeal denied.
Aug. 25, 1928
Judge Prest dismisses Fretwell petition.
Nov. 27, 1928
Gen. Edwards appointed sole executor of will.

Series List

  1. Series I. Pre-Trial Data
  2. Series II. Trial and Post-Trial Period: GeneralMatters
  3. Series III. Cockburn Files
  4. Series IV. Blankenburg Files
  5. Series V. Fretwell Files
  6. Series VI. Minor Claimants
  7. Series VII. Day-Book, Miscellaneous Files

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These materials relating to the Lotta Crabtree Will Case were presented to the Harvard Law School in January 1969 by Theodore Chase, Esq., the son of the late Frederick H. Chase, who was counsel for the special administrators of the Lotta Crabtree Estate. These Papers were loaned by Mr. Chase to Raymond P. Baldwin and David Dempsey in connection with the research they conducted while writing their book The Triumphs and Trials of Lotta Crabtree (New York: William Morrow, 1968) which deals with the actress' life and the legal contest that arose out of the probate of her will. At the time of the will contest, Mr. Baldwin had just joined the law firm of Stewart and Chase which represented the special administrators of the Lotta Crabtree Estate.

Processing Information

Prepared by Erika Chadbourn, April 1969.
Link to catalog
Title
The Lotta Crabtree Will Case, 1870-1928 : Finding Aid.
Author
Harvard Law School Library, Cambridge, MA 02138
EAD ID
law00113

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository

Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.

Contact:
1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Langdell Hall
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-4550