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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS4909916

Smith family papers


Contains legal papers of Manasseh Smith, Sr., Joseph Emerson Smith, Samuel Emerson Smith and other members of the Smith family who practiced law in midcoast Maine, Boston and Chicago from the late 18th century to the early late 19th century. Also contains papers relating to the real estate and paper mill business of Dudley W. Moor and Edward W. Heath.


  • 1774-1907


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.


4.5 linear feet (11 document boxes)
Contains legal papers of Joseph Emerson Smith, his father Manasseh Smith, Sr., his brother Samuel Emerson Smith and his nephews Joseph Emerson Smith II,S. Emerson Smith, Jr., and Benjamin F. Smith, attorneys who practiced in midcoast Maine,Boston and Chicago in the late 18th century to the late 19th century. The collection includes correspondence with clients, legal briefs, notes, memoranda, evidentiary materials, motions, and financial documents as well as extensive intrafamily correspondence. This collection also contains papers relating to the business of Edward W. Heath and Dudley W. Moor, individuals unrelated to the Smiths, who were involved in the real estate and paper mill business in Maine in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The papers of Samuel Emerson Smith, 1786-1880, are located in the Special Collections and Archives of Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.

Historical/Biographical Information

Manasseh Smith (1748-1823) was a 1775 graduate of Harvard College, a chaplain during the Revolution as well as a lawyer in Wiscasset, Maine. And, importantly, he was also the "progenitor of a race of lawyers": his four sons all practiced law in midcoast Maine and elsewhere, as did many of his grandsons.

His son Joseph Emerson Smith (1782-1837; Harvard 1804) was perhaps the most well-known and primarily handled mercantile cases in Boston, spending a great deal of time collecting unpaid bills. He appeared many times in front of the Massachusetts Superior Court, and in 1817, a case he defended, Walter v. Otis, made it all the way to the US Supreme Court where it was defended by Daniel Webster. He was also a major in the Massachusetts Militia, and many items of correspondence allude to his service.

Another son, Samuel Emerson Smith (1788-1860; Bowdoin College 1808), was a lawyer in Wiscasset, Maine and later became a circuit judge, as well as serving in the Maine legislature in the 1820s and as Governor of Maine from 1831-1834. The other two sons, Manasseh Smith, Jr. (1779-1822; Harvard 1800) and Edwin Smith (b. 1790; Harvard 1811) also practiced law in Wiscasset. Manasseh Sr. and his wife Hannah Emerson also had four daughters, Lydia R. Smith (1777-1858) and Lucy Smith (1783-1842), who did not marry, Hannah who married Samuel Sevey, and Mary (b. 1776) who married Ivory Hovey.

This collection also contains business papers and correspondence from Samuel Emerson Smith's sons, S. Emerson Smith, Jr. (b. 1834), Joseph Emerson Smith II (1835-1881) and Benjamin F. Smith (b. 1842). All were lawyers, S. Emerson practicing in Wiscasset, and Joseph Emerson and Benjamin practicing in Chicago.

For more information on the genealogy of the Smith family, please see the incomplete family tree in the front of box 4.

This collection also contains the business papers of Dudley Watson Moor (1836-1900) and Edward W. Heath, whose connection to the Smith family is unclear. Moor and Heath apparently dealt in real estate in Maine in the late 19th and early 20th century. They also appear to have been involved in the corporate business of the Somerset and Kennebec Company, which seems to have been a cardboard and box-making factory. There are also papers related to the operation of the Kennebec Fibre Company, a paper mill on the Kennebec River. The collection also includes family papers of the Heath family, dealing with the estate of Edward's father, Wyman Heath, and with Francis E. Heath, Edward's brother and a commanding officer of the 19th Maine Infantry during the Civil War.

Series List

  1. Series I: Manasseh Smith FamilyPapers, 1803-18741803-1874
  2. Series II: Addenda, 803-1874
  3. ___Subseries A: Manasseh Smith Family Papers, 1782-1875 1782-1875
  4. ___Subseries B: Edward W. Heath and Dudley W. Moor papers, 1831-1907 1831-1907
Within each series and/or subseries individual items or folders are identified by box and folder number. For example, the number 5-12 corresponds to box 5, folder 12.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired in May 1994. Addenda acquired in September 1998, September 2004 and January 2006.

Processing Information

This collection was formally known as the Joseph Emerson Smith Papers. The addenda, consisting of all of Series II, was processed by Rebecca Fenning, March 2006.
Link to catalog


Smith family. Papers, 1774-1907: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School Library, Cambridge, MA 02138

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.

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