Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: 83-M237--85-M261

Papers of Helen Lawrence Appleton Brooks, 1822-1985


Correspondence, personal writings, records of voluntary activities, and photographs of Helen Lawrence Appleton Brooks of Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Appleton, Brooks, and Washburn families.


  • Creation: 1822-1985

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Helen Lawrence Appleton Brooks is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


6 linear feet ((6 cartons) plus 4 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 2 oversize folders)

Papers are arranged, for the most part, as they were received bound together in packets.

I. Appleton and Washburn families. Early correspondence and papers of Catherine Lawrence and Charles Appleton; correspondence between Helen Lawrence Brooks and her sisters and cousins; and letters to Helen Lawrence Brooks regarding the death of Francis T. Washburn and Frances.

II. Brooks family. This series consists mainly of correspondence: between Helen Lawrence Brooks and John Graham Brooks; between Helen Lawrence Brooks and Lawrence Graham Brooks and his family; papers relating to Charles and Guy; and family miscellany. It also contains other correspondence of Helen Lawrence Brooks, as well as her personal writings, records of her voluntary activities, letters to Lawrence Graham Brooks after the deaths of Helen Lawrence Brooks and John Graham Brooks, photographs, and materials collected by Grace Norton about Henry James.


Helen Lawrence Brooks was born Helen Lawrence Appleton in 1846 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the youngest of three daughters of Catherine (Lawrence) Appleton and Charles Appleton. Her mother died shortly after her birth; Brooks also had four half-sisters, the daughters of Charles Appleton and his second wife, Mary Grace Parks. In 1873, Brooks married Francis T. Washburn (1843-1873), a Unitarian minister; they had one daughter, Frances Washburn. Francis T. Washburn died three days before their first anniversary, and the child died in 1880. That same year, Brooks married John Graham Brooks (1846-1938), also a Unitarian minister and later first president of the National Consumers' League. In 1882-1885 and again in 1891-1893, Brooks lived and traveled in Europe, where John Graham Brooks was studying. In 1895, the Brookses moved into their house at 8 Francis Avenue, Cambridge, where they lived until their deaths. The family traveled to Europe again in 1898 and in 1908, and took several United States trips as well. They vacationed in South Orleans, Massachusetts and in Jackson, New Hampshire. Brooks had three sons from her second marriage. Lawrence Graham Brooks (1881-1981) graduated from Harvard in 1902 and earned his law degree there in 1905. He married Susan Morris Hallowell, Radcliffe '05, in 1912. Brooks' other sons both died early: Charles Brooks as a baby in 1889, and Guy at the age of 13 in 1900. Brooks was active in a number of voluntary activities, notably the Mothers' Club of Cambridge, with which she helped found vacation schools and school playgrounds, both of which were eventually taken over by the City of Cambridge. She also assisted John Graham Brooks with his writings.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Appleton and Washburn families
  2. Series II. Brooks family

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 83-M237, 85-M200, 85-M261

The papers of Helen Lawrence Brooks were given to the Schlesinger Library in November 1983, and in September and November 1985 by Susan Morris Brooks, Helen Lawrence Brooks's daughter-in-law.


  1. Carton 1: Folders 1-45
  2. Carton 2: Folders 46-91
  3. Carton 3: Folders 92-141
  4. Carton 4: Folders 142-149, 151-187
  5. Carton 5: Folders 188-214
  6. Carton 6: Folders 215-236

Processing Information

Date: March 1984

Preliminary inventory by: Martha Hodes

Brooks, Helen Lawrence Appleton, 1846-1938. Papers of Helen Lawrence Appleton Brooks, 1822-1985: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA