Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: A-139

Papers of Ella Lyman Cabot, 1873-1934


Correspondence, journals, account books, etc., of Ella Lyman Cabot, author and educator.


  • Creation: 1873-1934

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ella Lyman Cabot is held by the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust. 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.


8.17 linear feet ((15 file boxes, 2 folio boxes) plus 2 folio+ folders, 6 photograph folders, 6 folio photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 1 oversize photograph album)

This collection incorporates addenda received in 1983 with the papers received and processed earlier. It is arranged in five series: I. Photographs, II. Biographical material, III. Correspondence, IV. Journals, account books, etc., V. Writings, notes, speeches.

Before her death in 1974, Ada Pierce McCormick (see Series III below) began writing a biography of Ella Lyman Cabot. In preparation, she transcribed portions of Cabot's correspondence and some of her journals, and occasionally added informative notes to the papers. This collection includes transcripts, most of them typed, of letters and journals, including almost all the correspondence between Ella Lyman Cabot Cabot and Richard Clarke Cabot. Some of this correspondence now exists only as typed transcripts, but for many of the transcripts manuscript originals are also present.

I. Photographs. Portraits of Ella Lyman Cabot; informal photographs of Cabot, Richard Clarke Cabot, family, and friends; and an album of the Lyman family house in Waltham.

II. Biographical material. Lyman and Cabot genealogies; information about Cabot's professional accomplishments; Cabot memorabilia from childhood and her married and professional life; and chapters from the manuscript of the Lyman family book prepared by Cabot and privately printed in three volumes in 1932.

III. Correspondence. This series is divided into three parts: correspondence between Ella Lyman Cabot and Richard Clarke Cabot; between Ella Lyman Cabot and other members of the Lyman and Cabot families arranged by generation and age; and between Ella Lyman Cabot and others, arranged alphabetically. Exception the correspondence between Ella Lyman Cabot and Richard Clarke Cabot, most, but not all, letters are to Ella Lyman Cabot. Some typed transcripts of letters are scattered throughout.

Ella Lyman Cabot and Richard Clarke Cabot were both prolific letter-writers. Their lifelong correspondence, from the beginning of their courtship in 1888 through the year of Ella Lyman Cabot's death, documents Ella Lyman Cabot's ambivalent feelings about leaving her own family to accept Richard Clarke Cabot's proposal of marriage, and their initial disagreement about having children. The letters also clearly show their nearly fifty years of shared religious and philosophical inspiration, and their emotional reliance upon each other. During the last 15 years of Ella Lyman Cabot's life the correspondence consists largely of birthday and Christmas letters.

Other family correspondents includes Ella Lyman Cabot's parents and siblings; the spouses and children of her siblings; and Richard Clarke Cabot's parents, brothers and sisters. The folders of correspondence with Ella Lyman Cabot's family members include some correspondence with people other than Ella Lyman Cabot, other writings, and biographical material.

Ella Lyman Cabot's correspondence with friends attests to the intimate and supportive relationships she had with some women, notably Ada Pierce McCormick, a Radcliffe classmate and god-daughter of Richard Clarke Cabot who remained a close friend for more than 30 years, and Ella Lyman Cabot's cousin Mary Pratt Sears, a lifelong friend with whom Ella Lyman Cabot corresponded from the age of 13. This portion of Series III also contains letters, some to both Ella Lyman Cabot and Richard Clarke Cabot, from a wide variety of friends and acquaintances; some are personal, and others are about charitable donations, lecture invitations, board meetings, and the like.

IV. Journals, account books, etc. Ella Lyman Cabot kept journals from 1879 until her death, and often wrote in more than one notebook at a time. She occasionally used a notebook with previous entries many years later, turning it over and starting from the back; dates of each section are noted in the inventory. This series is divided into five sections: Journals, which record details of and reflections upon Ella Lyman Cabot's daily life, and such records of her social life as appointment books and calling lists; travel journals of trips abroad and to the West Coast; Account books; Household inventories; and Other records (trousseau book, gardening records, etc.). The last three sections document Ella Lyman Cabot's role as manager of her household. Each section is arranged chronologically.

V. Writings and notes is divided into six sections: Poetry; Student writings and notes; Teaching notes; Published writings; Archive on Religion; and Writings and speeches.

Ella Lyman Cabot's poetry begins in 1875 and continues until her death. With the exception of one volume, her poems have evidently been arranged and annotated by Ada Pierce McCormick and another person, perhaps JCB.

The next section contains Ella Lyman Cabot's notes on Sunday school lessons and college lectures. The teaching notes were prepared during her career as religious education instructor; this section also includes papers pertaining to the administration of King's Chapel Sunday School. Each of these sections is arranged chronologically.

Ella Lyman Cabot's published articles are arranged by subject, and within each subject chronologically.

The Archive on Religion was presumably arranged by Ella Lyman Cabot; it contains notes and writings by Ella Lyman Cabot and Richard Clarke Cabot on various topics related to religion. The first folder includes Ella Lyman Cabot's summary of the contents; not all the subject headings listed there are actually represented in the Archive.

Writings and speeches are largely undated and cover various subjects in religion, philosophy, education, ethics, and the family. Where any but the first word is capitalized, this indicates that the title is Ella Lyman Cabot's or Richard Clarke Cabot's own. It is not always clear whether a particular piece was a speech, and some of the writings may be drafts of articles that were published.


Ella Lyman Cabot, educator, author and lecturer, was born into a prominent Boston family in 1866, the fourth of the seven children of Ella (Lowell) Lyman (1837-1894) and Arthur Theodore Lyman (1832-1915). The Lymans, a close-knit family, lived at 39 Beacon St. in Boston and at the Lyman estate in Waltham, and as Unitarians attended King's Chapel. Ella Lyman was educated in Boston private schools, attended Radcliffe College as a special student (1889-1891), and took graduate courses at Harvard (1897-1903). In 1894, after almost six years of courtship, she married Dr. Richard Clarke Cabot (1868-1939), physician and professor of medicine and social ethics at Harvard. The Cabots made their home first on Marlborough Street in Boston and then on Brattle St. in Cambridge. They also spent time in Cohasset, Massachusetts, and at the Cabot family house in North East Harbor, Maine, and camped on Spruce Island, Saranac, New York, during many summers. They chose not to have children.

Cabot began her career as an educator in 1897. Over the next four decades she taught ethics and applied psychology at Boston private schools and at Pine Manor Junior College in Wellesley; she also directed the Sunday school at King's Chapel. She served on the governing boards of Radcliffe College, 1902-1934, and on the Massachusetts Board of Education, 1905-1934. Among the numerous other organizations in which Ella Lyman Cabot held office were the Women's Education Association of Massachusetts, the Unitarian Sunday School Association, the Unitarian Temperance Society, and the National Religious Education Association.

Cabot published seven books on ethics and childhood education between 1906 and 1929, a privately-printed 3-volume biography of her parents, and many articles and pamphlets. She died in 1934.


The collection is arranged in number series:


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 486, 510, 83-M1

The papers of Ella Lyman Cabot were given to the Schlesinger Library by Cabot's brother, Ronald Theodore Lyman, in 1962, and by the trustees of her estate in January 1983.


The following items have been removed from the collection and deposited in the Schlesinger Library book collection, May 1983:

  1. Cabot, Ella Lyman, Our Part in the World and Teacher's Manual for "Our Part in the World"(Beacon Press, 1918); Temptations to Rightdoing (Houghton Mifflin, 1929); Volunteer Help to the Schools (Houghton Mifflin, 1914).
  2. Foote, Mary Hallock, The Desert and the Sown (Houghton Mifflin, 1902).
  3. Lee, Mary Cabot, Letters and Diaries of Mary Cabot Lee (privately printed, 1923).
  4. Lesley, Susan I., Recollections of My Mother (Houghton Mifflin, 1875).
  5. Sears, Mary Pratt, Letters to Her Friends, introduction by Ella Lyman Cabot (privately printed, 1932).
  6. Tompkins, Juliet Wilbur, Ever After (Doubleday, Page, 1913).

The following items have been removed from the collection and returned to trustee, Richard Hocking, June 1983:

  1. Agassiz, George, ed., Meade's Headquarters 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from Wilderness to Appomattox (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1922).
  2. Book of Common Prayer According to the Use of King's Chapel, Boston (1865).
  3. Cabot, Ella Lyman, Our Part in the World and Teacher's Manual (duplicates of above).
  4. Daily Strength for Daily Needs (1888).
  5. Lee, Henry and Mary, Letters and Journals (privately printed, 1926).
  6. Lesley, Susan I., Recollections of My Mother (duplicate of above).
  7. Lyman, Ella and Arthur T., Letters and Journals, 3 volumes (privately printed, 1932).
  8. The Lyman Fountain (proceedings of the dedication of the fountain on Eaton Sq., October. 1885, in memory of Theo. Lyman, Boston City Council, 1886).
  9. The Order for Daily Evening Prayer, Set the General Convention of 1886.
  10. Pigors, Paul, and Faith Cabot, Director's Manual, The Incident Process: Case Studies in Management Development (Bureau of National Affairs, Washington, DC, 1955).
  11. Pigors, Paul, L.C. McKenney and T.O. Armstrong, Social Problems in Labor Relations (McGraw Hill, 1939).

The following item was removed from the collection and sent to College Museum, Hampton Institute, March 1983:

  1. Card and leaflet, re: Samuel Chapman Armstrong.

The following items were removed from the collection and deposited in the Andover-Harvard Library, May 1983:

  1. Three pamphlets and book list pertaining to religious instruction.

The following items were removed from the collection and deposited in the Gutman Library, May 1983:

  1. Three pamphlets on education.

The following item was removed from the collection and deposited in the Pusey Library, February 1983:

  1. Blueprint of Eliot-Lyman Room tablet.


  1. Box 1: 14-20, 22-31
  2. Box 2: 32-43
  3. Box 3: 44-72
  4. Box 4: 73-75, 77-108
  5. Box 5: 109-130
  6. Box 6: 131-143
  7. Box 7: 144-167
  8. Box 8: 168-188
  9. Box 9: 189-201, 205, 230, 244v., 248v., 250, 253, 275v., 280-281v., 283v.-285v.
  10. Box 10f: 202v.-204v., 206v.-229v., 231v.-243v., 245v.-247v., 249v.
  11. Box 11f: 251v.-252v., 254v.-274v., 276v.-279v., 282v., 294v.-300v., 302v.-304v., 306v.-307v, 308v.-309v.
  12. Box 12: 286, 288v.-290, 291v.-293, 301, 305v., 310-314
  13. Box 13: 315-328
  14. Box 14: 329-344
  15. Box 15: 345-359
  16. Box 16: 360-377
  17. Box 17: 378v.

Processing Information

Processed: May 1983

By: Martha Hodes, Nicholas G. Carr

Cabot, Ella Lyman. Papers of Ella Lyman Cabot, 1855-1934: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
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