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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 642

Papers of the Richardson family, 1824-1999 (inclusive), 1900-1976 (bulk)


Correspondence, diaries, photographs, etc., of the Richardson family of Milton, Massachusetts.


  • Creation: 1824-1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900-1976

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Richardson family 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.


14 linear feet ((33 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio box, 1 folio+ box, 2 supersize folders, 18 photograph folders, 5 folio photograph folders, 3 folio+ photograph folders, 1 supersize photograph folder)

The collection contains correspondence, diaries, financial records, photographs, etc., documenting the lives of John and Hope Hemenway Richardson, their daughter, Hope Richardson, and other members of the Richardson family. Most materials arrived at the library unfoldered and in no discernable order; the archivist created folder titles for those files. A small number of files were foldered and those titles have been preserved and appear in quotation marks. Files were arranged by the archivist.

Series I, JOHN AND HOPE HEMENWAY RICHARDSON, 1889-1984 (#1.1-18.5, 35FB.1, 36F+B.1-36F+B.2), includes correspondence, diaries, notes, clippings, etc., documenting the lives of John and Hope Hemenway Richardson. It is arranged in two suberies.

Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1896-1984 (#1.1-8.6, 35FB.1, 36F+B.1-36F+B.2), includes diaries, financial documents, notes, clippings, etc., documenting the Richardson's childhoods, education, travels, civic activities, etc. Also included are commissions, orders, training notes, etc., documenting John Richardson's service in World War I. Files are arranged alphabetically within the following groupings: Hope Hemenway Richardson, John Richardson, and John and Hope Hemenway Richardson.

Subseries B, Letters, 1889-1975 (#9.1-18.5), contains letters to John and Hope Hemenway Richardson from family and friends. Letters generally include accounts of travels, work, politics, and of daily activities. A majority of letters written between 1904 and 1909 are to John Richardson and generally include references to the Harvard crew team, which John captained in 1908, focusing on the rivalry between Harvard and Yale University. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series II, HOPE RICHARDSON, 1910-1999 (#18.6-28.10, 35FB.2-35FB.3), includes correspondence, diaries, appointment books, notebooks, etc., documenting the life of Hope Richardson, eldest daughter of John and Hope Hemenway Richardson. It is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1917-1999 (#18.6-24.8, 35FB.2-35FB.3), includes diaries, appointment books, notebooks, etc., documenting Richardson's travels, daily life, education, and health. Richardson appears to have suffered from migraine headaches and other unspecified health problems for which she recorded her treatments, including dietary restriction and prescription medications. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1910-1998 (#24.9-28.10), contains correspondence between Hope Richardson and her family and friends. Letters include accounts of travels; education, including Richardson and several of her friends' attendance at boarding and finishing schools; health problems; and general news of family and friends, including births, deaths, weddings, parties, professional activities, and political beliefs. Also included are exchanges between Richardson and several Unitarian ministers, including Vivian T. Pomeroy, who was pastor at the First Parish Church in Milton, Massachusetts, which Hope attended. Files are arranged chronologically, following letters from John and Hope Hemenway Richardson.

Series III, INTERSTATE 95 EXPANSION PROTEST, 1944-1976 (#28.11-30.4, 36F+B.3, SD.1), includes correspondence, notes, reports, meeting notices, maps, and printed material relating to John, Hope Hemenway, and Hope Richardson's opposition to Interstate 695, the proposed expansion of Interstate 95, which was slated to pass through Canton and Milton, Massachusetts, near the Richardsons' home. Also included are printed materials addressing land conservation. Most of the material was found loose, and it was often unclear whether items belonged to one individual or were shared by all three Richardsons. These items were filed together and arranged chronologically by year by the archivist. A file titled "Hope Richardson" containing similar materials was kept intact and is listed separately. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, OTHER FAMILY, 1824-1987 (#30.5-34.5, 36F+B.4-36F+B.5, SD.2), includes correspondence, a genealogy, schoolwork, clippings, etc., belonging to John and Hope Hemenway Richardson's parents; children, with the exception of Hope Richardson whose papers can be found in Series II; siblings; and other family members. Of particular interest are letters written by leading figures of the day to Charles and Eliza Follen, including a detailed letter from Harriet Beecher Stowe containing biographical information and letters from Lydia Maria Child discussing slavery, abolition, and women's rights. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1862-1994 (#PD.1-PD.27), contains portraits and snapshots of members of the Hemenway and Richardson families. Photographs depict trips to Europe and around the United States as well as daily life at the Hemenway and Richardson homes in Boston, Milton, and Cohasset, Massachusetts. Files are arranged in an order reflective of the arrangement in previous series.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


A prominent Boston-area family, the Richardson-Hemenway family was descended from merchants (Hemenways) and textile manufacturers (Lawrences), and was related to the Appletons, Cabots, Coolidges, and Higginsons. The collection centers around John and Hope Hemenway Richardson.

John Richardson, the son of John (1857-1916), a merchant, and Louisa Storrow (Cabot) Richardson (1861-1949), was born September 30, 1886, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. He attended Noble and Greenough School, Harvard College (A.B. 1908), and Harvard Law School (LL.B. 1911), and from 1911 until his retirement in the 1970s, he was a lawyer with Ropes and Gray in Boston. He served with Herbert Hoover in the United States Food Administration and rose from the rank of private to captain in the United States Army during World War I. An influential member of the Republican Party, John was a member of the Republican National Committee from 1932 to 1936 and was an ardent supporter of Herbert Hoover's presidential campaigns.

On September 7, 1909, John Richardson married Hope Hemenway. Hope, the daughter of Augustus and Harriet (Lawrence) Hemenway, was born October 16, 1887. She graduated from the Winsor School and attended Radcliffe College for the 1905-1906 academic year. She served on the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Audubon Society and was an active member of the League of Women Voters of Milton, Massachusetts. John and Hope had five children, Hope Richardson (1910-2001), Louisa "Isa" (Richardson) Dreier (1912-1995), Hetty (Richardson) Phillips (1914-1980), Faith Richardson Barnett (1918-2010), and John Richardson (1921-2014).

Hope Hemenway Richardson died February 19, 1975. John Richardson died January 24, 1976.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. John and Hope Hemenway Richardson, 1889-1984 (#1.1-18.5, 35FB.1, 36F+B.1-36F+B.2)
  2. Series II. Hope Richardson, 1910-1999 (#18.6-28.10, 35FB.2-35FB.3)
  3. Series III. Interstate 95 expansion protest, 1944-1976 (#28.11-30.4, 36F+B.3, SD.1)
  4. Series IV. Other family, 1824-1987 (#30.5-34.5, 36F+B.4-36F+B.5, SD.2)
  5. Series V. Photographs, 1862-1994 (#PD.1-PD.27)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2004-M32

The papers of the Richardson Family were given to the Schlesinger Library by John Richardson in March 2004.


Donors: John Richardson

Accession number: 2004-M32

Processed by: Johanna Carll

The following related items were donated by the Richardson family to the Harvard University Archives:

  1. Harvard College, Harvard Crew, and Fly Club memorabilia: scrapbooks, photographs, Class of 1908 reunion materials. Some photographs in scrapbooks, some in frames.

The following items were transferred to the Andover-Harvard Theological Library:

  1. 1.21 linear feet of First Parish Church in Milton records, 1820-1889.

Processing Information

Processed: August 2010

By: Johanna Carll

Richardson family. Papers of the Richardson family, 1824-1999 (inclusive), 1900-1976 (bulk): 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.

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