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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 715

Additional papers of the Blackwell family, 1851-1972 (inclusive), 1851-1935 (bulk)


Diaries, correspondence, financial records, etc., of the Blackwell family


  • 1851-1972
  • Majority of material found within 1851-1935

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed; use digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Blackwell family members is held by John, George, and H. Lane Blackwell, Jr., among others. 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.


.83 linear feet ((2 file boxes) plus 1 photograph folder)

These addenda to the Blackwell family papers include diaries and journals, correspondence, financial records, etc., mostly of Elizabeth Blackwell and her brothers Henry and Samuel and their children. Interspersed among the documents are notes by one of the donors, John Blackwell.

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 [*].


Samuel Blackwell, sugar refiner and lay preacher, emigrated with his wife Hannah (Lane) Blackwell from England in 1832, bringing eight children and a governess. They landed in New York City, where their youngest son, George Washington Blackwell, was born; they moved to Newark, New Jersey, and then to Cincinnati, Ohio.

After Samuel Blackwell's death in 1838, Hannah, her sister-in-law Mary Blackwell, and daughters opened a school for boys and girls to support the family and pay for the education of the boys. Each child should be self-supporting: the girls by teaching at home or further afield and the boys in business. The family was bound together in a tight and supportive network even when geographically scattered from Wisconsin to India. Letters circulated constantly among family members: "I find nothing too small to write about," wrote Marian Blackwell (March 10, 1850). Sisters entrusted their savings to their brothers for investment in land; children stayed for months or years with aunts and uncles; and from 1868 on, there were annual summer reunions in Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard.

None of the five sisters married. Anna Blackwell (1816-1900) was a poet, translator, and journalist, taught school, was a member of the Brook Farm community in 1845 and settled in France thereafter. She translated the works of the French socialist Fourier and the novels of Georges Sand. She was a contributing correspondent for as many as eleven newspapers (in the United States, India, Australia, South Africa, and Canada), writing a weekly column under the pseudonym "Fidelitas" on whatever the editors wished: "either purely gossip, purely political or mixed according to the need of their papers." Towards the end of her life, she lived at Triel, France, and wasted her assets in a fruitless search for the lost treasure of King James II of England.

Marian Blackwell (1818-1897), a semi-invalid, was briefly a schoolteacher, kept house for her sister Elizabeth in New York, and then looked after her mother in Roseville, New Jersey, until the latter's death in 1872. She lived in Europe thereafter, often with Anna, and for the last years of her life lived with Anna in Hastings, England, near their sister Elizabeth.

Both Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) and Emily Blackwell (1826-1910) were pioneering physicians; their biographies may be found in Notable American Women.

Ellen Blackwell (1828-1901) taught school in Cincinnati, studied and taught art in New York, studied design in Paris, and took classes with John Ruskin in London. Unlike her older siblings, Ellen returned to the United States. She first kept house for Emily and then settled in a house in Lawrence, New York, where she raised her three adopted children, Neenie (Cornelia), Paul Stedwell, and Susie, and often looked after Nannie (Anna), Emily's adopted daughter. These children, Elizabeth's adopted daughter Katherine (Kitty) Barry, and Frances Millette, adopted daughter of Emma and George Blackwell, were raised partly as servants and partly as members of the family. In 1885 Ellen took up the cause of Anna Ella Carroll, allegedly a military strategist during the Civil War; Ellen wrote her biography and lobbied for her federal pension. She was an avid supporter of the anti-vivisection movement.

Samuel Charles Blackwell (1823-1901), was a bookkeeper and dabbled in real estate, but was never a business success. He and his wife, Antoinette (Brown) Blackwell, lived in Somerville, N.J., with their five daughters. Antoinette (Nettie) was the first to be an ordained minister in the Congregationalist church and a well-known reformer.

Henry Blackwell (1825-1909), editor, journalist, and businessman; as the last he was involved successively in hardware, sugar refining (developing processes using sorghum and sugar beet instead of sugar cane which was grown with slave labor), and the book trade. With his famous suffragist wife, Lucy Stone, he founded The Woman's Journal.

Howard Blackwell (ca. 1830-1866) worked in England with his English cousin Samuel H. Blackwell in iron manufacturing and then joined the East India Company. His early death was a sad loss particularly for his eldest sister Anna.

George Washington Blackwell (1832-1912), was the youngest and the recipient of much advice from his older siblings. He went west to Wisconsin as a wheat trader and land agent in the 1850s, then studied law in New York City, and eventually took up real estate. In 1872 Henry estimated that George was worth $250,000 and that he and his wife Lucy Stone were each worth $50,000. George married Emma Stone Lawrence, niece of Lucy Stone, who before her marriage had been a schoolteacher and assistant on The Woman's Journal. She remained active in the New Jersey and Massachusetts suffrage movements and the Woman's Club of Orange, New Jersey. Among her correspondents were her mother, Sarah (Stone) Lawrence, who taught school in Gardner, Massachusetts, and Cohoes, New York, Clara Barlow, also a school-teacher, and Phoebe (Stone) Beeman, member of the first class of women at Wesleyan University (1876).

In addition to the adopted children (who proved loyal companions to their foster parents), the third United States generation consisted of three principal family groups. Alice Stone Blackwell, daughter of Henry Blackwell and Lucy Stone, maintained the reform traditions of her parents. Sam and Nettie had five daughters: Ethel Blackwell Robinson (who married Alfred Brokos Robinson) and Edith were physicians; Grace Blackwell was an invalid who never married; Agnes, an artist and professor of art, married lawyer Tom Jones; and Florence married Elliot Mayhew. Howard, son of George Washington and Emma Blackwell, earned three degrees from Harvard: A.B. 1899, A.M. 1900, and Ph.D. (in physics) 1905. He was comptroller of Harvard from 1906 to 1910, a lecturer in physics in 1918, and organizer of the Memorial Hall Dining Association. Later he carried on his father's real estate interests. He and his wife Helen (Thomas) had three sons: George, John, and Lane, and were long-time Cambridge residents. Howard's sister Anna attended Smith College for one year (1904-1905) and married Charles Belden, librarian of the Massachusetts State Library, in 1908. They had four children: Elizabeth, Lane, Charles, and Allison.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 95-M67, 2003-M142, 2009-M120, 2009-M241

These additional papers of the Blackwell family were given to the Schlesinger Library by John Blackwell in 1995, by Countway Library, Harvard Medical School, in 2003, and by (Jane) Carey Bloomfield in 2009.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Blackwell family Papers, 1784-1944 (A-77), Blackwell family Papers, 1835-1960 (A-145), Blackwell family Papers, 1832-1981 (MC 411), Alice Stone Blackwell Papers in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1885-1950 (WRC 17-21), Edna Lamprey Stantial Papers, 1836-1985 (MC 733); Papers of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1909-1945, undated (A/B632a1a); Papers of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1909-1945, undated (A/B632a1b); Papers of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1940, undated (A/B632a1c); Letters of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1888-1913, undated (A/B632a1d); Letter of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1921, undated (A/B632a1e); Letter of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1893, undated (A/B632a1f); Letters of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1905 (A/B632a1g); Letters of Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell, 1871-1913 (A/B632a3); Letters of Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell, 1890-1894 (A/B632a3a); and Papers of Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell, 1842-1921 (A/B632a3b); Anna Blackwell Letter, 1893 June 28 (A/B632a2); Elizabeth Blackwell Letters, 1857-1900 (A/B632e1a); Elizabeth Blackwell Signature, undated (A/B632e1b); Elizabeth Blackwell Papers, undated (A/B632e1c); Henry Browne Blackwell Letters, 1869-1892 (A/B632h); and Henry Browne Blackwell Letter, 1979 June 30 (A/B632h2).


Donors: John Blackwell, (Jane) Carey Bloomfield, Countway Library

Accession numbers: 95-M67, 2003-M142, 2009-M120, 2009-M241

Processed by: Anne Engelhart

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library book division:

  1. Scientific Method in Biology by Elizabeth Blackwell, 1898.
  2. Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White, 1875.
  3. The Religion of Joy by Ethel Blackwell Robinson, 1911.
  4. Kagawa by William Axling.
  5. Wrong and Right Methods of Dealing with Social Evil... by Elizabeth Blackwell, 1883.
  6. Songs of Russia by Alice Stone Blackwell, 1906.
  7. Children of Revolution by Anna Louise Strong, 1926.
  8. Literature and Dogma by Matthew Arnold, 1883.
  9. Some Spanish-American Poets translated by Alice Stone Blackwell, 1937.
  10. Whence and Whither? by Anna Blackwell, 1898.
  11. The Social Side of Mind and Action by Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1915.
  12. Poems by Anna Blackwell, 1853.
  13. Sea Drift by Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1902.
  14. Balder by Sydney Dobell, 1854.
  15. Kinetic Jottings by Augustus Georgii, 1880.
  16. My Diplomatic Education by Norval Richardson, 1923.
  17. The Making of the Universe by Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1914.

Processing Information

Processed: March 2012

By: Anne Engelhart

Blackwell family. Additional papers of the Blackwell family, 1851-1972 (inclusive), 1851-1935 (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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