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COLLECTION Identifier: A-134

Papers of the May and Goddard families, 1766-1912


Photographs, correspondence, diaries, financial papers, etc., of the May and Goddard families, of New England, including social reformer Abigail Williams May.


  • Creation: 1766-1912

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 May and Goddard families 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.


1.04 linear feet ((2+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 photograph folder)

This papers of the May and Goodard families includes correspondence, diaries, financial papers, photographs, and other documents of the two families and their relations. The bulk of the collection are Abigail Williams May's papers, including letters from prominent abolitionists, suffragists, and authors, and the papers of Samuel Goddard and Mehetable May Dawes Goddard , with letters they wrote home during their residence in England from 1818 to 1827. Other persons represented are Frederick Warren Goddard May; Eleanor Goddard May; Abigail May (1775-1800), a second cousin once removed of Samuel May; Samuel J. May (1797-1871), a first cousin of Abigail Williams May; Samuel May of Leicester, Massachusetts; Louisa May Alcott; Ednah Dow Cheney; Lydia Maria Child; Lucy Stone; Julia Ward Howe; and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.


This collection centers on two prominent New England families: the Mays and the Goddards. The daughter of Samuel (1776-1870) and Mary (Goddard) May (1787-1882), Abigail Williams May (1829-1888) was for thirty years a leader among Boston's social reformers, a cofounder of the New England Women's Club, and one of the first women to serve as a member of the Boston School Committee, to which she was elected in 1873. For further biographical information on Abigail Williams May, see Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971). Her brother, Frederick Warren Goddard May (1821-1904), married Eleanor Swan Goddard (1829-1853), the daughter of Samuel (1787-1871) and Mehetable May (Dawes) Goddard (1796-1882). Frederick Warren Goddard May and Eleanor Swan Goddard had one daughter, Eleanor Goddard May (1853-1923).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 580, 674, 731, 767

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library in memory of Abigail Williams May by the descendants of her father and mother, Samuel and Mary (Goddard) May, via one of their great-grandsons, Robert Morse May, in April 1963, and in January, April, and June 1964.


  1. Box 1: Folders 1, 1-16, 1v-2v
  2. Box 2: 17-51
  3. Box 3: 52-58

Processing Information

Reprocessed: September 1985

By: Anne Engelhart

May family. Papers of the May and Goddard families, 1766-1912: 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.

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