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MS Am 1118.5

Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886. Emily Dickinson letters and poems sent to the Austin Dickinson family, 1850-1886: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Emily Dickinson Room
Call No.: MS Am 1118.5
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886.
Title: Emily Dickinson letters and poems sent to the Austin Dickinson family,
Date(s): 1850-1886.
Quantity: 1 collection (.9 linear feet (3 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Letters and poems by the poet Emily Dickinson, sent to her sister-in-law Susan Huntington; her brother Austin Dickinson; and their children.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Purchased from Alfred Leete Hampson; with funds given by Gilbert H. Montague, class of 1901, in happy memory of Amy Montague; received: 1950 May.

Processing Information:

Processed by: William McCarthy, 1950. Revised and updated by Leslie A. Morris, 2005.
The headings given to the series are those assigned by William McCarthy upon receipt in 1950. The notebook in which the poems and letters were apparently housed was not retained. McCarthy numbered the sheets, in pencil, on the lower left corner of the versos; these are the numbers in parentheses. These numbers correspond to Johnson's "H B" numbers (e.g. MS Am 1118.5 (B1) is the same as H B1).

Conditions Governing Access:

Access to the originals requires the permission of the curator.


For permission to quote from or reproduce from manuscript material of Dickinson, contact the Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, Houghton Library. For permission to quote from published editions of Dickinson's work that are still in copyright (such as the Johnson and Franklin editions of the poems) and for all commercial uses of Emily Dickinson texts, write to the Permissions Department, Harvard University Press, 79 Garden St., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 02138-1499 or use their online form (HUP does not accept permissions requests by email or fax): http://www.hup.harvard.edu/rights/permissions.html

Conditions Governing Use:

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.

Existence and Location of Copies:

Readers are expected to use the facsimiles available.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Emily Dickinson Letters and Poems Sent to the Austin Dickinson Family, 1850-1886 (MS Am 1118.5). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

The poet Emily Dickinson formed a close relationship with her brother's family, particularly with her sister-in-law Susan Huntington Dickinson, to whom most of the letters and poems in this collection were sent. Emily's older brother, William Austin Dickinson (1829-1895; usually referred to as Austin) attended Amherst College, then Harvard Law School. He married Susan Huntington Gilbert (1830-1913) on 1 July 1856; as a wedding present, Edward Dickinson built the couple The Evergreens next door to the Dickinson's house, called the Homestead. Austin practiced law in Amherst, and succeeded his father as Treasurer of Amherst College in 1873.
Susan Dickinson was the youngest daughter of Thomas and Harriet Arms Gilbert. Her mother died in 1837, and her father in 1841. She was then raised by an aunt, and attended Utica Female Academy. Emily and Austin Dickinson became acquainted with her when she came to live with her sister Harriet Gilbert Cutler in Amherst in 1850. Susan taught in Baltimore 1851-1852, and became engaged to Austin in November 1853.
Austin and Susan Dickinson had three children: Edward, called Ned (1861-1898); Martha (1866-1943), who married Alexander Bianchi in 1903; and Gilbert (1875-1883).


References included in the notes are to: J = Johnson, Thomas, ed.. The poems of Emily Dickinson : including variant readings critically compared with all known manuscripts. Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1955. JL = Johnson, Thomas, ed. The letters of Emily Dickinson. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1958. Fr = Franklin, Ralph, ed. The poems of Emily Dickinson, variorum edition. Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998.


Organized into the following series:

Scope and Contents

The majority of the letters and poems in this collection are addressed to Dickinson's sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Dickinson. They express friendship and love; respond to Susan's criticism of Emily's poetry; and mark family birthdays and deaths. Most are extremely brief.


The following letters were originally assigned numbers in 1950, but subsequently moved to the Dickinson family papers, MS Am 1118.95:
The following letter was originally assigned a number in 1950, but subsequently moved to the Emily Dickinson miscellaneous papers, MS Am 1118.7:
The following items were not found in the Dickinson family papers at the time this finding aid was revised (March 2005):

Container List