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HUD 794.83

Sumner, Charles Pinckney, 1776-1839. Collection of college memorials of Charles Pinckney Sumner and his son, Charles Sumner, 1794-1833: an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 794.83
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Sumner, Charles Pinckney, 1776-1839.
Title: Collection of college memorials of Charles Pinckney Sumner and his son, Charles Sumner, 1794-1833
Date(s): 1794-1833
Quantity: .26 cubic feet (1 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection contains college bills, exhibition and commencement programs, manuscripts and other materials collected by Charles Pinckney Sumner (1776-1839) and his son Charles Sumner (1811-1874) related to their time as students at Harvard College.

Acquisition information:

The collection was donated to Harvard University in 1893 by Edward L. Pierce.

Processing Information:

Although this collection was previously accessible through a record in HOLLIS, Harvard's online bibliographic catalog, it did not have a finding aid. This finding aid was created by Laura Morris in June 2010 in the interest of providing more descriptive access to the collection.
Preservation and description of the Collection of college memorials of Charles Pinckney Sumner and his son, Charles Sumner was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Researcher Access:

The Collection of college memorials of Charles Pinckney Sumner and his son, Charles Sumner, is open for research.

Copying Restriction:

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

Online access:

All of the papers have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Preferred Citation:

Sumner, Charles Pinckney, 1776-1839. Collection of college memorials of Charles Pinckney Sumner and his son, Charles Sumner. HUD 794.83, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives
At Houghton Library, Harvard University
At the Massachusetts Historical Society

Biographical Note: Charles Pinckney Sumner (1776-1839)

Charles Pinckney Sumner (1776-1839) was born in Milton, Massachusetts on January 20, 1776; he was originally named after his father, Job, but his parents decided to change his name to Charles Pinckney while he was young, probably in honor of the South Carolina statesman. His father was a descendant of William Sumner, who came to Dorchester, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, from England in 1635. Charles Pinckney studied at Phillips Academy at Andover before entering Harvard College, where he received an A.B. in 1796. Following graduation, he read law in the office of Josiah Quincy. On April 25, 1810, Sumner married Relief Jacob (1785-1866); they had nine children together, all born in Boston. He was Clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1806 to 1807 and again from 1810 to 1811, before becoming sheriff of Suffolk County. Charles Pinckney Sumner served as sheriff from 1825 until his death on April 24, 1839.

Biographical Note: Charles Sumner (1811-1874)

Charles Sumner (1811-1874), the eldest son of Charles Pinckney Sumner and Relief (Jacob) Sumner, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 6, 1811. He attended Boston Latin School from 1821 to 1826, entered Harvard College in 1826 and received an A.B. from the College in 1830, showing an aptitude for literature, history, and forensics. Sumner entered Harvard Law School after graduation and was a diligent pupil of the school's most prominent professor, Joseph Story. He received an LL.B. in 1834 and entered private practice for several years, also teaching at Harvard Law School, before departing in 1837 to travel and study in Europe. He stayed in Europe for over three years, and following his return to Massachusetts became widely known as an effective public speaker and advocate for peace and the abolition of slavery. Sumner was elected a United States Senator in 1851 and served for twenty-three years, until 1874. He became chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 1861 and served until 1871, ousted through the retaliatory efforts of President Ulysses Grant. Sumner was a passionate and outspoken abolitionist and advocate of equal civil rights for African American citizens; he died on March 11, 1874.



The collection is arranged in two series: Materials within each series are arranged in chronological order. This appears to have been their original order in the scrapbook from which they were removed, for preservation reasons, at an unknown date.

Scope and Content

This collection documents both Charles Pinckney Sumner (1776-1839) and his son, Charles Sumner's (1811-1874), time as students at Harvard College. It contains quarter bills, also commonly called term bills, from both father and son. Several of these bills include codicils which list additional charges, including fines for absences from lectures and prayers and charges for other services, including visits to the barber. It includes several manuscript items written by Charles Pinckney Sumner, including a poem that he read at his commencement on July 20, 1796; another poem apparently read at a Phi Beta Kappa anniversary celebration on July 19, 1798; an article, later published, entitled "Reminiscence of the Old College Company or Martimercurian Band"; and a draft of another article later published, called "English Universities."
In addition to quarter bills, materials in the collection from the son, Charles Sumner, include a dialogue, written in Greek and also translated, between Sumner and classmates Benjamin Halsey Andrews and Barzillai Frost. There are also two lists of contributors to a fund raised in honor of Francis Sales, instructor in Spanish and French; printed exhibition and commencement programs from several years; and a printed program from the inauguration of Harvard President Josiah Quincy in 1829.


This document last updated 2015 January 23.

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