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MC 278; M-24

Hamilton family. Papers of the Hamilton family, 1818-1974: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Processing and microfilming of this collection was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-24669-76-987).

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 278; M-24
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Hamilton family
Title: Papers of the Hamilton family, 1818-1974
Date(s): 1818-1974
Quantity: 12.51 linear feet (30 file boxes) plus 3 photograph albums + 14 folders of photographs, 1 folio+ folder, 34 reels of microfilm)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, writings, etc., of the Hamilton family of Indiana, including physician Alice Hamilton and classicist Edith Hamilton.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 73-123, 75-72, 75-75, 77-M92, 77-M219
The Hamilton family papers were given to the Schlesinger Library in October 1973 by Edward Weeks, in February and March 1975 by Mrs. Leonard Wheeler (Alice Hamilton letters to Katherine Bowditch Codman) and Mrs. Richard (Phoebe Taber Hamilton) Soule, and July and December 1977 by Mrs. R. P. Coates and William Rush Gillan Hamilton.

Processing Information:

Processed: February 1979
By: Madeleine Bagwell Perez

Conditions Governing Access:

Access. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-24. Folders 472-475 and 785-811 have not been microfilmed and are available to the researcher.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Hamilton family as well as 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.


The papers of the Hamilton Family have been microfilmed: a positive film copy is available for the use of readers. The original manuscripts are closed to research.
For a description of the contents of the collection, see the Inventory (pages 8-33). The following list indicates the folder numbers and which reel they appear on.
Folders 472-475 and 785-811 have not been microfilmed and are available to the researcher. See Inventory for description.
Please refer to this reel information as you use the Inventory. When requesting microfilmed material, please use the microfilm number, M-24, and the reel number
  • Folders 1-31: reel 1
  • Folders 32-60: reel 2
  • Folders 61-77: reel 3
  • Folders 78-105: reel 4
  • Folders 106-125: reel 5
  • Folders 126-145: reel 6
  • Folders 146-163: reel 7
  • Folders 164-183: reel 8
  • Folders 184-204: reel 9
  • Folders 205-229: reel 10
  • Folders 230-246: reel 11
  • Folders 247-259: reel 12
  • Folders 260-276: reel 13
  • Folders 277-297: reel 14
  • Folders 298-326: reel 15
  • Folders 327-337: reel 16
  • Folders 338-357: reel 17
  • Folders 358-382: reel 18
  • Folders 383-407: reel 19
  • Folders 408-424: reel 20
  • Folders 425-445: reel 21
  • Folders 446-467: reel 22
  • Folders 468-471, 476-491: reel 23
  • Folders 472-475: NOT MICROFILMED
  • Folders 492-518: reel 24
  • Folders 519-541: reel 25
  • Folders 542-573: reel 26
  • Folders 574-598: reel 27
  • Folders 599-623: reel 28
  • Folders 624-642: reel 29
  • Folders 643-665: reel 30
  • Folders 666-688: reel 31
  • Folders 689-724: reel 32
  • Folders 725-755: reel 33
  • Folders 756-784: reel 34
  • Folders 785-811: NOT MICROFILMED
  • Preferred Citation:

    Hamilton family Papers, 1818-1974; item description, dates. MC 278, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

    Related Material:

    There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Hamilton Family Additional papers, 1850-1976 (83-M175) and Hamilton Family papers, 1879-1947 (84-M210).


    Allen Hamilton came to America from the north of Ireland when he was eighteen years old (probably in 1818) and settled in the area that became Fort Wayne, Indiana. He traded with the Indians, opened a dry goods store, and eventually became a banker. In 1828 he married Emerine Jane Holman, the daughter of Jesse Lynch Holman and Elizabeth (Masterson) Holman. They had eleven children; the five surviving ones are represented in this collection. His own lack of education made him ambitious for his children: the sons attended American colleges and German universities; the daughters were sent to Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. The family was an extremely close-knit one; the two sons built homes near their father's and the grandchildren were raised together almost exclusive of outside friendships.
    The papers of the Hamilton family consist mainly of correspondence, with numerous photographs and a small quantity of writings and drawings. The correspondence documents the relationships among members of five generations for over one-hundred and fifty years. The majority of the correspondents are women. The letters provide information on the relationships of mothers and daughters, mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, sisters and cousins, and also those of husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren.
    The most prominent of these relationships can be found in the correspondence of Jessie and Agnes Hamilton (sisters), Edith and Jessie Hamilton (cousins), and Alice and Agnes Hamilton (cousins). These women were born in the 1860s, brought up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and educated at Miss Porter's School. The earliest letters date from 1878, but the bulk of the correspondence was written between the 1880's and the 1930's. These letters detail day-to-day life at the Hamilton compound in Fort Wayne, at Miss Porter's School, and later in the various careers these women followed.
    The most complete group of letters is the one between Jessie and Agnes. Jessie Hamilton (1866-1960), an etcher and painter in oils, was instrumental in founding the Fort Wayne Art School. Her younger sister Agnes (1868-1971) was a settlement house worker. Agnes was long identified with settlement work in Philadelphia and was on the executive committee of The Lighthouse there. Family data in the correspondence are supplemented by Agnes' diary, which details family life during her childhood and continues through her school years at Miss Porter's.
    The letters of Jessie and Agnes to their cousins Edith and Alice are less complete; however, many letters from Edith and Alice are extant. Edith (1867-1963), a Bryn Mawr College graduate and one of the first women admitted to study at the University of Munich, was headmistrees of Bryn Mawr School (1896-1922) and later a classicist. As the author and translator of numerous books (notably The Greek Way), she has been credited with arousing among general readers an interest in classical and Biblical life and literature. Alice (1869-1970), whose career in industrial toxicology and medicine is documented in professional papers she placed at the Schlesinger Library in 1953, recorded in her letters personal observations on such diverse subjects as Hull-House, factory conditions, and teaching at Harvard Medical School, where in 1919 she became the first woman professor.
    The correspondence (series I and II) is arranged by generation, and is followed by miscellaneous papers (series III) and photographs (series IV The arrangement was begun by researchers using the as yet unprocessed correspondence; they established the division by generation, with letters organized by writer. Incomplete letters that could be dated have been filed with other dated correspondence, and to a limited degree parts of letters have been re-united. Letters written through 1899 and undated letters have been counted. Only letters written to Hamilton family members by non-members (this includes some distant relatives) have been indexed (see pp. 35-40). Researchers should be aware that family members often wrote letters addressed to more than one person.



    The Hamilton family papers are divided into four series:
    Series I First Two Generations centers around Allen Hamilton, the first member of the family to settle in America. Subseries A contains letters from Allen Hamilton's parents, Andrew Hamilton and Elizabeth (Allen) Hamilton, in Ireland. Subseries B includes the letters of Allen Hamilton and his wife Emerine Jane (Holman) Hamilton, the bulk of which are to their son, Andrew Holman Hamilton. Also included are school receipts for Allen Hamilton's ward and a copy of his will. Subseries C provides information on the family of Phoebe Ann Taber, Allen Hamilton's ward and later his daughter-in-law. This subseries contains letters between her grandparents, parents and other relatives.
    Series II Children and Grandchildren of Allen and Emerine Hamilton is the major portion of the collection. The series is divided into five subseries, each representing a child of Allen and Emerine and his/her family. Subseries A consists of the correspondence of Andrew Holman Hamilton ("Holman"), a United States Congressman and businessman in Fort Wayne; his wife Phoebe Ann (Taber) Hamilton; their three daughters: Katherine, Jessie, and Agnes; and their sons: Allen, a physician, his wife Helen, and their son Andrew Holman; Taber, a businessman, his wife Abigail, and their children: William Rush Gillan, Taber, Jr., and Phoebe Taber. Much of the correspondence to Jessie and Agnes is from friends.
    Subseries B includes the correspondence of Montgomery Hamilton, his wife Gertrude Corinne (Pond) Hamilton; their four daughters: Edith, Alice, Margaret, a teacher and headmistress at Bryn Mawr School, and Norah, an artist; their son Arthur ("Quint") Hamilton, an educator, and his wife Mary (Neal).
    Subseries C, D, and E contain letters of the three remaining Hamilton daughters: Mary (Hamilton) Williams and her sons Allen Hamilton and Creighton; Margaret V. Hamilton; and Ellen (Hamilton) Wagenhals and her children.
    Series III Other Correspondence and Miscellaneous Writings includes correspondence, writings, and a few drawings. Subseries A contains correspondence and fragments of letters to and from unidentified Hamilton family members; manuscript writings (a family story game, poetry, recipes, etc.); and drawings (mostly in pencil, undated and unsigned). Subseries B groups together other correspondence which is neither to nor from Hamilton family members.
    Series IV Photographs brings together pictures of many members of the Hamilton family. Some photographs, mostly snapshots, are enclosed in letters; these have been noted in the Inventory. Other persons represented are more distant relatives, in-laws, and friends. Many of the photographs are identified; only some are dated. There are loose photographs, three photograph albums, and several daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. This material is shelved separately from the rest of MC 278 and is to be microfilmed with the photograph collection.
    The Schlesinger Library has a collection of Alice Hamilton's professional papers (A-22), which also contains some family correspondence, as well as copies of many of her speeches, reports and writings. A microfilm copy (M-56) of the first three boxes is available for research use. Two letters of Edith Hamilton to Buckner Hollingsworth concerning her years at Bryn Mawr (A/H217) are also part of the Library's holdings. Alice and Edith Hamilton are also represented in other collections, both processed and unprocessed, to be found in the Library. Other Hamilton family papers that were originally part of this collection but that pertain to the business activities of its members have been deposited in the Indiana State Archives by William Rush Gillan Hamilton. Twenty-one letters and postcards of Jane Addams and Clara Landsberg have been placed at Hull-House (University of Illinois at Chicago Center).
    In August 1987 Barbara Sicherman provided more precise dates for several of the Alice Hamilton letters. As a result, dates were recorded on letters in the following folders: #616, 621, 626, 629, 632, 648, and 656, and the following four items were moved to different folders: from #630 to 629: letter originally marked Oct.? 1893, now dated July 16, 1883; from #646 to 647: letter originally marked 11-4-31, now dated February 1933; from #660 to 634: fragment beginning "and this long trip..." now identified as pages 6 and 7 of letter dated August 10, 1897; and from #661 to 653: fragment beginning "had it. Miss Broadway and..." now identified as part of letter dated November 7, 1898.


    This is a selected index. It contains only the names of persons who wrote to members of the Hamilton family. These persons were friends for the most part, though some relatives are included.

    Container List

    Additional Index Terms

    Family records
    Fort Wayne (Ind.)--Social life and customs
    Ireland--Emigration and immigration
    Irish Americans
    Mothers and daughters
    Private schools--Connecticut
    Scientists--United States
    Social settlements--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
    Social workers
    Women artists
    Women in science--United States
    Women scientists--United States
    Women social workers
    Women physicians
    Addams, Jane, 1860-1935
    Baldwin, Alice Maude
    Boynton, Frances Howland Cogswell
    Bradford, Esther Kelly, 1866-1945
    Burlingham, Charles C. (Charles Culp), 1858-1959
    Chittenden, Alice Hill
    Clarke, Elizabeth
    Codman, Katherine Putnam Bowditch
    Duryee, Lily N.
    Duryee, Susan Rankin
    Fahmy, Alice Duryee
    Fisher, Dorothy Canfield, 1879-1958
    Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965
    Goldmark, Josephine Clara, 1877-1950
    Hamilton, Agnes, 1868-1961
    Hamilton, Alice, 1869-1970
    Hamilton, Edith, 1867-1963
    Hamilton, Jessie, 1866-1960
    Hardy, Harriet Louise, 1906-1993
    Harvard Medical School
    Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966
    Hodge, Margaret E.
    Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.)
    Irwin, Agnes, 1841-1914
    Johnson, Ethel McLean, 1882-1978
    Kelley, Florence, 1859-1932
    Kennan, George, 1845-1924
    Landsberg, Clara, 1873-1966
    Lathrop, Elizabeth Rogers
    Lighthouse (Organization)
    Lory family
    Ludington, Katherine, 1885-1956
    McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945
    Merrill, Anna Kinsman Phelps
    Miss Porter's School (Farmington, Conn.)
    Noyes, Evelyn McCurdy
    Overstreet, H. A. (Harry Allen), 1875-1970
    Porter, Sarah, 1813-1900
    Reid, Doris Fielding
    Ribicoff, Abraham, 1910-1998
    Riddle, Theodate Pope, 1867-1946
    Sarton, George, 1884-1956
    Shearman, Margaret Hilles
    Shurcliff, Margaret H.
    Stone, Edwin
    Tabor family
    Trevett, Emily Bancroft
    Trowbridge, Edith C.
    Wagenhals family
    Whitney, Emily H.
    Williams family
    Williams, Jeannette C. Hunt
    Windom, Florence B.