MC 202; M-148
Thompson, Anna Boynton, 1848-1923. Papers of Anna Boynton Thompson, 1842-1960 (inclusive),
1862-1935 (bulk): 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
Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 202; M-148
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Anna Boynton Thompson, 1848-1923
Title: Papers of Anna Boynton Thompson, 1842-1960 (inclusive), 1862-1935 (bulk)
Quantity: .42 linear feet (1 file box) plus 1 photograph folder)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, diaries, etc., of Anna Boynton Thompson, history teacher at Thayer
Academy in Braintree, Mass., and her mother Harriot Boynton (Sawyer).
Accession number: 1180
These papers were originally deposited at Radcliffe College by Blanche Hazard Sprague, a student of Anna Boynton Thompson at Thayer Academy. They were transferred to the
Schlesinger Library in 1967 and microfilmed in 1998.
Reprocessed: December 1997
By: Bert Hartry
Access. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-148.
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Anna Boynton Thompson as well as copyright
in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
This collection presented a challenge to the microfilmer. Many pages, particularly
in the journals, are difficult to read in the original due to faded and smudged pencil,
tiny writing, smudged manuscript carbons, or see through writing. Tight gutters in
the journals were also a problem.
Dates and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.
Unnumbered journal pages with text were numbered by the processor to aid the microfilmer,
the proofreader, and researchers.
Loose items found between journal pages were filmed where found.
Some multipaged letters conclude at the top and/or sides of page one. The signature
page was not refilmed, researchers must return to the pertinent page.
Copies of this microfilm (M-148) may be borrowed on interlibrary loan from the Schlesinger
Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
Anna Boynton Thompson Papers, 1842-1960; item description, dates. MC 202, folder #.
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Anna Boynton Thompson,
Anna Boynton Thompson, teacher and student of philosophy, was born on September 10,
1848, in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Harriot Boynton (Sawyer) and William A.
Thompson. Harriot Boynton Thompson and William A. Thompson had met in Monson, Mass.,
his home town, where Harriot Boynton Thompson was attending Monson Academy while William
A. Thompson was studying for the ministry. They were married in October 1843 and left
shortly thereafter for the West under the auspices of the American Home Missionary
Society. William A. Thompson was ordained in Denmark in the Iowa Territory and they
settled into a one-room cabin in Troy, southwest of the Des Moines River.
In 1848 Harriot Boynton Thompson returned to Portland for the birth of Anna Boynton
Thompson. On her return to Iowa, they moved first to Fairfield and in 1851 to Port
Byron, Illinois. There William A. Thompson built a proper house on a bluff overlooking
the Mississippi River. Coming back from a circuit preaching tour in May 1852, William
A. Thompson drowned in the river. Harriot Boynton Thompson sold their land but kept
the house as rental property and returned to her husband's family in Monson. After
working as matron at Wheaton Seminary (Norton, Massachusetts) and at the Boston Children's
Friend Society, Harriot Boynton Thompson opened a boarding house for schoolteachers
in Boston, where Anna Boynton Thompson and her younger sister, Mary Francis, attended
Rental money from the Illinois house and her Boston boarders enabled Harriot Boynton
Thompson to send her daughters to study in Europe for two years, 1871-1873. After
their return home, both began their long teaching careers. Mary Francis Thompson taught
science in Boston and Anna Boynton Thompson history. In 1878 Anna Boynton Thompson
joined the faculty of Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass. She remained there as head
of the history department for over forty years. During this time she also attended
Radcliffe College, studying with professors Josiah Royce, Albert Bushnell Hart, and
George Santayana, and earning her AB (1898) and AM (1899) degrees; received an honorary
D. Lit. from Tufts University in 1900; traveled and studied abroad; learned Greek;
was an active member of the New England History Association; and in 1895 published
The Unity of Fichte's Doctrine of Knowledge, Radcliffe College Monograph Series, number 7. At Thayer she started an elementary
school (Thayerlands); urged the school to buy adjoining property, contributing a year's
salary to help pay for it; and donated money for several scholarships.
Harriot Boynton Thompson wrote her will in 1897. She left her estate "in trust" to
her daughters but made them promise to use the principal and interest only if it was
necessary for their well-being. They in turn were to leave everything to Radcliffe
College, to be used to "erect a building ... for the use of the women students ...
the building to be called Boynton Thompson Hall." Harriot Boynton Thompson died in
1900. The sisters honored their mother's wishes and were both benefactors of the college;
a wing of Cronkhite Graduate Center was named Harriot Boynton Thompson Hall.
Anna Boynton Thompson died in 1923, Mary Francis Thompson in 1933.
Except for one folder of papers by or about Harriot Boynton Thompson (#1), this collection
consists of papers by or about Anna Boynton Thompson. They are arranged in the following
Personal (#2-6) consists of some miscellaneous papers about Anna Boynton Thompson,
including a photograph and clippings, and notes, outlines and journals kept by her.
In the journals Anna Boynton Thompson recorded her daily activities and observations,
both abroad and at home; they also contain language study and lecture and reading
There is correspondence (#7-20) from, to, and about Anna Boynton Thompson. These letters
provide information about Anna Boynton Thompson's students and teaching methods (#17);
Thayer Academy; Radcliffe College; her study of the philosopher, Johann Gottlieb Fichte
(#9, 13-14, 17); Harvard professors George Santayana, Josiah Royce, and Albert Bushnell
Hart; Anna Boynton Thompson's friendship with Alice Mary Longfellow; her social life,
and her sister, Mary Francis Thompson.
Of particular interest are Albert Bushnell Hart's letters to Blanche Hazard Spraque
(#18) about Anna Boynton Thompson's life and her philosophical studies, and three
1922 letters from Eleanor Wembridge to Anna Boynton Thompson (#17) about psychology.
A final folder contains photocopies of letters to Anna Boynton Thompson. She used
the backs for notes on Fichte; the originals were found in, and remain with, volume
2 of Fichte's Nachgelassene Werke
, which was transferred, with volume 3, to the Radcliffe College Archives, where they
are shelved as RA.A/T468
. Thompson's letters to former student Lawrence J. Hawes are available on microfilm
(M-17) at the Schlesinger Library. The originals of these letters are at Thayer Academy.
- 1. Mostly re: Harriot Boynton Thompson. Blanche Hazard Sprague drafts for article and
proposed biography of Harriot Boynton Thompson. Draft includes typescript copies of
Harriot Boynton Thompson courtship letters (1842-1843), her report on Boston Children's
Friend Society (1862), her will (1897), Anna Boynton Thompson correspondence re: Radcliffe
College bequest (1906) and to sister Mary Francis Thompson (1916). Also photocopies
of articles by Blanche Hazard Sprague and Anna E. Holman, both from May 1960 Radcliffe Quarterly.
- 2. Anna Boynton Thompson personal. About Anna Boynton Thompson. Massachusetts Teachers'
Association program, Anna Boynton Thompson speaker, 1894; restaurant bill, Italy,
1906; Blanche Hazard Sprague eulogy, 1929.
- 2a. Anna Boynton Thompson personal. About Anna Boynton Thompson. Photograph, 1865.
FILED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS.
- 3. Anna Boynton Thompson personal. About Anna Boynton Thompson. Clippings (including
obituary), 1905-29 (scattered), n.d.
- 4. Anna Boynton Thompson personal. By Anna Boynton Thompson. Notes, outlines, poetry,
- 5. Anna Boynton Thompson personal. By Anna Boynton Thompson. Journals: daily activities,
observations, language study, reading and lecture notes. Four travel journals: June
1902 - September 1903, England; June-August 1905, Italy, Greece; December 1906 - March
- 6. Anna Boynton Thompson personal. By Anna Boynton Thompson. Journals: daily activities,
observations, language study, reading and lecture notes, 1921-1923
- 7. Correspondence. From Anna Boynton Thompson. Blanche Hazard Sprague, 1892-1896
- 8. Correspondence. From Anna Boynton Thompson. Edmund von Mach, 1901; Mary Kalopothekes,
- 9. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Josiah Royce and Katherine Royce, 1890-1912
(scattered). Includes Anna Boynton Thompson to JR (draft), Charles W. Eliot to Josiah
- 10. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Alice Mary Longfellow, 1891-1904
- 11. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Alice Mary Longfellow, 1911, 1917-22. Includes
Katharine P. Loring to Alice Mary Longfellow.
- 12. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Alice Mary Longfellow, no year, n.d.
- 13. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Edward Channing, 1898; Charles W. Eliot,
1904, 1906; Albert Bushnell Hart, 1892; Alice Freeman and George Herbert Palmer, 1901-1902.
- 14. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. George Santayana, 1900-1901. Includes drafts
of Anna Boynton Thompson replies.
- 15. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Thorp family, 1903-1908, 1920, n.d.
- 16. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Dana family, 1912-1914, 1921, n.d.
- 17. Correspondence. To Anna Boynton Thompson. Various writers, 1895-1922 (scattered):
Mary Whiton Calkins, Josephus N. Larned, Katherine T. Thayer, et al.; also Anna Boynton
Thompson draft reply.
- 18. Correspondence. Re: Anna Boynton Thompson, sister Mary Francis Thompson, English Boynton
family. To Blanche Hazard Sprague from Mary Francis Thompson, Albert Bushnell Hart,
et al., 1929-1935, n.d. Includes photocopy of Blanche Hazard Sprague article about
Mary Francis Thompson, Radcliffe Quarterly, April 1933.
- 19. Correspondence. Re: Anna Boynton Thompson, sister Mary Francis Thompson, English Boynton
family. Others to others, 1929, n.d. Includes Albert Bushnell Hart.
- 20. Correspondence. Photocopies of letters used for notes found in Johann Gottlieb Fichte
volume 2, 1890, 1893, n.d.
For originals, see Papers of Anna Boynton Thompson, 1890-1893 (RA.A/T468).
History teachers--United States
Voyages and travels
Women history teachers--United States
Boston Children's Friend Society
Calkins, Mary Whiton, 1863-1930
Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 1762-1814
Hart, Albert Bushnell, 1854-1943
Larned, J. N. (Josephus Nelson), 1836-1913
Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928
Loring, Katharine Peabody, 1849-1943
Palmer, Alice Freeman, 1855-1902
Palmer, George Herbert, 1842-1933
Radcliffe College--Alumni and alumnae
Royce, Josiah, 1855-1916
Santayana, George, 1863-1952
Sprague, Blanche Hazard
Thayer Academy, Braintree, Mass.
Thompson, Harriot Boynton, 1816-1900
Thompson, Mary Frances, 1851-1933
Wembridge, Eleanor Harris Rowland, 1882-1944