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Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers, 1850-1907

 Collection
Identifier: 103
This collection comprises letters written to and by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a manuscript of a portion of his book Cheerful Yesterdays, and pamphlets written by Higginson. The letters include discussion of Higginson's time in England and work with the Cambridge Public Library. The manuscript contains the second chapter of Higginson's memoir, Cheerful Yesterdays, “A Child of the College.” The pamphlets include speeches, sermons, reminiscences, and essays; topics covered include slavery and women's suffrage.

Dates

  • 1850-1907

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Access to Collection

This collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

The materials in this collection are believed to be in the public domain. However, it is the responsibility of the researcher to understand and observe copyright law and to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyright. Questions concerning copyright and permission to publish should be directed to the Cambidge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.

Extent

.2 Linear Feet

.2 Cubic Feet

1 boxes (half Hollinger)

25 Items

Biography

Thomas Wentworth Higginson was a writer, minister, colonel, abolitionist, and activist. He was born on December 23, 1823 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Louisa Storrow Higginson and Stephen Higginson Jr. Thomas Wentworth Higginson graduated from Harvard College in 1841 and from Harvard Divinity School in 1847. He then served as a preacher, first in Newburyport, where he was deemed too radical, and later at the Free Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. During this time, Higginson became increasingly active in abolitionist activity. He wrote and preached against slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War and was active in the Boston Vigilance Committee and the Underground Railroad. After supporting abolitionist settlers in Kansas following the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he provided financial support to John Brown's raid of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. During the Civil War, Higginson led the Union's first African-American regiment. He described his military service in the memoir Army Life in a Black Regiment.

After the Civil War, Higginson focused on writing, editing, and activism, living in Newport, Rhode Island, for about two decades before returning to Cambridge. As a writer, he published fiction, memoirs, and essays, working with publications such as the Atlantic Monthly and the Woman's Journal. He wrote on issues such as women's suffrage, temperance, and Reconstruction. Higginson was also an editor; he corresponded with Emily Dickinson and co-edited her poetry for publication after her death. Higginson served as a trustee of the Cambridge Public Library and was instrumental in establishing the collections of the Cambridge Room, the library’s archives and special collections. Higginson married Mary Channing in 1847. After her death in 1877, he married Mary Thacher in 1879. They had two daughters, Louisa, who died in infancy in 1880, and Margaret, born in 1881. Higginson died on May 9, 1911 in Cambridge and was buried in Cambridge Cemetery.

Organization of Collection

Approximately 25 items grouped by type

Series 1: Correspodence

Subseries 1.1: Incoming

Subseries 1.2: Outgoing

Ten letters grouped chronologically within series.

Series 2: Manuscript

One manuscript.

Series 3: Pamphlets

Fourteen pamphlets grouped alphabetically by title.

Custodial History

Presumably donated by Higginson, but no known history of transfer or deed of gift on file.

Processing Information

Processed by Lillian Weitzman in June, 2016 under the supervision of Alyssa Pacy.
Title
Finding Aid to the Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers 103
Status
completed
Author
Lillian Weitzman
Date
June 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
617-349-7757