Skip to main content

James Russell Lowell Papers, 1885-1886

Identifier: 104

Collection Overview

This collection contains one letter and one manuscript, both written by James Russell Lowell. The letter includes a list of selected works by Lowell. The manuscript comprises a draft of Lowell’s essay The Progress of the World.


  • 1885-1886


Language of Materials


Access to Collection

This collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

The materials in this collection are 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 Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.


James Russell Lowell--born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on February 22, 1819--was a poet, essayist, editor, professor, and diplomat. The child of Reverend Charles Russell Lowell, Sr. and Harriet Spence Lowell, James Russell Lowell was a member of the prominent Massachusetts Lowell family. He completed his studies at Harvard College in 1838 and Harvard Law School in 1840, though he soon devoted himself to writing rather than law. Lowell would become one of the Fireside Poets, so named for their popularity and suitability for families to enjoy around the fire.

Among Lowell’s best-known works are three published in 1848. The Biglow Papers (of which a second volume was published in 1862) compiled works featuring the Yankee character Hosea Biglow, whom Lowell used to critique political events. The Vision of Sir Launfal was his take on Arthurian legend. In A Fable for Critics, he presented clever verse portraits of literary figures of the day. Lowell also played a large role in the early days of The Atlantic Monthly, writing for and editing the magazine he helped found. In 1885, Lowell was granted a professorship at Harvard, where he taught for approximately twenty years, during which time he continued to write. He was later appointed to diplomatic positions in Spain in 1877 and Great Britain in 1880.

Lowell married the poet Maria White in 1844. Three of the couple’s four children died in childhood, and Maria herself passed away soon after, in 1853. Lowell remarried in 1857, to Frances Dunlap. He died in Cambridge on August 12, 1891. Lowell is buried in Cambridge’s Mount Auburn Cemetery.


.2 Linear Feet

.2 Cubic Feet

1 boxes (half Hollinger)

2 Items

Organization of Collection

Two items grouped chronologically.

Custodial History

No known history of transfer or deed of gift on file. The letter was donated anonymously through the mail. Artificial collection created by the archivist.

Processing Information

Processed by Lillian Weitzman in June, 2016 under the supervision of Alyssa Pacy
Finding aid to the James Russell Lowell Papers, 1885-1886 104
Lillian Weitzman
June 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

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

Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge MA 02138 USA