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Hovey Family Records

Identifier: CHC062

Collection Description

Collection of documents, booklets, and photographs which once belonged to the Hovey Family of Cambridge.


  • ca. 1870s-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1870s-1890s

Language of Materials

Material in English.


Collection is available for research under the CHC rules of use.

Copyright Notice

Copyright for materials resides with the creators of the items in question, unless otherwise designated.

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 Historical Commission Archives.

Historical Note

Transcribed from a separate document, “Information Regarding Hovey Collection,” by Gavin W. Kleespies, CHC Archival Assistant.

The Hovey Collection consists of twenty-two manuscripts and booklets which once belonged to the Hovey family. The documents and manuscripts, which are dated from the second half of the nineteenth century to the very beginning of the twentieth century, have been divided into eight files and organized by subject.

With the intention of putting the collection into a historical context, research has been done on the people whose names appear in the collection. These people include a father whose name was William H. Hovey, his wife who was named Susan A. Gerry Hovey, and a daughter who was also named Susan Hovey.

The vital records give a couple of interesting hints about the collection. First, they tell that William H. Hovey and a Susan A. Gerry were married in 1846. Secondly, there are records of the birth of two daughters to the family. This is a confusing piece of information as the collection only references one daughter. This will be discussed below.

Through the vital statistics, there is also a probable family link one generation back. In the vital statistics, there is a listing for the death of a Susan L. Hovey who was married to a William B. Hovey. She was fifty-three years old at the time of her death in 1848. At no point is there an explicit link between William H. and Susan L. and William B. and Susan A. What follows is the inferred connection.

William B. Hovey was first in the Cambridge directories in 1849. He was listed as living on Williams Street and having a store located at 32 Faneuil Hall Market Place. He remained at that business address until the 1870s when William H. Hovey assumed the address. The first listing for William H. Hovey does not appear in the directories until 1869. Prior to the 1874 directory, his business was simply listed as Faneuil Hall. However, in 1874 he began to have his business listed as 32 Faneuil Hall and in the same year his house began to be listed as 67 Pleasant Street in Cambridge.

A reasonable explanation for the business address would be that William B. was older and more established in Boston, and therefore had a storefront at Faneuil Hall. William H., the younger of the two, may have been either working at William B.’s store or selling his goods in the open market. It is a safe assumption that William H. Hovey took over the store of William B. Hovey when William B. retired. Based on the common practice of passing businesses down within a family, this business connection makes the assumption of a family relation between them reasonable.

It is also safe to assume that William H. Hovey was living in the area, if not in Cambridge, before he was listed in the directories for the first time. This assumption is based on the fact that it is known through the records of his marriage and the birth of his children that he was born and married in Cambridge. Being born and raised in Cambridge, the idea that he was not related to other Cambridge Hoveys seems questionable. William H. and Susan A. G. Hovey lived in Cambridge at least until 1899. Although William H. ceases to be listed in 1899, there is no record of his death that year so it seems reasonable that he simply moved to a different city for his retirement years.

Taking the family history one step in the other direction, the vital records list the birth of a Susan H. Hovey, of William H. and Susan A. Hovey. This is the first daughter mentioned above. However, “Susan H., daughter of William H. Hovey” is listed as dying in 1848. This young Susan, who died of a bowel complaint, obviously is not the Susan whose handwriting books exist in the Hovey collection. The only clue as to the origin of the Susan of this collection is found in the vital records for 1868. These records show the birth of a female child, with no first name, whose parents were William H. and Susan A. Hovey. This child must have been Susan A. Hovey and must have been the younger Susan of the collection.

The date is consistent with the collection and there is no other listing of a birth to those parents. This is also supported by a booklet in the collection, published by the alumni of the Webster School. In this publication, Susie Hovey is listed as a graduate in 1878. She would have been ten years old at this date and although this is young to graduate from grammar school, it is certainly possible. This is reinforced by a booklet from the Cambridge High School which lists Susan Hovey as a graduate of a three-year program in 1882. This implies that she may have attended a middle school of some kind. As well, graduating from high school in 1882 would have made Susan about fourteen, which is young but probably not abnormal for that time period. Susan A. Hovey began to be listed in the directories in 1900. She was listed at 67 Pleasant Street as soon as William Hovey stopped being listed at that address. She continued to be listed in the directories until 1932 when she disappeared from the records.

Within the collection there is also a list of members of the First Baptist Church in Cambridge, which lists the baptism of a Susan A. Hovey in 1889. This adds the possibility of an entirely new Susan-- the identity of whose parents is not readily apparent. Although there is no listing of a marriage of Susan A. Hovey, this baptism would make one believe that Susan A. had a child. However, that seems improbable. It seems far more likely she converted from a different religious belief and was baptized in a new church in 1889 or returned to a church she had left previously. This assumption is made more possible, if not probable, by the fact that Susan A. Hovey’s mother had died earlier in the same year.

Based on the findings in the city records, city directories, and the collection, the following history is a summary of the work. Susan L. and William B. Hovey were married in Cambridge. One of their children was named William H. and he married Susan A. Gerry. William H. and Susan A. G. Hovey had two children, both of which were named Susan. The first was named Susan H. Hovey, who died about one year after her birth. The second was named Susan A. Hovey who lived from 1868 to about 1932. Susan A. never married and never had children. Working with incomplete information and a number of confusing facts, the above theory seems the most probable.


1 document box


Collection of documents, booklets, and photographs which once belonged to the Hovey Family of Cambridge. Topics include school and learning material; First Baptist Church; Music, Penmanship, and Poetry; and items relating to Susan Hovey.

Collection Arrangement

The items have been divided into files according to subject.

Physical Location

Collection is stored on-site


In 1997, the bulk of the collection was found in a house in Worcester, MA by Shirley Piermarini and these items were donated to the CHC that same year. In 2001, Ms. Piermarini donated five Hovey family photographs.

Separated Material

Note, 12/2019:

According to a collection inventory from 12/11/2000, the collection also included a diary kept by William H. Hovey, dating from 1869. This is not present in the finding aid.

Processing Information

Research and processing by Gavin W. Kleespies. Updated finding aid by Meta Partenheimer, June 2017.

Historical note transcribed from a separate document, “Information Regarding Hovey Collection,” by Gavin W. Kleespies, CHC Archival Assistant

Encoded by: Brittany Fox, April 2020.
Hovey Family Records
Research and processing by Gavin W. Kleespies. Updated finding aid by Meta Partenheimer, June 2017. Machine-readable finding aid created by Brittany Fox, April 2020.
Description rules
Finding Aid Was Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Historical Commission Archives Repository

831 Massachusetts Avenue
2nd Floor
Cambridge Massachusetts 02139 US