Scope and arrangement
Webster's papers consist of personal, family, and business letters and documents dating from his years at Yale through the end of his life.
The William Greenleaf Webster papers are arranged in four series:
Consists of letters Webster received (in some instances letters are addressed to Noah Webster) concerning family and personal matters, Noah Webster's estate, and the copyright, production, and sale of Noah Webster's books. Correspondents are family members, friends, Yale classmates, and business associates. Principal correspondents are: John Curtis, a friend and possibly a business partner; William Wolcott Ellsworth (1791-1868), lawyer, Connecticut congressman (1829-1834), Governor of Connecticut (1838-1842), and husband of William's sister Emily; Rosalie Stuart Webster; sons Stuart and Eugene Webster; and sister and brother-in-law Julia (Frances Juliana) Webster Goodrich and Chauncey Allen Goodrich. A few letters from William's mother Rebecca Greenleaf Webster are included in the general correspondence. Also included are drafts of a few of William's letters, travel documents from the 1820s, and some legal documents.
Business papers in the collection document William's role as a copyright holder, editor, publisher, and seller of Noah Webster's books. Included are letters from and, in some cases, legal agreements with publishers George F. Cooledge, New York, 1843-1857; F. J. Huntington and Huntington and Savage, Hartford, Connecticut and New York, 1843-1854; N. & J. White and White and Sheffield, New York, 1833-1860 (including letters addressed to Noah Webster); and G. & C. Merriam, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1846-1863. Also, letters and legal documents from partnerships to which William belonged for the purpose of publishing and selling the books: Webster and Clark, New York, 1843 (including an unsigned document by Noah Webster granting power of attorney to the partnership), and Corey, Fairbank and Webster, Cincinnati, 1835-1836 and 1841-1842.
Accounts consist of twelve small account books, ca. l820s-1860, and loose bills and receipts, 1824-1859. The expenses documented are largely personal. One account book, 1849, belonged to S. Webster of New Haven.
Some additional personal and business papers consist of: two diaries; writings; legal documents; obituaries; an autograph book; a Webster genealogy and coat of arms; prospectuses and clippings of reviews of Webster's dictionaries, 1840s-1880s; a carte de visite photograph of Stuart Webster; a bankruptcy certificate, 1803, of James Greenleaf of Philadelphia; a letter from Octavia Southgate to Horatio Southgate, July 1, 1804, relations of the Websters; and correspondence and military papers, 1845-1862, of Stuart Webster.