Scope and arrangement
The papers, 1840s-1980, document the lives of three generations of the Emerson family. Included are correspondence, diaries, accounts, school records, poetry and writings, art work, photographs, legal and financial records, printed material, sound recordings, and memorabilia. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence among members of the family in Europe, the U.S. and Japan, and with friends and colleagues. Topics discussed include politics, current events, religion, archaeology, and business and economic trends. Also included are papers of the Ingham family, related to the Emersons by the marriage of Edwin Emerson and Mary Ingham in 1850.
The Emerson family papers are arranged in thirteen series:
The correspondence is among members of the Emerson family in Europe, the United States, and, after the turn of the century, Japan. There are some letters in French, German, and shorthand. These letters originate from several generations of the Emerson and Ingham families, some more distant relatives, and friends, and are arranged roughly chronologically - the materials received later were arranged by decade and interfiled with the earlier correspondence. These letters are unusual in a family collection for the wide range of topics outside of family concerns that they contain. Writers on both sides of the Atlantic make comparisons between life in the United States and abroad, and there are substantive discussions of United States national politics, current events, religious questions, and business and economic trends such as: the progress of the Civil War and its political, economic, and social effects; elections, etc. Of particular interest in the correspondence is the Emerson family's interest in new technology. During the 1860s there is discussion of the developing science of photography, and beginning in the 1880s members of the Emerson family bought typewriters and there are many discussions, descriptions, and demonstrations of the new machine. At around the same time, the family became interested in bicycles and, again, there are detailed discussions, sometimes accompanied by sketches, of the types of bicycles bought, their prices and attributes, bicycle trips taken, and the number of miles ridden each day by family members. The interest in technology extended to an interest in medical progress. Family members report on the technical details of medical procedures performed on themselves and their spouses and children. George Emerson's treatment for clubfeet in 1867 while the family was in London is among the procedures described.
Additional correspondence can be found in series III-XIII.
This series contains photographs and memorabilia from the Emerson Family. There are several photograph albums, many of which have had the photographs removed. Two of these albums are leather bound and belonged to Mary Emerson, and these include photographs of her family, especially her children as they grew up. Most of the other photographs are from the early to mid-twentieth century, and include photographs of the Emerson's, their homes, U.S. travels, and trips abroad to Switzerland, Greece, Italy, and Egypt, among other places. The memorabilia includes Margaret's matriculation card from the University of Paris, a Metropolitan Museum of Art bulletin that mentions the purchase of a portrait of Edwin Emerson Sr., and newspaper clippings, including the New York Times obituary of Edwin Jr.
This series contains diaries, account books, correspondence, memorabilia, and writings of Edwin Emerson. The writings span the years of 1861-1908, the year of Edwin's death. It mostly consists of poetry which Edwin wrote and had printed, to be dedicated and sent to his children and grandchildren on special occasions, and poems he wrote in remembrance of his life on several birthdays. There are also printed prose writings on the philosophy of man in relation to animals, the technology of the stereoscope, and a detailed family history of the Emerson's, going back several generations before Edwin's birth. Additionally, there are several poems which were written by friends of Edwin, which were dedicated to him for special occasions, including an "acrostic" poem which spells "Edwin Emerson".
This series contains the typed transcripts of correspondence written by Mary spanning the years of 1846-1865. It also contains a handwritten book of poetry which Mary had written from 1837-1842, when she was ages 7-12. The letters are primarily to her brother, William. She writes of her schoolwork and matters concerning the family, including her father giving her and George Hale, her brother-in-law, some of his old letters from people such as Andrew Jackson and the marquis de La Fayette, and her father's offer to run as vice president for General Taylor, which he declined.
Mary also talks quite a bit in the earlier correspondence about her frustrations with her family and society at large, fairly typical for a teenager. She gossips about her friends and shares news of deaths due to scarlet fever. When she goes to Abbott's Institute at 18 years of age, she writes about the courses she is taking, and her educational progress. She also talks about her friends there, their experiences in New York City, and the differences in education for males and females.
After her marriage to Edwin in 1850, she writes about the difficulties of adjusting to life in Edwin's ancestral home, Greencastle, and to life in a new marriage. A common theme in the later letters in this series is the politics which led up to the Civil War, and the current events of the war. This concern continues on after Mary and Edwin move to Europe. Once in Europe, she tells her family about their life in Paris, where they had temporarily settled, and about her children Harrison and Samuel growing up, and the birth of Alfred in 1859.
This series also contains several diaries and a book of poetry that Mary had written during her childhood.
This series contains the correspondence, writings, diaries, school notebooks, and memorabilia of Alfred Emerson and his wife Alice Edwards Emerson. Alfred's correspondence ranges from 1876-1943, beginning with Alfred's studies in archaeology and the year he spent studying and doing fieldwork in Greece. Many of these earlier letters are written primarily in shorthand, will illustrations and occasional English words. The letters then follow his career in America as an archaeologist and professor at several different universities, including Johns Hopkins, Princeton, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Cornell. He writes about expeditions he is sent on, such as one in 1866 to Apache County to investigate burial mounds, where his group stayed with an early Mormon community in Arizona on their way west.
Alfred also talks about the struggles his wife, Alice, had with jaundice, and the birth of their children - Edith, Gertrude, Willard, and Alfred Jr. He writes frequently to members of the family about the doings and accomplishments of the children, and makes frequent plans to visit or be visited by the family. By the time his children were born, Alfred and his wife had settled at Cornell, in Ithaca. Alfred wrote about the uncertainties and financial strains of being a professor, and the social obligations and life of living on a college campus.
By the early 1920's, Alfred had taken up a post as a translator for the U.S. Army, which he served for several years during WWI. He then returned to New York City and Ithaca, where he continued to work as a professor. He writes a great deal about real estate prices in New York as compared to other places in the country, and the world, and international money exchange. He writes about his then grown children and their doings, and also about his grandchildren.
The writings section contains poetry and essays by Alfred Emerson which were printed. It also includes translations by Alfred and some writings on the ancestry of the Emerson family. There are extensive lesson plans from Alfred's career as a professor, which cover classical Greek culture, art, and mythology. The memorabilia section contains Alfred's PhD thesis and grades from 1881, his marriage license, a booklet of travel expenses, and the Adolf Gerber Memoirs.
Alice's correspondence contains letters to Alfred before and after their marriage. Alice wrote of her career as a musician and music professor and of her travels to Europe. She writes often to her children of family matters, including her worry for her daughters during the influenza outbreak in New York City in 1920. Alice also talks about living in Berlin during the political strife of the 1920's and the conditions which were imposed upon the residents.
There is a carbon copy of "Tale of Troy", a book written by Alice. The memorabilia contains several programs from lectures and recitals given by Alice, some with pictures of Alice, along with newspaper clippings with reviews and mentions of her performances. There is also a 1928 passport belonging to Alice which was used in Europe.
This series contains correspondence written by Margaret, diaries, and memorabilia from her life. The correspondence ranges from 1881-1947. In the earlier letters, Margaret writes, mostly to her brother George, about her travels with her father. She reports the goings on of the family to brothers who have left home. She also talks about politics and politicians, fashion, sometimes with sketches, her interest in art and music, and similar topics. She also tells of her regular education and extra courses she is taking such as music and art lessons. There is also a set of letters from Hilda Rose.
After her father's death in 1908, Margaret moves from Japan to New York City, where she ends up living with her brother George. She writes to her family of everyday matters such as visits from friends and lunches with family. She also recounts memories of her parents which she says would not be found in their diaries. The memorabilia includes a certificate for "Laying on of Hands at a Confirmation", and several certificates from her nursing training.
This series contains correspondence written by Samuel and his descendents, and some pieces of memorabilia. The correspondence written by Samuel mostly has to do with his various business ventures in Nebraska, including a cork factory, a water works, and a store, among others. He also talks about the issues of Prohibition, the dependence on weather in farm country, and the transition from hand written letters to type written ones.
The correspondence written by Samuel's descendants contains family gossip, mentions of military ranks and politics, and religion, and is mostly written to Edith Emerson. There are also a few birth announcements, wedding invitations, and death announcements.
This series contains correspondence written by George, memorabilia, and photographs. The correspondence includes some early letters about George's youth in Europe, but most were written later in his life. These are to several members of the family and are primarily about family illnesses and deaths, especially the decline in health of his sister, Margaret.
The memorabilia in this series consists of George's boyhood journal in which he attempted to document his life history, beginning with his birth. There are also some notes and math work in the back of the journal. There is a report card from the Moravian Institution in Neuweid and an extensive medical history of George, including the causes of death of several of his family members. There is also an issue of The Cornell Magazine with an article by George, titled "Psychical Phenomena". The photographs are unlabeled pictures of people and automobiles.
This series contains correspondence, diaries, artworks, scrapbooks, sound recordings, and memorabilia of Edith Emerson. The correspondence concerns planning of family visits and gossip and news about family and friends. There are also many letters to Violet Oakley during Edith's travels through Europe and Asia. Edith writes thorough descriptions of the exotic places she visits and sends sketches of scenes she would like to paint. There are also several letters to Edith about business matters such as bookplate designs and upcoming exhibits.
In the artworks section, there are scrapbooks containing prints of Edith's artworks and photographs from her exhibits. There are also proof copies of illustrations for Gertrude's book The Pageant of India's History and illustrations used in Asia Magazine. The memorabilia and photographs section contains a photo album of pictures Edith took while in Japan and China in 1907, which includes a photograph of (soon to be) President Taft and his wife in Yokohama. There are also several "license to sketch" cards for locations in the United States and Europe, and bureaucratic records from overseas travels. The series also contains numerous programs from exhibits and lectures given by Edith, and four scrapbooks filled with press clippings.
This series contains correspondence and writings by Gertrude, and memorabilia. A portion of the correspondence is written on Japanese scroll paper and covers the years 1913-1918, when Gertrude was living in Japan and working as a journalist. She writes extensively about Japanese culture and the general atmosphere of life in Japan, including traditional gardening, religious festivals, and social life. She also writes of her work as a journalist. The later correspondence is mostly from India, and Gertrude talks about family matters, her and Boshi's life in India, and several health issues later in their lives. There is also a set of correspondence with Gwendolyn Penniman, a friend of Gertrude's.
The writings section of the series contains numerous articles written by Gertrude, which were published in several magazines, mostly Asia Magazine. The articles cover topics which concern life in several parts of East Asia and India, Africa, and the Middle East. The memorabilia contains a Christmas card from Gertrude and her friend and coworker Elsie. There are records from her work at Asia Magazine, and a newspaper clipping about her writing. There is also a compilation of nice things people sent or said to her after Boshi's death and a magazine article in Span about Gertrude's life and career, and the impact of her death on India.
This series contains correspondence from Willard, some poetry he wrote in his childhood, and memorabilia from his life. The earlier correspondence is letters home during World War I. He writes about his training at Fort Dix and his experience overseas, both on the front line and during his off time. After this, Willard went to college in England and wrote about life there and prospects for his future. Returning to the U.S., Willard became a business man a writes to his family about his work, the intricacies of the stock market, and the politics leading up to World War II. At the start of the war, Willard was asked to once again join the army, where he was stationed in England and Northern Ireland. He writes of military protocol and society, and of assignments which he is not able to talk about. After his return to the U.S., Willard became a professor at Cornell University, and eventually became the Vice President for Development there.
There are several poems that Willard wrote in his childhood included in this series, and memorabilia from his time at the Interlaken school. There is also a photograph in a newspaper in which Willard is pointed out among a parade of soldiers, and a couple of clippings about his taking the position of Vice President at Cornell University. There are also included Willard and Ethel's wedding announcement and the birth announcements of two of their children, Ann and Willard Jr.
This series contains correspondence and writings by Alfred, mentions and citations of his work in other publications, and memorabilia. In the correspondence, Alfred writes about his studies and works in entomology and his desires to become an educator. He talks about expeditions to South America and the Belgian Congo and of teaching in Guyana and going on field trips there. He also writes about several conferences he attended and the research he was conducting on termites.
There are numerous articles written by Alfred which were published in university, museum, and zoological journals. There are also several articles written about the work that Alfred and his colleagues were doing, including an article in The New Yorker which talks about Alfred's donation of a million termites to the American Museum of Natural History. Additionally, there are articles which cited Alfred's writings.
The memorabilia contains a wedding invitation to Alfred and Winifred's wedding, and their son's birth announcement. There is a flyer for Termite City, the children's book Alfred wrote with Eleanor Fish and an itinerary for a trip to Europe in 1957. There is also the program for Alfred's memorial service and a copy of his obituary in the New York Times.
Ingham family papers contain correspondence, legal papers, writings, family histories, memorabilia, and photographs from the Ingham family. The correspondence includes discussions about illnesses, travels, family matters (for both the Ingham's and Emerson's), and politics. There is a letter from famed astrologer, Carroll Righter, a distant cousin of the Ingham's. There are several compositions written by William Ingham, which were concerned with human nature, U.S. and European politics, and the natural world.
A fair amount of William's business papers which concern his legal practice are present. These papers contain property accounts and inventories, tax assessments, contracts, and legal inquiries. There are other legal papers from the Inghams, including wills, accounts, and the purchases of burial plots. In addition, there is also a thorough family history that mostly focuses on the Hale family (Rebecca Ingham's husband's family), which was used for the application to join the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames.
The memorabilia contains several published memorials of members of the Ingham family, a printed song written by John H. Ingham, a Bucks County Historical Society membership certificate, and copies of Samuel D. Ingham's obituary in the New York Herald. There are also several photographs of members of the Ingham family, including Tommy Ingham's class picture and two framed photographs, one of William and one of his wife Catherine Keppele Ingham.