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Larcom Family Papers

Larcom Family Papers

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Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Larcom, Lucy, 1824-1893
Title:Larcom Family Papers
Quantity:1.25 linear feet (3 boxes)
Abstract:The Larcom Family Papers consist primarily of the correspondence, literary offerings, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia of Lucy Larcom (1824-1893); the correspondence of Emeline Larcom Spaulding (b. 1817); and the correspondence, photographs, and estate records of the Larcom family.
Identification:MSS 8

Series List

SERIES I. Lucy Larcom Papers
A. Correspondence Sent
B. Correspondence Received
C. Poetry, Clippings, and Notes
SERIES II. Larcom Family Papers
A. Emeline L. and George Spaulding Papers
B. Louisa and Edward Harrington Papers
C. Lydia and Isaac Baker Papers
D. Larcom Family Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Larcom Family Papers consist primarily of the correspondence, literary offerings, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia of Lucy Larcom (1824-1893); the correspondence of Emeline Larcom Spaulding (b. 1817); and the correspondence, photographs, and estate records of the Larcom family. This collection has been arranged into two series.

Series I. Lucy Larcom Papers include correspondence between Lucy and her friends, admirers, and professional acquaintances, as well as memorabilia, poetry, and news clippings about Lucy Larcom. This series is arranged into three subseries. Correspondence within the first two subseries includes many of the same individuals in contact with Lucy Larcom. In addition to writing to her mother, Lois Larcom, and her sisters, Emeline Spaulding, Lydia Baker, Louisa Harrington, and Octavia Parkhurst, Lucy corresponded with her brother-in-law, Isaac Baker, and her nephews. Her professional correspondence included Philena Fobes, teacher and principle at the Monticello Seminary in Illinois. Correspondence with friends also included letters from Horrace Currier, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Sarah I. Spaulding. Finally, many of the letters relate to her life as a published author. Subseries A. Correspondence Sent is arranged alphabetically by recipient's last name. Subseries B. Correspondence Received is arranged by the writer's last name. Subseries C. Poetry, Clippings, and Notes include poems, essays, and notes written by and about Lucy Larcom, along with newspaper clippings about her life and of her work. The material in this subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series II. Larcom Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, photographs, estate papers, ships' papers, and genealogical notes concerning the Larcom family. This series is arranged into four subseries. Subseries A. Emeline L. and George Spaulding Papers include correspondence and poetry. Emeline Spaulding is the principle correspondent; she writes to her mother Lois Larcom, her son Theodore Spaulding, and her sister Lucy Larcom. Her letters to Lucy describe aspects of Emeline's life in Illinois and Minnesota, and her attempts to obtain school books and a teacher for the pioneer school. Emeline's husband, George, writes to his parents, describing his family's move out West, and later receives letters regarding the death of his nephew, Charles Harrington. Also included are poems written by Emeline throughout her life. Subseries B. Louisa and Edward Harrington Papers include correspondence, estate papers, ships papers, and an autograph album. The album was given to Louisa by Edward prior to their wedding and includes notes and signatures from friends and family. Correspondence includes Edward writing to his wife about voyages to Buenos Aires and Montevideo, letters from their son Charlie and about his death, and a letter from their son Benjamin Harrington to an uncle. A letter of instruction and accounts regarding the bark Sea Mews outline Edward's involvement with the vessel. Finally, included in this subseries is a handwritten last will and testament of Edward's, along with additional papers, detailing his estate and protections for his wife and family. Subseries C. Lydia and Isaac Baker Papers include correspondence and estate papers of the Baker family. Correspondence includes letters from Isaac to his wife Lydia, detailing his voyage aboard the ship Tarquin, along with letters from Jonathan Larcom to his brother-in-law, Isaac. Estate papers outline property claims between Isaac Baker and his family members after his death. Subseries D. Larcom Family Papers include correspondence, photographs and genealogy notes of the Larcom family. Correspondence includes letters to Lois Larcom along with various other family members and unknown recipients. Photographs are of various family members and of Lucy Larcom's room in her brother Benjamin's house. Genealogy notes include correspondence from a researcher helping with Daughters of the American Revolution membership.

Biographical Sketch

Lucy Larcom (1824-1893) is known primarily for her literary and poetical works, her career as an educator, and her early work as a mill girl in the Lowell textile mills. Lucy was born in Beverly, Massachusetts on March 5, 1824, second youngest of the eight children born to Benjamin and Lois Barrett Larcom. Benjamin Larcom died in 1832, leaving the family in debt. In 1835, at age 11, Lucy moved to Lowell, Massachusetts with her mother and siblings to run a boarding house owned by the Lawrence Manufacturing Company. Due to the family's financial problems, Lucy began working in the mills, attending school intermittently. During her years as a mill girl, Lucy began her literary career, contributing poetry to the Operative's Magazine, which soon merged with another publication to become the Lowell Offering and Magazine.

In 1846, Lucy accompanied her sister Emeline and her husband, George Spaulding, to Illinois where she spent several years teaching in a pioneer school in the settlement of Looking Glass Prairie, Illinois. In 1849, Lucy entered Monticello Seminary in Illinois, where she both taught and continued her own education. Returning to New England in 1853, Lucy continued to write poetry, song lyrics, stories, and essays for publication, while teaching at Wheaton Seminary in Norton, Massachusetts. She retired from teaching in 1862 and devoted her time to her literary career. In 1889 she published a book of writings entitled A New England Girlhood. Throughout her lifetime, Lucy published fifteen volumes of poetry and writing, in addition to editing other works. She died in Boston, Massachusetts on April 17, 1893.

Emeline Larcom Spaulding (b. 1817), Lucy's older sister, began working in the textile mills in her teens, first in Boston and later in Lowell, Massachusetts. While in Lowell, she joined a literary circle associated with Lowell's Congregational Church and began publishing her poetry in the circle's publication, Operative's Magazine. In April 1843, she married George Spaulding, who later became a minister. The couple traveled frequently during their married life because of George's preaching, residing in Illinois, New Hampshire, and Minnesota. By 1890, Emeline and George, with some of their children, had moved to Oakland, California, where their son Theodore had previously settled. The date of Emeline's death, presumably in California, is not readily available.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Baker, Isaac Wallis, 1818-1862
Baker, Lydia, b. 1822
Fobes, Philena
Harrington, Edward
Harrington, Louise Barrett, b. 1815
Larcom, Benjamin, b. 1814
Larcom, Jonathan, b. 1818
Larcom, Lois
Larcom, Lucy, 1824-1893
Spaulding, Emeline Larcom, d. 1817
Spaulding, George
Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892
Monticello Seminary
Wheaton Female Seminary (Norton, Mass.)
Frontier and pioneer life--United States
Kansas--Politics and government, 1854-1861
Poets, American
Sea Mews (Bark)
Tarquin (Ship)
Textile Industry--Massachusetts--Lowell
Textile Workers--Massachusetts--Lowell
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Women authors
Lowell (Mass.)
Salem (Mass.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Request for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Larcom Family Papers, MSS 8, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Larcom Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of the Lucy Larcom Papers and the Larcom Family Papers. The papers in Series I were acquired by the former Essex Institute. A paper bound copy of the poem, "Her Garden," by Lucy Larcom was donated in 1933. Additional letters were acquired courtesy of the Eliot Thompson Estate on July 25, 2012 (acc. 2012.026). Series II papers were purchased in 1989 by the Essex Institute.

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Frances Malamy, July 2001. Updated by Halley Grogan, September 2012.

Related Material

Abbot, William F. "Genealogy of the Larcom Family." Essex Institute Historical Collections. Vol. 58. 41-48, 129-150. Salem: Newcomb & Gauss, 1922.

Dublin, Thomas, Ed., "The Mill Letters of Emeline Larcom, 1840-1842." Essex Institute Historical Collections. Vol. 127. No. 3. 211-239. Salem: Essex Institute Press, 1991.

Josephson, Hannah. The Golden Threads: New England's Mill Girls and Magnates. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1949.

Larcom, Lucy. A New England Girlhood. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1889.

Lowell Offering and Magazine, 1840-1845.

"Lucy Larcom" Lowell Notes. Lowell National Historic Park, National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior. Web. 24 Sept 2012.

Benjamin Larcom Papers, 1806-1811, MH 145

Henry Larcom Papers, 1811-1855, MSS 13

John Greenleaf Whittier Papers, 1781-1922, MSS 106

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