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Hemenway Family Papers

Hemenway Family Papers

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HEMENWAY FAMILY PAPERS, 1800-1954, undated

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:Hemenway family
Title:Hemenway Family Papers
Dates:1800/1954, undated
Quantity:13.5 linear feet (18 boxes, 34 volumes)
Abstract:This collection contains correspondence, financial and legal documents, ledgers, inventories, estate records, ephemera, books, and journals pertaining to the business transactions, family relationships and the estates of Augustus Hemenway, his wife, Mary Tileston Hemenway, and various other family members.
Collection Number:MH 122

Series List

SERIES I. Augustus Hemenway
A. Personal Correspondence
B. Business Papers
1. Correspondence
2. Legal Papers
C. Other
D. Estate and Trustees Papers
SERIES II. Mary Tileston Hemenway
A. Correspondence
B. Other
C. Estate and Trustees Papers
SERIES III. Hemenway Family
A. Sarah Hemenway
B. Charles P. Hemenway
C. Augustus Hemenway, Jr.
SERIES IV. Frederic A. Eustis
SERIES V. Family Genealogies
A. Hemenway Family
B. Tileston Family
C. Eustis Family

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, financial and legal documents, ledgers, inventories, estate records, ephemera, books, and journals pertaining to the business transactions, family relationships and the estates of Augustus Hemenway, his wife, Mary Tileston Hemenway, and various other family members. Their biographer and extended family member, Frederic A. Eustis, compiled these materials in his research. As one of the foremost "merchant princes" in the 19th century, Augustus Hemenway's business dealings in Chile, Cuba, Maine, New York, and Boston are extensively documented. Also of note is the detailed personal correspondence between Augustus and Mary Tileston Hemenway during their courtship in 1838-1839. Mary Tileston Hemenway's philanthropic, business, and cultural activities are described in correspondence, business records, and records of her estate. There are many original letters from her wide circle of literary, artistic, and civic connections such as Dorothea Dix, Booker T. Washington, Lucy Larcom, Childe Hassam, Sophia and Una Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Lucy Stone. Eustis' notes, drafts, and papers, acquired during his research and writing of Mr. Hemenway's biography, are extensive, and include original documents provided by Hemenway family members. The collection is organized into five series.

Biographical Sketches

Augustus Hemenway (1805-1876) was born on April 25, 1805 in Salem, Massachusetts and died at Sagua La Grande, Cuba, on June 16, 1876. He was a prominent business man, and was considered at one point to be the wealthiest man in America, with extensive business interests in commercial and residential real estate in New York and Boston, lumber in Maine, copper and other mining developments in Chile, and a sugar plantation in Cuba.

His wife, Mary Tileston Hemenway (1820-1894), was born on December 20, 1820 in New York and died on March 6, 1894 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was involved in the literary, artistic, and civic movements of her time. A well-known philanthropist, she worked with and financially supported organizations and individuals in the anti-slavery, suffragette, immigrant education, women's physical education, historical preservation, and Native American cultural preservation movements. She financed the 1886-1894 Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition.

Sarah "Sally" Upton Hemenway (1787-1865), was born in Groton, Massachusetts on February 19, 1787 and died in Machias, Maine, on November 16, 1865. She married Dr. Samuel Hemenway in 1803, and mothered five children, including Augustus Hemenway. After separating from her husband and losing her home and property, she and her children lived with various family members and in the poorhouse for a period in 1818. Through supporting herself and her children, and entering trade with Augustus' help, she was a powerful influence on Augustus' development.

Charles P. Hemenway (1818-1893) was the youngest of Sarah and Dr. Samuel Hemenway's children. He worked as a manager for Hemenway and Company in Valparaiso, Chile from 1848-1859, and later as a partner for the company in Boston. During Augustus' illness from 1860-1873, Charles was given power of attorney for the business for many years.

Augustus Hemenway Jr. (1853-1931) was the only son of Augustus and Mary Hemenway. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and continued his family's philanthropy, supporting institutions, which included Harvard University, MIT, and the Museum of Fine Arts. He also supported the Metropolitan Parks Commission, which created Revere Beach Reservation, the Trustees of Reservations, and worked with notables such as Frederick Law Olmstead. In addition, he subsidized an archaeological expedition to Arizona in 1913-14, which explored Mesa Verde, among other sites.

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.

Dix, Dorothea Lynde, 1802-1887
Eustis, Frederic A., b. 1877
Hassam, Childe, 1859-1935
Hawthorne, Sophia Peabody, 1809-1871
Hemenway, Augustus, 1805-1876
Hemenway, Augustus, Jr., 1853-1931
Hemenway, Charles P., 1818-1893
Hemenway, Mary, 1820-1894
Hemenway, Sarah Upton, 1787-1865
Larcom, Lucy, 1824-1893
Muller, William
Stone, Lucy, 1818-1893
Tileston, Thomas
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892
Boston Normal School
George W. Bangs and Company
Old South Meeting House (Boston, Mass.)
Southwest Indian Expedition
Decedents' estates
Indians of North America
Boston (Mass.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests 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

Hemenway Family Papers, MH 122, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated on May 3, 1963, by the children of Frederic A. Eustis (accession # 16,191).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Elaine McGrath, December 2010.

Related Material

Eustis, Frederic A. Augustus Hemenway 1805-1876 Builder of the United States Trade with the West Coast of South America. Salem: Peabody Museum, 1955.

Hinsley, Curtis M., and David R. Wilcox, eds. Frank Hamilton Cushing and the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition, 1886-1889, Vol. I: The Southwest in the American Imagination: The Writings of Sylvester Baxter, 1881-1889. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1996.

Hinsley, Curtis M., and David R. Wilcox, eds. "A Hemenway Portfolio: Voices and Views from the Hemenway Archaeological Expedition, 1886-1889," Journal of the Southwest 37.4 (Winter 1995).

Related collections are available in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University and the Huntington Library in New York.

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