The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Ward, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, 1844-1911
Elizabeth Stuart (Phelps) Ward
1.25 linear feet (2 boxes)
The Elizabeth Stuart (Phelps)
Ward papers consist primarily of correspondence and some poetry.
Scope and Content Note
The Elizabeth Stuart (Phelps) Ward papers consist primarily of correspondence and
some poetry. Virtually all of the letters are addressed to Elizabeth Phelps' editor
and future father-in-law, Dr. William Hayes Ward of the New York Independent. The letters discuss publication
instructions, fee questions, and submitted works; in letters of the late 1880s,
reference is often made to the editor's son, Herbert Ward, whom Elizabeth married in
1888. Works mentioned in the letters included Burglars in
Paradise, Trotty, Dress Reform, Female Education of Women, and Old Maids in Paradise.
Two poems written by Elizabeth Ward are contained in the collection; please see
Appendix I for their titles and publication information. Likenesses of Ward and her
family cut from newspapers and/or magazines can be found in Folder 2. The photostat
copies include letters dated: March 5, 1867; September 21, 1876; August 22, 1884;
November 1, 1885; July 28, 1888; February 1, 1893; Aug 14, [no year]; and three
undated ones. Correspondence from the 1930s regarding the use of these letters for a
biography is found in Folder 6.
Elizabeth Stuart (Phelps) Ward was born Mary Gray Phelps
in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 31, 1844, the daughter of Elizabeth (Stuart) and
Austin Phelps. In 1848, her father became professor of sacred rhetoric and
homiletics at the Andover (Mass.) Seminary; her mother was a writer specializing in
religious tales. Mrs. Phelps died when Mary was eight years old; after her death,
Mary changed her name to Elizabeth Stuart Phelps as a tribute to her mother, and
later used it as her official pen name. She attended Abbott Academy and Mrs.
Edward's School for Young Ladies, both in Andover, but her education was also
heavily influenced by her father.
The early death of her mother, the loss of a beloved boyfriend to the Civil War,
and the atmosphere of a powerful religious education all combined to influence
Elizabeth Phelps' writings. The Gates Ajar, published
in 1868, a story conveying the happiness and peace of heaven, was her most popular
success as it was greatly appreciated by thousands of families grieving their losses
from the Civil War. For many years Elizabeth Phelps wrote articles on social reform
for the Independent magazine, including pieces on
women's rights and temperance; late in her life she took up the causes of
antivivisection. She wrote poetry and fiction as well, and published 57 books during
her writing career. She was the first woman to present a lecture series at Boston
At the age of forty-four, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps married the son of her editor
at the Independent, Herbert Dickinson Ward, who was
seventeen years her junior. They had no children. Herbert Ward, also a writer,
collaborated on several books with his wife. They were residents of Newton Center
and East Gloucester, Massachusetts, where Elizabeth Phelps had summered for many
years. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward suffered from poor health for many years and
died in Newton Center on January 28, 1911.
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.
Ward, William Hayes, 1835-1916
Publishers and publishing
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
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
Elizabeth Stuart (Phelps) Ward (1844-1911) Papers, MSS 229, Phillips Library, Peabody
Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.
Most of the letters were purchased in 1951. Additional letters were purchased in
1939, 1950, 1953, 1979, 1985, 1991 (acc # 91024), 1994 (acc #94013), 1995 (acc
#1995.026), 1996 (acc #1996.019), 1998 (acc # 1998.003), 1999 (acc #1999.004), and
2001 (acc #2001.013 and 2001.020). The manuscript poem "Poet and Lover" was donated
by David J. Holmes in 1995 (acc #1995.029). A few letters were removed from the
autograph collection and added to this collection. Most items are marked in pencil
with their purchase date or accession number. The provenance of the poems and of the
"Browning Parish" manuscript is unknown. The photstat copies of letters were
received in 1939 (B1 F6).
Collection processed by Kathleen E. Greer, March 1979. Conserved by Daniel S. Curtis,
August 1991. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, September 2015.
James, Edward T., Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer. Notable American Women, 1607-1950; a Biographical Dictionary. Vol. III.
Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard University Press, 1974, pp. 538-40.
Malone, D. Dictionary of American Biography. Vol.
19. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936. pp 417-19.
Please see the catalog for numerous works by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward and
for several biographical sketches.
Most of the letters were purchased in 1951. Additional letters were purchased in 1939, 1950, 1953, 1979, 1985, 1991 (acc # 91024), 1994 (acc #94013), 1995 (acc #1995.026), 1996 (acc #1996.019), 1998 (acc # 1998.003), 1999 (acc #1999.004), and 2001 (acc #2001.013 and 2001.020). The manuscript poem “Poet and Lover” was donated by David J. Holmes in 1995 (acc #1995.029). The provenance of the poems and of the “Browning Parish” manuscript is unknown. The photstat copies of letters were received in 1939 (B1 F6).