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Philip Little Family Papers, 1838-1966

Philip Little Family Papers, 1838-1966

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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:Little, Philip, 1857-1942
Title:Philip Little Family Papers, 1838-1966
Quantity:0.75 linear feet (2 boxes, 1 volume)
Abstract:The collection contains correspondence, legal papers, photographs, sketches and sketchbooks of this Salem, Massachusetts, artist.
Collection Number:MSS 661

Series List

SERIES I. Philip Little
SERIES II. Family Papers
SERIES III. Miscellaneous

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains correspondence, legal papers, photographs, sketches and sketchbooks. It has been organized into three series.

Series I. Philip Little comprises both his correspondence, sketchbooks, a Photostat of his 1903 journal kept while in Jamaica, and an inventory of his estate. Included in the correspondence are letters from Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951), another Impressionist painter from Salem, to both Lucretia and Philip Little. There are also three undated letters from the Boston etcher Dwight Case Sturges (1874-1940).

Series II. Family Papers includes correspondence, obituary clippings, and a copy of Little’s father, James Lovell Sr, will. It also contains correspondence of his son, Philip Little, Jr. There is a photocopy and a newspaper clipping about David Sage, who is a relation of Philip Jr.’s wife, Ella Sage. There are two letters received by Lucretia Jackson Little, and four folders of correspondence to and from her mother, Annie J. ("Jeannie") Jackson.

Series III. Miscellaneous contains loose photographs and a family photo album that was labeled by Philip Little, Jr. This series also includes unattributed genealogical notes, sewing patterns, negatives, and the envelopes in which the Essex Institute originally received the material.

Biographical Sketches

Philip Little was born in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on September 6, 1857, to James Lovell (1810-1889) and Julia Augusta (Cook) Little (1824-1883). Little married Lucretia S. Jackson on January 10, 1883. They had one son, Philip Little, Jr. (1883-1976). The Littles moved to Salem by 1886, where Philip opened a studio with Frank W. Benson. The family often summered on MacMahan Island in Maine. A year after Lucretia passed, Philip married Caroline King on his 82nd birthday. Little died on March 31, 1942, in Salem.

Little was considered one of the first American Impressionists, a painter and printmaker, focusing largely on New England landscapes and seascapes. Little attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1875 to 1877, but had to withdraw due to illness. He later attended the Lowell School of Design and began his career at Forbes Lithograph Co. in Boston. In 1881 he began attending classes at the Museum of Fine Arts School. Frank W. Benson and Lucretia S. Jackson were classmates at the MFA School.

In 1887 Little joined the National Guard. He served until 1901, when he retired as a Major. He was very active in the Salem community, serving as a representative to the Common Council, on the Board of Aldermen, and on the School Board for fourteen years. Little also was a longtime member of the Essex Institute and served as the Fine Art curator.

Lucretia Shepard (Jackson) Little was born in 1859, in Connecticut, to Orin Fowler and Annie Jeannette (Staigg) Jackson. Her father "disappeared" and was presumed dead sometime after the Civil War. She, her mother and brother were living with her uncle, Richard M. Staigg, in Massachusetts, by 1870. She died in Salem, Massachusetts on September 10, 1938.

Philip Little, Jr. was born on November 17, 1883 in Boston, Massachusetts to Philip and Lucretia Shepard (Jackson) Little. He married Ella P. Sage on October 11, 1911. They had three children: Philip III (1913-2005); Charles Martin (1914-1995); and Thomas (1927-). Philip Jr. died on April 2, 1976, in Wayzata, Minnesota.

James Lovell Little was born April 4, 1810 in Plymouth, Massachusetts to Luther (1756-1842) and Hannah (Lovell) Little (1771-1826). He was a merchant. Little died at the family’s home on Little’s Point in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on June 19, 1889.

Annie Jeannette (Staigg) Jackson was born October 28, 1828 in England. Her brother was Richard M. Staigg, a noted miniaturist. She emigrated to the United States in 1832. She married Orin Fowler Jackson in July 1853. They had two children: Archibald (1856-) and Lucretia Shepard (1859-1938). Jackson frequently signed her letters to family members "Jeannie." She died on December 31, 1875 in Newton, Massachusetts.

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.

Benson, Frank Weston, 1862-1951
Jackson, Annie Jeanette (Staigg), 1828-1875
Little, James Lovell, 1810-1889
Little, Julia Augusta (Cook), 1824-1883
Little, Lucretia Shepard (Jackson), 1859-1938
Little, Philip, 1857-1942
Little, Philip, Jr., 1883-1976
Sturges, Dwight C. (Dwight Case), 1874-1940
Letter writing
Salem (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

Philip Little (1857-1942) Family Papers, MSS 661, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The bulk of this collection was purchased on September 18, 1992 (acc. #92042), and was cataloged as Fam. Mss. 559. The 67-page photocopy of the journal kept while in Jamaica, two letters written from Salem, in 1927 and 1934, and the business card, were a gift of Sargent Bradlee on November 17, 1980 (acc. #135,152), and had been cataloged as MSS 0.026.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jennifer Hornsby, August 2017.

Related Material

Little, Philip and Arvest Galleries. Philip Little 1857-1942: the first major exhibition of oils, watercolors, etchings, and lithographs by the notable American impressionist. Boston, MA: Arvest Galleries, Inc., 1976. E L778.7 1976

Philip Little [Miscellany], E L778.7 19--

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