Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


The personal papers of Horatio Robinson Storer, a gynecologist from Boston, Mass., primarily consist of his family correspondence. The collection also contains Storer's travel diaries and papers relating to his various business and civic activities, as well as papers from his extended family.

Biographical Sketches

Horatio Robinson Storer

Horatio Robinson Storer (1830-1922) was a pioneer gynecologist, anti-abortion crusader, naturalist, and numismatist. The son of David Humphreys Storer, naturalist and medical doctor, Horatio Storer was born in Boston February 27, 1830. Storer attended the Chauncy-Hall School (1837-1840) in Boston, the (Boston) Public Latin School (1840-1846) and Harvard College (1846-1850). After his graduation from Harvard, Storer studied medicine at the Tremont Street Medical School in Boston and Harvard Medical School (M.D. 1853). He married Emily Elvira Gilmore (1833-1872) in 1853 and they traveled to Europe for his postgraduate training. While in Scotland, he studied with Sir James Y. Simpson, an early advocate of the use of chloroform in childbirth and surgery. Storer later edited Simpson's memoirs with William B. Priestley.

Horatio and Emily had three children that survived infancy. Frank Addison Storer (b. 1856) was a skilled botanist, and settled in Deland, Florida with his grandmother, Emily Spaulding (Patten) "Grandmother Gilmore" (1818-1899). John Humphreys Storer (b. 1859) graduated from Harvard College in 1882 and Harvard Law School in 1885. He married Edith Paine, daughter of Robert Treat Paine, in the same year and was a well-known real estate developer and philanthropist. Malcolm Storer (b. 1862) graduated from Harvard College in 1885 and Harvard Medical School in 1889. Malcolm married Grace Ayrault in 1899 and followed his father's specialization, becoming chief of gynecology at the Boston Dispensary. He also shared his father's interest in numismatics and was appointed Curator of Coins at Harvard and the Massachusetts Historical Society, along with several other prominent museums. Emily Elvira suffered from an unspecified mental illness later in life and spent her last years in an institution near Worcester, dying in 1872.

In 1857 Storer started a medical practice in Boston and, in 1862, undertook a specialization in gynecology. He was an early and well-known anti-abortion advocate. He published widely in medical journals and wrote several popular pamphlets against abortion, including Why Not? A Book for Every Woman (1866) and Is it I? A Book for Every Man (1867). From 1865-1867 he was professor of obstetrics and medical jurisprudence at Berkshire Medical Institution and received his LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1868. He was a proponent of chloroform anesthesia and the first to perform a caesarean-hysterectomy.

Storer suffered ill health throughout his life and sought to combat its effects through travel. In 1847 he traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia with his brother, Frank. Influenced by his father, he developed an interest in ichthyology, the study of fish. In 1849 he sailed to Labrador with Frank and Dr. Jeffries Wyman to study fish species. Storer was elected to the Boston Society of Natural History in 1851 and his monograph Observations on the fishes of Nova Scotia and Labrador with descriptions of new species was published by the Society in the same year 1851. Shortly after the death of his wife Emily in 1872, Storer became chronically ill from a surgery-related infection and retired from active medical practice. He removed his family to Europe and married his sister-in-law, Caroline "Aunt Carrie" Augusta Gilmore in ca. 1872. Caroline died in 1874 shortly after the birth of their only child, Agnes Caroline Storer (1874-1943.) Agnes lived with her father, participating in and carrying on his broad civic and philanthropic interests. She died a noted Newport philanthropist in her own right in 1943.

Storer traveled throughout Europe and the British Isles seeking to restore his health until 1876 when he settled into semi-retirement in Newport, Rhode. Horatio Storer married his third wife, Frances Sophia MacKenzie (d. 1910) the same year. Frances was founder and sister-superior of the Franciscan Hospital for Women in Somerville until 1872 when she left her position to care for Horatio Storer during his grave illness. She traveled to Europe with him and his extended family in 1872. After their marriage he converted to Roman Catholicism and became very involved in Catholic organizations. During his retirement, Horatio developed an interest in medical medals, amassing a collection of over 2,000 medals now curated by the Harvard Medical School. Storer was an active civic leader in Newport from 1876 until his death in 1922. He served on the boards of the Newport Medical Society, Newport Natural History Society, and the Newport Historical Society. He also received several appointments to city boards and commissions.

Other Storer Family Members

David Humphreys Storer (1804-1891), Horatio's father, was a prominent physician and zoologist. He graduated from Bowdoin College (1822) and Harvard Medical School (1825). He specialized in obstetrics and was a professor at both the Tremont Street Medical School and Harvard Medical School, where he also served as dean. He actively pursued his interest in natural history, publishing several reports on fish in Massachusetts. David H. Storer married Abby Jane Brewer (1810-1885) in 1829, daughter of Thomas Brewer (1871-1860) and Abigail (Stone) Brewer (1777-1860). David H. Storer's brother, Robert Boyd Storer (1796-1870) participated in the Russian trade and was Russian Consul at Boston. R.B. Storer married Sarah Sherman Hoar (1818-1899) [sister of George Frisbie Hoar]. D. H. Storer's sister, Margaret Susanna Storer (1802-1878) is also represented in this collection.

Horatio R. Storer had four siblings: Francis "Frank" Humphreys Storer (1832-1914), who specialized in agricultural chemistry and was dean of the Bussey Institution at Harvard; Abby Matilda Storer (1835-1922); Mary Goddard Storer (1837-1923); and Robert Woodbury Storer (1840-1926.)

Collection Description

The Horatio Robinson Storer papers consist of three document boxes and encompass the years 1829-1943. The collection is divided into two series. The first series contains papers by or about Horatio Robinson Storer. The majority of this series consists of Horatio R. Storer's correspondence with his family during his childhood and college years (1836-1850). Of particular interest are journals kept by Storer during trips to Russia (1847) and to Labrador (1849), and letters written to his parents during the latter trip. The balance of this series is scattered business and civic correspondence, writings and news clippings. There are very few documents related to Storer's prominent medical career or his later numismatic interests.

The second series contains the papers of his extended family over four generations, including a few papers of his father, Dr. David Humphries Storer. The majority of the papers is family correspondence during Storer's children's formative years (1867-1893). The papers after 1893 are almost wholly related to his daughter Agnes Caroline Storer.

Acquisition Information

The Horatio Robinson Storer papers were the gift of Ethel T. Storer and Robert Treat Paine Storer, Jr. in November 2000.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Horatio Robinson Storer Papers, 1836-1940

This series has been divided into six subseries: personal correspondence, education, travel papers, business papers, writings, and biographical information.

A. Personal Correspondence, 1836-1922

Arranged chronologically

Correspondence from 1836-1848 is between Horatio Storer and his family during his childhood. Correspondence of 1849 is to and from his parents during his scientific trip to Labrador. There are a group of letters to his son John between 1867 and 1872. Letters between 1876 and 1880 relate to the death of his second wife, Augusta Caroline, marriage to his third wife Frances Sophia MacKenzie, and his European travels. His correspondence between 1894 and 1922 consists primarily of birthday wishes and letters from friends.

Box 1Folder 1-7

B. Education, 1837-1850

Arranged chronologically by school

Horatio R. Storer attended Chauncy-Hall School from 1837-1840, Boston Latin School from 1840-1846, and Harvard College from 1846-1850. This series contains undated schoolwork, Chauncy-Hall and Boston Latin School report cards, Storer's Boston Latin School Lawrence second prize essay (1846), and a sketchbook of drawings from his Latin School years. Miscellaneous school papers, class day programs, and class lists document his Harvard College years.

Box 1Folder 8-9
Undated schoolwork
Box 1Folder 10
Chauncy-Hall School, 1837-1840
Box 1Folder 11
Boston Public Latin School, 1840-1846
Box 1Folder 12
Boston Public Latin School, Lawrence Prize, 1846
Box 1Folder 13
Boston Public Latin School, Sketchbook, [1840-1846]
Box 1Folder 14
Harvard College, 1846-1850

C. Travel Papers, 1847-1873

Arranged chronologically by record type

This series contains Horatio's travel diary kept from May 1847 through September 1847 and his passport for his trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. The diary continues through January 1849 while Storer was at Harvard. In 1849 Horatio and Frank Storer and Dr. Jeffries Wyman sailed to Labrador to collect scientific specimens. Horatio's 100-page journal of this trip from July 7, 1849 through September 1849 is also in this series. In 1854, Storer and his first wife Emily (Gilmore) Storer traveled to Europe for him to pursue post-graduate study, and he and his second wife, Caroline, returned to Europe in 1872-1876 in an attempt to recover his health. Passports and other travel-related papers from these trips are also included in this series.

Box 2Folder 1
Diary, April 1847 - January 1849, including trip to Russia
Box 2Folder 2
Passport for Russia trip, 1847
Box 2Folder 3
Labrador journal, July 7, 1849- Sept. 1849
Box 2Folder 4
Passports and European travel papers 1854, 1872

D. Business Papers, 1851-1918

Arranged chronologically

Storer's business papers from 1851-1892 deal primarily with natural history and medical topics. From 1907-1918, they relate to his Newport, Rhode Island civic appointments and interests. Also of interest are documents from several African American organizations thanking Storer for his letter to the editor opposing a Newport presentation of "Birth of a Nation."

Box 2Folder 5-7

E. Writings, 1852-1920

Arranged chronologically

This subseries contains a number of undated notes on religious topics, an undated autobiographical sketch by Storer, and newspaper articles and letters to the editor from 1900-1920 on various civic topics.

Box 2Folder 8

F. Biographical Information, 1878-1940

Arranged chronologically

This subseries consists of published biographies and obituaries of Horatio R. Storer. In addition to his eminent career as a medical doctor, in the early 1920's Storer was famous as Harvard College's oldest living graduate.

Box 2Folder 9-12

II. Storer Family Papers, 1829-1943

Arranged chronologically

Papers of Horatio Storer's extended family, including his grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, wives, and children. The majority of this series is correspondence between family members. Papers from 1829 through 1865 are the correspondence received by Horatio Storer's parents, David Humphries Storer and Abby Jane (Brewer) Storer. Between 1867 and 1872, Storer's sons, John and Frank, received and sent many letters. From 1876 to 1943, the letters are primarily those received by Agnes Caroline Storer, Horatio's daughter. A notebook kept ca. 1857-1858 by "Carrie Gilmore," Caroline Augusta Gilmore, Horatio Storer's second wife, contains lists of Mr. Lothrop's pupils for 1857 and 1858 and "conundrums." This series also includes obituaries of Frances Sophia (MacKenzie) Storer and Agnes Caroline Storer, and some miscellaneous undated papers.

Box 3Folder 1-10
Correspondence, 1829-1841
Box 3Folder 11
Augusta Caroline (Gilmore) Storer notebook, 1857-1858
Box 3Folder 12-13
Miscellaneous, 1835, 1910-1943

Preferred Citation

Horatio Robinson Storer papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Storer, Abby Jane Brewer, 1810-1885.
Storer, Agnes Caroline, 1874-1943.
Storer, Caroline Augusta Gilmore, d. 1874.
Storer, David Humphreys, 1804-1891.
Storer, John Humphreys, b. 1859.
Storer family.


Scientific expeditions--Newfoundland--Labrador.
Voyages and travels--Diaries.
Labrador (Nfld.)--Description and travel.
Russia--Description and travel
Diaries--1847, 1849.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Printed Materials

For a list of printed materials removed from this collection, see Curator of Manuscripts.