1820-1976; bulk: 1900-1940

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection contains the papers of Henry Dwight Sedgwick III and his son, Robert Minturn Sedgwick, as well as other members of the Sedgwick and Peabody families. It includes correspondence, personal papers, historical and literary manuscripts of Henry Dwight Sedgwick III, a scrapbook, printed material, and a collection of letters written by early Sedgwick family members.

Biographical Sketch

Henry Dwight Sedgwick (1861-1957) was the second child and oldest son of Henry Dwight and Henrietta Ellery Sedgwick, born 24 September 1861 in Stockbridge, Mass. He graduated from Harvard College in 1882, was admitted to the bar in 1884, and practiced law in New York City with his father. Retiring from law about 1898, HDS devoted his life to traveling and writing and became a prolific historian and author. In 1893, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his works were A Short History of Italy (1905), Ignatius Loyola (1923), Cortes the Conqueror (1926), Memoirs of an Epicurean (1940), and Horace: A Biography (1947). HDS married Sarah May Minturn in New York City on 7 November 1895. They had four children: Henry Dwight Sedgwick; Robert Minturn Sedgwick; Francis Minturn Sedgwick; and Edith Minturn Sedgwick, who died at birth. Widowed in 1919, HDS married Gabriella May Ladd on 18 May 1953, at the age of 91. He died on 5 January 1957.

Robert Minturn Sedgwick (1899-1976) was the second child of Henry Dwight and Sarah May Minturn Sedgwick, born 27 January 1899 in New York City. He graduated from the Groton School in 1917, and Harvard College in 1921, where he was a championship boxer and football player. After teaching for a year at Groton School, RMS worked for the Boston investment firm of Scudder, Stevens, and Clark. He married Helen Peabody, daughter of Endicott and Fannie Peabody, in 1924, and the couple lived in Dedham, Mass. with their three children: May Minturn Sedgwick (later Osborne); Henry Dwight Sedgwick; and Fanny Peabody Sedgwick. After Helen's death in 1948, RMS married Emily Ames Lincoln, with whom he had three children: Robert Minturn Sedgwick, Jr.; Emily Ames Sedgwick; and John Shaw Sedgwick.

Collection Description

This collection contains the correspondence and personal papers of lawyer, historian, and essayist Henry Dwight Sedgwick III of New York and Massachusetts, and his son, investment manager Robert Minturn Sedgwick of Dedham, Mass. It consists of 4 document boxes spanning the years 1820-1976, with the bulk from 1900-1940. The collection includes correspondence between RMS and his parents when he attended Groton School from 1911 to 1917 and officer training camp in Florida in 1918, and letters from HDS to his son and his family during his trips to Europe and Morocco from 1923 to1935. Additional correspondents include HDS's wife, Sarah May Minturn Sedgwick; RMS's wife, Helen Peabody Sedgwick; HDS's brother, Ellery Sedgwick; and other family members. The collection also contains personal correspondence and papers of HDS and RMS; HDS's writings including a notebook of Italian history, an unpublished novella, and copies of several published articles; and a scrapbook and journal of RMS's childhood compiled by his mother. Additional papers relate to Endicott and Fannie Peabody, the parents of Helen Peabody Sedgwick, and RMS's children Henry Dwight Sedgwick and Fanny Sedgwick. Also of interest is a small collection of early Sedgwick family correspondence, most likely collected by HDS for historical or genealogical purposes, including that of Theodore Sedgwick (1780-1839), Theodore Sedgwick (1811-1859) and Louisa Davis Minot.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the children of May Minturn Sedgwick Osborne, given in her memory, Dec. 2010 and Sept. 2011.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Family correspondence, 1910-1941

Arranged chronologically.

This series includes correspondence between Robert Minturn Sedgwick and his parents, Henry Dwight Sedgwick and Sarah May Minturn Sedgwick when RMS attended the Groton School in Groton, Mass. (1911-1917) and officer training camp in Gainesville, Florida (1918). Additional correspondence includes letters between HDS and his brother Ellery Sedgwick, between RMS and his grandmother Susannah Shaw Minturn, his brother Francis Sedgwick, his aunt Jane Sedgwick Riccardi, and correspondence with other aunts, uncles, and cousins. The series also contains letters from family members congratulating RMS on his engagement to Helen Peabody in 1924.

Later correspondence includes that of HDS, RMS and RMS's wife Helen Peabody Sedgwick during HDS's trips to Europe and Morocco (1923-1935) in which he describes his journeys, travel acquaintances, and sightseeing trips. Several letters from HDS to his grandchildren include sketches and drawings of his travels. Much of the correspondence in this series in undated, and has been arranged by approximate year.

See also Series III. B., Scrapbook, for additional letters from RMS to his parents.

Box 1
1910-Sep. 1926
Box 2Folders 1-31
Oct. 1926-1941

II. Henry Dwight Sedgwick III papers, 1895-1956

Papers in this series consist of selected personal correspondence, historical and fictional writings, and mementos compiled by HDS's family to commemorate a 1929 voyage to Europe.

A. Personal correspondence, 1895-1956

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains letters that HDS most likely retained for their sentimental value. They include an 1895 letter to Owen Wister announcing his engagement to May Minturn; a 1908 letter to W. C. Cabot (father-in-law of Ellery Sedgwick) defending Ellery's decision to purchase the Atlantic Monthly; sympathy letters received upon the death of his wife in 1919; congratulatory letters received for the birth of his granddaughter May Minturn in 1926; and letters announcing his membership to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Century Club, and other honoraries and organizations.

Box 2Folders 32-33

B. Writings, 1917-1946

Arranged chronologically.

HDS's writings include a 1917 poem to his wife, May, on her birthday; several undated poems; two manuscript notebooks containing notes about the history and literature of Italy (probably written in preparation for his 1905 book A Short History of Italy); and a draft of an unpublished novella "The Three Suitors," (1946).

For additional writings of HDS, see Henry Dwight Sedgwick papers, ca. 1940s, Offisite Storage.

Box 2Folders 34-35
Notebooks, ca. 1900
Box 3Folders 1-6

C. "St. Harry" papers, 1929

Dedicated to "St. Harry," these poems, drawings, scrapbooks, and other mementos were compiled by HDS's family and friends on the occasion of his 1929 voyage to Europe.

Box 3Folders 7-9

III. Robert Minturn Sedgwick papers, 1889-1976

This series contains correspondence and personal papers of Robert Minturn Sedgwick, as well as a scrapbook of his childhood compiled by his mother, and a register of wedding and baby gifts.

A. Personal correspondence and papers, 1899-1976

Arranged chronologically.

Correspondence includes letters from Groton classmates and other friends discussing school events, sports, and social activities (1914-1917); letters of congratulations on RMS's engagement to Helen Peabody (1924); several letters from his father's classmate and friend Owen Wister; and letters from U. S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr.

Personal papers include RMS's birth certificate, two passports (1920, 1922), a Groton School report card, 1916 enrollment papers from the Military Training Camp at Fort Terry, New York; and copies of remarks and prayers made at the funeral service of RMS in 1976.

Box 3Folders 10-25

B. Scrapbook, 1889-1916

Written and compiled by his mother, Sarah May Minturn Sedgwick, this scrapbook records the childhood of RMS from birth through age 16 (1899-1915). It includes daily events, milestones, illnesses, growth, school activities, and sporting events. Pasted into the book are letters from RMS to his parents and other relatives, report cards, and drawings. Loose papers within the scrapbook have been foldered separately and include pages from the baby book of RMS's older brother, Henry Dwight Sedgwick; letters from HDS to his wife about the birth of their son; and letters from relatives.

Box 4Folder 1
Bound volume, 1899-1915
Box 4Folders 2-7
Loose papers removed from volume, 1889-1916

C. Wedding gift register, 1924-1926

Written in the hand of Helen Peabody Sedgwick, this volume records wedding gifts and the names and addresses of those that gave them in 1924. The back of the book includes a list of baby gifts given to Helen and RMS upon the birth of their daughter, May Minturn Sedgwick, in 1926.

Box 4Folder 8

IV. Correspondence of other Sedgwick family members, 1820-1946

Arranged chronologically by correspondent.

This series contains correspondence from various Sedgwick family members, including Theodore Sedgwick (1780-1839), Theodore Sedgwick (1811-1859), Louisa Davis Minot, and Ellery Sedgwick. Most 19th century correspondence appears to have been purchased or collected by HDS or RMS.

Theodore Sedgwick (1780-1839) legal correspondence, 1820-1834

Included are two letters related to Theodore Sedgwick's legal practice.

Box 4Folder 9

Theodore Sedgwick (1811-1859) legal correspondence, 1838-1849

All letters in this group concern Sedgwick's legal practice, including an 1838 letter from his uncle Robert Sedgwick, with whom he shared a law office. Another concerns an 1849 estate settlement in Jamaica.

Box 4Folders 10-11

Louisa Davis Minot letters to Jane Minot Sedgwick, 1846-1847

This group contains letters from Louisa Davis Minot to her sister-in-law, Jane Minot Sedgwick, discussing family news and daily activities in Boston.

Box 4Folder 12

Ellery Sedgwick correspondence, 1900-1924

Included in this group is business and family correspondence of Ellery Sedgwick, the brother of HDS. Many are congratulatory letters on Ellery's engagement to Mabel Cabot in 1904.

Box 4Folder 13

Miscellaneous correspondence, 1822-1946

Correspondence includes a letter from Mary Morton to her nephew Jonas Mintern regarding a recipe for the "Lisbon diet drink" (1822); a 1948 letter from the English actress Gertrude Lawrence to "Mr. Sedgwick" (most likely HDS or his son, Francis); correspondence of RMS's children Henry Dwight Sedgwick and Fanny Sedgwick; and that of RMS's cousin Alexander Sedgwick.

Box 4Folders 14-15

V. Peabody family papers, 1934-1946

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains papers related to Endicott Peabody (1857-1944) and his wife, Fannie Peabody (1860-1946), the parents of RMS's wife Helen Peabody Sedgwick. It includes correspondence and papers concerning the 50th anniversary of Groton School, of which Peabody was headmaster, the 50th wedding anniversary of Endicott and Fannie Peabody, Peabody's retirement from Groton, and funeral services for both.

Box 4Folders 16-17

VI. Printed material, 1913-1947

Arranged chronologically.

Included in this series are published stories and articles written by HDS, including The Country of the Dormer-Window (1913) and an undated biography of the Roman poet Horace; newspaper clippings that document RMS's football and wrestling career during his years at Harvard University; and a set of postcards illustrating European scenes collected by HDS about 1930.

Box 4Folders 18-19
Henry Dwight Sedgwick III writings, 1913-1947
Box 4Folder 20
Newspaper clippings about Robert Minturn Sedgwick, 1917-1918
Box 4Folder 21
European postcards, 1930

Preferred Citation

Henry Dwight Sedgwick III and Robert Minturn Sedgwick 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.


Minot, Louisa Davis, 1788-1858.
Peabody, Endicott, 1857-1944.
Sedgwick, Ellery, 1872-1960.
Sedgwick, Helen Peabody, 1890-1948.
Sedgwick, Robert Minturn, 1899-1976.
Sedgwick, Sarah May Minturn, 1865-1919.
Sedgwick, Theodore, 1780-1839.
Sedgwick, Theodore, 1811-1859.
Sedgwick family.


Groton School.
Harvard University -- Students.


Authors, American--20th century.
Family history, 1900-1949.
France--Description and travel.
Italy--Description and travel.
Morocco--Description and travel.
Literary manuscripts.
Private schools--Massachusetts--Groton.
Scrapbooks, 1889-1915.
Voyages and travel--Europe.