COLLECTION GUIDES

1769-1897

Guide to the Collection


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of the papers of Unitarian minister and historian George E. Ellis, including correspondence; addresses, sermons, and lectures; research papers; diaries; records of the Harvard Church (Charlestown, Mass.); and other volumes and papers.

Biographical Sketch

George Edward Ellis was a Unitarian minister and historian from Boston, Mass. The son of David and Sarah (Rogers) Ellis, he graduated from Harvard in 1833 and from Harvard Theological School in 1836. After a tour of Europe in 1838-1839, he preached at various churches in the Boston area until his ordination as minister of Harvard Church in Charlestown, Mass. in 1840. He served there for nearly 30 years, resigning in 1869. From 1857 to 1863, he was Professor of Systematic Theology at the Harvard Divinity School. He wrote and lectured on American history and religion and served as editor of the Christian Register and the Christian Examiner. He was also a member of several historical societies, a Harvard overseer, and a trustee of the Massachusetts General Hospital. He served as vice president of the Massachusetts Historical Society from 1877 to 1885, and as president from 1885 until his death in 1894.

Ellis married Elizabeth Bruce Eager in 1840. They had one child, John Harvard Ellis (1841-1870), before she died in 1842. Ellis remarried in 1859 to Lucretia Goddard Gould (1831-1869).

Collection Description

This collection consists of the papers of Unitarian minister and historian George E. Ellis, including personal and professional correspondence; manuscript addresses, sermons, and lectures; miscellaneous papers related to his research on Quakers, Count Rumford, and other subjects; diaries, including European travel diaries, 1838-1839; pew and parish records of the Harvard Church, Charlestown, Mass.; account books; school notebooks; scrapbooks and inventories; and other volumes. Many of the papers relate to his education and professorship at Harvard, his years as minister of the Harvard Church, and his work with the Massachusetts Historical Society. The collection also contains a diary of Ellis's second wife Lucretia Goddard (Gould) Ellis; a genealogy of the Ellis and Rogers families by his son John H. Ellis; pew deeds of New South (Sixth) Church; and manuscript writings of minister George W. Webster of Wheeling, W.Va.

Acquisition Information

Bequest of George E. Ellis, 1895.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Loose papers, 1769-1897

A. Correspondence, 1773-1895

This subseries consists primarily of the correspondence of George E. Ellis, as well as some financial and other miscellaneous papers and printed matter. The subseries is arranged in two chronological sequences, 1773-1895 and 1812-1894 (the second was formerly a bound volume of tipped-in manuscripts), but both sequences contain letters by many of the same individuals. Correspondents include Charles Francis Adams, Jr.; Henry W. Bellows; Andrew Bigelow; Charles Deane; F. Gordon Dexter; George N. Eaton; Edward Everett; Frederick A. Farley; Nathaniel L. Frothingham; Octavius B. Frothingham; Ezra Stiles Gannett; Ellen M. Gifford; George S. Hale; Thomas W. Higginson; George Frisbie Hoar; Oliver Wendell Holmes; Houghton, Mifflin & Co.; John Jay; Levi Lincoln; Samuel K. Lothrop; George H. Moore; George R. Noyes; Samuel Osgood; John G. Palfrey; Theodore Parker; Francis Parkman; J. Parkman; George Putnam; Eliza Susan Quincy; Josiah Quincy; Chandler Robbins; Cornelia Van Rensselaer Thayer; George Ticknor; Henry W. Torrey; Charles W. Upham; James Walker; Robert C. Waterston; Justin Winsor; Robert C. Winthrop; Alexander Young; Edward J. Young; and many others.

Among the family members represented are George's wife Lucretia Goddard (Gould) Ellis, son John H. Ellis, daughter-in-law Grace Atkinson (Little) Ellis, brother Rufus Ellis, brothers-in-law Benjamin Apthorp Gould and Horace McMurtrie, sisters-in-law Mary Apthorp (Quincy) Gould and Louisa Goddard (Gould) McMurtrie, and niece Lucy. Included are many letters from Lucretia Ellis to Mrs. Eager, probably Eliza Eager, the mother of George Ellis's first wife, as well as letters from Eliza Eager to George. The disbound volume also contains deeds for pews in the New South Meeting House and requests for prayers.

The subseries also contains a box of index cards (Box 13A) listing most of Ellis's correspondents, arranged alphabetically. Each card describes a single letter. Researchers looking for correspondence of a specific individual may want to consult these cards to find the dates of letters.

Box 1
Undated
Box 2
1773-1887
Box 3
1888-1895
Box 4
Disbound volume (1 of 10), 1812-1841
Box 5
Disbound volume (2 of 10), 1842-1849
Box 6
Disbound volume (3 of 10), 1850-1857
Box 7
Disbound volume (4 of 10), 1858-1863
Box 8
Disbound volume (5 of 10), 1864-1868
Box 9
Disbound volume (6 of 10), 1869-1872
Box 10
Disbound volume (7 of 10), 1873-1878
Box 11
Disbound volume (8 of 10), 1879-1882
Box 12
Disbound volume (9 of 10), 1883-1888
Box 13
Disbound volume (10 of 10), 1889-1894

This box includes a letter to Ellis from Helen Keller, 27 Apr. 1891. Click here to view this letter online.

Box 13A
Index cards, undated

B. Addresses, sermons, and lectures, 1836-1875

This subseries contains manuscript addresses, sermons, and lectures by Ellis. Many of the sermons include annotations on when and where they were delivered.

Box 14
Addresses, 1836-1875, most undated
Box 15
Sermons, 1839-1858
Box 16
Sermons, 1856-1866
Box 17Folder 1-4
Sermons, 1866-1869
Box 17Folder 5-18
Sermons, undated, 1839-1868; lectures, undated
Box 18Folder 1-4
Lowell Lectures: "Evidences of Christianity," I-XII, [1864]
Box 18Folder 5-10
Lowell Lectures: "Provincial History of Massachusetts," I-XII, [1871]

C. Miscellaneous papers, 1769-1897

Box 19Folder 1-2
Correspondence on the Hutchinson papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1868-1873

These papers relate to a dispute over the ownership of the Thomas Hutchinson papers at the MHS, originally donated by Alden Bradford. The Massachusetts legislature argued that the papers were state property, and the MHS ultimately lost their case and returned the collection to the state.

Box 19Folder 3-6
"History of the Persecution of the Quakers in New England," a paper and notes, undated
Box 19Folder 7
Notes on parishioners of the Harvard Church, Charlestown, 1855-1874
Box 20
George W. Webster writings, undated

Included are drafts of poetry and prose writings by George Washington Webster (1823-1872). A note by Ellis reads: "These manuscripts were sent to me, to keep in charge, by the Rev. G. W. Webster, once Unitarian minister of Wheeling, Va. A man of much, but erratic, genius. He had received my help for his Family. He was deranged."

Box 21Folder 1-6
Count Rumford papers, 1769-1854

These papers relate to Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753-1814), and consist primarily of correspondence of his daughter Sarah Thompson, Countess Rumford (1774-1852). Included are a number of letters from her to James Fowle Baldwin (1782-1862). Ellis wrote the Memoir of Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1871).

Box 21Folder 7-15
G. E. Ellis correspondence regarding Rumford, 1868-1897
Box 21Folder 16-18
Transcripts of records on Rumford, undated

II. Volumes, 1819-1895

A. Diaries, 1833-1894

This subseries contains the diaries of George E. Ellis, kept primarily at Charlestown and Boston, including 8 line-a-day diaries in printed almanacs, 1833-1842; a volume entitled "Original Thoughts &c," 1835-1869; 7 volumes documenting his trip to Europe, 1838-1839; and 25 pocket diaries, 1858-1894. The line-a-day diaries contain brief entries, primarily noting various churches where he preached each week, but also including some entries related to his Harvard education and lectures attended. The volume entitled "Original Thoughts" is partly a memoranda book with notes on his reading and religious reflections, 1835. Diary entries in that volume date from 1836 and 1839-1869 and describe his daily activities, news of family members, etc. Ellis's trip to Europe, 1838-1839, is covered in 7 volumes, including 5 diaries, one memoranda book, and one manuscript sightseeing guide entitled "Sketch of a Tour thro. Europe." The 5 travel diaries contain detailed descriptions of sights seen in England, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France. The 25 pocket diaries, 1858-1894, document Ellis's daily activities, social calls, news of family members, his writing work, and his participation in local organizations.

The subseries also contains one diary of Lucretia Goddard Gould before her marriage to Ellis, kept primarily in Roxbury and Boston, Mass. Entries describe Goddard and Gould family matters, social calls, lessons, her thoughts on sermons she heard, and her efforts at self-improvement. The volume also contains Latin exercises from Mr. Weisse's school, 1845, and miscellaneous memoranda.

Box 22Folder 1
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1833
Box 22Folder 1
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1836
Box 22Folder 2
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1837
Box 22Folder 2
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1838
Box 22Folder 3
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1839
Box 22Folder 3
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1840
Box 22Folder 4
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1841
Box 22Folder 4
Line-a-day diary in an almanac, 1842
Box 22Folder 5
"Original Thoughts &c," 1835-1869
Box 22Folder 6
"Sketch of a Tour thro. Europe," ca. 1838-1839
Box 22Folder 7
Memoranda book (trip to Europe), ca. 1838-1839
Box 22Folder 7
Diary of a trip to Europe (1 of 5), 5 May-13 July 1838

Available on microfilm, P-306.

Box 22Folder 8
Diary of a trip to Europe (2 of 5), 17 July-15 Sep. 1838

Available on microfilm, P-306.

Box 23Folder 1
Diary of a trip to Europe (3 of 5), 16 Sep.-3 Nov. 1838

Available on microfilm, P-306.

Box 23Folder 2
Diary of a trip to Europe (4 of 5), 4 Nov. 1838-9 Feb. 1839
Box 23Folder 3
Diary of a trip to Europe (5 of 5), 11 Feb.-15 Apr. 1839
Box 23Folder 4
Pocket diary, 1858-1859
Box 23Folder 4
Pocket diary, 1860-1867
Box 23Folder 5
Pocket diary, 1869-21 May 1870
Box 23Folder 5
Pocket diary, 22 May 1870-1871
Box 23Folder 6
Pocket diary, 1872-31 Mar. 1873
Box 23Folder 6
Pocket diary, 1 Apr. 1873-31 May 1875
Box 24Folder 1
Pocket diary, 1 June 1875-10 Sep. 1876
Box 24Folder 1
Pocket diary, 11 Sep. 1876-1877
Box 24Folder 1
Pocket diary, 1878
Box 24Folder 1
Pocket diary, 1879
Box 24Folder 2
Pocket diary, 1880
Box 24Folder 2
Pocket diary, 1881
Box 24Folder 2
Pocket diary, 1882
Box 24Folder 2
Pocket diary, 1883
Box 24Folder 3
Pocket diary, 1884
Box 24Folder 3
Pocket diary, 1885
Box 24Folder 3
Pocket diary, 1886
Box 24Folder 3
Pocket diary, 1887
Box 24Folder 4
Pocket diary, 1888
Box 24Folder 4
Pocket diary, 1889
Box 24Folder 4
Pocket diary, 1890
Box 24Folder 4
Pocket diary, 1891
Box 24Folder 5
Pocket diary, 1892
Box 24Folder 5
Pocket diary, 1893
Box 24Folder 5
Pocket diary, 1894
Box 24Folder 6
Diary of Lucretia Goddard Gould, 17 Aug. 1848-19 Apr. 1854, with gaps

B. Harvard Church volumes, 1840-1873

This subseries consists of volumes related to the Harvard Church in Charlestown, Mass., where Ellis preached from 1840 to 1869. Included are two lists of pew owners, records of the Ministry at Large, 16 small paperbound volumes documenting Ellis's visits to members of the parish, and an undated list of parish members with some annotations.

Box 25Folder 1
Pew owners list, 1840
Vol. 1
Records of the Ministry at Large, Charlestown, 1846-1873

This volume contains meeting minutes and reports of the Harvard Church Ministry at Large. Nathaniel S. Folsom was appointed minister at large in 1846, and Oliver C. Everett succeeded him in 1850.

Box 25Folder 2
Pew owners list, 1850s?
Box 25Folder 3
Parish calls, to 1851
Box 25Folder 4
Parish calls, 1856
Box 25Folder 5
Parish calls, 1857
Box 25Folder 6
Parish calls, 1858-1859
Box 25Folder 7
Parish calls, 1860
Box 25Folder 8
Parish calls, 1861-1862
Box 25Folder 9
Parish calls, 1863
Box 25Folder 10
Parish calls, 1864
Box 25Folder 11
Parish calls, 1865
Box 25Folder 12
Parish calls, 1866
Box 25Folder 13
Parish calls, 1867
Box 25Folder 14
Parish calls, 1868
Box 25Folder 15
Parish calls, undated
Box 25Folder 16
Parish calls, undated
Box 25Folder 17
Parish calls, undated
Box 25Folder 18
Parish calls, undated
Box 25Folder 19
List of parish members, undated

C. Financial volumes, 1836-1894

Box 26Folder 1
"Accounts Receipts & Expenditures after leaving the Divinity School - Cambridge July 20, 1836," 1836-1857
Box 26Folder 2
Expenses and receipts on a trip to Europe, 1838-1839, with additional receipts, 1848-1850
Box 26Folder 3
"Charity Fund," list of gifts, 1840-1847
Box 26Folder 4
"Marriage Fees received in Charlestown by me," 1840-1869
Box 26Folder 5
Accounts of the Teachers' Library, 1841-1849
Box 26Folder 6
"Expenses of John Harvard Ellis," 1858-1869
Box 26Folder 7
Personal accounts, 1860-1869
Box 26Folder 8
Louisa Goddard (Gould) Ellis accounts, 1863-1870
Box 26Folder 9
Personal accounts, 1876-1886
Box 26Folder 10
Personal accounts, 1879-1894, with miscellaneous memoranda

D. School notebooks, 1830s-1860

Box 27Folder 1
"Common Place Book of English Literature &c.," ca. 1830s
Box 27Folder 2
Notes on religion, ca. 1830s
Box 27Folder 3
Notes on prophesy, ca. 1830s
Box 27Folder 4
"Elementa Arabica," notes on Arabic linguistics, ca. 1830s
Box 27Folder 5
"Communes Loci," notes on Dr. Ware's lectures, 1833
Box 27Folder 6
Theological common-place book, with printed index, 1833
Box 27Folder 7
Notes on philosophy and religion, 1834
Box 28Folder 1
Notebook for religion courses, ca. 1835
Box 28Folder 2
Notebook for religion courses, ca. 1835
Box 28Folder 3
"Observations on the Old Testament Scriptures," 1835
Box 28Folder 4
"Records of the Theological Class of 1836," 1836-1860

This volume contains records of meetings of class members after graduation, details of their ordinations, and printed matter.

E. Scrapbooks, 1819-1893

Vol. 2
Harvard College scrapbook, including school bills, printed matter, and letters, 1819-1889
Vol. 3
European scrapbook of letters, receipts, printed matter, 1838-1839
Vol. 4
"Gatherings," scrapbook of clippings and letters on various subjects, including printed addresses and articles by Ellis, 1843-1892
Vol. 5
Scrapbook of clippings on various subjects, including printed addresses and articles by Ellis, 1848-1867
Vol. 6
Scrapbook on the John Harvard statue, including letters, clippings, printed material, and photographs of the statue, 1883-1893

F. Inventories, undated and 1895

Box 28Folder 5
"Catalogue of the Books in my Library," undated
Box 29Folder 1
Inventory of library (1 of 6), undated
Box 29Folder 2
Inventory of library (2 of 6), undated
Box 29Folder 3
Inventory of library (3 of 6), undated
Box 29Folder 4
Inventory of library (4 of 6), undated
Box 29Folder 5
Inventory of library (5 of 6), undated
Box 29Folder 6
Inventory of library (6 of 6), undated
Box 29Folder 7
Inventory of furniture, etc., 110 Marlboro St., 1895
Box 29Folder 8
Inventory of pictures, busts, etc., 110 Marlboro St., 1895
Box 29Folder 9
Inventory of silver, 110 Marlboro St., 1895

G. Printed volumes, 1844-1895

Vol. 7
Memoir of Jared Sparks, LL.D., by George E. Ellis, 1869, with letters of Jared Sparks and others and a manuscript memorial by Ellis pasted in, 1844-1888
Vol. 8
Memoir of Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, with Notices of His Daughter, by George E. Ellis, 1871, with letters, printed matter, and photographs bound in, 1870-1883
Vol. 9
Celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the Evacuation of Boston by the British Army, March 17th, 1776, by George E. Ellis, 1876, with letters and printed matter pasted in, 1876
Vol. 10
Biographical and Historical Papers by George E. Ellis, 1880-1881 and undated [printed works bound into a volume]
Vol. 11
Memoir of George E. Ellis, D.D., LL.D., by O. B. Frothingham, 1895 [page proofs glued into a scrapbook]

H. Miscellaneous volumes, 1830s-1870

Vol. 12
"La Vie et Mort d'Olivier Cromwel Dernier Usurpateur," undated

This manuscript volume, written in French in an unidentified hand and bound in vellum, was purchased by Ellis from a dealer, ca. 1873.

Box 29Folder 10
Writings on Hebrew literature, undated
Box 29Folder 11
List of sermons, undated
Box 29Folder 12
List of sermons, undated
Box 29Folder 13
Index of sermons, undated
Box 29Folder 14
Transcriptions from Massachusetts records regarding Quakers, undated
Box 29Folder 15
List of Sunday School teachers and students at Dr. Young's Church, [1830s]

Included are Theodore Parker, Lydia Cabot, L. A. Ellis (probably George E. Ellis's sister Lucy), and George's first wife Elizabeth B. Eager.

Box 30Folder 1
"Remarks made on a visit to Europe," by Ezra Stiles Gannett, 1838 [draft]
Box 30Folder 2
Records of the Harvard Theological School, 1857-1863

This volume contains meeting minutes kept by Ellis during his tenure as Professor of Systematic Theology, as well as subjects of lectures and discussions.

Box 30Folder 3
Genealogical material, by John H. Ellis, 1862-1869

This volume of George E. Ellis's son John contains a genealogy of the Rogers family, a biography of Sarah (Rogers) Ellis, a copy of the will of David Ellis, and other material.

Box 30Folder 4
"Sketches of the Late Count Rumford," 1870

The full title reads: "Sketches of the Late Count Rumford; mostly of which not before published. This collection begun and finished in 1851 at Concord New Hampshire, by his Daughter. Copied at the request of Mr. Joseph B. Walker, by Emma G. Burgum the 5th February 1870." Included is a biography and copies of correspondence.

Preferred Citation

George E. Ellis 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.

Persons:

Ellis family--Genealogy.
Ellis, John Harvard, 1841-1870.
Ellis, Lucretia Goddard Gould, 1831-1869.
Rogers family--Genealogy.
Rumford, Benjamin, Graf von, 1753-1814.
Webster, George Washington, 1823-1872.

Organizations:

Harvard Church (Charlestown, Boston, Mass.).
Harvard University--Faculty.
Harvard University--Students.
Massachusetts Historical Society.
New South Church (Boston, Mass.).

Subjects:

Commonplace-books.
Europe--Description and travel--1800-1918.
Historians--Massachusetts--Boston.
History--Research.
Lectures and lecturing--Massachusetts--Boston.
Libraries--Massachusetts--Boston.
Private libraries.
Quakers--Massachusetts.
Scrapbooks.
Sermons.
Unitarian churches--Clergy.
Voyages and travels--Diaries.
Women's diaries.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Ellis family photographs (Photo. Coll. 500.43).