Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


The collection consists of correspondence, receipts, and ephemera related to members of the Minot, Rackemann, Wigglesworth and Sedgwick families, 1763-1988.

Biographical Sketches

Individuals most heavily represented in the collection:

Louisa Davis Minot (1788-1858)

Louisa was born on 10 May 1788 to Daniel Davis and Lois Freeman. She married William Minot in 1810 and together they had five children: Mary, George Richards, William, Francis and Julia. For thirty years, she was president of the Bethesda Society and of the Franklin Infant School. In addition, she wrote in periodicals, painted, and taught drawing in public schools. She died on 21 January 1858.

William Minot II (1817-1894)

William was born on 7 April 1817 to William Minot and Louisa Davis. He married Katharine Maria Sedgwick, daughter of Charles Sedgwick and Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight, in 1842 and together they had seven children: Jane Sedgwick, Alice, William, Charles Sedgwick, Robert Sedgwick, Henry and Laurence. He died on 26 February 1894.

Francis Minot (1821-1899)

Francis was born on 12 April 1821 to William Minot and Louisa Davis. He graduated from Harvard University in 1841 and attended medical school on Mason Street, Boston. In 1859 he was elected visiting physician to the Massachusetts General Hospital, and later became consulting physician. Francis married Sarah Parkman Blake on 16 February 1861 and together they had one child, Julia, born 1 December 1863. He remained a consulting physician until his death on 11 May 1899.

Sarah Parkman Blake Minot (1833-1869)

Sarah was born on 19 June 1833 to Samuel Parkman Blake and Anne Boylston (Cunningham) Blake of Roxbury. She married Francis Minot on 16 February 1861 and had one daughter Julia. She died on 10 February 1869.

Julia Minot (1823-1875)

Julia was born on 23 January 1823 to William and Louisa Davis Minot. For many years she was an invalid and died on 22 March 1875, unmarried.

Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867)

Catharine Maria was born on 28 December 1789 to Theodore Sedgwick and Pamela Dwight, in Stockbridge. She shared a close relationship with her brothers Theodore II, Henry Dwight, Robert and Charles. She eventually became one of America's most popular authors producing novels such as Redwood (1824) and Hope Leslie (1827). She remained unmarried until her death on 31 July 1867.

Elizabeth Dwight Sedgwick Rackemann (1826-1891)

Elizabeth was born on 15 July 1826, the third child of Charles Sedgwick and Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight. On 20 June 1855 she married Frederick William Rackemann, son of Daniel Rackemann and Philippine Florentine (Marianne) Rackemann of Bremen, Germany. They had six children between 1857 and 1868: Charles Sedgwick, Frederick William, Felix, Elizabeth Sedgwick, Louise Sedgwick and Wilfred Rackemann. Frederick Rackemann died 16 August 1884 and Elizabeth on 24 September 1891.

Fanny Pomeroy Rackemann (b.1856)

Fanny was born on 6 December 1856 to Theodore Sedgwick Pomeroy and Isabella Low. She married Charles Sedgwick Rackemann, however her marriage and death date are unknown.

Charles Sedgwick Rackemann (1857-1933)

Charles was born on 21 June 1857 to Frederick William Rackemann and Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann. He became an prominent attorney in Boston, becoming senior partner of the firm, Rackemann, Sawyer and Brewster. On 27 June 1900 he married Fanny Pomeroy, who was his third cousin. He died on 29 March 1933 and left no children.

Felix Rackemann (1861-1934)

Felix was born on 17 June 1861 in Lenox to Frederick William Rackemann of Bremen, Germany and Elizabeth Dwight Sedgwick Rackemann. He studied in the office of Francis V. Balch, entered Harvard Law School on 28 September 1882, left in 1883 and completed his studies in the office of Isham and Lincoln, Chicago. He was admitted to the Bar of Illinois in 1885 and the Massachusetts Bar in 1886. On 19 May 1886, he married Julia Minot, daughter of Francis Minot and Sarah Parkman Blake. They built a large house at 1065 Brush Hill Road, Milton where they raised their children: Francis, Elizabeth Sedgwick and Sarah Parkman. He began in Boston as a member of the firm Balch and Rackemann, later Dunbar, Rackemann and Brewster and then Dunbar and Rackemann. He also argued before the United States District Court and the U. S. Supreme Court.

Elizabeth Sedgwick Rackemann I (1863-1924)

Elizabeth was born on 25 July 1863 to Frederick W Rackemann and Elizabeth D. Sedgwick. She died unmarried on 7 January 1924.

Julia Minot Rackemann (1863-1945)

Julia was the only child of Francis Minot and Sarah Parkman Blake, born on 1 December 1863. She married Felix Rackemann on 19 May 1886 and they had three children: Francis Minot, Elizabeth Sedgwick and Sarah Parkman. She died in Milton, Massachusetts in 19 April 1945.

Edward Wigglesworth (1885-1945)

Edward was born on 3 November 1885 to Edward Wigglesworth and Sarah Frothingham Johonnot. He graduated from Harvard University in 1908 and on 15 June 1914 married Sarah Parkman Rackemann. They had six children (see Sarah Parkman Rackemann Wigglesworth).

Francis Minot Rackemann (1887-1973)

Francis was born on 4 June 1887 to Felix Rackemann and Julia Minot Rackemann in Milton Massachusetts. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1909 and his medical degree in 1912 from Harvard, eventually becoming a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. On 28 April 1917, he married Dorothy Mandell, daughter of William Dutton Mandell and Carrie Braman Mandell, both of Boston. He died in March 1973.

Elizabeth Sedgwick Rackemann II (1890-1897)

Elizabeth was born on 30 March 1890 to Felix Rackemann and Julia Minot Rackemann. She died in Milton, Massachusetts on 9 November 1897.

Sarah Parkman Rackemann Wigglesworth (b. 1892)

Sarah Parkman (known as Sally) was born on 7 July 1892 to Felix Rackemann and Julia Minot Rackemann. She married Edward Wigglesworth on 15 June 1914 and had 6 children, Edward, Thomas, Mary, Jane, Sally and Anne. In the winter they lived at 7 Chestnut Street, Boston and in the summer they occupied a large farm at Topsfield, Massachusetts.


Minot, James Jackson. Ancestors and Descendants of George Richards Minot 1758-1802. [S.l.: s.n.], 1936.

Minot, James Jackson. The Minot Family: Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths 1754-1934.Copied from Family Bibles, 1934.

The Sedgwick Family Website:

Collection Description

The bulk of the collection consists of multi-generational family papers related to members of the Minot, Rackemann, and Wigglesworth families of Boston and Milton, Mass. The correspondence between family members consists primarily of exchanges of news and information about current events as well as reminiscences about the past. The collection is divided into six series: Letters to Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Minot family correspondence, Rackemann family papers, Wigglesworth family receipts and correspondence, Ephemera, and Additions.

The papers provide contextual information about Catharine Maria Sedgwick in a series of letters to Catharine from lifelong friend Louisa Davis, in addition to references to her by other family members. The Minot family correspondence consists of letters between William Minot and his wife Louisa Davis, their children Mary, Francis, and Julia and their grandchild Julia, many written during the family's extensive European travel, particularly to Paris, Edinburgh, London, Florence, and Rome. The Rackemann family correspondence is dominated by writings to Felix Rackemann and his courtship with Julia Minot. The Wigglesworth family papers consist primarily of household receipts and a few family letters. The Ephemera consists of playbills, obituaries and a school report. Additions, added to the collection in 2015, include correspondence, largely that of Francis Minot, Julia Minot Rackemann, and Felix Rackemann; Wigglesworth family genealogical research, and printed material.


Julia Minot, daughter of Francis Minot and Sarah Parkman Blake married Felix Rackemann in 1886, resulting in her place in both the Minot and Rackemann series of correspondence. Correspondence written by Julia as a young, unmarried girl will be found in the Minot series. However, correspondence to or from Julia Minot with a Rackemann family member or after her marriage are filed in the Rackemann series.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mary W. McAdoo (Mrs. Richard B.) of Cambridge, Mass., June 2003.

Additions are gift of Julia McAdoo, July 2013, and Mary MaAdoo, April 2016.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Letters to Catharine Maria Sedgwick, 1824-1850

This series consists primarily of letters from Louisa Davis Minot to her friend and author Catharine Maria Sedgwick. During her 50th birthday celebrations, Louisa recalled to Catharine that when she knew her at fourteen years old she had, "that foretelling face of what you were to be." The writings mainly reflect the events in Louisa's life, however they also touch upon Catharine's, including her trip to Europe in 1839, comparison of her books with others, and the state of her health and anxiety in 1845. In addition to their initial friendship, their paths overlap further with the marriage of Louisa's son William to Catharine's niece, Katharine with whom Sedgwick shared a close relationship; Louisa remarked to Catharine in 1842 that William and Kate's engagement was "springing from our friendship."

Box 1Folder 1-7

II. Minot family correspondence, 1826-1886

The correspondence consists primarily of family news exchanged between immediate and extended family members, including a series of love letters between William Minot and Louisa Davis Minot (1820s) and between their son, Francis Minot and his wife Sarah Parkman Blake. There are also series of letters to Julia Minot from her mother Louisa in the 1840s, letters from Francis Minot to his parents and his sisters, Mary and Julia, while living in Paris, and a series of letters written from Sarah Parkman Blake to her mother in 1856-7 that had been sewn together. Although the letters were separated due to preservation concerns their order has been retained.

The correspondence reflects the amount of family traveling, particularly in Europe and their efforts to meet one another during their travels. In particular, the collection of letters adds much contextual information regarding the author, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, and her writing. Her activities are often discussed, as is the reaction to her presence and the amount of influence she had acquired. In September 1827, William Minot wrote to his wife Louisa about how good it was to be connected to the Sedgwick family and their celebrity. In August 1829 Louisa wrote that William was trusted to take Catharine's manuscript to New York with him.

(Note: It is important to differentiate between Julia Minot, daughter of William Minot and Louisa Davis Minot, and her niece, Julia Minot (daughter of Francis Minot and Sarah Parkman Blake), who later married Felix Rackemann.

For letters from Louisa Davis Minot to Catharine Maria Sedgwick, see Series I.

Box 1Folder 8-24
Correspondence, 1825-1845
Box 2
Correspondence, 1846-1886

III. Rackemann family papers, 1875-1919

A large part of the collection consists of letters from Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann to her son Felix while he studied at Cornell University in the early 1880s, as well as letters to Felix from other family members during the same period. In 1882 Felix wrote to Francis Minot revealing his intentions toward Minot's daughter, Julia. In his reply to the letter (February 1882), Francis expressed his wish that a courtship should not proceed until Felix had plans to marry his daughter. The correspondence continued until Francis sent a letter to Felix over two years later demanding to know if he intended to court Julia. Felix replied immediately that he was not ready to commit to Julia. The collection contains a letter written a few months later, in January 1885, when Julia's grandfather congratulated Felix on his engagement to Julia, they married the following year. There are very few letters between Julia Minot and Felix Rackemann in the collection.

In addition there are two journals written by various members of the Rackemann family from 1904 to 1919. The writings suggest that Julia Minot Rackemann may have written a large proportion of the volumes.

A. Correspondence, 1875-1914

Box 3

B. Bound Volumes, 1904-1919

Vol. I
"The Persians," Journal, 1904-1910(written by Rackemann family)
Vol. II
"The Persians," Journal, 1911-1919 (written by Rackemann family)

IV. Wigglesworth family receipts and correspondence, 1880-1952

One folder contains small collection of letters written to Edward Wigglesworth, Jr. from his mother and to Sarah Parkman Rackemann Wigglesworth from various correspondents, 1914 to 1936, however the majority of papers in this series are receipts for service or purchased household items from 1880 to 1952.

Box 4Folder 1
Correspondence, 1914-1936
Box 4Folder 2-13
Receipts, 1880-1952

V. Ephemera, 1831-1885

This series includes theatre playbills of various productions, some involving the Minots from 1845 to 1854; detailed printed obituaries of Louisa Davis Minot, 1858; a discourse given at the funeral of Sarah Blake in 1847; and Sarah Parkman Blake's 1847 school report.

Empty envelopes mainly addressed to Felix Rackemann have also been kept with this series.

Box 4Folder 14-17

VI. Additions, 1763-1988

The bulk of this series, added to the Minot-Rackemann family papers in 2015and 2016, consists of correspondence between members of the Minot, Rackemann, and Wigglesworth families. Also included are legal and financial papers, genealogical papers related to the Wigglesworth family, and printed material.

A. Correspondence, 1763-1923

Arranged chronologically. Undated letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent when identified.

This subseries contains correspondence written between members of the extended Minot and Rackemann families, primarily that of Louisa Davis Minot with her husband, William Minot, her sister-in-law, Jane Minot Sedgwick, and her daughter, Julia Minot (1823-1875), from 1826 to 1846. Large written from Stockbridge and Boston, the letters discuss the daily life, travels, and activities of the Minot and Sedgwick families.

The correspondence of Francis Minot, his daughter, Julia Minot Rackemann, and Julia's husband, Felix Rackemann, includes well wishes to Sarah Blake upon her 1861 engagement to Francis Minot; courtship letters between Julia Minot and Felix Rackemann; condolences to Julia Minot Rackemann upon the death of her father in 1899; and activities of daily life in Boston and Milton, Mass. Travel letters by Francis Minot and other family members describe impressions of Paris, Edinburgh, London, Rome, Florence, and Berlin, as well as locations throughout the continental United States. Other correspondents include Sarah Parkman Blake Minot, Mary Minot, Louisa Lee, Elizabeth Dwight Sedgwick Rackemann, Charles Sedgwick Rackemann, Henry Dwight Sedgwick, and Sarah "Sally" Parkman Rackemann Wigglesworth. A small amount of non-family correspondence is also within the subseries, including several letters to Felix Rackemann written in German.

Box 5
Box 6Folders 1-3
Box 6Folders 4-20

B. Personal papers, 1829-1974

Arranged chronologically.

Material in this subseries pertains to the legal, financial, and social lives of the Minot-Rackemann family. Items include an 1829 ship's passport for Thomas Wigglesworth's ship Emerald on its return from Calcutta; Louisa Davis Minot's 1829 reminiscence about her young daughter, "One of Julia's Sundays;" the 1857 European expense account of Sarah Parkman Blake Minot; a series of three 1894 Pinkerton detective reports about a robbery of the Rackemann home in Milton; the 1932 will of Charles Sedgwick Rackemann; correspondence related to the 1971-1974 distribution of various Wigglesworth family papers; and several invitations and social announcements.

Box 6Folders 21-27

C. Wigglesworth genealogical papers, n.d.

Included are a Wigglesworth family genealogical chart, a newspaper article discussing the ancestry of Edward Wigglesworth (b. 1840), and a narrative genealogy of the Wigglesworth family.

Box 6Folders 28-29

D. Printed material, 1763-1988

Arranged chronologically.

Included in this subseries is The Doctrine of Reprobation, a published version of the 1763 Harvard lectures of Edward Wigglesworth (1693-1765), the first Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. Also included is an 1883 playbill from Boston's Park Theatre and a 1988 biography of Sarah Hyde, daughter of Edward Wigglesworth and Sarah Rackemann Wigglesworth, created by her children. The biography contains family reminiscenses and photographs.

Box 6Folders 30-32

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Minot-Rackemann family photographs, ca. 1866-1930. Photo. Coll. 136.

Edward Wigglesworth, Reflections (Boston: George H. Ellis, 1885) has been cataloged and removed to MHS Printed Material.

Preferred Citation

Minot-Rackemann family 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, Francis, 1821-1899.
Minot, Julia, 1823-1875.
Minot, Louisa Davis, 1788-1858.
Minot, Mary, b. 1811.
Minot, Sarah Parkman Blake, 1833-1869.
Minot, William, 1783-1873.
Minot family.
Rackemann, Elizabeth Dwight Sedgwick, 1826-1891
Rackemann, Felix, 1861-1934.
Rackemann, Julia Minot, 1863-1945.
Rackemann family.
Sedgwick, Catharine Maria, 1789-1867.
Sedgwick, Jane Minot, 1795-1859.
Wigglesworth, Edward, b. 1885.
Wigglesworth, Sarah Parkman Rackemann, b. 1892.
Wigglesworth family.


Cornell University.


Family history--1800-1849.
Family history--1850-1899.
Family history--1900-1949.
Boston (Mass.)--Social ife and customs.
Edinburgh (Scotland)-- Description and travel.
Florence (Italy)--Description and travel.
London (England)--Description and travel.
Milton (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
Paris (France)--Description and travel.
Rome (Italy)--Description and travel.