Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of papers relating to Henry Adams, his wife, Marian (Hooper) Adams, and his niece, Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron. The bulk of the collection consists of family correspondence, 1848-1918. Other materials in the collection include property plans outlining the land owned by Henry Adams in Beverly, Mass., and genealogical information about the Adams and Quincy families.

Biographical Sketches

Henry Adams

Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918) was the son of Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886) and Abigail (Brooks) Adams (1808-1889), the grandson of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), and the great grandson of John Adams (1735-1826). Henry Adams (HA) was a journalist, professor, historian, and political observer. From 1860-68, HA worked for his father as a secretary and accompanied him to Europe. HA was a professor at Harvard College between 1870-77, and then moved to Washington, D.C., although he continued to maintain a house in Beverly, Mass. HA married Marian Hooper in 1872 (see below for brief biographical information about her); they had no children. Throughout his life, HA traveled extensively and spent time in Europe, Egypt, Japan, Cuba, and the South Seas. His books include: History of the United States, vols. 1-9, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, and The Education of Henry Adams.

Marian (Hooper) Adams

Marian "Clover" Hooper (1843-1885) was the daughter of Dr. Robert William Hooper (1810-1885) and Ellen (Sturgis) Hooper (1812-1848). She grew up in Boston, was educated with other girls at the school run by Elizabeth and Louis Agassiz in their home in Cambridge, Mass., and married Henry Adams in 1872. Marian (Hooper) Adams (MHA) was a noted photographer and, with her husband, was active in Washington, D. C. social circles. MHA died by suicide on 7 December 1885. Henry Adams commissioned Augustus Saint Gaudens to make the memorial that marks her grave at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron

Louisa "Looly" or "Loulie" Chapin Hooper (1874-1975) was the second of five daughters of Edward William Hooper (1839-1901) (Marian Hooper's brother) and Fanny (Chapin) Hooper (1844-1881). A niece of Marian and Henry Adams, she was close to them and corresponded frequently with her uncle. On 2 October 1915, she married Ward Thoron (1867-1938), a Washington, D.C. lawyer, and later the treasurer of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. (It was Ward Thoron's second marriage; he married Ellen Warder in 1893, but they divorced in 1911.) He corresponded regularly with Henry Adams and also undertook assignments and research for him.

Theodore F. Dwight

Theodore F. Dwight (1846-1917) worked in the library of the U.S. State Department. He first met Henry Adams around 1880 when he helped Adams locate documents required for his research projects. In December 1885, Dwight became Henry Adams's secretary and assistant. In 1888, Dwight resigned from his position at the State Department and began cataloging the Adams family's library and papers. In 1892, Dwight became head of the Boston Public Library.


The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) library holds the following materials containing more detailed information about Henry Adams:

Chalfant, Edward. Both Sides of the Ocean: A Biography of Henry Adams, His First Life, 1838-1862. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1982.

Chalfant, Edward. Better in Darkness: A Biography of Henry Adams: His Second Life, 1862-1891. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1982.

Samuels, Ernest. The Young Henry Adams. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1948.

Samuels, Ernest. Henry Adams: The Middle Years. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1958.

Samuels, Ernest. Henry Adams: The Major Phase. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1964.

Collection Description

The collection is housed in 8 boxes (one is oversize) and contains family papers relating to Henry Adams, his wife, Marian (Hooper) Adams, and his niece, Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron. The collection is arranged in eight series: Henry Adams Papers, Marian (Hooper) Adams Papers, Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron Papers, Genealogy, Adams Memorial, Theodore F. Dwight Commonplace-book, Diplomats and Secretaries of Foreign Missions in Washington, D.C.; and Watercolors.

The bulk of the collection consists of family correspondence, 1848-1918. Henry Adams was a prolific correspondent and his papers include letters sent to his brother-in-law, Edward Hooper, his niece, Louisa Hooper, and Ward Thoron (who eventually married his niece). Many of these letters were written from his home in Washington, D.C. or from England and France and include comments about his activities, various individuals including his friends and political figures, and current research projects. The letters written by Henry Adams are included in J. C. Levenson and others, eds., The Letters of Henry Adams, 6 vols. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1982-88) or are listed in "The Calendar of Omitted Letters" in vol. 6 of that publication. The correspondence of Marian (Hooper) Adams includes some letters she wrote to her sister when both were girls in 1853/54, and when they were older, 1860-72, letters she wrote to her friend, Fanny Chapin, who eventually became her sister-in-law, and some Hooper family correspondence from 1848-61. The correspondence of Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron, 1918-66, includes exchanges with editors, biographers, and archivists interested in her uncle and his papers.

The collection also includes two items written by Henry Adams: an address he delivered to his Harvard classmates in 1858, and the poem, "Radical Club," published with the by-line, "An Atom," but probably written by Henry Adams. Records relating to the Adams Memorial, to Marian "Clover" Adams, located in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C., include correspondence and plans (1962-92) concerning the redesign of the landscaping near the memorial.

Other materials in the collection are: plans (1884-86) to Henry Adams's property in Beverly, Mass., genealogical information about the Adams and Quincy families, a commonplace-book (1877-1908) kept by Theodore F. Dwight, Henry Adams's assistant, and two watercolors probably painted by Henry Adams.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to the MHS by Faith Thoron (Mrs. Robert) Knapp, the daughter of Ward and Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron, in 1998. This collection is comprised of materials new to the MHS, as well as materials that had been placed on closed deposit at the MHS in 1977. The literary rights were conveyed by the heirs of Faith T. Knapp in March 2009.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Henry Adams papers, 1858-1918

A. Correspondence, 1861-1918

This subseries is comprised of correspondence between Henry Adams and members of his family, in particular Ward Thoron, Louisa C. Hooper, and Edward Hooper (Henry Adams's brother-in-law). The correspondence with Thoron, 1888-1918, includes discussion of Henry Adams's research projects and assignments Thoron was completing. Henry Adams's affectionate letters to his niece, Louisa, 1906-1915, include descriptions of his daily activities; and the correspondence with Edward Hooper, 1894-1900, relates to family and business matters. The letters are arranged in rough chronological order, but Henry Adams did not always include the year (or the month) when he wrote the date.

The four disbound volumes are available on two reels of microfilm, P396, reels 1-2, for use in the Reading Room. Also, all of the letters written by Henry Adams are either published in J. C. Levenson and others, eds., The Letters of Henry Adams, 6 vols., (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1982-1988) or are listed in "The Calendar of Omitted Letters" in vol. 6 of that publication. Please note: the years and/or months assigned to some of the letters by the editors of The Letters of Henry Adams sometimes differ from the handwritten notations (in pencil) about the dates on the original correspondence. (These notations are also visible on the microfilm.) The original correspondence has been removed from the scrapbooks and placed in acid-free folders; item numbers in the upper right corners of the documents indicate their order in the scrapbooks.

Box 1Folder 1
To Henry Adams, from A. S. [Alice Stopford] Greene, n.d.
Box 1Folder 2
From Henry Adams, 1861, 1878.Typescript copies.
Box 1Folder 3
From Henry Adams, 1895-1911.Typescript and manuscript copies.
Box 1Folder 4-10
Letters from Henry Adams to Ward Thoron, August, 1888-April, 1912. (Volume I disbound)

Note: Use microfilm, P-396, Reel 1.

Box 1Folder 11-15
Letters from Henry Adams to Ward Thoron, July 1912-1917.(Volume II disbound)

Note: Use microfilm, P-396, Reel 1.

Box 1Folder 16-25
Letters from Henry Adams to Charles Deane, Edward W. Hooper, Louisa C. Hooper Thoron, and William Sturgis Bigelow, 1867-1915. (Volume III disbound)

Note: Use microfilm, P-396, Reel 1.

Box 2
Letters from Ward Thoron to Henry Adams, 1909- 1918. (Volume IV disbound)

Note: Use microfilm, P-396, Reel 2.

Box 3
Letters from Ward Thoron to Henry Adams, 1909-1918. Photocopies of Volume IV/Box 2.
Box 4Folder 1
Correspondence from National Civil-Service Reform League to Henry Holt and Co. Publishers, regarding proceeds from Democracy, 1885.
Box 4Folder 2
Correspondence from H. C. Lodge to William Endicott about the health of Henry Adams, 1912.

B. Writings and related materials, 1858-1876

This subseries consists of a manuscript copy of an address Henry Adams gave to his Harvard classmates in 1858, and a printed poem, "Radical Club," that was published in 1875-76 and authored by "An Atom," probably Henry Adams.

Box 4Folder 3
Address to Harvard classmates, 1858.
Box 4Folder 4
"Radical Club," [poem probably by Henry Adams], [1875-76].2 copies, one annotated by Louisa C. Hooper Thoron.
OS Box 1Folder 1
Radical Club newspaper articles from Boston Times, Boston Index, and New York Daily Tribune, 1874-76. Negative photostats.

C. Legal and financial papers, 1908-1918

This subseries includes Henry Adams's will and codicil, and summary financial statements listing investments, receipts, and payments.

Box 4Folder 5
Copy of will, 1908; codicil, 1915.
Box 4Folder 6
Financial statements, 1913, 1914, 1916-18 .

D. Appointment book and miscellaneous, 1880

Box 4Folder 7
Appointment book, 1880.
Box 4Folder 8

E. Plans and surveys of property and real estate, 1884-1886

This subseries consists of two plans depicting Henry Adams's property and adjacent landowners in Beverly, Mass., and photostat copies of architectural drawings of Henry Adams's house in Washington D.C. designed by H. H. Richardson.

OS Box 1Folder 2
"Plan of land [of] T. K. Lothrop and Others Situated in Beverly, [Mass.]; surveyed by G.A. Haskell," copied by W.F. Merrill, January 27, 1886.
OS Box 1Folder 2
Pencil sketch, Adams property plan, n.d.

Includes lands purchased from Perry in 1875; J. E. Cabot in 1878, and T. K. Lothrop in 1884.

OS Box 1Folder 3
Architectural drawings, house designed by H. H. Richardson for Henry Adams, Washington, D.C., n.d.Photostat copies of plans, sections, and elevations.12 pp.

II. Marian "Clover" (Hooper) Adams papers, 1844-1885

This series includes family correspondence between Marian (Hooper) Adams and her sister, Ellen "Nella" Sturgis Hooper, her father, and her friend, Fanny Chapin, who later married Marian's brother Edward. This series also includes a manuscript copy of a story Marian Hooper Adams sent to her father about her dog's encounter with the dog catcher, written from Boojum's point of view. Hooper family papers include correspondence between Mary Sturgis (Marian's aunt) to Ellen Hooper (Marian's mother), and Edward Hooper (Marian's brother) to his father, Robert William Hooper.

A. Correspondence, 1853/4-1885

Box 4Folder 9-14

B. Writings: "Boojum's Adventures" (original manuscript), 1879

Box 4Folder 15

C. Financial materials: Check stubs, 1876-77

Box 4Folder 16

D. Memoranda notebook and miscellaneous, 1871-72

Box 4Folder 17
Memoranda notebook (small), [1872].

Inscribed: "Marian Hooper for S.B. Shard, 3 June 1872."

Box 4Folder 18
Miscellaneous, cover of publication, that belonged to "Clover Hooper," 1871.

E. Hooper family papers, 1844-61

Box 4Folder 19
Hooper family correspondence, 1848, 1861.
Box 4Folder 20
[Hooper family?], account of the death of "Robert," 1844.

III. Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron papers, 1918-1966

A. Correspondence, 1918-1966

This subseries consists of family correspondence (including a letter to Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, first cousin of Marian (Hooper) Adams, written by Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron in 1918 after Henry Adams's death, thanking him for submitting obituary notices) and correspondence with Harvard University regarding several donations of books and manuscripts relating to Henry Adams. Also included in this series are typescript copies of Hooper family correspondence. Thoron's correspondence with authors and editors of books about Henry Adams include letters to and from Ernest Samuels and one of the editors of the second volume of the Letters of Henry Adams.

Box 4Folder 21
Postcard, n.d.
Box 4Folder 22
From Rebecca [Dodge] Rae, n.d.
Box 4Folder 23
Box 4Folder 24
To and from Harvard University Library, regarding manuscript donations, 1941-1966.
Box 4Folder 25
From Francis B. Lothrop, 1965; includes typescripts of Hooper family letters, 1857-1865.
Box 4Folder 26
To and from authors and editors of books about Henry Adams, 1938-1966.

B. Gift agreements to the Massachusetts Historical Society, ca.1955

Box 5Folder 1

C. Biographical notes about Henry Adams, 1934

This subseries contains biographical notes and chronology relating to Henry Adams and includes many of Louisa's memories and observations about her uncle, as well as a timeline based on printed and manuscript sources.

Box 5Folder 2

D. Publication materials, 1935-1938

The publication materials relating to The Letters of Mrs. Henry Adams, edited by Ward Thoron, consist of research notes, manuscript copies of letters, the outline and production notes relating to the publication, correspondence with the publisher and a financial report about the book.

Box 5Folder 3-4

IV. Genealogy, n.d., 1935

This manuscript genealogy traces the Adams and Brooks families from the mid-seventeenth century to the early-nineteenth century. Also included is a letter from Elizabeth Ogden Adams (a daughter of Charles Francis Adams, Jr., and niece of Henry Adams) to Louisa C. (Hooper) Thoron.

Box 5Folder 5

V. Adams Memorial, 1962-1992

This series consists of blueprints and plans, correspondence, and clippings relating to the Adams Memorial marking the site in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C. where Marian (Hooper) Adams and Henry Adams are buried. Henry Adams commissioned Augustus Saint Gaudens to design the memorial after Marion Hooper Adams's death in 1885 and it was finished in 1891. The materials in this series document the family's efforts to work with landscape architects to redesign the area surrounding the memorial in 1967.

Box 5Folder 6
Correspondence and clippings, 1962-1992.
OS Box 1Folder 4
"A Guide to Notable Internments Rock Creek Cemetery," [Washington, D.C.], n.d.Printed map.
OS Box 1Folder 4
Landscape plan, Adams Memorial. Rock Creek Cemetery, [Washington D.C.], n.d. 1 plan.Architect unknown.
OS Box 1Folder 4
Landscape plans, "Redesign of Landscaping. The Adams Memorial, Rock Creek Cemetery, [Washington] D.C.," 1969.Created by Edmunds and Hitchcock Landscape Architects.2 plans.
OSFolder 4
Blueprints, "Curbs and Steps for the Adams Memorial, Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.," 1969.Created by Edmunds and Hitchcock Landscape Architects.4 plans.Blueprints are rolled.

VI. Theodore F. Dwight commonplace-book, 1877-1908

Commonplace-book includes poetry, quotations, and memorabilia assembled by Dwight between 1877 and 1908. Also includes sketches of room layouts showing the locations of paintings and prints in Henry Adams's study in his Washington, D.C. residence as of June 1885. The entries are arranged in rough alphabetical order by author or subject.

Note: Use microfilm, P-396, reel 3.

Box 6

VII. Diplomats and Secretaries of Foreign Missions in Washington, D.C., 1877-1935

Two volumes listing Washington, D.C. officials. The volume, "Diplomats, Washington, D.C., 1877-1899," contains photostat copies of typescript listing diplomats to the United States, arranged alphabetically by country of origin. The volume, "Secretaries of Foreign Missions in Washington, D.C., 1877-1899," contains a typescript listing officials by country and then by year, and two letters, 1935, to William C. Endicott regarding specific officials and this list of secretaries.

Box 7Folder 1
"Diplomats - Washington, D.C., 1877-1899."
Box 7Folder 2
"Secretaries of Foreign Missions in Washington, D.C., 1877-1899."

VIII. Watercolor drawings, ca. 1879-1891

Two watercolor drawings probably by Henry Adams. One depicts a native, probably Tahitian, and was drawn during Henry Adams's travels in the South Seas, ca. 1891, and the other depicts Furness Abbey, ca. 1879.

Box 7Folder 3
Tahiti?, ca. 1891.Probably by Henry Adams.
Box 7Folder 4
Furness? Abbey, ca. 1879.Probably by Henry Adams.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs Removed

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Adams-Thoron photographs, ca. 1861-1914. Photo. Coll. 42.

Printed Materials Removed

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

Museum Objects Removed from the Collection

The following artifacts have been removed from the Adams-Thoron papers and have been placed in the Society's museum collection:

Bouquet holder, silver, belonged to Marian "Clover" (Hooper) Adams in a small brocade covered box. Label inside cover of box: "Cutshing (sic) Gold & Silver Smith, New Street, No. 8."

Copper plate, bookplate with family crest and slogan, "Humani Bona Animi," and name below, "Henry Brooks Adams."

Preferred Citation

Adams-Thoron 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.


Adams family--Genealogy.
Quincy family--Genealogy.
Adams, Henry, 1838-1918.
Adams, Marian, 1843-1885.
Dwight, Theodore Frelinghuysen, 1846-1917.
Thoron, Louisa C. Hooper, 1874-1975.
Thoron, Ward, 1867-1938.
Adams family.
Hooper family.


Radical Club.
Rock Creek Cemetery (Washington, D.C.)


Family history--1850-1899.
Family history--1900-1949.
Historians--United States--Correspondence.
Real property--Massachusetts--Beverly.
Washington (D.C.)--Social life and customs.