Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists primarily of the personal papers of Unitarian minister Charles Henry Appleton Dall and genealogical information of the related Dall and Healey families, 1662-1957, including scrapbooks and notebooks kept by Charles's wife Caroline Wells Healey Dall.

Biographical Sketches

Mark Healey (1791-1876)

Mark Healey, born in Kensington, N.H., was a merchant and banker. His first financial successes were in shipping and importing, and he served as first president of Merchants' Bank, president of the Atlantic Mutual Fund, and as a railroad director. Healey suffered a financial reversal during the Panic of 1837, leading to his family's bankruptcy, from which they recovered. After converting in early adulthood, Healey was a dedicated adherent of Unitarianism. He was a close confidant of his daughter Caroline.

Caroline Wells Healey Dall (1822-1912)

Caroline Wells Healey Dall was born in Boston, Mass. to Mark Healey (1791-1876) and Caroline Foster Healey (1800-1871). She was the eldest of eight siblings, including four sisters and three brothers. Caroline's sister Marianne Wells Healey (b. 1827) was the third of her family's siblings.

Caroline's father took great interest in her schooling, and she was well-educated in private schools and by tutors. Following a temporary financial reversal that led to the Healey family bankruptcy in 1837, Caroline became a teacher, and she was vice-principal at Miss English's School for Young Ladies in Georgetown, D.C. from 1842 to 1844. She was active in the Unitarian Church, and shared religious interests led to her marriage in 1844 to minister Charles Henry Appleton Dall. They had two children, William Healey Dall (1845-1927) and Sarah Keene Dall (b. 1849), and they lived in Baltimore, Md.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Needham, Mass.; and Toronto as Charles served various parishes. The marriage was troubled, and in 1855, Charles became a Unitarian minister-at-large in India, and Caroline and their children remained in Boston.

In addition to her activity in the Unitarian community, Caroline also became interested in transcendentalism and the ideas of Margaret Fuller in the 1840s. She wrote Essays and Sketches (addressing Christian themes) in 1849 and became a women's rights activist and a more prolific writer after Charles's move to India, relying in large part upon her lecturing and writing to support herself and her family. Perhaps the most influential of her many books is The College, the Market, and the Court; or Woman's Relation to Education, Labor, and Law (1867). Caroline lived in Washington, D.C. with her son William after 1879.

Charles Henry Appleton Dall (1816-1886)

Charles Henry Appleton Dall, a Unitarian minister and missionary, was born in Baltimore, Md. to James Dall, Sr. (1781-1863) and Henrietta Austin Dall (b. 1788). He had seven siblings: James Dall, Jr. (1812-1834), Henrietta A. Dall (b. 1814), William Holley Dall (1817-1824), Austin Dall (1819-1899), Joseph Edward Dall (b. 1823), William Dall (1824-1829), and Maria Louisa Dall (b. 1830).

In 1824, Charles was sent to Boston, where he lived with relatives of his father, for his schooling. Among the relatives close to him during his childhood were John Dall (1797-1852), Sarah K. Dall (1798-1878), and William Dall (1794-1875), siblings of his father. Charles graduated from Harvard College in 1837 and Harvard Divinity School in 1840. In 1841, Charles was ordained a Unitarian evangelist, and he served as a minister-at-large in St. Louis, Mo. from 1840 to 1842, in Baltimore from 1843 to 1845, and in Portsmouth, N.H. in 1846. He served as a pastor in Needham, Mass. from 1847 to 1849 and Toronto from 1850 to 1854.

Charles met with mixed success as a minister, which led, along with his marital difficulties, to his move to Calcutta, India in 1855, where he served as the first and only American Unitarian foreign missionary. He was minister to the European and American Unitarian congregation and founded and directed several schools, but he found difficulty winning converts to Unitarianism. Charles lived in India until his death, visiting the United States in 1862, 1869, 1872, 1875, and 1882.

William Healey Dall (1845-1927)

William Healey Dall was born in Boston to Caroline Wells Healey Dall (1822-1912) and Charles Henry Appleton Dall (1816-1886). He married Annette Whitney in 1880, and they had two sons and one daughter.

Although he did not attend college, William became a noted natural historian, paleontologist, and malacologist. As a teenager, William found mentors in physician and naturalist Augustus A. Gould, Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, and the faculty of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. In 1863, he became a clerk in the land office of the Illinois Central Railway, which led to his appointment in 1865 to the Western Union Telegraph Expedition to Alaska and the Yukon. During his three years of travel, he collected thousands of biological specimens, studied Indigenous languages, and completed the first detailed examination of the resources of the interior of the territory. With his 1870 book Alaska and Its Resources, William was recognized as the nation's leading expert on Alaska. From 1871 to 1884, he worked for the United States Coast Survey, where he directed a scientific survey of the Aleutian Islands and adjacent coasts. Beginning in 1884, he served as paleontologist for the Geological Survey, and he performed research on mollusks at the U.S. National Museum in Washington, D.C. He continued to work in his office at the Smithsonian Institution after his 1923 retirement until his death.


Benjamin, Marcus. "William Healey Dall." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, 2003. Available at:

"Caroline Wells (Healey) Dall." Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2003. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, 2003. Available at:

"Caroline Wells Healey Dall." Feminist Writers. Detroit, Mich.: St. James Press, 1996. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, 2003. Available at:

"Dall, Caroline Wells Healey." American Reformers. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1985. Reproduced in Wilson Biographies Plus Online. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2003.

Genzmer, George H. "Caroline Wells Healey Dall." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, 2003. Available at:

Rose, Anne C. "Dall, Caroline Wells Healey." American National Biography, vol. 6. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. pp. 26-27.

Schneider, Robert A. "Dall, Charles Henry Appleton." American National Biography, vol. 6. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. pp. 27-29.

Thomas, Phillip Drennon. "Dall, William Healey." American National Biography, vol. 6. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. pp. 29-30.

Collection Description

The Dall-Healey family papers comprise two boxes and four bound volumes of material originating from 1633 to ca. 1957. The collection is divided into two series relating to the Dall and Healey families: personal papers and genealogical material.

The Dall-Healey family personal papers include personal papers of Charles Henry Appleton Dall, a diary kept by Caroline Wells Healey Dall's sister Marianne W. Healey, a scrapbook of newspaper clippings compiled by an unknown creator, and a letter from Alexander Graham Bell concerning a subscription banquet for William Healey Dall.

The Charles Henry Appleton Dall personal papers include a number of diaries and recollections (some informal) from his childhood through the beginning of his married and professional life, as well as correspondence received by Charles from relatives, mostly from immediate family in Baltimore when he was away in Boston for primary school and from extended family in Boston after he left the city to pursue his religious career. The papers document Charles's childhood and youth, in particular his education in Boston primary and secondary schools from 1824 to 1833, at Harvard College from 1833 to 1837, and at Harvard Divinity School from 1837 to 1840, as well as his deliberations on selecting a profession. The papers provide limited documentation of Charles's marriage to Caroline Wells Healey Dall.

The Marianne W. Healey diary, kept in 1849-1850 when she was living with her family near Boston, provides a brief window onto the young woman's daily life. Of special interest is the record of Marianne W. Healey's experience of a lengthy illness. Caroline Wells Healey Dall is briefly mentioned several times in the diary.

A few 1861 letters from William Dall, uncle of Charles, document perceptions of the Civil War. Isolated items also shed light on race and ethnicity in 19th-century America; see in particular newspaper clippings in the scrapbook, as well as undated recollections (ca. 1836) by Charles recalling a number of people enslaved by the Dall family.

Genealogical material includes a number of genealogical scrapbooks and notebooks kept by Caroline Wells Healey Dall, as well as loose letters, notes, and documents. The scrapbooks contain original family papers (such as deeds, a will, and property and court documents) annotated by Caroline Wells Healey Dall for her genealogical work; correspondence; and newspaper clippings. The notebooks record ancestry and marriages, births, and deaths. One of the notebooks includes a few pages of autobiographical narrative by Caroline Wells Healey Dall's father Mark Healey. Other than these genealogical items, the papers do not directly record the life of Caroline Wells Healey Dall.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Whitney and Barbara K. Dall, June 2002.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Dall and Healey family personal papers

This series is divided into three subseries, including the papers of Charles Henry Appleton Dall, a diary kept by Marianne W. Healey that was later used as a scrapbook of newspaper clippings, and a letter from Alexander Graham Bell responding to an invitation to a subscription banquet for William Healey Dall.

A. Charles Henry Appleton Dall papers, 1824-1902

This subseries includes personal papers of Charles Henry Appleton Dall from two disbound volumes entitled C.H.A. Dall Journals, 1831-1840 and C.H.A. Dall Letters, 1835 to 1861. The volumes were presumably bound by a Dall family member some years after Charles's death and were disbound because the binding obscured text of some of the journals and letters.

The volume of journals contained several gatherings of diaries and other recollections written by Charles from childhood through his early years of marriage. These include a sketch of an 1831 journey from Boston to Baltimore; a very brief (three-page) journal entry from 1833, when Charles was between secondary school and college; an 1836 "Account of Saturdays"; a diary kept irregularly from 1836 to 1838 documenting college years; a draft of a short autobiographical sketch; and notes on Charles's earliest memories of childhood, undated but written in his early twenties. Also included was a draft of a letter written to an uncle in 1835.

The travel sketch describes Charles's first visit home in 1831 after seven years of schooling in Boston, a journey taken with his uncle John Dall. The account narrates their travels by stagecoach and steamer and impressions of time spent in New York and Philadelphia. In 1849, Charles copied at the end of this sketch a set of notes he had taken during the Baltimore visit. These notes recount a visit to Washington, D.C., a ride on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and visits with friends and family. The 1833 journal documents Charles's school life. The 1836 "Account of Saturdays" focuses on Charles's life outside the Harvard College classroom. The 1836-1838 journal records Charles's academic and social life at Harvard College, his decision about pursuing a career in divinity, academic and social life, and early experiences at Harvard Divinity School. Charles also expresses his opinions on temperance, evaluates his education at Harvard College, and reports on lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The autobiographical sketch, written for the Harvard College classbook, covers his earliest recollections, his years in primary school, and his years at Harvard College. The undated recollections written in Charles's early twenties include his earliest recollections, focusing on his memories of a number of people enslaved by his family (including his nurse maid), his family life, and dreams.

The 1835 draft of a letter replies to a letter from an unnamed uncle (perhaps Charles Austin, whose January 1835 letter to Charles is bound in the correspondence volume) that discusses Charles's decision between careers in law or in the ministry. The draft drifts into a retort to a letter from his father, James Dall, Sr., urging Charles against the religious vocation.

The correspondence that was assembled in the bound volume consists primarily of letters received by Charles from family members from 1824 through 1861. The volume has been disbound and the letters organized by correspondent, but the bound order may be discerned from page numbers that were written in the upper right corner.

Charles's father James Dall, Sr., mother Henrietta Austin Dall, sister Henrietta A. Dall, brother James Dall, Jr., and brother Austin Dall wrote Charles numerous letters when he was away in Boston for his primary schooling (the bulk of the letters are from Charles's father). In these letters, dated 1824-1827, the correspondents discuss the decision for Charles to remain in Boston for his education, inquire after his studies, and update him on news of his family in Baltimore.

Most of the letters originating from the period after Charles's 1840 graduation from Harvard Divinity School were written by relatives close to him from his childhood in Boston, including his uncle John Dall, aunt Sarah K. Dall, and uncle William Dall. Additional correspondence includes an 1840 letter from his father James Dall and an 1845 letter from his mother Henrietta Austin Dall. These letters discuss family news, including the 1840 suicide of his uncle Joseph Dall, as well as news of local events and about friends and acquaintances.

1861 letters to Charles in London from his uncle William Dall discuss the Civil War, the secessionist leanings of some family members, and the financial situation of Charles's wife Caroline Wells Healey Dall and their children.

Journals, 1831-1849

Disbound volume.
Box 1Folder 1
Sketch of a journey from Boston to Baltimore and return, 1831, 1849
Box 1Folder 2
Beginning of a journal, August 1833
Box 1Folder 3
Draft of letter, 1835
Box 1Folder 4
Brief undated recollections, [ca. 1836]
Box 1Folder 5
Account of Saturdays, 1836
Box 1Folder 6
Personal journal, 1836-1838
Box 1Folder 7
Biographical sketch for Harvard College classbook, 1837

Correspondence, 1824-1828, 1835, 1840-1845, 1861, 1902

Disbound volume.

Letters received by Charles Henry Appleton Dall.

Box 1Folder 8
Hariette H. D. Aldrich, 1902
Box 1Folder 9
Charles Austin, 1835
Box 1Folder 10
Austin Dall, 1826
Box 1Folder 11
Henrietta Austin Dall and James Dall, Sr., 1824
Box 1Folder 12
Henrietta Austin Dall, 1825, 1845
Box 1Folder 13
James Dall, Jr., 1824-1826
Box 1Folder 14
James Dall, Sr., 1824-1828, 1840
Box 1Folder 15
John Dall, 1841-1842
Box 1Folder 16
Sarah K. Dall, 1840-1844
Box 1Folder 17
William Dall, 1840-1843, 1861
Box 1Folder 18
Other documents, 1843, 1863

B. Marianne W. Healey diary, 1849-1850 / Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, ca. 1855-1881

The diary has been attributed to Caroline Wells Healey Dall's sister Marianne W. Healey, who kept it between June 1849 and December 1850. Diary entries record Marianne's daily activities, such as visits with family and friends, church attendance, reading, and attendance of lectures and lessons. Of particular interest are Marianne's reaction to the arrest of John White Webster for the murder of George Parkman and her description of her experience suffering a prolonged digestive ailment, which she calls dysentery. The volume was received with several diary pages sliced out.

The volume was later used as a scrapbook for newspaper clippings. Clippings that were pasted over several pages of the diary were photocopied and removed. The clippings are of diverse content and include poems, obituaries, marriage announcements, and reports on departing ships. There are a number of clippings about Healey and Dall family members. Most of the clippings are undated, but dated items originate from 1855 to 1881. A poem by William Healey Dall responding to the 1874 death of naturalist Louis Agassiz (mentor to William) is written in pencil on a page among the clippings (it is unclear whether William himself inscribed the poem or if it is was transcribed by someone else). In addition to the clippings, the scrapbook includes the 1853 certificate of matriculation at Harvard College for George W. Healey (brother of Caroline).

Box 1Folder 19
Marianne W. Healey diary, 1849-1850
Box 1Folder 20
Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, ca. 1855-1881
Box 1Folder 21
Items removed from the volume

C. William Healey Dall subscription banquet: Letter from Alexander Graham Bell, 30 Mar. 1915

In response to an invitation to a subscription banquet for William Healey Dall, Alexander Graham Bell sent his regrets in this letter to the Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C.

Box 1Folder 22

II. Dall and Healey family genealogical material, 1662-1957

This series contains genealogical scrapbooks and journals created by Caroline Wells Healey Dall, as well as letters, notes, and documents relating to Dall and Healey family genealogy.

Two disbound genealogical scrapbooks compiled by Caroline and kept in botanical drying albums consist mainly of family papers with genealogical annotations by Caroline, in addition to personal correspondence relating to genealogical topics and newspaper clippings relating to genealogical, historical, and other topics. The materials, which date from 1662 to 1901, include property documents; records of marriages, births, and deaths; court petitions and orders; correspondence; and other items. The papers document the Dall and Healey families, including forbears from the Atkinson, Clifford, Denison, Foster, Franklin, Hutchinson, Porter, Rogers, Symonds, Weare, and Wells families. Page numbers were added to the left-hand pages (.5, 1.5, 2.5, etc.) to complement the numbering already in place on the right-hand pages. Preceding and succeeding page numbers are provided for items inserted between pages.

Four genealogical notebooks begun by Caroline, as well as several folders of loose material, detail relations to and descent from Abbot, Austin, Bachiler, Bradstreet, Clarke, Cleveland, Denison, Dudley, Foster, Harlakenden, Hawthorne, Hubbard, Hussey, Lawrence, Peabody, Perkins, Porter, Rindge, Rogers, Symonds, Wallis, Warner, Weare, Wells, Whittingham, and Wise families, including biographical profiles of some figures. A number of items inserted between the pages of the notebooks were removed and are kept in separate folders.

A few pages of autobiographical narrative by Mark Healey, father of Caroline, written in June of 1873, may be found in one of the genealogical notebooks (Box 2, Folder 8). This short memoir recounts Healey's childhood, early work assisting in a store, draft into the Army during the War of 1812, and involvement in the shipping, insurance, and railroad industries. Healey also reflects on the domestic political causes of the War of 1812, his enthusiasm for the presidential candidacy of Andrew Jackson and his subsequent commitment to the Democratic Party, and his views on religion, including his decision to become involved with the Unitarian church. The notebook also includes two short letters dating from 1861 and 1863 from relatives sharing genealogical information with Healey.

Box 2Folder 1-2
Caroline Wells Healey Dall family genealogical scrapbook, 1662-1878Disbound volume.
Box 2Folder 3-4
Caroline Wells Healey Dall family genealogical scrapbook, 1733-1901Disbound volume.
Vol. 1
Dall family genealogy, "A Family Journal," 1842-ca. 1891Disbound volume.
Box 2Folder 5
Loose items removed from Dall family genealogy, "A Family Journal," 1880-1891
Vol. 2
Family history of William H. Dall by Caroline H. Dall, Volume I, 1874
Box 2Folder 6
Loose items removed from family history of William H. Dall by Caroline H. Dall, Volume I, 1907-1983
Vol. 3
Family history of William H. Dall by Caroline H. Dall, Volume II, 1874-ca. 1957
Box 2Folder 7
Loose items removed from family history of William H. Dall by Caroline H. Dall, Volume II, 1853-ca. 1952
Vol. 4
Healey and Dall families genealogical notebook, ca. 1871-1898
Box 2Folder 8
Healey and Dall families genealogical notebook, ca. 1873
Box 2Folder 9
Clark family genealogical notes and correspondence, 1865-1866
Box 2Folder 10
Dall family genealogical notes and correspondence, ca. 1863-1881, undated (ca. 20th century)
Box 2Folder 11
Healey family genealogical notes and correspondence, ca. 1868-1911
Box 2Folder 12
Rogers family genealogical notes, undated
Box 2Folder 13
Symonds family genealogical correspondence, 1892-ca. 1896
Box 2Folder 14
Genealogical notes, undated
Box 2Folder 15
Caroline Wells Healey Dall correspondence, 1908-1911
Box 2Folder 16
Miscellaneous documents, 1773-1951

Photographs Removed from the Collection

Photographs have been removed from this collection to the Dall-Healey family photographs, ca. 1850-1911. Photo. Coll. 69.

Preferred Citation

Dall-Healey 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.


Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922.
Dall, Caroline Wells Healey, 1822-1912.
Dall, Charles Henry Appleton, 1816-1886.
Dall family.
Dall family--Genealogy.
Dall, William, 1794 or 1795-1875.
Healey family.
Healey family--Genealogy.
Healey, Marianne Wells, 1827-


Harvard Divinity School--Students.
Harvard University--Students.


Family history--1800-1849.
Family history--1850-1899.
Unitarian churches--Clergy.
Voyages and travels.
Women's diaries.