Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of papers of members of the Fox family of Massachusetts. The bulk of the collection is comprised of the papers of Rev. Thomas B. Fox, minister of the First Religious Society of Newburyport (1831-1845) and the Indiana St. Congregational Church (Unitarian) in Boston (1845-1855). The papers of three of Fox's sons, Charles B. Fox, John A. Fox, and Thomas B. Fox, Jr., document their service in the Civil War. The collection also includes sermons preached by Rev. John Pierce, Thomas B. Fox's father-in-law, as pastor of the First Church in Brookline. Other family members represented include George W. Fox, George B. Fox, and Thomas A. Fox.

Biographical Sketches

Thomas Bayley Fox (1808-1876) graduated from Boston Latin School in 1824 and Harvard University in 1828. He then attended the Harvard Divinity School until his ordination as a Unitarian minister in 1831. His initial pastoral post was with the First Religious Society of Newburyport, where he served from 1831 to 1845. In 1831, he married Feroline Walley Pierce. All of their five children were born during this time in Newburyport.

In 1845, the Fox family moved to Boston, eventually settling in Dorchester. The Rev. Fox was called to the Indiana Street Congregational Church (Unitarian) of Boston which had been "...erected to try the experiment of gathering a Society on a plan slightly differing in its economical arrangements from other societies, and comparatively unexpensive [sic]."

In 1855, the church merged with the Church of Disciples and moved to another location. The Rev. Fox ceased to be a full-time pastor at this point, although he continued to travel and preach at numerous churches throughout the area under the auspices of the Benevolent Fraternity of Unitarian Churches. During his lifetime, he wrote several books for Sunday School teachers and juvenile readers, including a hymn-book for normal and high school use.

As an undergraduate at Harvard, he had written for the press. He continued this interest and contributed as a regular correspondent to the Christian Inquirer; as editor and correspondent with the Christian Register; and as owner and participating editor of the Christian Examiner. In a more secular vein, he prepared book notices, biographical sketches, and articles for the Boston Transcript.

His father, John Fox, was married to Abigail Caseneau (Cazeneau) Bayley of Boston in 1794. He maintained shops in Boston's Cornhill Street area specializing in dry goods, English goods, and linens between 1802 and 1830.

John Pierce (1773-1849), father-in-law to the Reverend Fox, was a Harvard graduate, class of 1793. He went on to serve as minister to the First Church in Brookline (Unitarian) from 1797 to 1849. A sizable collection of his papers is held by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Charles Barnard Fox (1833-1895) was the eldest son of Thomas and Feroline (Pierce) Fox. During the Civil War, he served first with Co. K of the Massachusetts 13th Infantry Regiment from 1861 to 1863. In May of 1863, he was promoted to major and served with the Massachusetts 55th Infantry Regiment, the second Black regiment raised in the North, receiving a promotion to lieutenant colonel in November of that year. He was finally mustered out in June 1865. After the war, he returned to his occupation as a civil engineer and formed a real estate partnership, Holbrook & Fox, which had offices in Boston's Post Office Square until the 1890s. During his lifetime, he served in the Massachusetts legislature and was a director on the Real Estate Exchange. He married and had two daughters.

George William Fox (1834-1917), the second son of Thomas and Feroline (Pierce) Fox, served for 56 years with the American Unitarian Association. Due to a physical disability, he was unable to serve in the Civil War, but at that time he acted as secretary to the AUA, the only layman to ever hold that post. He married Mary S. Poor in 1863, and they had one daughter and four sons, one of which was George B. Fox.

The third son of Thomas and Feroline (Pierce) Fox, John Andrews Fox (1836-1920), graduated first in his class from Dorchester High School and apprenticed with Garbett & Wood. While with them, he helped survey Boston's Stony Brook and the marsh. His Civil War service with Co. I and F of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment lasted from 1862 to 1865 and included Sherman's march to the sea. After the war, he returned to Boston and became an independent architect with offices at 12 Post Office Square. He was active in the Boston Society of Architects and the Boston chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which he helped found in 1870. He maintained his practice for over 50 years. His major commissions, besides many private homes, included work on the Boston Museum (theater) in 1871; the New Theater at Brockton in 1873; Tewksbury Hospital Building in 1886; and the Town Hall in Provincetown in 1886. For over 50 years, he remained the secretary of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteers Association until it disbanded in 1916. He married Josephine Clapp in 1878.

Thomas Bayley Fox, Jr. (1839-l863) was the youngest son of Thomas and Feroline (Pierce) Fox. He spoke for his class at the graduation exercises of Harvard University in 1860. He proceeded to study law with John A. Andrew and received his LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1862. He enlisted with Co. C of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry and rose to the rank of captain after transferring to Co. K. He fought at Chancellorsville, Antietam, and Gettysburg, where he was wounded in the ankle in early July 1863. He returned home to Dorchester, where he later died as a result of this wound.

The youngest child of Thomas and Feroline (Pierce) Fox, Feroline Pierce Fox, was born in 1843. She was known within the family by the name "Fairy."

Thomas Alfred Fox was one of the grandsons of the Reverend Fox. By 1893, he had become a member of St. Botolph Club, which had been founded for the "...promotion of social intercourse among authors and artists and other gentlemen connected with, or interested in art and literature." He served on their election committee several times and was the club secretary from 1920 to 1924.

Collection Description

The Fox family papers are contained in 24 boxes and encompass the years 1795-1936. However, the bulk of the collection falls within the mid-19th century, from the late 1820s until just after the Civil War in 1865. The collection is divided into eight series, each series containing the papers of an individual member of the family. Since Thomas Bayley Fox and his father-in-law, John Pierce, were both ministers, a large portion of these two series contains their sermons, sermon-books, and related preaching history. The remainder of the papers include handwritten lectures, notes, articles written for newspapers, schoolwork, letters, and journals.

Another area largely documented in the collection is the Civil War. Through the letters of three of the Fox sons, the war is documented with regard to their service in the 2nd, 13th, and 55th Massachusetts Regiments. With very few exceptions, these letters exist in typescript form only, with the location of the originals unknown. Subjects include camp life, battles, news they received from each other, and reactions to events at home.

Acquisition Information

The Fox family papers were donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society, through the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe College, by John B. Fox, Jr. and Walter S. Fox in March 1991.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. John Pierce sermons, 1795-1847

Arranged chronologically.

Nine journals of sermons and funeral orations written while pastor of the First Church, Brookline, Mass. Some with indexes.

Box 1
Box 2
Box 3

II. Thomas Bayley Fox papers, 1824-1869

Thomas B. Fox's sermons, related notes, and records make up the bulk of the Fox family papers. His preaching journal, account of preaching, and the almost 900 sermons together with his scripture notes constitute an uninterrupted record of his theological development. This series has been divided into five subseries: sermons, lectures, notes and personal papers, journals, and scrapbooks.

A. Sermons, 1829-1854

Arranged chronologically.

The sermons were prepared and delivered as part of his theological training; during his time at First Religious Society, Newburyport; or as the pastor at Indiana Street Church, Boston, as well as in other churches throughout the region. Multiple dates are given for those sermons which were delivered on more than one occasion.

In his early years, Fox coded his sermons based on the word "FRUGALITY" (F=1,R=2,U=3,G=4, etc.), but later dropped the system.

Box 4
1829-1832 (nos. 1-106)
Box 5
1833 (nos. 107-174)
Box 6
1834 (nos. 175-232)
Box 7
1835 (nos. 233-275)
Box 8
1836 (nos. 276-327)
Box 9
1837 (nos. 328-376)
Box 10
1838-1839 (nos. 377-474)
Box 11
1840-1841 (nos. 475-558)
Box 12
1842-1843 (nos. 559-631)
Box 13
1844-1846 (nos. 632-696)
Box 14
1847-1848 (nos. 697-759)
Box 15
1849-1851 (nos. 760-844)
Box 16
1852-1854 (nos. 845-894)

B. Lectures, 1832-1853

Arranged chronologically.

Handwritten lectures on secular and religious topics. Several have specific titles, others have titles derived from opening sentences. See box list for a list of subjects.

Box 17Folder 1
On Nature, n.d.
Box 17Folder 2
On Temperance, n.d.
Box 17Folder 3
On Women, n.d.
Box 17Folder 4
Pastor and Parish, n.d.
Box 17Folder 5
Charles Lamb, n.d.
Box 17Folder 6
On Education, n.d.
Box 17Folder 7
On Religion, n.d.
Box 17Folder 8
Washington's Birthday, 1832
Box 17Folder 9
Mutual Improvement, 1834
Box 17Folder 10
On the Public Sense, 1838-1851
Box 17Folder 11
Man Becomes a Giant, 1840-1843
Box 17Folder 12
On History, 1841
Box 17Folder 13
On Creativity, 1845-1846
Box 17Folder 14
On Man's Purpose, 1852
Box 17Folder 15
Funeral Orations, 1853

C. Notes and personal papers, 1830-1855

Arranged chronologically.

Fox's personal papers are predominantly concerned with either his Harvard education or his association with the First Religious Society. Included are scripture and lecture notes (some with reference to specific sermons), notes for sermons directed particularly toward adults (1830-1854) and children (1837-1846), schoolwork and essays written as a student (1824-1828), correspondence and education certificates, documents from his association with First Religious Society (1831-1845), and a copy of his father's will (1855).

Box 18Folder 1-2
Scripture notes, n.d.
Box 18Folder 3
Sermon notes, n.d.
Box 18Folder 4-5
Sermon notes for adults, 1830-1854
Box 18Folder 6-7
Sermon notes for children, 1837-1846
Box 18Folder 8
Natural history notes, 1836-1837
Box 18Folder 9
Festival diagram/notes, 1854
Box 18Folder 10
Draft condolence correspondence, n.d.
Box 18Folder 11-12
School themes, essays, 1824-1830
Box 18Folder 13
Correspondence: TBF's education, 1824-1831
Box 18Folder 14
Correspondence: TBF's time at First Religious Society, 1831-1845
Box 18Folder 15
Father's will (copy), letter

D. Journals, 1829-1869

Arranged chronologically.

Includes: preaching journal (1829-1869), account of preaching (1831-1850), and parish list (1831). These volumes, in conjunction with Fox's notes and sermons, described above, provide a complete record of Fox's preaching, including date, location, time, place, and subject. Also included is his undated writing book containing other orations and lectures, as well as a journal of sermons for children written between 1834 and 1837.

Box 19Folder 1
Writing book, n.d.
Box 19Folder 2
Preaching journal, 1829-1869
Box 19Folder 3
Preaching account, 1831-1850
Box 19Folder 4
Parish list, 1831
Box 19Folder 5
Sermons for children, 1834-1837

E. Scrapbooks, 1841-1925

Scrapbooks primarily containing articles written by Thomas Bayley Fox for various Boston and New York newspapers. Subjects include travel in New Hampshire, moral themes, and the Civil War.

Box 20Folder 1
First Religious Society, printed items, 1841-1925
Box 20Folder 2
White Mountain Letters, 1856-1863
Box 20Folder 3
Newspaper articles, 1863
Box 20Folder 4
Newspaper articles, 1860-1862
Box 20Folder 5
"P.K." articles, 1865

III. Charles Barnard Fox papers, 1858-1868

Arranged chronologically.

Fox's papers include his journal written during a journey by train to Kansas in 1858. The journal was later used to make notes about the Civil War years, in particular his service in the Massachusetts 13th Infantry Regiment, record a short family genealogy, and list the events of 1867. Fox's Civil War letterbook contains letters written home from the front during his service with both the Massachusetts 13th and 55th Infantry Regiments. The history of the Massachusetts 55th Regiment is further documented in Fox's annotated copy of the printed regimental history, Record of Service of the Fifty-fifth Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Cambridge, Mass.: John Wilson, 1868), which was based on his diary.

Note: For five additional volumes of Charles Barnard Fox Civil War material, including journals and extracts of letters to his wife, see the Charles Barnard Fox papers (Ms. N-1241). Vols. III-V of that collection are on microfilm (P-316).

Box 21Folder 1
Letter, 1861
Box 21Folder 2
Kansas Journal, war notes, 1858, 1861-1862, 1867
Box 21Folder 3
Civil War letterbook, 1861-1865
Box 21Folder 4
Scrapbook of articles, 1858
Box 21Folder 5
Mass. 55th Regiment, annotated regimental history, 1868

IV. George William Fox papers, 1852-1889

Arranged chronologically.

Three volumes of a journal kept sporadically between 1852 and 1855 which mention his work with the American Unitarian Association and Dr. Miles. Also, two sermons and a diary kept by his son, George B. Fox, in 1889.

Box 22Folder 1
Letter, 1859
Box 22Folder 2
Lectures, 1864, 1873
Box 22Folder 3
Journal, vol. 1, 1852-1853
Box 22Folder 4
Journal, vol. 2, Jan.-Aug. 1853
Box 22Folder 5
Journal, vol. 3, Aug. 1853-June 1854
Box 22Folder 6
George B. Fox diary, 1889

V. John Andrews Fox papers, 1862-1916

Arranged chronologically.

Civil War letters and his secretary's register for the Massachusetts 2nd Volunteers Association make up the John Andrews Fox series. Typescript copies of letters to his sister Feroline ("Fairy"), his father, and brothers George and Thomas Bayley Fox, Jr. recount his activities with the Massachusetts 2nd Infantry Regiment, with whom he served throughout the war, participating in all battles faced by the regiment. The register he kept as secretary of the veterans association contains accounts, attendance, and business transacted by the group from 1866 to 1916.

Box 23Folder 1
Civil War letters to sister, 1862-1865
Box 23Folder 2
Civil War letters to father, brothers, 1862
Box 23Folder 3-6
Civil War letters to family, 1862-1865
Box 23Folder 7
Register of Massachusetts 2nd Infantry Association, 1866-1916

VI. Thomas Bayley Fox, Jr. papers, 1860-1863

Arranged chronologically.

Contains notebooks and assignments while a student at Harvard and typescripts of letters written to his family during the year he fought in the Civil War, 1862-1863, as a member of the Massachusetts 2nd Infantry Regiment.

Box 24Folder 1-2
School exercises, 1860
Box 24Folder 3-4
Civil War letters to family, 1862-1863

VII. Thomas A. Fox papers, 1916-1936

Arranged chronologically.

Correspondence pertaining to the St. Botolph Club of Boston, written between 1918 and 1936. For several years, Fox served on the Election Committee or as secretary to the club. Also included is an appointment certificate and a discharge certificate as a member of the Local Board for Division No. 4, City of Boston, during World War I.

Box 24Folder 5

VIII. Autographs, ephemera, clippings, 1822-1868

Arranged chronologically.

Items collected by the Fox family, some pertaining to the family, over an extended period of years. A letter from Edward Everett to John Pierce and a personal timeline written by Walter S. Poor are also included.

Box 24Folder 6-8

Materials Removed from the Collection

Printed Materials Removed

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

Photographs Removed

The following photographs have been removed and transferred to the MHS photographic collection:

1 ambrotype. Wyman & Co.'s Gallery, Boston, Mass. n.d.

1 carbon/platinum print. Anderson, Haverhill, Mass. John Munroe, P.G.; Secy Protection Lodge 147, I.O.O.F. Georgetown, Mass. "Drummer Co. K 2nd Mass. Inf.; May 24, 1861-July 14, 1865"

1 photograph. [Thomas A. Fox] n.d.

2 photographs. Interior of First Religious Society, Newburyport, Mass., n.d.

1 photograph. [Mrs. Lovett's house] n.d.

1 post card. E.A. Abbey, R.A. n.d.

Preferred Citation

Fox 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.


Fox, George William, 1834-1917.
Fox, John Andrews, 1836-1920.
Fox, Thomas Alfred.
Fox, Thomas B. (Thomas Bayley), 1808-1876.
Fox, Thomas Bayley, 1839-1863.
Pierce, John, 1773-1849.


American Unitarian Association.
First Church (Brookline, Mass.).
First Religious Society (Newburyport, Mass.).
Harvard University--Students.
Indiana Street Congregational Church (Boston, Mass.).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 2nd (1861-1864).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 13th (1861-1865).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 55th (1863-1865).


Congregational churches--Clergy.
Family history--1850-1899.
Unitarian churches--Clergy.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African American.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 2nd Volunteers.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 13th Volunteers.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 55th Volunteers.
Veterans--Massachusetts--Societies, etc.