1727-2012; bulk: 1850-1945

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection contains the papers of Arthur Sherman Phillips and the Phillips family of East Bridgewater and Fall River, Mass., including Mark Phillips (1768-1851), Susan Sherman Phillips, Kathleen Phillips, and Mark Phillips (1835-1911). Items in this collection include correspondence, genealogical papers, travel papers, financial records, and legal papers.

Biographical Sketches

Below are brief biographical sketches of the individuals represented most prominently within the collection.

Ellen Pratt Currier (b. ca. 1840) lived in Bloomington, Ill., where she corresponded with members of the Phillips family and made observations on events related to the Civil War. Although she referred to Susan Sherman Pratt Phillips as "sister" in her letters, her relationship to Susan is unclear.

Arthur Sherman Phillips (1865-1941) was born in East Bridgewater, Mass. to Mark and Susan S. Pratt Phillips. In 1872 the family moved from East Bridgewater to Fall River, where Phillips graduated from Fall River High School in 1883. After graduating from Williams College in 1887 and Boston University Law School in 1892, he worked as a legal assistant for the defense in the Lizzie Borden case and opened his own law practice in 1894. A genealogist by avocation, Phillips was a member of several New England genealogical and historical societies and authored The Phillips History of Fall River.

Phillips's first marriage was to Elizabeth Lurena Cheney (1870-1905), with whom he had three children: Lurena Phillips (b. 1894), Kathleen Phillips (b. 1895), and Elizabeth Aubrey Phillips (d. 1965). After Elizabeth's death, he married May Churchill Wiggin (d. 1943), with whom he had a daughter, Margery May Phillips.

Kathleen "Kay" Phillips (b. 1895) was the daughter of Arthur S. Phillips and Elizabeth Lurena Cheney. In 1921-1922 she traveled around the world with three female companions and documented many of her experiences in her diaries and photograph albums. Her first husband was Frank Royden Sweet, and her second, Harold Davie. After her father's death in 1941, she became custodian of his genealogical records.

Mark Phillips (1768-1851) was the grandfather of Mark Phillips (1835-1911) and great-grandfather of Arthur S. Phillips. He was a Massachusetts farmer and a dealer in ship timber, which he purchased from other farmers.

Mark Phillips (1835-1911) was the father of Arthur S. Phillips and Lillian Phillips (later Easton), and the second husband of Susan S. Pratt Phillips. A native of East Bridgewater, Mass., he moved to Fall River in 1870. He was a millwright, and later worked for Kilburn, Lincoln & Co. and the American Printing Co.

Susan Sherman Pratt Phillips (1841-1928) was the daughter of Anthony Sherman Pratt (1815-1869) and Susan Loring Holmes Pratt (1818-1899). Her first marriage to Isaac Wilbar ended in his death in 1862; in 1864 she married Mark Phillips (1835-1911) in East Bridgewater, Mass. She was the mother of Arthur S. Phillips and Lillian Phillips (later Easton).

Enoch Pratt (b. 1844) was the brother of Susan S. Pratt Phillips and maternal uncle of Arthur S. Phillips. From 1862-1864, Pratt served as a Union soldier in the 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery Regiment.

Collection Description

The Phillips family papers consist of 6 document boxes and 1 oversize box spanning the years 1727 to 2012, with the bulk from 1850 to 1945. The collection contains the papers of the Phillips family of East Bridgewater and Fall River, Mass., and documents the family, their travels, 19th century daily life in Massachusetts and Bloomington, Ill., and observations on the Civil War. The collection has been arranged into three series: the Arthur S. Phillips papers; the Phillips family papers; and Scrapbooks.

Materials in this collection consist of family and personal correspondence, personal papers, genealogical papers, financial and legal papers, estate records, school materials, scrapbooks, travel papers and diaries, notebooks of daily memoranda, printed material, and other miscellaneous papers and ephemera. The bulk of the collection is comprised of the papers of Fall River attorney Arthur S. Phillips, in particular his letters to his parents Mark and Susan Phillips during his time as an undergraduate at Williams College. Other family correspondence within the collection includes the letters of Ellen Pratt Currier, Kathleen Phillips, and Enoch Pratt.

Of interest are the 1862-1864 letters of Civil War soldier Enoch Pratt to his sister, Susan S. Pratt Wilbar (later Phillips) in which he describes his experiences as a soldier with the 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery Regiment and the conditions of the camps in which he stayed. Also of interest are Ellen Pratt Currier's letters to Susan, which describe 1861 Civil War activity in Bloomington, Ill. The travel journals of Kathleen Phillips, which record her 1921-1922 journeys to Europe, Asia, South America, and the Near East, are also of particular note .

Acquisition Information

Deposited by John Wood Sweet in December 2006 and donated in October 2009. Additional Sweet family genealogical material and the Sweet family glass plate negatives were given to the MHS by John W. Sweet in May 2013.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Arthur S. Phillips papers, 1880-1940

This series contains the correspondence and personal papers of Fall River, Mass. attorney Arthur Sherman Phillips (1865-1941). Family correspondence consists of letters addressed to his parents, Mark and Susan Phillips, which detail social and educational experiences during his time at Williams College from 1883-1887. Personal correspondence documents Phillips's interests in genealogy and history, as well as his travels in South America. Personal papers include school papers, notebooks of daily memoranda, and miscellaneous printed material.

A. Correspondence, 1880-1930

i. Family correspondence, 1880-1887

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries consists almost exclusively of letters written by Arthur S. Phillips to his parents, Mark and Susan Phillips, describing everyday social and educational experiences during his time as an undergraduate at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. Topics frequently discussed include: school sports; class hikes on Mt. Greylock; city and state political races; campus and classroom lectures; schoolwork; friends and acquaintances; local news; family affairs and news from home; and requests for financial support. The subseries includes one 1884 letter to Phillips from his maternal uncle, Enoch Pratt.

Box 1
Jun. 1880 - Apr. 1885
Box 2Folders 1-23
May 1885 - Mar. 1887

ii. Personal correspondence, 1900-1930

Arranged chronologically.

The bulk of this subseries contains correspondence that pertains to Arthur S. Phillips's genealogical research and memberships in various Massachusetts genealogical and historical societies. This series also includes drafts of letters to relative Robert N. Hathaway which detail Arthur S. Phillips's travels in South America in early 1924.

See also: Arthur S. Phillips's Williams College scrapbook (Series III, Subseries B) which contains notes and letters received during his time as an undergraduate, and the Phillips family genealogical scrapbook (Series III, Subseries A) which contains genealogical correspondence addressed to Arthur S. Phillips.

Box 2Folders 24-32

B. Personal papers, 1880-1940

Arranged chronologically and by record type.

i. Loose papers, 1880-1933

Papers within this subseries include Arthur S. Phillips's school papers from Fall River High School, Williams College (1883-1887), and Boston University Law School (1891-1892). Also found here are membership papers, certificates, and other miscellany.

See also: Williams College scrapbook (series III, subseries B) for additional school papers and ephemera.

Box 2Folders 33-35

ii. Notebooks, 1928-1940

This subseries contains Arthur S. Philips's bound notebooks of daily memoranda, including financial accounts, estate inventories, investments, and lists of purchases.

Box 3Folders 1-7

iii. Printed material, 1898-1913

Included here is printed material related to Arthur S. Phillips's involvement with various New England historical and genealogical societies, newspaper clippings documenting his historical activities, clippings about the history of Plymouth Colony, and ephemera.

Box 3Folders 8-9

II. Phillips family papers, 1790-2012

This series consists of family correspondence, financial and legal papers, the travel papers of Kathleen Phillips, genealogical papers, and printed material. Family correspondence includes letters from Ellen Pratt Currier, Enoch Pratt, Anthony S. Pratt, and Kathleen Phillips. Also included are letters from various family members to Mark Phillips (1768-1851) and Mark Phillips (1835-1911). Letters detail 19th century daily life, family events, Enoch Pratt's experiences as a Union soldier, and events related to the Civil War.

A. Correspondence, 1842-1907

Arranged chronologically.

Correspondence between various Phillips family members illustrates aspects of mid-19th century daily life, predominantly in East Bridgewater, Mass. and Bloomington, Ill. The bulk of the family correspondence includes letters from Ellen Pratt Currier to Susan S. Pratt Phillips (formerly Wilbar) discussing life in Bloomington, Ill., family affairs, information concerning Enoch and Horace Pratt, and Civil War activity in the Bloomington area in 1861. Letters from Enoch Pratt to his sister Susan recount his experiences as a Union soldier in the 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery Regiment from 1862 to 1864 near Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fort Tillinghast in Arlington, Virginia, Camp Dixon near the Maryland line, and Gallatin, Tennessee towards the conclusion of the war. Pratt provides details about the poor conditions of the camps and soldiers, Confederate activities, prisoners of war, company casualties, and his own minor injury sustained during conflict. Other letters to Susan S. Pratt Phillips include those from her father, husband, and other family members.

Box 4Folders 1-7

B. Financial and legal papers, 1790-1963

Arranged chronologically.

The bulk of this subseries consists of Mark Phillips's (1768-1851) bills and receipts documenting daily household expenses. The subseries also includes other bills, receipts, and accounts; the appointment of Susan S. Pratt Wilbar (later Phillips) as executrix of Isaac Wilbar's estate; and Arthur S. Phillips' estate papers.

Box 4Folders 8-17

C. Kathleen Phillips travel papers, 1921-1922

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries consists of Kathleen Phillips's travel papers, including her 1921-1922 journals which document her daily activities during her year abroad in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, India, Burma, Singapore, Java, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Japan, and Hawaii.

Also included in this subseries is Kathleen Phillips' passport, and loose papers removed from her travel photo albums, including newspaper clippings and ephemera that document her time overseas.

See also: Arthur Sherman Phillips family photograph collection, which includes Kathleen Phillips' travel photograph albums.

Box 4Folder 18
Passport, 1921
Box 4Folders 19-22
Travel journals, 1921
Box 5Folders 1-2
Travel journals, 1922
Box 5Folders 3-4
Loose papers removed from photograph albums, 1921-1922

D. Genealogical papers, 1903-2012, bulk undated

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains genealogical papers that were probably compiled by Arthur S. Phillips. The largely undated material relates to Phillips's maternal and paternal lineages, including the Pratt, Hathaway, Sherman, Washburn, Porter, Holmes, and Howland lines. Other genealogies related to the Hutchins, Johnson, McConichy (McConihe) and Sweet families.

See also: Phillips family genealogical scrapbook (Series III, Subseries A).

Box 5Folders 5-26

E. Printed material, 1882-1941

Arranged chronologically.

Printed material includes newspaper clippings that pertain to Phillips family members, an address delivered by the Old Bridgewater Historical Society that contains historical and genealogical information about the early settlers of Bridgewater, Mass., and ephemera.

Box 5Folder 27

III. Scrapbooks, 1727-1965

This series consists of two scrapbooks compiled by Arthur S. Phillips. One scrapbook contains historical records and documents dating from 1727 to 1965 pertaining to the Phillips family of Plymouth County, Mass., including genealogical notes related to the Phillips family genealogy. The second scrapbook documents Arthur Phillips's social and educational experiences as an undergraduate student at Williams College from 1883-1887.

A. Phillips family genealogical scrapbook, 1727-1965

This scrapbook contains papers compiled by Arthur S. Phillips documenting the history of the Phillips family, as well as the history of Massachusetts and Plymouth County. The papers include land deeds, legal and estate documents, genealogical correspondence, poetry, family photographs and other images, genealogical notes, and other miscellaneous documents. Many of the records pertain to Mark Phillips (1768-1851).

OS Box 1

B. Williams College scrapbook, 1882-1939

Compiled by Arthur S. Phillips, this scrapbook documents his activities as an undergraduate at Williams College from 1883 to 1887. The material, much of which is ephemeral in nature, includes pamphlets, ticket stubs, event programs, examination sheets, newspaper clippings, sports scores, prize ribbons, and other miscellaneous items. Some correspondence is also included. The scrapbook also contains material from Phillips's time at Boston University Law School and other activities in which he was involved after 1887, including a 1939 Williams College class of 1887 alumni booklet and a photograph of Phillips with other alumni.

Box 6

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs have been removed from this collection and are stored onsite in the MHS Photo Archives. They include:

  • portraits of Phillips family members, notably Arthur S. Phillips at various stages in his life;
  • portraits of Fall River High School students, faculty and administration;
  • portraits of Boston University Law School faculty;
  • three travel photograph albums compiled by Kathleen Phillips documenting her 1921-1922 trip abroad, particularly of Asia, Egypt, and the Mediterranean.

A collection of Sweet family glass plate negatives has been removed to the MHS Photo Archives (Photo. Coll. 6.13M). This collection is closed to researchers due to the fragile condition of the negatives.

A copy of a silhouette of Ruth Noyes McConihe, Merrimack, New Hampshire, ca. 1848 has been removed from this collection and placed in the MHS silhouette collection.

A 1933 profile pencil sketch of Arthur Sherman Phillips, signed and stamped by Baumgarten Studio, Chicago World's Fair, has been removed from this collection and placed in the MHS art collection.

The following items have been removed from the collection and placed in the MHS printed collections:

Phillips, Arthur S. The Phillips History of Fall River (Fall River: Dover Press, 1944), 2 vols.

Phillips, Arthur S., My Wilderness Friends (Fall River: Munroe Press, 1910).

Preferred Citation

Arthur Sherman Phillips 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.


Currier, Ellen Pratt.
Phillips family.
Phillips family--Genealogy.
Phillips, Kathleen, b. 1895.
Phillips, Mark, 1768-1851.
Phillips, Mark, 1835-1911.
Phillips, Susan Sherman Pratt, 1841-1928.
Pratt family.
Pratt, Enoch, b. 1844.


United States--Army. Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment, 1st (1862-1865).
Williams College--Students.


Asia, Southeastern -- Description and travel.
Bloomington (Ill.)--Social life and customs.
China--Description and travel.
Diaries, 1921-1922.
East Bridgewater (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
Egypt--Description and travel.
Europe--Description and travel.
Fall River (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
Family history, 1800-1849.
Family history, 1850-1899.
Family history, 1900-1949.
India--Description and travel.
Japan--Description and travel.
Lawyers--Massachusetts--Fall River.
South America--Description and travel.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Artillery (Heavy), 1st Volunteers.
Voyages and travels--Diaries.
Women travelers--Diaries.