1859-1930; bulk: 1900-1914

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The Hallowell family papers are stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Collection Summary


This collection consists of correspondence between members of the Hallowell family of Medford and Milton, Mass. and their friends and associates. Letters are primarily those of John White Hallowell and his wife, Marian Ladd Hallowell. Also included are John Hallowell's financial and Harvard University-affiliated papers.

Biographical Sketches

These brief biological sketches highlight the individuals most prominently represented within the Hallowell family papers.

John White Hallowell (1879-1927), known to his family and friends as "Jack," was the son of Col. Norwood Penrose Hallowell (1839-1914) and Sarah Wharton Haydock Hallowell (1846-1934). Born and raised in Medford, Mass., he attended Harvard from 1897 to 1901, where he played football, making the All-American team in 1898 and 1900, and captained Harvard's track team. After his graduation, he took a position at the utilities consulting firm Stone & Webster, Inc. in Boston, where he worked for sixteen years. At the outbreak of World War I, he became chairman of the New England Committee for Supplementary Rations for Belgian Children, for which he was decorated by the King of Belgium. When the United States entered the war, Hallowell served under Herbert Hoover in the U.S. Food Administration in Belgium and France and later became assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane. In addition to sitting on many corporate boards, including Children's Hospital and the Middlesex School in Concord, Hallowell was a member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers, treasurer of the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, and director of the Associated Harvard Clubs. John married Marian Hathaway Ladd in 1905, and the couple had five children. He died of typhoid fever in January 1927.

Marian Hathaway Ladd Hallowell (1884-1968) was the daughter of William Jones Ladd (1844-1923) and Anna Russell Watson Ladd (1843-1909). Born and raised in Milton, Mass., she married John W. Hallowell in 1905. The couple settled in Milton and had five children, William Ladd Hallowell (1906-), John White Hallowell (1909-), Roger Haydock Hallowell (1910-), Eleanor Hathaway Hallowell (1914-), and Phillips Hallowell (1917-2004).

Collection Description

The Hallowell family papers consist of three cartons spanning the years 1859 to 1930, with the bulk of the material dating from 1900 to 1914. The majority of the collection is comprised of correspondence between John White Hallowell, Marian Ladd Hallowell, and their friends and family, including John's father, Norwood Penrose Hallowell, and U.S. diplomat William Phillips (1878-1968). Family correspondence covers topics of daily life in Milton, Mass.; John's business travels throughout the South and Midwest; family marriages, births, and deaths; news of the First World War; and American politics. Early correspondence includes the Civil War letters of Harvard student John Corlis White of the 7th New York Volunteers.

The papers of John White Hallowell include correspondence related to his positions as director and trustee for various organizations, business correspondence related to his work with in the securities department of Stone & Webster, Inc., financial records, and papers that reflect his long-standing affiliation with Harvard University, as a student and director of the Harvard Alumni Association. Printed material largely consists of 1915 postcards containing views of the Plattsburgh, N.Y. volunteer training camps prior to the U.S. entry into World War I.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Jane C. Hallowell, in memory of Phillips Hallowell, April 2016.

Restrictions on Access

The Hallowell family papers are stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Family correspondence, 1859-1930

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of the family and personal correspondence of the families of John White Hallowell and Marian Ladd Hallowell. The earliest letters are those written from 1859 to 1861 to Robert and Hannah Haydock, Marian Hallowell's maternal grandparents, from Hannah's cousin John Corlis White of New York. White writes first as a student at Harvard University, then as a member of the 7th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment on his way to defend Washington, D.C. in April 1861, mentioning Robert Gould Shaw as a member of his unit. In several letters written in May of 1861, he describes daily activities at his encampment at the U.S. Capitol in Washington and later at Camp Cameron in Georgetown Heights. Another early letter is that of Col. Edward N. Hallowell of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, informing John Ritchie of the death of his son Edward in April 1865.

The bulk of family correspondence is that of John and Marian Hallowell. Other frequent correspondents include John's parents, Norwood Penrose Hallowell and Sarah Haydock Hallowell, and his siblings Anna Norwood Hallowell Davis (1871-1943), Esther Fisher Hallowell Morse (1881-), Susan Morris Hallowell Brooks (1882-1985), and Robert Haydock Hallowell (1873-1958), who largely discuss daily life, social gatherings, and family activities. Many pre-1905 letters are courtship letters between John and Marian. Correspondence from Marian's friends and family before 1905 mainly discuss courtships and engagements within her circle of acquaintances. After 1905, much of the correspondence consists of congratulations for John and Marian's marriage and the births of their children, as well as condolences for the death of Marian's sister Elanor Ladd Clark in 1912 and of Norwood P. Hallowell in 1914. Later letters from Marian to John while he traveled for business recount her daily life in Milton with the children and visits from family and friends. John's letters to Marian recount his business travels, primarily to the American South and Midwest. There are few letters from John after 1914.

Friends and family members describe experiences from their trips abroad, particularly in Rome and Paris. Later letters written by John and Marian's sons William and Roger discuss travel, college, and life in Milton. Of interest is an 1898 letter discussing the Spanish American War in Cuba; a letter to Marian from Maya Langsley describing her 1900 trip to Yokohama, Japan; a March 1908 letter from Marian to John recounting a trip to the White House in which she met President William Howard Taft; and a copy of a March 1914 letter from A. Lawrence Lowell to Norwood P. Hallowell about segregation in Harvard dormitories. Letters from American diplomat William Phillips to John Hallowell, largely written in London from 1908 to 1912, primarily contain news of family and friends.

Carton 1SH 1A26
Carton 2SH 1A27
1910-May 1914
Carton 3SH 1A28Folders 1-41
June 1914-1930

II. John W. Hallowell papers, 1898-1927

Arranged chronologically.

Papers include correspondence reflecting Hallowell's positions as a director of the Boston Chamber of Commerce and trustee of the Middlesex School of Concord; his position in the securities department of Stone & Webster, Inc.; and his memberships in the Milton Club, the Union Club of Boston, and the Harvard Club of Boston. Financial papers include purchase agreements and receipts for an automobile and portable garage, insurance receipts, and papers related to Hallowell's 1914 purchase and maintenance of a summer home on Wing's Neck in Bourne, Mass. Of note is an October 1914 letter from business associate William Maxwell describing London in the grips of the First World War.

Much of John’s Harvard-affiliated correspondence consists of letters from Edgar H. Wells, general secretary of the Harvard Alumni Association, as well as letters from officials of the Harvard University track team, the Harvard Athletics Association, and other university organizations. Other Harvard papers include Hallowell's 1897-1898 report card, notes for his 1926 speech at the 25th reunion of the Harvard Class of 1901, and a 1927 Harvard Bulletin containing his obituary.

Carton 3SH 1A28Folders 42-50

III. Printed material, 1914-1915

Printed material includes newspaper clippings containing the 1914 obituary of Norwood P. Hallowell, postcards containing photographs of the volunteer training program at the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) camps before the U.S. entry into World War I, and miscellaneous undated ephemera.

Carton 3SH 1A28Folders 51-57

Preferred Citation

Hallowell 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.


Hallowell, John White, 1879-1927.
Hallowell, Marion Ladd, 1884-1968.
Hallowell, Norwood Penrose, 1839-1914.
Hallowell family.
Phillips, William (1878-1968).
White, John Corlis.


Harvard Alumni Association.
Harvard University--Alumni.
Harvard University--Students.
Stone & Webster.
United States--Army--New York Infantry Regiment, 7th (Militia) (1806-1922).


Courtship letters.
Family history, 1900-1949.
Milton (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
Plattsburgh Barracks (N.Y.).
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--New York Infantry, 7th Volunteers.
World War, 1914-1918--Europe--Public opinion.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs have been removed to Photo Coll. 500.163 in the MHS Photo Archives.