1854-1941; bulk: 1875-1940

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The Winthrop Packard 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 the papers of author and naturalist Winthrop Packard (1862-1943), including correspondence, personal papers, literary manuscripts and drafts, memo books, diaries, and printed material.

Biographical Sketch

Winthrop Packard (1862-1943) was born in Boston on 7 March 1862, the son of Hiram Shepard Packard and Maria Blake Packard. He grew up in Canton, Massachusetts; attended Canton High School; and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1885, working as a chemist in Boston for several firms. He later pursued a career in writing and publishing, working as an editor of the Canton Journal in 1894 and of The Youth's Companion in 1899. He also served for three years in the second division of the Massachusetts Naval Reserve, including the 1898 blockade of Havana, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War. In 1900, as a naturalist and correspondent for the Boston Evening Transcript, New York Evening Post, and St. Paul Dispatch, he joined the Corwin expedition exploring Alaska, Siberia, and the Arctic. He later became a nature columnist for the Boston Evening Transcript and editor of the New England Magazine from 1905 to 1908.

Packard was a prolific author of both fiction and nonfiction works, including The Young Ice Whalers (1903), Wildwood Ways (1909), Wild Pastures (1909), Florida Trails (1910), Woodland Paths (1910), and Literary Pilgrimage of a Naturalist (1911). He served as secretary-general of the Massachusetts Audubon Society from 1913 to 1936.

He married Alice Harrington Petrie on 28 June 1905, and the couple had four children: John Winthrop Packard (1906-1997), Theodore Hiram Packard (1911-1994), David Packard (1913-2003), and a son who died in infancy in 1908.

Collection Description

The Winthrop Packard papers consist of three record cartons dating from 1854 to 1941, divided into four series: Personal papers; Writings; Volumes; and Printed material. Personal papers comprise a small series of correspondence, school records, leases, receipts, and royalty statements from Packard's various published works. Writings consist of Packard's Canton High School essays; nonfiction article manuscripts, often containing publisher's replies; a manuscript of Packard's book, He Dropped into Poetry; and numerous undated drafts of poetry, juvenile fiction, lectures, and nonfiction articles about birds, nature, and the sea.

Volumes include two commonplace-books and Packard's series of memo books, many of which contain dated diary entries along with sketches, accounts, notes, and nature observations. The earlier commonplace-book, dating from 1854 to 1880, includes a few dated entries by Packard as well as poems written in the hand of his mother, Maria Blake Packard. Memo books include detailed descriptions of Packard's daily life in Canton and Boston as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1882 to 1884; an 1882 trip to Gloucester, Massachusetts; a summer in Newport, Rhode Island in 1883; and travels to Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Central America. Packard's earliest memo book, written in July 1892, uses racist imagery and language to describe African Americans attending a picnic on Boston's India Wharf. Of note is Packard's 1898 Spanish-American War diary, in which he describes his service with the Massachusetts Naval Reserve aboard the U.S.S. Prairie, including the blockade of Havana, Cuba in July.

Printed material consists largely of newspaper clippings and reprints of Packard's published articles, the bulk from the Boston Evening Transcript. Subjects include birds, nature, ships, fisheries, politics, Alaska, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A small amount of printed material collected by Packard includes review clippings of his published works, material related to his 1932 trip to Puerto Rico, copies of his bird supply catalogs, and several nature publications.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, June 2015.

Restrictions on Access

The Winthrop Packard 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. Personal papers, 1877-1941

Arranged chronologically.

This series includes Packard's Canton High School report cards (1877-1878), childhood correspondence, an 1883 letter from Henry A. Gould of Boston offering Packard a position as a practical chemist, an 1894 lease for greenhouses, and miscellaneous receipts. Also included are records related to Packard's election to the Boston Author's Club (1906-1909); letters from George Selwyn Kimball of Bangor, Maine, for whom Packard served as literary agent (1909); literary criticism of Packard's book Wild Pastures (1909); and royalty statements from his various published works (1909-1912).

Later papers include correspondence related to Packard's trips to Puerto Rico in 1931 and Florida in 1937. A large amount of 1940 and 1941 correspondence consists of letters of acknowledgements for his book, He Dropped in Poetry.

Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 1-16

II. Writings, 1875-1940

A. School essays, 1875-1879

Arranged chronologically.

Packard's school essays, written while at Canton High School from 1875 to 1879, describe his daily activities and aspirations and discuss various themes of morality, politics, history, and nature.

Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 17-27

B. Article manuscripts, 1922-1925, undated

Arranged chronologically and by subject.

Packard's largely undated manuscripts consist of nonfiction articles that he submitted to various publishers, often including the publishers' letters of acceptance or rejection. Subjects included nature, birds, and maritime themes.

Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 28-42

C. He Dropped into Poetry manuscript, 1940

This subseries consists of Packard's typewritten manuscript for his book, He Dropped into Poetry, which he self-published in 1940.

Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 43-46

D. Poems, undated

This subseries consists of typed and handwritten copies of various poems written by Packard.

Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 47-50

E. Drafts, undated

Arranged alphabetically by subject, as labeled by the author.

Included are files containing article drafts and notes by subject, as arranged by Packard. The bulk of his "Nature" drafts were used as a basis for his Boston Evening Transcript articles. His "Personal file" includes book notes and ideas, a dramatic script, and poetry.

Carton 1SH 1B6BFolder 51
Christian Science Monitor series, undated
Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 52-54
Essays of general interest, undated
Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 55-60
Fiction, undated
Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 61-63
Lectures, undated
Carton 1SH 1B6BFolder 64
Musical scores, undated
Carton 1SH 1B6BFolders 65-70
Nature, undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 1
Packard family, undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolders 2-6
Personal file, undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 7
"Ponkapoag Stories," undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 8
Puerto Rico, undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolders 9-13
"The Sea," undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 14
"Tickle Town Tales," undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolders 15-23
Verse, undated
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolders 24-27
Miscellaneous drafts, undated

F. Index to drafts, undated

Packard's index consists of a series of notecards listing individual drafts by subject, as reflected in Subseries E, Drafts. The index is not comprehensive.

Carton 2SH 1A1MFolders 28-29

III. Volumes, 1854-1931

A. Commonplace-books, 1854-1894

Arranged chronologically.

The earlier commonplace-book contains poems and essays copied by Packard's mother, Maria Blake Packard, from 1854 to 1880. Brief entries by Packard include a line-a-day journal discussing the weather and his daily activities as a twelve-year-old boy from 1-21 January 1875; a "Diary of Birds' Nests" containing sporadic entries about nests and their locations, written from April 1875 to May 1879; and an undated fictional manuscript. The 1894 commonplace-book is a small folio of copied poems, most likely in Packard's hand.

Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 30
Commonplace-book, 1854-1880
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 31
Commonplace-book, 1894

B. Memo books and diaries, 1882-1931

Arranged chronologically.

Packard's memo books largely consist of small notebooks of about 40 pages containing dated entries, as well as other nature observations, sketches, and accounts. His thirteen memo books written between 1882 and 1884 describe his life in Canton and in Boston as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also discusses a July 1882 voyage to Gloucester, with descriptions of the town and its fishermen; the 8 April 1883 fire at the Hotel Berkeley in Boston; and his summer in Newport, Rhode Island, with descriptions of the town in June and July 1883. The notebooks primarily contain Packard's descriptions of birds and nature, his social activities, landscape sketches, poems, and observations of daily life. The 24-31 July 1882 memo book uses racist imagery and language to describe African Americans picnicking on Boston's India Wharf.

The "Greenhouse diary," which Packard compiled between 1890 and 1892, contains descriptions of his flowers and vegetables, gardening activities, greenhouse maintenance and repairs, and accounts of plants sold.

Packard's Spanish-American War diary, written from May to September 1898, describes his tour of duty with the second division of the Massachusetts Naval Reserve, including the blockade of Havana. He discusses life aboard the U.S.S. Prairie, an auxiliary cruiser; the ship's movements and activities; and views of Florida, Guantanamo, San Juan, and Haiti. The notebook is written in pencil and is in poor condition.

Packard's 1911 and 1922 memo books are largely nature journals in which he describes the flora and fauna of Maine and New Hampshire. He used much of this material for his articles in the Boston Evening Transcript. Packard's 1928 notebook describes his cruise from New York to Florida, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and Panama. His 1931 notebook contains brief information about his trips to Puerto Rico and Florida. An undated notebook includes Packard's brief description of a trip to Ireland, largely discussing its buildings and vegetation.

Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 32
Memo book and diary, 24-31 July 1882
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 33
Memo book and diary, 1-11 August 1882
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 34
Memo book and diary, 21 August-1 September 1882
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 35
Memo book and diary, 2-12 September 1882
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 36
Memo book and diary, 12-24 September 1882
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 37
Memo book and diary, 24 September-20 October 1882
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 38
Memo book and diary, 1 February-10 March 1883
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 39
Memo book and diary, 11-29 March 1883
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 40
Memo book and diary, 2-20 April 1883
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 41
Memo book and diary, 1-14 June 1883
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 42
Memo book and diary, 15 June-24 July 1883
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 43
Memo book and diary, 7 August-October 1883
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 44
Memo book and diary, July 1884
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 45
"Greenhouse diary," 1890-1892
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 46
Spanish-American War diary, May-September 1898
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 47
Memo book and diary, May-June 1911
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 48
Memo book and diary, 1922
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 49
Memo book and diary, March-August 1928
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 50
Memo book and diary, 1931
Carton 2SH 1A1MFolder 51
Memo book and diary, undated

IV. Printed material, 1896-1940

A. Material written by Winthrop Packard, 1896-1931

Arranged chronologically by subject as organized by Packard.

This subseries contains copies of published juvenile fiction, nonfiction articles, and poetry written by Winthrop Packard. The bulk of nonfiction articles are newspaper clippings of Packard's column in the Boston Evening Transcript on subjects including birds, nature, maritime history, ships, fisheries, political opinion, Alaska, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Carton 3SH 1B6CFolders 1-2
Fiction articles, 1896-1920
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 3
Poetry, 1900, undated
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 4
Alaska articles, 1900-1901
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 5
The Brown Book of Boston articles, 1901
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolders 6-22
Nonfiction articles, 1902-1931
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 23
Technical World Magazine articles, 1909
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 24
Our Dumb Animals articles, 1915-1923
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 25
Massachusetts Audubon Society Bulletin reprints, undated
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 26
"Twixt Smiles and Tears" stories, undated
Carton 3SH 1B6CFolder 27
"Tickle Town Tales" stories, undated

B. Additional printed material, 1901-1940

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries includes a "literary miscellany" of newspaper clippings saved by Packard; review clippings for Packard's book The Young Ice Whalers (1903); miscellaneous notices and reviews for Packard's books; material related to his Puerto Rico trip in 1931, including maps, brochures, and several Puerto Rican magazines; copies of The Florida Naturalist, published by the Florida Audubon Society (1934-1936); a map of the southwestern United States; and several undated copies of Packard's "Everything for Wild Birds" catalogs.

Carton 3SH 1B6CFolders 28-38

Preferred Citation

Winthrop Packard 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.


Packard, Winthrop, 1862-1943.


Boston Evening Transcript.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Students.
Prairie (Cruiser).
United States--Naval Reserve.


African Americans--Massachusetts--Boston.
Authors, American--20th century.
Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
Canton (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
Children's stories--American.
Florida--Description and travel.
Gloucester (Mass.)--Description and travel.
Literary manuscripts.
Nature stories--American.
Newport (R.I.)--Description and travel.
Ocean travel--Diaries.
Poets, American--Massachusetts.
Puerto Rico--Description and travel.
Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)--Description and travel.
Spanish-American War, 1898.
Voyages and travels--Diaries.
Women's commonplace-books.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Winthrop Packard photographs (Photo. Coll. 500.280).