COLLECTION GUIDES

1860-1950

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The Hill 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 reference@masshist.org.


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of papers of the Hill family of Groton, Massachusetts, primarily volumes kept by various family members, as well as papers of Caroline Matilda Caswell.

Biographical Sketches

Listed in bold are the individuals most heavily represented in this collection:

Deacon Henry Hill (1809-1876) of Groton, Massachusetts, married Abigail Coffin (1811-1888) in 1833. They had eight children: Charles Henry Hill (1834-1908); Mary Abby Hill (1836-1837); Sarah Coffin Hill (-1886); Joseph Coffin Hill (1840-1896); Frank Hill (1843-1911); Cortlandt Shattuck Hill (1847-1917); Lucy Maria Hill (1849-1907); and Ellen Montgomery Hill (1851-1941).

Charles Henry Hill (1834-1908) was a farmer and produce dealer in Groton. In 1862, he married Mary Susan McIntire (1841-1930), and they had eight children: Henry "Harry" Augustus Hill (1864-1952); Mary "Mamie" Abigail Hill (1867-1942); Elizabeth Susan Hill (1871-1957); James Thornton Hill (1873-); Nellie Frank Hill (1876-); Susan Putnam Hill (1878-1935); Charles Cortlandt Hill (1882-); and Lucy Hill (1884-1884).

Elizabeth Susan Hill (1871-1957) was a schoolteacher, including at the Willard School in Groton, Massachusetts.

Nellie Frank Hill (1876-) was very active in the settlement house movement of the early 20th century. She served variously as vice president, secretary, and general manager of the Frances E. Willard Settlement, a home for working women. The founder and president of the organization was Caroline Matilda "Tillie" Caswell (1864-1938).

The Frances E. Willard Settlement was incorporated in 1903 and encompassed a number of different settlement houses and philanthropic services for women. The primary Frances E. Willard House on Chambers Street in Boston was a residence for young working women. The organization also operated a clubhouse with a gymnasium, auditorium, library, and other rooms, and offered practical training in dressmaking, millinery, bookkeeping, stenography, and other subjects. Llewsac Lodge of Bedford, Massachusetts, was a rest home and "industrial center" for women between 40 and 60. The organization also operated a camp for girls in Bedford named after Nellie Frank Hill. And the Harriet E. Sawyer Home for Aged Women in Malden, Massachusetts, served women 65 or older.

Susan Putnam Hill (1878-1935) was a schoolteacher in Lancaster, Massachusetts, and beginning around 1907, served as director of a school gardening program in which garden plots were tended by local schoolchildren.

Sarah Coffin Hill (-1886) married merchant James Porter Fiske (1825-1873) in 1866.

Lucy Maria Hill (1849-1907) married Frederick Fosdick (1850-1924) in 1873, and they had four children: Frederick "Fritz" Woodbury Fosdick (1875-1943), later a judge of the Massachusetts Superior Court; Nellie Fosdick (1878-1917); Richard Coffin Fosdick (1883-1956); and Miriam E. Fosdick (1890-1971).

Ellen "Nellie" Montgomery Hill (1851-1941) spent several years traveling, especially during the 1890s, including to Japan to visit her brother and sister-in-law, Joseph Coffin Hill (1840-1896) and Charlotte Coleman Caryl (1852-1932). Joseph was in Japan representing Scott's Emulsion Company. While in Japan, Nellie hired a personal attendant, or amah, named Suzuki Rui Matsu, who returned with her to the United States and lived and traveled with her for years.

Collection Description

This collection consists of papers of the Hill family of Groton, Massachusetts, primarily Charles Henry Hill and his daughters Elizabeth Susan Hill, Nellie Frank Hill, and Susan Putnam Hill; Sarah Coffin Hill Fiske; Lucy Maria Hill Fosdick and her daughter Nellie Fosdick; and Ellen Montgomery Hill. The collection also contains papers of Caroline Matilda Caswell, who was associated with Nellie F. Hill through their philanthropic work, particularly the Frances E. Willard Settlement, a settlement house for working women in Boston.

The bulk of the collection consists of volumes, including diaries, account books, drawing books, autograph albums, school gardening notebooks, and commonplace-books. Included are five account books kept by grocer and produce dealer Charles H. Hill showing sales of groceries and other merchandise; a book of drawings and watercolors by Elizabeth S. Hill; autograph albums of Caroline M. Caswell, Lucy Maria Hill Fosdick, and Ellen M. Hill; printed material, meeting minutes, and other records related to the Frances E. Willard Settlement, the Harriet E. Sawyer Home for Aged Women in Malden, Massachusetts, and Llewsac Lodge in Bedford, Massachusetts; gardening notebooks kept by Susan P. Hill, schoolteacher and director of a school gardening program in Lancaster, Massachusetts; two household account books of Sarah Coffin Hill Fiske; and diaries, correspondence, and receipts of Ellen M. Hill, including receipts written in Japanese characters.

Arrangement Note

The papers in this collection are arranged by family group, in the siblings' birth order: I. Charles Henry Hill and his family; II. Sarah Coffin Hill Fiske; III. Lucy Maria Hill Fosdisk and Nellie Fosdick; IV. Ellen Montgomery Hill; and V. Miscellaneous and unidentified family members.

Loose items removed from between the pages of a volume are filed in a folder immediately following the volume.

Acquisition Information

Acquired by purchase, September 2022.

Restrictions on Access

The Hill 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 reference@masshist.org.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Charles Henry Hill family papers, 1860-1950

This series consists of the papers of Charles Henry Hill and three of his daughters: Elizabeth Susan Hill, Nellie Frank Hill, and Susan Putnam Hill. This series also contains papers of Caroline Matilda Caswell, who was associated with Nellie F. Hill through their philanthropic work.

A. Charles Henry Hill papers, 1860-1913

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains a pocket diary with brief, sporadic entries describing Charles H. Hill's activities, as well as financial memoranda; five account books, including three oversize daybooks and one account ledger showing sales of groceries and other merchandise to various customers; and a few receipts and miscellaneous letters. An additional account book may have been kept first by Hill or his wife Mary Susan McIntire Hill, but accounts beginning in 1912 were apparently kept by their son James Thornton Hill. Many pages have been torn out.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 1
Pocket diary, 1860
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 2
Items removed from diary, 1869-1870
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 3
Account book, 1864-1871, 1912-1913
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 4
Personal papers, 1870-1910
Box OSSH 1B8E
Daybook, 1871-1872
Box OSSH 1B8E
Daybook, 1872-1873
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 5
Account ledger, 1874-1881
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 6
Items removed from account ledger, undated
Box OSSH 1B8E
Daybook, 1876-1877

B. Elizabeth Susan Hill papers, 1890-1920

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries consists primarily of a volume containing color and black-and-white pencil drawings and watercolors apparently by Elizabeth S. Hill at Groton, Massachusetts. Subjects include plants, insects, fish, and birds, as well as the Willard School, a one-room schoolhouse in Groton where Hill taught in 1892. The volume contains captions identifying many of the subjects and memoranda about some of the insects pictured. The subseries also includes miscellaneous personal papers, primarily receipts.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 7
Drawing book, 1890-1920
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 8
Items removed from drawing book, 1890-1900
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 9
Personal papers, 1906-1918

C. Nellie Frank Hill and Caroline Matilda Caswell papers, 1875-1950

This subseries contains papers of Nellie Frank Hill and Caroline Matilda "Tillie" Caswell, who were associated with each other through their philanthropic work, particularly the Frances E. Willard Settlement. Also included are records of some of the organizations with which they were affiliated.

Nellie Frank Hill personal papers, 1891-1950

Arranged chronologically.

Included is a pocket diary kept by Nellie F. Hill at West Groton, Massachusetts, when she was a teenager, containing sporadic entries about her activities, such as church and school attendance. The volume also contains accounts and miscellaneous memoranda. Personal papers consist of a few papers related to her estate.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 10
Pocket diary, 1891
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 11
Items removed from diary, [1891]
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 12
Personal papers, 1897-1950

Caroline Matilda Caswell personal papers, 1875-1930

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 13
Autograph album, 1875-1882

This volume contains signatures of Caswell family members and friends, primarily in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Also included are poems and drawings.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 14
Nesmith family papers, 1885-1930

The Nesmiths were related to Caroline M. Caswell by marriage. Her sister Mary Louise married Charles Irving Nesmith. Included are deeds, estate documents, and genealogical notes.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 15-16
Personal papers, 1904-1926

Caroline M. Caswell's personal papers relate primarily to the estate of Nellie Evelyn Cook (-1911), treasurer of the Frances E. Willard Settlement. Caswell was an executor. Included are legal documents, letters, and an estate inventory.

Papers of organizations, 1913-1942

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 17-19
Frances E. Willard Settlement printed material, 1913-1926

Included are informational pamphlets about the settlement, programs for benefit concerts, and newspaper clippings.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 20
Administration Bureau meeting minutes, 18 April 1923-15 January 1925

This volume, entitled "Records of the Administration Bureau of the Plan for securing interest in and support of the Trio of Philanthropies," contains meeting minutes documenting fundraising efforts for the Frances E. Willard Settlement, the Harriet E. Sawyer Home for Aged Women, and Llewsac Lodge. Caroline M. Caswell was the chair of the bureau, and secretaries included Nellie F. Hill, Margaret E. Tyler, and Madeleine Newell.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 21
Florida Health Resort and Recreational Center for Women documents, 1927-1931

Included is the certificate of incorporation, stock certificates, and the trademark certification.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 22
Little Grey House stockholders' ledger, 1929-1930

Included is the certificate of incorporation, stock certificates, and other papers.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 23
Items removed from stockholders' ledger, 1929-1942

D. Susan Putnam Hill papers, 1899-1912

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries consists primarily of notebooks kept by Susan Putnam Hill for her Lancaster, Massachusetts, school gardening program. The gardens were located in North Lancaster, South Lancaster, and Lancaster Center. Notebooks include students' names, attendance, details about vegetables and flowers planted and picked, and diagrams, as well as diary-like entries and descriptions of the program. The subseries also contains two notebooks apparently kept by students, as well as other volumes belonging to Hill. Her notebook dated 1908-1910 contains a draft of a long letter to her cousin Eleanor.

Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 24
Lesson attendance notebook, 1899-1900, with Willow Dell Farm accounts, 1908
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 25
Items removed from attendance notebook, 1908
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 26
Personal papers, 1901-1910
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 27
Gardening notebook, 1907
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 28
Items removed from notebook, [1907]
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 29
Gardening notebook, 1908-1910
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 30
Items removed from notebook, [1908-1910]
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 31
Gardening notebook, 1910, with miscellaneous memoranda, undated
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 32
Gardening notebook, 1910
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 33
Gardening notebook, 1910
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 34
Items removed from notebook, [1910]
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 35
Gardening notebook, 1912
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 36
Gardening notebook, 1912
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 37
Gardening notebook, 1912
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 38
Gardening notebook, 1912
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 39
Items removed from notebook, 1912
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 40
Gardening notebook, undated
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 41
Child's gardening notebook, undated
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 42
Child's gardening notebook, with drawings, undated
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 43
Items removed from child's notebook, undated
Carton 1SH 1AP5Folder 44
Memoranda book, undated

II. Sarah Coffin Hill Fiske papers, 1866-1886

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists primarily of household account books kept by Sarah Coffin Hill Fiske. The daybook also contains sporadic memoranda, including one on the assassination of President James Garfield.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 1
Housekeeping accounts and recipe book, [ca. 1866]
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 2
Daybook of household expenses, 1873-1883
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 3
Personal papers, 1886

III. Lucy Maria Hill Fosdick and Nellie Fosdick papers, 1865-1901

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains the papers of Lucy Maria Hill Fosdick and her daughter Nellie Fosdick. Lucy's autograph album contains signatures of family members and friends, including classmates from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts. Nellie's school notebook contains notes apparently taken for a class at Smith College entitled "Logic and Psychology."

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 4
Lucy Maria Hill Fosdick autograph album, 1865-1887
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 5
Nellie Fosdick school notebook, 1901
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 6
Items removed from school notebook, [1901]

IV. Ellen Montgomery Hill papers, 1864-1931

This series consists of the papers of Ellen "Nellie" Montgomery Hill, primarily diaries documenting her extensive travels through Europe and Japan. Diary entries describe her social activities; shopping and sightseeing; trips to the theater, museums, and other places; and people she met. The series also contains other volumes, correspondence, and receipts.

A. Volumes, 1864-1929

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 7
Autograph album, 1864-1886

This volume contains signatures of family members and friends, including classmates from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 8
Commonplace-book, 1871-1884

This volume contains miscellaneous quotations, poems, and writings by Nellie M. Hill, including writings on religious subjects. Most of the volume is blank.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 9
Scrapbook on Robert Browning, 1886-1888

This volume contains newspaper clippings on Robert Browning, his death, and the Browning Club.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 10
Items removed from scrapbook, 1883-1890
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 11
European travel diary, 27 April-31 December 1892

This diary describes Nellie M. Hill's travels in Geneva, Bavaria, Berlin, Dresden, Amsterdam, Paris, and back in Geneva. Included are entries mentioning friends named Ella and Alice, as well as many others.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 12
European travel diary, 4 June-11 August 1893, 1890

This diary describes Hill's travels in London and Edinburgh. Included are entries mentioning friends named Ella and Alice, as well as many others. The back of the volume contains a list of French phrases, written at Geneva, 4-15 September 1890.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 13
Travel diary, 16 August 1893-26 May 1895 (with gaps)

Entries in this diary were written in London; briefly in the continental United States; during the voyage to Hawaii; in Honolulu; in Yokohama, Japan; and on the return voyage to the United States. Hill was in Japan visiting her brother and sister-in-law, Joseph Coffin Hill and Charlotte "Lottie" Coleman Caryl Hill.

For entries written in Yokohama, Japan, 29 July 1894-3 May 1895, see Folder 14-16.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 14
Japanese travel diary, 29 July 1894-1 January 1895

This diary describes Hill's activities in Yokohama, Japan. Entries discuss Joseph Coffin Hill, Charlotte "Lottie" Coleman Caryl Hill, and their children, as well as Suzuki Rui Matsu; the weather; customs and cultural differences, including food and clothing; sights; tension between Japan and China; English lessons with Rui; Americans living and working in Japan; earthquakes; and other subjects.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 15
Items removed from diary, [1894]
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 16
Japanese travel diary, January-3 May 1895

This diary is a continuation of the diary in Folder 14. Entries describe daily activities, including trips to Kobe and Kyoto with Suzuki Rui Matsu and an earthquake in Yokohama.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 17
Travel diary, 9 January-30 May 1900

Entries describe daily activities in Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan, with Suzuki Rui Matsu; Rui's marriage; and the voyage from Shanghai to Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang, the Suez Canal, Europe, and Boston. Included are many entries about shipboard social activities.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 18
Pocket diary, 1919

This diary was kept at Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and describes Hill's daily activities. Also included are addresses, accounts, and memoranda of books read.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 19
Items removed from pocket diary, 1919
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 20
Pocket diary, 1926

This diary was kept at Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and describes Hill's daily activities. Included are entries related to the death of her friend Rebecca Torrey (1845-1926), as well as addresses, accounts, and memoranda.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 21
Pocket diary, 1929

This diary was kept at Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and describes Hill's daily activities. Also included are addresses, accounts, and memoranda.

B. Personal papers, 1885-1931

Arranged chronologically.

Included are letters from Yasu Kume, a student of Nellie's in Osaka, Japan, 1919-1920, including a letter about a deadly influenza outbreak there; letters from cousins Alice Hill, Sarah Hill, and John P. Coffin, as well as Charlotte Coleman Caryl Hill; resolutions on the death of Joseph Coffin Hill in 1896; and a large number of receipts for purchases made in Europe and Japan, including many written in Japanese characters.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 22-27
Receipts, 1885-1921
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 28-29
Correspondence, 1892-1931
Box OSSH 1B8E
Oversize passport, issued at Tokyo, Japan, 26 April 1899

V. Miscellaneous Hill family papers, 1876-1913

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of miscellaneous and unidentified Hill family papers, including loose papers and fragments; a commonplace-book containing manuscript and printed poetry and quotations, primarily religious; and a daybook of daily accounts, apparently kept in at least two different hands.

Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 30
Loose papers, 1876-1913, undated
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 31
Unidentified commonplace-book, 1885-1887
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 32
Items removed from commonplace-book, [1885-1887]
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 33
Unidentified account book, 1889-1898
Carton 2SH 1AP6Folder 34
Items removed from account book, 1893

Preferred Citation

Hill 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.

Persons:

Caswell, Caroline Matilda, 1864-1938.
Fiske, Sarah Coffin Hill, -1886.
Fosdick, Lucy Maria Hill, 1849-1907.
Fosdick, Nellie, 1878-1917.
Hill, Charles Henry, 1834-1908.
Hill, Elizabeth Susan, 1871-1957.
Hill, Ellen Montgomery, 1851-1941.
Hill, Nellie Frank, 1876-
Hill, Susan Putnam, 1878-1935.

Organizations:

Frances E. Willard Settlement (Boston, Mass.).
Harriet E. Sawyer Home for Aged Women (Malden, Mass.).
Llewsac Lodge (Bedford, Mass.).

Subjects:

Account books--1864-1913.
Account books--1866.
Account books--1871-1872.
Account books--1872-1873.
Account books--1873-1883.
Account books--1874-1881.
Account books--1876-1877.
Autograph albums.
Commonplace-books.
Drawing books.
Drawings.
Gardening--Massachusetts--Lancaster.
Gardening--Study and teaching.
Groceries--Prices.
Groton (Mass.)--Commerce.
Home economics--Accounting.
Merchants--Massachusetts--Groton.
Social settlements--Massachusetts.
Watercolors (paintings).
Women--Economic conditions.
Women--Employment--Massachusetts.
Women--Social conditions.
Women social reformers--Massachusetts.
Women teachers--Massachusetts--Lancaster.
Women's commonplace-books.
Working class women--Massachusetts.