Guide to the Photograph Collection
Photographs of General Clarence Ransom Edwards, his family, and his diplomatic and military associates.
Clarence Ransom Edwards (1859-1931) was the eldest son of prominent merchant William and Lucia (Ransom) Edwards of Cleveland, Ohio, and brother of Harry, Lucia, and Kate. Clarence, the nephew of Union Civil War hero Oliver Edwards, seemed destined for a military career. He attended the Brooks Military Academy and graduated from West Point in 1883, ranked 52nd in a class of 52. His lack of academic prowess, however, did not limit his later achievements.
His military career was wide-ranging, beginning with a commission as second lieutenant and a posting at Fort Union, New Mexico, followed by duty at Fort Porter in Buffalo, New York, where he met and married Bessie Rochester Porter in 1889. The couple had one daughter, Bessie Porter Edwards, who died at age 21 while in training to be an army nurse. During the Spanish-American War, Edwards served in the Philippines (1898-1900) and afterwards became Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs (1900-1912). He was politically well connected, and his close associates included future President William Howard Taft and Secretary of War Jacob Dickinson. In 1912, Edwards was assigned to regular army duty, commanding the 6th Brigade at Fort D. A. Russell in Wyoming and Texas City, Texas, before being sent to Hawaii to command the 1st Brigade. In 1915, he was ordered to Panama as commander of U.S. forces there.
After the American declaration of war on Germany in 1917, Edwards was given command of the 26th "Yankee" Division and authorized to gather National Guard troops from New England. He took his division to France, where they saw action against German forces at Chemin des Dames, Bois Brule, Seicheprey, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel, and the Argonne Forest. Edwards was relieved of duty just seventeen days before the armistice and ordered home by General John J. Pershing who objected to Edwards "unmilitary" style of command. This exile only increased Edwards's popularity with his troops who referred to him as "Daddy." After the war, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for public office.
From 1918 to 1920, Edwards again headed the Northeastern Department of the Army; he was promoted to major general in 1922 and retired from the army and lived out his retirement at "Doneroving," a farm in Westwood, Massachusetts. The general remained in touch with many members of his former Yankee Division and continued to push for official recognition of the division's accomplishments in battle. He was especially active in the movements for universal military training and against prohibition in the 1920s. He also served as chairman of the board of his father's Cleveland business and was a strong proponent of airship commerce. He died from complications resulting from an intestinal obstruction on 14 February 1931 and is buried with his wife and daughter at Arlington National Cemetery.
Shay, Michael E. Revered Commander, Maligned General: The Life of Clarence Ransom Edwards, 1859-1931. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011.
The Clarence Ransom Edwards photographs comprise images of Edwards's family, friends, and military and political associates from throughout his life. The collection includes images from Edwards's trips and postings abroad, including photographs of Korea and Japan taken while on tour with William H. Taft; photographs of the Philippines, Panama, California, and other military postings; and many unidentified photographs. Several photographs document the return of Edwards and the Yankee Division from World War I and Edwards's retirement as a gentleman farmer. The collection also includes several unidentified photographs of babies and children, the offspring of "Daddy" Edwards's Yankee Division.
Gift of the Clarence Ransom Edwards estate through John W. Hyatt, 1932. Additions were a gift of the Bessie Hale Hawes estate through David Lee, 2002.
Detailed Description of the Collection
This series contains portraits of Clarence Ransom Edwards and various family members, as well as military and political associates. Unidentified portraits are listed at the end of each section.
Photograph of a man on horseback performing a cavalry maneuver known as "lemon slicing." A label affixed to the back of the print explains the move.
Cabinet photographs of Edwards as a Cadet at West Point.
Edwards in uniform during his tenure in the Bureau of Insular Affairs.
Edwards in civilian clothing, sitting behind a desk.
Formal portraits of Edwards, different poses, taken at the same sitting.
Edwards, in uniform, with horse.
Edwards, in uniform, walks alongside a flag-draped coffin on horse-drawn hearse.
Edwards, on horseback, leads the 1919 Yankee Division Parade through the streets of Boston.
Edwards performing various tasks around his farm.
Edwards working on the farm.
Col. William Edwards driving a horse drawn carriage.
Two snapshots of Lieutenant Parker jumping with his horse Doughboy.
Two postcard portraits of William H. Young, also known as "Apache Bill."
Two studio photographs of a baby identified only as "Baby Connie at eight months."
Photograph of a truck fitted out as a military field kitchen with black driver and cook.
Snapshot of three girls dressed in Dutch costume. Inscribed on verso: "Merry Christmas from some Cushing girls."
Group photograph in unidentified location of the party accompanying Secretary of War Dickinson on his world tour which began in June of 1910.
Inscribed on verso: "The general and his nephew William Edwards Otis, who Ran Away to Join the Navy. Dec. 27, 1918."
Snapshot. Inscribed on verso: "Our General and some of his lads. Plymouth, Mass. July 3, 1921. 120 [degrees] in the sun."
Inscribed on verso: "Col. Theodore Roosevelt & Russell J. Coles on Devilfish harpooning expedition on coast of Fla. March 26th 1917."
Inscribed on verso: "Just after the degree Doctor of Science had been conferred on Col. Theodore Roosevelt & Russell J. Coles by Trinity College Hartford Conn., June 18th 1918."
Group photographs taken in China, Japan, and Manila during William H. Taft's trip to those countries. Neither individuals nor exact locations are identified.
Five unidentified military officers, the face of one cut out of the picture. Partially identified on verso as "Sage, Treat, Morton & Treble."
An album containing black and white snapshots, largely unidentified. The album includes photographs of families, animals, houses and military bases, and a number of photographs of William Howard Taft. For loose photographs removed from album, see Photo. 264.364-264.370.
A dismantled scrapbook album containing snapshots and newspaper clippings, documenting Edwards's retirement years at Doneroving farm in Westwood, Massachusetts. The album includes photographs of Clarence and Bessie Edwards, farm animals, and snapshots of unidentified people, likely taken at the farm.
Photographs taken during the 1st Division reunion in November of 1920.
These photographs include views of houses, probably lived in by Edwards and his family in their various postings around the country.
III. Miscellaneous photographs
Portrait of a dog in the field.
Photograph of a proposed design for the Golden Gate Bridge signed H. D. Jenkins, 1925.
Photograph of perspective drawing signed H. D. Jenkins, 1924.
Postcards, some sent to Clarence Edwards from family and friends, others unused.
Photographs of military and civilian zeppelins, including plans and drawings.
Clarence Ransom Edwards photographs, Photo. Coll. 264, Massachusetts Historical Society Photo Archives.
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.