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Henry Yates Thompson papers, 1863-1928

91 items (0.5 linear feet)

The Henry Yates Thompson papers contain the letters, diaries, and lectures of Thompson, an Englishman who visited the United States in 1863 and witnessed several battles in the Chattanooga Campaign, while making observations on politics, slavery, and education.

The Henry Yates Thompson papers contain 38 letters, 6 diaries, 4 documents, 2 maps, and 43 printed items (including newspaper clippings), spanning 1863-1928.

The Correspondence series covers 1863-1918, with bulk centering around 1863-1866. Thompson wrote the vast majority of letters home to his parents and siblings, while he traveled the United States and Canada; he filled his correspondence with thoughtful observations on slavery, the Civil War, women's education, and comparisons between England and the United States. On July 29, 1863, he noted the objections to the military draft by "copperheads" in New Hampshire and commented unfavorably on them. In late summer, he remarked about the Canadian support for the Confederacy (August 7, 1863); the growth of slavery, which he believed had been slowed by objections from the North (August 15, 1863); meeting abolitionist Samuel J. May (September 1, 1863); and the "marks of quiet industry" that he saw in free African Americans in the North. On September 29, 1863, he wrote a long, detailed letter about a visit to a "colored camp" in Baltimore, in which escaped slaves trained and drilled in front of Yankee officers. He also recorded the comments of several slave owners, who discussed the escape of slaves and expressed doubt that slaves would fight. In several letters, dated November 23 and December 3, 1863, Thompson described several battles in the Chattanooga Campaign at the side of Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote about the intensity of firing, expressed horror at the injuries and deaths he saw, and gave his impressions of Grant. Thompson also wrote about slaughterhouses in Chicago and the benefits of co-education to women (October 16, 1863), a journey to the Isles of Shoals (September 12, 1863), and the people he met in Keene, New Hampshire (July 23, 1863).

The letters postdating 1863 document Thompson's failed attempts to establish a lectureship on American history at Cambridge in 1865. On May 16, 1907, he declined a revival of the idea by Cambridge, citing possible objections from Harvard and the diminishing need for such an academic collaboration.

The Diaries series contains four volumes, which cover July-December 1863, with overlap in periods and events covered between volumes. As in his letters, Thompson wrote frankly about slavery and abolition, American politics, education, and various places that he visited. He also enclosed letters and ephemera related to these, such as tickets, pamphlets, advertisements, and clippings, which remain with the volumes. In Volume I (July 10-November 3, 1863), Thompson discussed the circumstances of Lincoln's election (pp. 3-4), a visit to Niagara Falls (p. 45), and the National Bank system (p. 53). Volume II (September 13-November 13, 1863) contains another account of the Battles for Chattanooga (pp. 22-31), and discussion of slavery and both sides of the conflict. Volume III (September 25-November 26, 1863) describes travels through Missouri with a German friend, and also covers the Battle of Chattanooga, but more briefly and informally. It may have served as a field notebook. Volume IV (November 15-December 15, 1863) contains further discussion of the Chattanooga Campaign and the war, as well as a description of people that Thompson encountered during his travels to Brooklyn, New York.

The Lecture Notebooks series contains two items: a rough draft and an apparent final draft of a speech on the Battles for Chattanooga, given by Thompson at Harrow School on March 7, 1865. The lecture gives a very detailed description of many aspects of the battle, including troop movements, casualties, supplies, and the role of the United States Sanitary Commission.

The Documents series contains an 1862 "Requisition for Forage" for the Confederacy, and essays entitled "Then and Now at the University of Cambridge" (1918) and "The American Lectureship" (n.d.).

The Maps series contains just one item: a manuscript map illustrating the geography and positions of troops at Chattanooga on November 23, 1863.

The Printed Materials series, spanning 1865-1941, primarily contains printed materials related to Thompson's proposed lectureship on American history at Cambridge. Also included are several obituaries for Thompson, and a book by Christopher Chancellor, Thompson's great-nephew, containing excerpts from the diaries and letters. Published in 1971, the book is entitled, An Englishman in the American Civil War: The Diaries of Henry Yates Thompson, and is housed in the Clements Library's Book Division.


Thompson family papers, 1821-1973 (majority within 1821-1934)

8.75 linear feet

This collection is made up of the papers of Arba U. Thompson and his wife Frances Warner Thompson of Farmington and Avon, Hartford County, Connecticut, as well as the correspondence of their children Herbert, William, Lewis, Leila, Charles, and Frances May Thompson. The collection also includes the correspondence of Lucelia "Leila" U. Thompson, an educator who traveled with her husband William P. Baker to India in 1853 to serve for a decade as a missionary and teacher.

This collection is made up of the papers of Arba U. Thompson and his wife Frances Warner Thompson of Farmington and Avon, Hartford, Connecticut, as well as the correspondence of their children Herbert, William, Lewis, Leila, Charles, and Frances May Thompson. The papers include 2,713 letters, plus one linear foot of diaries, legal and financial documents, school papers, a commonplace book, a notebook, poems and writings, photographs, ephemeral materials, and printed items.

The Thompson Family Papers correspondence includes a wide range of writers and recipients. A temporary, rudimentary selection of them is as follows:

  • The earliest portion of the collection is largely comprised of the incoming correspondence of Frances "Frankie" Warner / Frances Warner Thompson, 1850-1851, and the often lengthy, journal-like letters of Lucelia "Leila" U. Thompson who traveled with her husband William P. Baker to India in 1853, where she served as a missionary and teacher until her death in 1864. Lucelia's letters begin with correspondence from Dwight Place Seminary, New Haven, in 1850. By 1852, she served as a teacher at Germantown in a school of Mary Fales, then in 1853 determined to travel as a missionary abroad. From 1853 to 1864, she wrote lengthy, at times journal-like letters from different locations in India, including "Ahmednuggur," "Khokar," Bhingar, "Shingvay" (illustrated letter from Bombay, January 1, 1855). Her recipients included Emmie Gallup (in Essex, Conn.), Lottie R. Andrew, and Emily Hubbard.
  • After Lucelia's death, her husband William P. Barker wrote letters to their parents, daughter Mary, and niece Leila Anna. Barker wrote from Minneapolis and Cottage Grove in the 1860s and 1870s, and from Carbon, Wyoming Territory, in the early 1880s.
  • Early 1850s courtship correspondence of Arba Thompson and Frances Warner.
  • Early 1850s letters from Mary E. Hubbell of Ipswich, Massachusetts; Avon, Connecticut; Baltimore, Maryland; and North Stonington, Connecticut, to Abigail "Nabby" Thompson.
  • Correspondence of Frances Thompson's brother "Baxter" at Yale College, beginning in 1854.
  • Letters by Flora Thompson in Avon, Connecticut, to her siblings beginning in the 1850s, then from Carthage, Ohio, by the 1870s.
  • Letters of Abel M. Thompson of Rockville mid-1850s
  • Correspondence of Pliny F. Warner of Aledo, Illinois, a job printer and publisher of the weekly Aledo Banner, editor of the Mason County Republican out of Havana, Illinois, and then the Havana Republican.
  • Letters by Frances Warner's father Milo Warner of Strykersville, New York, 1850s-1860s.
  • Letters by Frances Warner's sister Cordelia Morrill of Brooklyn, Strykersville, "Shadow Nook," and Java Village, New York, 1860s-1890s.
  • Post-Civil War correspondence to Frances, Abigail "Nabby", and Herbert Wilson Thompson.
  • Letters to Frances and Arba from cousin Dr. C. D. Woodruff of Lima, New York.
  • Letters of E. G. Warner in Amherst, Massachusetts, to cousin Leila Thompson, 1880s.
  • Letters from Charles and Anna Thompson to Frances Thompson from Bridgeport, Connecticut, late 1880s. Charles K. Thompson worked for the American Gramophone Company at Bridgeport.
  • Letters of H. W. Thompson, working at C. H. Smith & Co., loan brokers and western real estate out of Hartford, Connecticut, late 1880s.
  • Correspondence of Edith A. Warner of Brooklyn, New York, while teaching at Granville Female College, Granville, Ohio, in the 1880s.
  • By 1890, the volume of letters to Frances May Thompson, known as May, from siblings and cousins increased dramatically. In the early 1890s, May took a job as a teacher at a schoolhouse in Washington, Connecticut. While there, she received letters from Helen M. Webster (1860-1905), a supervisor at the American Asylum at Hartford, Connecticut; later, Helen married to a man named George Reed and wrote from Hill City, South Dakota, in 1896 and 1897. By the late 1890s, May received letters from her husband, who worked at Harvey & Lewis, opticians and photographic supplies. He also used New York Life Insurance Company stationery.
  • Correspondence between siblings Lewis and Leila Thompson, 1900s.
  • Incoming letters to Leila Thompson from Alice P. Warner of Beloit, Wisconsin, early 1900s.
  • Letters between Leila and Alice H. "Claire" Alderman in Clarkston, Georgia; St. Petersburg, Florida; and elsewhere, 1900s-1910s.
  • Later letters between Beatrice A. Hoskins and her mother Frances Hoskins.

The collection includes two small, unsigned diaries, dated 1848 and 1923. Legal and financial documents include 57 accounts, tax receipts, land indentures, loan receipts, four account books (1824-1927), and other papers, largely from Avon and Farmington, Connecticut. One account book, kept by Guy Thomson in 1824, includes accounts for sawing, mending a halter, plowing, mowing, planting, picking apples, making cider, shoeing horses, mending fences, and other labor, plus monies taken in from a boarder.

School papers include 10 rewards of merit, report cards, school programs, a student's notebook, and a teacher's notebook, all dating from 1851-1925. A commonplace book by Leila U. Thompson dates from the 1840s and includes poetry and excerpts, including a multi-page poem, "The Missionary's Call." A notebook, marked "O.V. Brainerd" contains page after page of scribbles.

Poems and other writings include 42 loose leaf copies of poems on subjects such as temperance, resignation, death and bereavement, friendship, sentimental and religious topics, Christmas, and other subjects. Seventeen photographs include a CDV of Fannie Warner as a young girl, and a selection of snapshots, apparently of members of the Hoskins family.

The Thompson Family Papers include a variety of ephemera and printed items, including 12 visiting cards; 33 invitations and announcements; 46 birthday, valentine, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and other holiday cards; genealogical notes; newspaper clippings, pamphlets, programs, and other items.


William and Robert Thompson collection, 1800-1827, 1845

51 items

This collection is made up of financial records and correspondence related to William and Robert Thompson of Thompsontown, Pennsylvania. Most of the financial records pertain to the Thompsons' subscriptions to periodicals and to their purchases of goods from Philadelphia merchants.

This collection (51 items) is made up of financial records and correspondence related to merchants William and Robert Thompson of Thompsontown, Pennsylvania. The bulk of the collection is made up of receipts, invoices, and similar documents addressed to the Thompson brothers, particularly Robert, from 1815-1826. Most of these records pertain to purchases of various kinds of goods from merchants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a smaller number of items relate to periodical subscriptions. Among the goods that the Thompsons bought were tobacco, oils, and shoes. The collection's early items largely consist of financial documents sent to William and Robert's father, also named William, as well as a newspaper clipping listing US exports between October 1800 and September 1801. A small group of correspondence includes personal letters to Robert Thompson; one correspondent wrote about the distribution of election tickets in Mexico, Pennsylvania (October 20, 1816).