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Dwight and Ferris family papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 468

Scope and Contents

The Dwight and Ferris family papers span the years 1711 to 1951, and the bulk of the material concerns three individuals: Timothy Dwight (1694-1771), Theodore Dwight, Jr. (1796-1866), and Eleanor Augusta Ferris. The collection is organized into five series: Papers of Timothy Dwight (1694-1771), Papers of Theodore Dwight (1796-1866), Other Dwight Family Papers, Papers of Eleanor Augusta Ferris, and Other Ferris Family Papers.

Series I, Papers of Timothy Dwight (1694-1771) is organized into two subseries: Fort Dummer Papers and Other Papers. It consists chiefly of correspondence and papers documenting Dwight's command of Fort Dummer in 1724-25, but also includes correspondence from 1731-63 that documents his work as a surveyor and a judge. Most of the papers in this series were, at the time of acquisition, glued into a book inscribed "Fort Dummer Papers from Theodore Dwight's Collection, 62 Harris St., Brooklyn." They have been removed and foldered individually, both for their protection and to facilitate logical arrangement. In order to maintain the integrity of that collection, all of the papers from the book are included in this series, including one letter which may be to Timothy Dwight (1726-1777). The numbers on the papers, usually in the upper left hand corner, refer to their arrangement in the book (there were no numbers 6 or 12 at the time of acquisition). The boards of the book can be found in Series II, Papers of Theodore Dwight (1796-1866).

Fort Dummer was built in 1724 as a scouting station during the conflict between English settlers and Abenaki Indians known as Dummer's War, 1723-1726, sometimes also called Grey Lock's War or Lovewell's War. It was the first fortification on the English frontier, and was located on the West bank of the Connecticut River near the present site of Brattleboro, Vermont. It is sometimes referred to in the papers as "the fort above Northfield," "the fort in the Long Meadow," or "the Block House." Papers concerning Fort Dummer document events, expeditions, and general management of the fort from January 1724 to October 1725. They include a plan for construction of the fort in January of 1724 and a photostatic copy of a muster-roll for the Company of Captain Timothy Dwight, circa 1725. Names of Militiamen and Mohawk Indians garrisoned at the fort can also be found in the correspondence, which includes three outgoing letters from Dwight, as well as letters from Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts William Dummer, Dwight's commanding officer Colonel John Stoddard, Captain Samuel Partridge, and other officers stationed along the Western frontier. There are also copies of two letters from Colonel John Schuyler in Albany, one of which contains a detailed report of failed peace negotiations held in Canada in August of 1724.

The later papers of Timothy Dwight (1694-1771), 1731-63, document his work as a surveyor and Judge of Probate for Hampshire County, Massachusetts during the period of dispute over the boundaries of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, which was concentrated particularly on the Northfield and Fort Dummer region. Some of the letters document the establishment of townships in the New Hampshire Grants to the West of Fort Dummer, and the administration of land grants in Massachusetts. Correspondents from this period include Massachusetts Governors Jonathan Belcher and Thomas Pownall; there is also an undated letter from New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth.

Series II, Papers of Theodore Dwight (1796-1866) , consists of correspondence, writings, documents, and a few other papers. The writings include a manuscript for a lesson book for young children, with instructions to teachers and small illustrations, and a diary or notebook covering the years 1820 to 1865. The diary/notebook contains entries from the beginning of Dwight's journey to Italy in 1820, copied from another volume and corrected in pencil, as well as entries made in Italy, Ecuador, and in New York in later life; translations of articles and other notes concerning education systems in several European countries; a series of entries from 1833-34 titled "Diary of a Sabbath School;" drafts of short pieces about evangelization of Italians, Spanish, and Jews in America; an outline and draft first chapter titled "The School Teacher's Guide," with an outline titled "The Sunday School Guide" inserted loose; and copies of outgoing letters in [shorthand?] from 1851-1865. Other papers include Dwight's Yale Diploma and other certificates, a letter from him to "Dear Friends," into which he copied his journal from a sea voyage in 1817, and one letter from Garibaldi. Also included are his wife Ellen Boyd's autograph album, begun before she was married, which includes a sketch of Newstead Abbey, seat of Lord Byron, and her manuscript copy of Joseph Rodman Drake's poem "The Culprit Fay," inscribed with her husband's name.

Series III, Other Dwight Family Papers , contains a genealogical chart showing six generations of male descendents of John and Hannah Dwight, and letters and papers of various members of the family. These include two letters to Theodore Dwight (1764-1846), one of which is from Connecticut Governor Oliver Wolcott, the other from a Timothy Dwight concerning the book about the Hartford Convention; two letters to Mary Edwards Dwight from her son Sereno Dwight in Jamaica; and a Northampton church record of a dispute between an unspecified Mr. Dwight and Decon Shelding in 1711.

Series IV, Papers of Eleanor Augusta Ferris , is organized into two subseries: Correspondence and John Galsworthy Ephemera. The bulk of the correspondence is from Ada Galsworthy between 1921 and 1951. Most of the remaining correspondence is from contributors to "The Villager," but there are a few letters concerning the life and work of her grandfather, Theodore Dwight (1796-1866), and one concerning the papers of Timothy Dwight (1694-1771) given to the library (see: Series I). There is also a letter from the New-York Historical Society which seems to concern a gift of Dwight Family material to that institution.

Series V, Other Ferris Family Papers , consists chiefly of photographs taken between the 1870s and about 1940, but also includes genealogical notes made by one of the Ferris sisters about the Ferris and Whiting families, and a summary of their Dwight lineage written for the library at the time the papers of Timothy Dwight (1694-1771) were given. Also included are postcards received by Mary and Isabel Ferris.


  • 1711 - 1951


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted fragile material in Port 105. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Dwight and Ferris Family Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Eleanor Augusta Ferris, Mary Dwight Ferris, and Isabel Stuart Ferris, 1929-1962.

Associated Materials

Related material can be found in the Dwight Family Papers, 1713-1937, located in Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, and in the Dwight Family Papers, 1789-1966 at the New York Public Library. It is possible that other related material may be found at the New-York Historical Society.


3.18 Linear Feet ((5 boxes) + 1 portfolio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers span the dates 1711-1951, and the bulk of material concerns three individuals: Timothy Dwight (1694-1771), Theodore Dwight (1796-1866), and Eleanor Augusta Ferris. The papers of Timothy Dwight document events of Dummer's War and the management of Fort Dummer in 1724-25, as well as his later work as a surveyor and Judge during the period of dispute over boundaries and administration of the New Hampshire Grants. The papers of Theodore Dwight include a diary or notebook containing manuscript drafts of his writings as well as accounts of some of his travels, a manuscript of a lesson book for young school children with instructions for teachers, one letter from Garibaldi, and personal documents and manuscripts. The papers of Eleanor Augusta Ferris consist chiefly of correspondence from Ada Galsworthy, but also include letters from contributors to "The Villager" and from family members. The collection also contains other papers of the Dwight and Ferris families, including letters, documents, and genealogies of the Dwight Family, a few papers of Theodore Dwight (1764-1846), and photographs of the Ferris family from about the 1870s to the 1940s.


The following chart shows the direct line of descent from the first Dwight to settle in America to the Ferris sisters, who donated these papers to the library. For more detailed genealogical information, see the Appendix, the Dwight Family chart in Box 5, Folder 101, and the summary in Box 4, Folder 95. Names of family members particularly well represented in this collection are in italics.

John Dwight m. Hannah (they arrived from England ca. 1635)
--Timothy Dwight (1629-1717) m. Anna Flint (3rd of six wives)
----Nathaniel Dwight (1666-1711) m. (1693) Mehitable Partridge
------Timothy Dwight (1694-1771) m. (1716) Experience King
--------Timothy Dwight (1726-1777) m. Mary Edwards (1734-1807)
----------Theodore Dwight (1764-1836) m. (1792) Abigail Alsop
------------Theodore Dwight (1796-1866) m. (1827) Ellen Boyd
---------------Augusta Moore Dwight m. Sherwood Bissell Ferris
------------------Eleanor Augusta Ferris (b. 1872)
------------------Mary Dwight Ferris
------------------Isabel Stuart Ferris
------------------Anna Edwards Ferris m. (ca. 1900) Charles Ingalls Marvin


Timothy Dwight (1694-1771) was the son of Nathaniel Dwight (1666-1711) of Northampton, Massachusetts. As an officer in the Massachusetts Militia, he built and commanded Fort Dummer during the Indian conflict known as Dummer's War, circa 1723-26. He rose in rank from Lieutenant in 1724 to Colonel by the 1740s, by which time he had moved from Fort Dummer back to Northampton, and become a lawyer and surveyor. In the 1750s he served as Judge of Probate for Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

His only son, Timothy Dwight (1726-1777), was born at Fort Dummer. Like his father, the younger Timothy Dwight served in the Massachusetts Militia. He married Mary Edwards, daughter of the theologian Jonathan Edwards, and lived in Northampton for most of his life. He remained loyal to the Crown during the American Revolution and died in Natchez, Mississippi.

Theodore Dwight, Sr. (1764-1846), son of Timothy Dwight (1726-1834) and brother of Yale President Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), was born in Northampton but lived for most of his adult life in Hartford, Connecticut, and New York City. He was a lawyer, newspaper editor, member of the Connecticut State Council, and a member of Congress in 1806-07. He served as Secretary of the Hartford Convention in 1814, and wrote a history of that event.

His son, Theodore Dwight, Jr. (1796-1866), born in Hartford, was an author and educator. He graduated from Yale College in 1814, and studied theology with his uncle, Yale President Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), but never became a minister. On his first trip to Italy in 1820, he established a lasting friendship with the revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, whose autobiography he translated for publication in 1859. After marrying Ellen Boyd in 1827, he settled in Brooklyn, New York, where he worked for his father as an editorial assistant, and wrote many books and articles on education, travel, history, linguistics, and ethnography. He was involved in several scholarly and philanthropic societies, and was an active promoter of the settlement of Kansas as a Free State in the 1850s. (For a more detailed biography, see Box 4, Folder 85.)

Eleanor Augusta Ferris (b. 1872) was Theodore Dwight, Jr.'s granddaughter. She edited a periodical called "The Villager," begun in 1929 and published by the Bronxville Women's Club, of Bronxville, New York, where she lived with her sisters Mary and Isabel. Her own short stories also appeared in "The Villager." Among her many literary friends were John and Ada Galsworthy, whom she met circa 1920; she maintained a correspondence with Ada Galsworthy throughout the rest of her life.

Appendix: Dwight Family Genealogy

The following chart is intended to serve as a reference tool for this collection, and is not a complete Dwight family tree. It includes only the descendents of Nathaniel Dwight (1666-1711) whose names are present in the collection. Because of the number of Dwights in the extended family named Timothy, Henry, Samuel, Jonathan, Nathaniel and Joseph, it is impossible in a few cases to determine with which family member a particular letter or document corresponds. For the same reason, it is possible that some material in the collection may pertain to members of other branches of the family. For more detailed genealogical information about the Dwight family, see the chart in Box 5, folder 101.

John Dwight (d. 1659-60) m. Hannah (they arrived from England ca. 1635)
--Timothy Dwight (1629-1717) m. Anna Flint (3rd of his six wives)
----(Other children)
----Nathaniel Dwight (1666-1711) m. (1693) Mehitable Partridge
-------Samuel Dwight
-----------Daniel Dwight
-----------(Other children)
-------Daniel Dwight
-----------Daniel Dwight
-----------Samuel Dwight
-----------John Dwight
-----------Nathaniel Dwight
-----------(Other children)
-------Jonathan Dwight
-----------Jonathan Dwight
-------Nathaniel Dwight
-----------Elihu Dwight
-----------(Other children)
-------Timothy Dwight (1694-1771) m. (1716) Experience King
-----------Timothy Dwight (1726-1777) m. Mary Edwards (1734-1807)
----------------Timothy Dwight (1752-1817)
----------------Sereno Dwight m. Cynthia
----------------Jonathan Edwards Dwight
----------------Nathaniel Dwight
----------------Henry Edwin Dwight
----------------(Other children)
----------------Theodore Dwight (c1764-1836) m. (1792) Abigail Alsop
--------------------(Other children)
--------------------Theodore Dwight (1796-1866) m.(1827) Ellen Boyd
------------------------(Other children?)
------------------------Rebecca Dwight
------------------------Augusta Moore Dwight m. Sherwood Bissell Ferris
----------------------------Anna Edwards Ferris m. Charles Ingalls Marvin
----------------------------------Sherwood Ferris Marvin (b. 1903)
----------------------------------Dwight Edwards Marvin (died in infancy)
----------------------------------Anne Edwards Marvin (b. 1911)
----------------------------Eleanor Augusta Ferris
----------------------------Mary Dwight Ferris
----------------------------Isabel Stuart Ferris

Note: the "Dwight Book" occasionally referred to in the papers can be found in Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. The citation follows:

Dwight, Benjamin Woodbridge. The History of the Descendents of John Dwight, of Dedham, Mass. New York: J. F. Trow & Son, printers, 1874.

Guide to the Dwight and Ferris Family Papers
by Ellen Doon
January 2000
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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