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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.
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.
1711 - 1951
3.18 Linear Feet ((5 boxes) + 1 portfolio)
Related Names
Dwight family
Drake, Joseph Rodman, 1795-1820 ($t: Culprit fay)
Language of Materials