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Goodrich Family Papers

Call Number: MS 242

Scope and Contents

The Goodrich Family Papers consist of correspondence, business and legal documents, sermons, lectures, and other writings of Elizur Goodrich (1734-1797), his descendants, and members of related Webster, Coe, Ellsworth, and Fowler families. The bulk of the papers concerns Chauncey Allen Goodrich's publication and copyright of an abridgement and revision of his father-in-law Noah Webster's dictionary and the ensuing negotiations and disagreements between Webster family members. The papers also highlight the land investments of Elizur Goodrich (1761-1849); family courtships, including that of Noah Webster and Rebecca Greenleaf; the ministerial careers of Elizur Goodrich (1734-1797), Noah Coe, Chauncey Goodrich (1817-1868), and William Henry Goodrich; Chauncey Allen Goodrich's teaching at Yale; Henry L. Ellsworth's purchases of land in Indiana; and the domestic affairs of several family households.

The bulk of the Goodrich Family Papers was given to the Yale University Library by Goodrich descendants Elizabeth G. Whitney, Chauncey S. Goodrich, Jr., Frances G. Leon, and Mrs. W. Dunham between 1942 and 1962. Additions have been made to the papers through purchase and other gifts between 1940 and 1981. The earliest papers are legal and financial records from the mid-eighteenth century and the latest include printed material from the twentieth century. However, the bulk of the papers dates from 1787 to 1860. The papers are arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, 1732-1878, and II. Topical Files, 1746-1905.

The series are of approximately equal size. Series I includes correspondence and legal and financial documents arranged in chronological order. Series II includes sermons, lectures, notebooks, business papers, and miscellanea arranged by record type.

Series I is divided into two sections:GeneralandSelect; Selectcontains undated letters arranged by correspondent. The chronologically arranged letters, indentures, wills, inventories, and other papers recount the lives of Goodrich, Webster, and Coe family members simultaneously. Folder 1 includes material of Elizur Goodrich (1734-1797) from Yale as well as love letters between Noah Webster in Philadelphia and Rebecca Greenleaf in Boston. Beginning in folder 2, and continuing through folder 11, there are numerous legal documents of Elizur Goodrich (1761-1849) relating to land transactions in the New Haven area, while folder 3 contains exchanges between Chauncey Goodrich (1759-1815) and Oliver Wolcott and between Noah Coe and his future wife Elizabeth Goodrich (1787-1864). Folders 2-8 contain additional letters from Noah Webster to his wife, and folder 4 includes letters between Chauncey Allen Goodrich, his future wife Julia Webster, and Noah Webster, Goodrich's prospective father-in-law. Letters of Chauncey A. Goodrich and Noah Coe predominate in folders 5-7 and include descriptions of Goodrich's travels to England and the continent from 1826 to 1827 and of Coe's attempts to learn the whereabouts of his runaway son Charles, who became a trapper and was probably killed by Indians in 1833, while on a hunting expedition in the upper Missouri valley.

Beginning in folder 7 the predominant subject in the correspondence is Noah Webster, his dictionary, and Chauncey A. Goodrich's work on this volume. Most of the correspondence concerns the legal and financial issues surrounding publication and copyright or the corrections of texts rather than technical discussions on lexicography. Correspondents include Sherman Converse, printer; Joseph E. Worcester; D. and J. Ames, printers; White and Sheffield; Harper & Brothers; and G. & C. Merriam. Noah Webster's estate is the subject of correspondence with William Wolcott Ellsworth, beginning in folder 17, and it is to Ellsworth that family altercations concerning the dictionary are submitted. Folder 20 contains material on the commencement of William Chauncey Fowler's protest of Chauncey A. Goodrich's intention to publish a revision of the dictionary. Material on this dispute continues to the end of the section and includes exchanges between Chauncey Goodrich (1817-1868), who had taken over some of his father's lexicographic endeavors, and Fowler. There are also exchanges between Julia Webster Goodrich and her niece Emily Fowler Ford. Correspondence of Chauncey Goodrich with Charles Merriam also concerns the dictionary.

The correspondence also concerns Chauncey A. Goodrich's personal finances and the lives of his children. From the 1840s on there are exchanges and accounts with Henry L. Ellsworth, who was investing in Indiana lands for his classmate and brother-in-law. (Land certificates are filed in folios 10 and 11.) The files also contain numerous and lengthy exchanges between Chauncey A. Goodrich and his wife Julia (who signs her letters 'JWG') and their children. Following Chauncey Goodrich's (1817-1868) marriage to his cousin Elizabeth Coe in 1843 the files contain letters from both the Goodrich and Coe parents to their children in Malden, Massachusetts, where Chauncey Goodrich was a pastor. Letters concern ministerial duties, religious sentiments, health, and the births and deaths of children. Julia Goodrich was a most faithful correspondent, and probably wrote weekly letters. Most of her letters, however, are inSelectas they are undated. Beginning in 1850 there is similar correspondence with William Henry Goodrich, now a pastor in Bristol, Connecticut and newly wed to Mary Pritchard. Letters in folder 25 tell of the death of Julia Goodrich Hill. Folders 26-31 contain frequent letters from Julia W. Goodrich to her daughter Frances, known as Fanny. These letters, sometimes six to eight per month, are full of the domestic concerns of Fanny, who had moved to Hartford as the wife of Henry K. Welch. Letters in folder 31 relay the news of Fanny's death to her brothers.

Files following the death of Chauncey A. Goodrich in 1860 are far less numerous. They contain some material about his estate and the estates of other family members and also letters to Chauncey Goodrich (1817-1868) relating to Goodrich family history.

Selectcontains undated letters written by Noah and Elizabeth Coe and Chauncey A. and Julia W. Goodrich. The Coe files contain letters between husband and wife, but most are from Elizabeth Coe to her daughter Elizabeth Coe Goodrich. Many of the Chauncey A. Goodrich letters are also to his children, and there are five folders of undated letters by Julia W. Goodrich to her children. Folder 42 contains copies of correspondence with William Chauncey Fowler and Emily Fowler Ford which document the intrafamily dispute over the dictionary.

Series II includes sermons, lectures, notebooks, business papers, and miscellanea which are representative of the careers of several family members Box 5 contains sermons by Chauncey A. Goodrich and his son Chauncey, while box 6 includes sermons and other religious writings by Elizur Goodrich (1734-1797). The files for Elizur Goodrich contain a translation of Dante, letters on texts of scripture, including analyses of Greek and Hebrew phrases exchanged between "Philomous" and "Mordecai," and a dissertation on Genesis.

Lecturesis composed of Chauncey A. Goodrich's notes, reading notes, and manuscripts for his lectures, as well as notes on his lectures by others. Most of the lectures are on topics relating to language, public speaking, or the pastoral charge and were probably presented to students in Yale College or the theological department.

Notebooksincludes diary volumes and journals as well as notebooks. The section includes material for three family members whose careers are not otherwise well documented in the papers. For Chauncey Goodrich (1759-1815) there is a court docket for actions occurring in the various Hartford courts between 1805 and 1807. Folders 94-95 contain Charles Goodrich Coe's notes on Dr. Dwight's law lectures, while a notebook containing puzzles, which belonged to Henry Whittlesey, is in folder 96. The section also includes Chauncey Goodrich's (1817-1868) notebook containing his essays for several Yale student prize competitions and a travel notebook from Chauncey A. Goodrich's year in France, Italy, Switzerland, and England. Noah Coe's, work as a city missionary is recorded in a journal containing reports of persons visited, religious meetings, a prayer at the execution of a murderer, and statistics. The file also contains a memoir written by Coe of his service to the church in Greenwich.

TheBusiness Paperssection is composed of deeds, agreements, licenses, wills, inventories, mortgages, receipts, and tax forms, of several family members, arranged in chronological order. Folder: 98 contains deeds for land belonging to Daniel Allen, the father of Elizur Goodrich's (1761-1849) wife, in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The early files also contain deeds of Elizur Goodrich (1761-1849) for land in New Haven and similar documents of Chauncey Goodrich (1759-1815) and Elihu Goodrich for land in Durham, Connecticut. Folios 10 and 11 contain additional records for land transactions in Indiana. There are also papers relating to Elizur Goodrich's (1761-1849) work as a lawyer and judge. Later files contain accounts, agreements, and copyrights for Noah Webster's and Chauncey A. Goodrich's published works.

Miscellaneaincludes certificates, fragments, lists of correspondence, additional writings and letters on family history, poems, and printed material. The printed material includes pamphlets relating to the dispute among the heirs of Noah Webster over the dictionary.

Additional papers of Goodrich family members are located in the Fowler Family Papers (MS 221) and the Webster Family Papers (MS 527). Additional material on Chauncey Allen Goodrich's work on Webster's dictionary is located in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in the Webster Papers and the records of the G. & C. Merriam Company.


  • 1732-1905


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Primarily gifts of Elizabeth G. Whitney, Chauncey S. Goodrich, Jr., Frances G. Leon, and Mrs. W. Durham, 1942, and Chauncey S. Goodrich, Jr., 1962. Other gifts and purchases, 1940-1981.


Arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, 1732-1878. II. Topical Files, 1746-1905.

Associated Materials

Related material: Henry Leavitt Ellsworth Papers (MS 196), Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.


3.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, business and legal documents, sermons, lectures, and other writings of the Goodrich family, descendants of Elizur Goodrich (1734-1797), and members of related Webster, Coe, Ellsworth, and Fowler families. The bulk of the correspondence concerns Chauncey Allen Goodrich's publication and copyright of an abridgement and revision of Webster's dictionary and the resulting disagreements among the heirs of Noah Webster. The papers also highlight Elizur Goodrich's (1761-1849) investments in land; family courtships, including that of Noah Webster and Rebecca Greenleaf; the ministerial careers of Elizur Goodrich (1734-1797), Noah Coe, Chauncey Goodrich (1817-1868), and William Henry Goodrich; Chauncey Allen Goodrich's teaching at Yale; Henry L. Ellsworth's purchases of land in Indiana; and the domestic affairs of several family households.

Biographical / Historical

ELIZUR GOODRICH, 1761-1849 (Y. 1779), second son and child of the Rev. Dr. Elizur Goodrich (Yale 1752), of Durham, Connecticut, was born in Durham on March 24, 1761.

On the invasion of New Haven, in July of his Senior year, he was one of the party of students who went out to repel the British, and was subsequently wounded and taken prisoner but escaped.

At graduation the Berkeley Scholarship was awarded to him, and he also delivered the Latin Valedictory oration to his class.

He was elected to a tutorship in College in September, 1781, and began duty at the beginning of the ensuing term. He held office for two years, and then resigned to enter on the practice of law in New Haven, having pursued professional studies under the tuition of his uncle, Hon. Charles Chauncey.

He married on September 1, 1785 Anne (or Nancy) Willard, only daughter of Daniel Allen, a master builder of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, whose widow Esther had recently married Deacon David Austin, of New Haven.

In 1789 he was elected a member of the Common Council of the city, and was re-elected for the four following years; he then served as Alderman until 1800, and then again for three years was one of the Council. In 1803 he was elected Mayor, and continued in that office until his resignation in 1822, after which he was twice re-elected Alderman.

In May, 1795, he was chosen a representative in the General Assembly, and filled that station in thirteen sessions to 1802, during which time he served as Clerk of the House in six sessions, and as Speaker in two. In 1803 he was promoted to a seat in the Governor's Council, which he held until the change in the State Constitution in 1818.

In 1799 he was elected a member of Congress, and soon made himself known in the House as a man of sound judgment and strong reasoning powers; but early in 1801 he was led to resign on his appointment by President Adams as Collector of the Port of New Haven, in succession to Deacon Austin, his wife's step-father. He was, however, removed from office by President Jefferson soon after his inauguration.

From 1802 he was the judge of the Probate district of New Haven, and on the death of Simeon Bristol (Yale 1760), in October, 1805, he was appointed chief judge of the County Court; but he was retired from both these offices as the result of the political change in 1818.

In 1801 he was appointed Professor of Law in Yale College, and as such he delivered courses of lectures on the law of nature and of nations, but resigned the office in 1810, as interfering too much with other public duties.

As one of the Senior Senators of the State, he was ex officio a member of the Yale Corporation from 1809 to 1818, and on his retirement from this office he was elected Secretary of the Board, and so continued until 1846. He received the honorary degree of LL.D. in 1830.

He died in New Haven on November 1, 1849, in his 89th year. His wife died in New Haven, after a week's illness, from lung fever, on November 17, 1818, aged 51 years. Their children were two sons and one daughter. The elder son was graduated at Williams College in 1806. The younger son was graduated at Yale in 1810, and became an eminent Professor here. The daughter married the Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth (Yale 1810).

Professor Kingsley at the time of Mr. Goodrich's death wrote of him:-

He was distinguished for the clearness & strength of his judgment, the ease and accuracy with which he transacted business, and the kindness and affability which he uniformly manifested in all the relations of life. His reading was extensive and minute, and what is not very common in public men, he kept up his acquaintance with the ancient classics to the last; being accustomed to read the writings of Cicero, Livy, Sallust, Virgil and Horace down to the 89th year of his age, with all the ease and interest of his early days.

His cordial manner, extensive information, and genial humor, combined with unusual conversational powers, made his presence in society particularly agreeable.

It is worthy of mention that from the time of his entering College in 1775, he was uninterruptedly connected with the Institution, either as a student, resident graduate, tutor, assistant to the Treasurer, Professor, member of the Corporation, or Secretary of that Board, for the space of seventy-one years. From: F. B. Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Vol. IV, pp. 114-116.

* * * * *

NOAH COE, 1786-1871 (Y. 1808)

NOAH COE, the eldest child of Charles Coe, a farmer, of Durham, Connecticut, and grandson of Abel and Prudence (Rossiter) Coe, of Durham, was born in Durham on May 24, 1786. His mother was Hannah, daughter of James and Mary (Curtis) Bates, of Durham.

He studied theology after graduation, for a part of the years 1809-1810 in the Andover Seminary, and was licensed to preach by the New Haven East Association of Ministers on June 12, 1810.

His first pastoral charge was in Chester, Orange County, New York, where he was ordained and installed by the Presbytery of Hudson on July 3, 1811. He was dismissed from Chester in 1813, and in June, 1814, was installed over the Presbyterian Church of New Hart-ford, Oneida County, where he was highly respected and beloved, and where he remained until February, 1835.

He then returned to New Haven, Connecticut, and for about a year supplied the vacant pulpit in Woodbridge.

In 1836 he began to supply the Second Congregational Church in Greenwich, which called him to a settlement on March 30, 1837. He was accordingly installed as pastor on May 23, and had on the whole a successful ministry.

Dissatisfaction, however, arose in the church, his critics claiming that his labors were inadequate to the needs of the parish, and that his usefulness was gone.

The Church and Society in April, 1845, requested him to join with them in calling the Fairfield West Consociation. He declined to be a party to their action, but the Consociation met on May 20, and voted his dismission; they stated in their result that the charge of inadequate service was wholly unfounded, but that his usefulness and comfort had been brought to an end by the hasty and censurable proceedings of a portion of his people.

About two hundred persons had been added to the Church during his ministry.

He was not again a settled pastor, but for ten or fifteen years labored almost continually in other forms of ministerial service. From 1848 to 1854 he was engaged as a city missionary in New York and Brooklyn.

He then removed to New Haven, where he resided until his death. From November, 1854, to February, 1856, he was the stated supply of the Congregational Church in Northfield parish, in Litchfield; and for the following year supplied the Congregational Church at New Preston Hill, in Washington. A prayer which he made at a Fast-Day service in Woodbury, in January, 1861, with a scathing reference to President Buchanan, is still remembered.

He died suddenly, at his daughter's house in New Haven, on May 9, 1871, at the age of 85.

He married, on October 25, 1810, Elizabeth, second daughter of the Rev. Samuel Goodrich (Yale 1783), of Berlin, Connecticut, who died in New Haven on March 10, 1864, in her 77th year. Their children were two daughters and three sons.

The second son was graduated here in 1837, and the third son (who became a minister) in 1838; but both died before their parents. The younger daughter married the Rev. Chauncey Goodrich (Yale 1837); the elder daughter died in infancy.

He was, with the Rev. Moses Gillett (Yale 1804), one of the editors of the following:

A Narrative of the Revival of Religion, in the County of Oneida, particularly in the bounds of the Presbytery of Oneida, in the year, 1826. Utica, 1826. 8°, pp. 88. [ Y. C. ]

From: F. B. Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Vol. VI, pp. 183-184.

* * * * *


Chauncey Allen Goodrich was born in 1790 in New Haven, Connecticut. His grandfather was Elizur Goodrich (1734-1797), a clergyman in Durham, Connecticut and a member of the Yale Corporation, and his father, Elizur Goodrich (1761-1849), was a member of Congress, a judge, professor of law at Yale College, and a member of the Yale Corporation. Chauncey Allen Goodrich was a clergyman, author of texts on Latin and Greek, lexicographer, and professor of rhetoric at Yale College, and of the pastoral charge in Yale's Theological Department. In 1816 Goodrich married Julia Frances Webster, the daughter of Noah Webster, and in 1829 he edited an abridgement of Webster's dictionary. He published a revision of the original dictionary in 1847. Goodrich died in New Haven in 1860.

* * * * *

CHAUNCEY GOODRICH, 1817-1868 (Y. 1837)

CHAUNCEY GOODRICH, the eldest son of Prof. Chauncey A. Goodrich (Y. C. 1810), died in New Haven, March 27, [illegible] aged 50 years. His mother was Julia, daughter of Webster, and he was born in Middletown, Conn., July 20, 1817.

He spent the first year after his graduation as a private tutor in Virginia, and the two following years in the Theological Department of Yale College. His first settlement, from Aug 30 1843, until Nov. 1, 1847, was over the Trinitarian Congregational church in Malden, Mass. He was again settled, Aug. 22 1849, as pastor of the Congregational church in Watertown, Conn., which charge he relinquished Nov. 1, 1856, on account of an affection of the throat. From this time he was a resident of New Haven, engaged chiefly in literary labors, especially in connection with the revised edition of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. He also prepared and read before the New Haven Colony Historical Society, of which he was Secretary, several valuable papers.

He was married, Aug. 22, 1843, to Miss Elizabeth E. Coe, daughter of Rev. Noah Coe (Y. C. 1808), at Greenwich, Conn. His son and only surviving child, Edward E. Goodrich, graduated at Yale College in 1866.

From: Yale Obituary Record, No. 27, p. 280.

* * * * *

WILLIAM HENRY GOODRICH, 1823-1874 (Y. 1843)

WILLIAM HENRY GOODRICH, youngest son of Prof. Chauncey A. Goodrich (Y. C. 1810), was born in New Haven, Conn., January 19, 1823. His mother was Julia, daughter of Noah Webster. (Y. C. 1778).

After leaving college, he spent a year in New Haven, as a resident graduate, in the study of law and general literature. He then began the study of theology in the Divinity School, and finished the course in 1847. He was, immediately appointed to a tutorship in this college; but receiving a severe injury while in the discharge of his duty as an officer, in December of the same year, he was obliged to relinquish all mental occupation, and consequently resigned his position, and in April sailed for Europe. He returned with improved health in January, 1849, and was ordained over the First Congregational Church in Bristol, Conn., March 13, 1850. He remained in Bristol until invited to the Presbyterian Church in Binghampton, N. Y., where he was installed December 6, 1854. From this church he was dismissed, July 4, 1858, and on the 12th of the next month was installed associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, O. From April, 1861, until August, 1872, he was the sole pastor, and at the latter date, an associate having been installed, Dr. Goodrich left home for a visit to Europe, with the hope of renewing his impaired strength. After a long succession of deferred hopes of improvement, and a rapid decline at the last, he died in Lausanne, Switzerland, July 11, 1874.

He was married, April 23, 1850, to Miss Mary Pritchard of New Haven. She survives him, with five children.

A memorial volume has been published by his church.

The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him by Western Reserve College in 1864.

From: Yale Obituary Record, No. 34, pp. 186-187.

For charts outlining the genealogical relations of the Coe, Goodrich, and Webster families, please consult theGenealogical Charts.

Guide to the Goodrich Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
April 1983
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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