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Charles Woodward Stearns papers

Call Number: MS 1176

Scope and Contents

These papers of Charles Woodward Stearns consist of correspondence, writings, and legal and financial papers. Some professional and family letters are included, as are a few letters concerning alumni activities of the Yale College class of 1837. The majority of the letters, however, deal with Stearns' finances and the settlement of family estates; the bulk are written by Stearns' nephew, William Checkley Shaw, and his business associates. The legal and financial papers also pertain to Stearns' personal finances and those of his heirs; included are accounts, receipts, estate inventories, and letters patent issued to Stearns for improvements in flower-pot brackets.

Other papers in this collection are the manuscript of "Shakespeare's Commentaries," used by Stearn in a number of his writings, and his M.D. diploma from the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania.

These papers were donated to Yale University by Mrs. Emlen T. Littell in 1941. Papers of the Woodward family, to which Stearns was related may be found in the Benjamin Trumbull Papers, Ms. Gr. No. 505.


  • 1840-1888
  • Majority of material found within 1870 - 1888


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. 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

Gift of Mrs. Emlen T. Littell, 1941 and 1950.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings and legal and financial papers relating to Charles W. Stearns' family and his alumni activities on behalf of the Yale University class of 1837.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Woodward Stearns, elder son of the Hon. Charles Stearns, of Springfield, Mass., was born in that city, September 24, 1817. His mother, Julia Ann Woodward, was a grand-daughter of the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Trumbull (Yale 1759), of North Haven, Conn.

He received his B.A. from Yale College in 1837. After graduation he studied for two years in the Medical School of Harvard College, but took his degree of M.D. at the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1840. He began practice in Springfield, but soon became a surgeon in the United States Army, and served in Florida and in New York Harbor in 1841-42. He then spent two years in Europe, and after his return resided mainly in Springfield and New York City, engaged in literary occupations in the exercise of his remarkable inventive genius, as well as in the practice of his profession. On the outbreak of the late Civil War he enlisted as a surgeon of the Third New York Infantry, and remained with that regiment until it was mustered out in May, 1863. After this he relinquished the practice of medicine.

While spending some months in Williamstown, Mass., in 1884, he was stricken with paralysis, and remained an invalid for the rest of his life. He died in Longmeadow, Mass., September 8, 1887, at the age of 70.

Dr. Stearns married, June 23, 1853, Elizabeth Wolcott, of Springfield. After her death he married, July 2, 1862, Mary E., daughter of W. C. Shaw, of Baltimore, Md., who died in New York City, May 30, 1877. He next married, April 23, 1879, Miss Amanda Aikin, daughter of Judge Albro Aikin, of Duchess County, N. Y., who survives him. He left no children.

Among other writings of his which have been published may be mentioned, Shakespeare's Medical Knowledge (1865, 8vo, pp. 78), The Shakespeare Treasury of Wisdom and Knowledge (1869, 12mo, pp. 436), and A Concordance and Classified Index to the Constitution of the United States (1872, 8vo, pp. 153).

(Taken from Yale Obituary Record, 1880-1890, pp. 436-437).

Guide to the Charles W. Stearns Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
August 1983
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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