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William Dwight Whitney family papers

Call Number: MS 555

Scope and Contents

The major part of this collection consists of the correspondence of William Dwight Whitney (1827-1894). There are also many letters of his brother Josiah Dwight Whitney (1819-1896). The academic careers of these two brothers were responsible, along with many other scholars represented in this collection, for the tremendous rise in the reputation of American scholarship which took place in the later nineteenth century.

William Dwight Whitney, Sanskritist and linguist began his teaching career at Yale in 1854 where he later organized and became the head of the modern language department of the Sheffield Scientific School. Among the numerous positions of honor which he held were the presidency of the American Oriental Society, foreign Knight of the Royal Prussian Order pour is mérite (succeeding Thomas Carlyle), and first president of the American Philological Association. (Extensive correspondence deals with all of the above.)

Nationally and internationally, Whitney gained prominence as Editor of the Century Dictionary, a position which made him the undisputed authority on the forth and usage of the English language in America. A prolonged and often heated dispute with Friedrich Max Müller of Oxford University over the origin and development of language earned for him the title of the champion of American scholarship here and in Europe. This verbal battle which is completely described in the collection was closely followed by the press with the result that Müller gained popular sympathy while Whitney was supported by many scientific scholars including Charles Darwin.

The personal letters of William Dwight Whitney are rich in New Haven and genealogical history. Mrs. Whitney was the daughter and sister of the Connecticut governors Roger Sherman Baldwin and Simeon Eben Baldwin and a cousin of Senator George Hoar and Edward Everett Hale. Whitney's sons, Edward Baldwin Whitney married Josepha Newcomb, the daughter of Simon Newcomb. Thus the Whitney family was linked with many of the most prominent families in America.

The correspondence of Josiah Dwight Whitney, although not as extensive as that of his brother, furnishes a great deal of information of the first systematic exploration and mapping of the American West. Most popularly known for his discovery of Mount Whitney while state geologist for the state of California, he published numerous scientific works and held an appointment to the faculty of Harvard University from 1865 until his death. Included in his letters is a revealing account of Benjamin Silliman's position in the controversial Emma Mine scandal.

This collection consists of 56 containers, holding approximately 35,000 items. The principal donors were the daughters of William Dwight Whitney. All items are catalogued individually.


  • 1778-1951
  • Majority of material found within 1814 - 1912


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Scrapbooks of William Dwight Whitney are available on microfilm (128 frames on 1 reel, 35mm) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM107.

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

Gift of the daughters of William Dwight Whitney, 1894-1959, and purchased from John Elliott, 1982.


25.5 Linear Feet (57 boxes, 1 folio)

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, journals and diaries, writings, legal and financial papers, and miscellanea of the William Dwight Whitney family, including William Dwight Whitney (1827-1894), his wife Elizabeth Wooster Baldwin Whitney (1824-1912), his brother Josiah Dwight Whitney (1819-1896), and his father Josiah Dwight Whitney (1786-1869). William Dwight Whitney material includes several hundred letters with his wife, journals and diaries (1843-1893), and a small quanity of professional papers. Material of his brother Josiah includes a geological survey of the Upper Mississippi (1862), and correspondence relating to the first systematic exploration and mapping of the American West. Information relating to Benjamin Silliman and the National Academy of Sciences is also documented. His family correspondence includes several hundred letters with William Dwight Whitney and their father, Josiah.

Biographical / Historical

Josiah Dwight Whitney was born on November 23, 1819 in Northampton, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale College in 1839 (B.A.) and studied geology in Europe. He participated in the Lake Superior region survey (1847-1849) and several other expeditions through the 1860s. Whitney taught at Harvrd University and published several works on geology. He died in Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire on August 19, 1896.



  1. Abbe, Cleveland1838-1916
  2. Abbot, Ezra1819-1884
  3. Adams, Henry Brooks1838-1918
  4. Adams, Henry Carter1851-1921
  5. Adams, John1735-1826
  6. Agassiz, Alexander1835-1910
  7. Agassiz, Louis1807-1873
  8. Aiken, Charles Augustus1827-1892
  9. Alger, William Rounseville1822-1905
  10. Allen, Frederic de Forest1844-1897
  11. Allen, William Francis1830-1889
  12. Ashmun, George1804-1870
  13. Aufrecht, Theodor1822-1907
  14. Avery, John1837-1887
  15. Bache, Alexander Dallas1806-1867
  16. Baird, Spencer Fullerton1823-1887
  17. Baldwin, Emily (Perkins)1796-1874
  18. Baldwin, George William1832-1930
  19. Baldwin, Henry1832-1905
  20. Baldwin, Henry de Forest1862-1947
  21. Baldwin, Roger Sherman1869-1956
  22. Baldwin, Simeon Eben1840-1927
  23. Ballou, William Hosea1857-1937
  24. Barnard, Frederick Augustus Porter1809-1889
  25. Baynes, Thomas spencer1823-1887
  26. Beach, Frederick Converse1848-1918
  27. Beecher, Charles1815-1900
  28. Beecher, Charles: Emerson1856-1904
  29. Bickmore, Albert Smith1839-1914
  30. Bierstadt, Albert1830-1902
  31. Biot, Jean Baptiste1774-1862
  32. Bishop, Nathan1808-1880
  33. Bloomfield, Maurice1855-1928
  34. Boise, James Robinson1815-1895
  35. Booth, Newton1825-1892
  36. Botta, Anne Charlotte (Lynch)1815-1891
  37. Bowdoin, James1726-1790
  38. Bowles, Samuel1826-1878
  39. Bradley, Charles William1807-1865
  40. Bradley, Frank Howe1838-1879
  41. Brewer, William Henry1828-1910
  42. Brinton, Daniel Garrison1837-1899
  43. Bristed, Charles Astor1820-1874
  44. Brown, Francis1849-1916
  45. Brown, Samuel, Gilman1813-1885
  46. Browne, John Ross1821-1875
  47. Browne, William Hand1828-1912
  48. Brush, George Jarvis1831-1912
  49. Bumstead, Freeman Josiah1826-1879
  50. Bumstead, Horace1841-1919
  51. Burnett, Henry Lawrence1838-1916
  52. Camp, Mary
  53. Campbell Henry Colin1862-1923
  54. Carter, Franklin1837-1919
  55. Caswell, Alexis1799-1877
  56. Cesnola, Luigi Palms di1832-1904
  57. Chadbourne, Paul Ansel1823-1883
  58. Chamberlain, Joseph1836-1914
  59. Chase, Pliny Earle1820-1886
  60. Child, Francis James1825-1896
  61. Clarke, Hyde1815-1895
  62. Clemens, Samuel Langhorne1855-1910
  63. Cogswell, Joseph Green1786-1871
  64. Conway Moncure Daniel1832-1907
  65. Cook, Albert Stanburrough1853-1927
  66. Cooke, Josiah Parsons1827-1894
  67. Cooke, "Theodore1815-1871
  68. Cornell, Ezra1807-1874
  69. Cowell, Edward Byles1826-1903
  70. Cust, Robert Needham1821-1909
  71. Cutter, Ephraim1832-1917
  72. Dana, Charles Anderson1819-1897
  73. Dana, James Dwight1813-1895
  74. Darwin, Charles Robert1809-1882
  75. Darwin, George Howard1845-1912
  76. Davis, John Chandler Bancroft1822-1907
  77. Dawes, Henry Laurens1816-1903
  78. Day, George Edward1815-1905
  79. Deane, Charles1813-1889
  80. Dennis, James Shepard1842-1914
  81. Dorsey, James Owen1848-1895
  82. Drisler, Henry1818-1297
  83. Dwight, Benjamin Woodbridge1816-1889
  84. Dwight, Timothy1828-1916
  85. Dwight, William
  86. Davids, Thomas William Rhys1843-1922
  87. Delany, Martin Robinson1812-1885
  88. Eaton, Daniel Cady1834-1895
  89. Edwards, Amelia Blandford1831-1892
  90. Edwards, Bela Bates1802-1852
  91. Edwards, William Henry1822-1909
  92. Eliot, Charles William1834-1926
  93. Emerson, Ralph Waldo1803-1882
  94. Everett, Charles Carroll1829-1900
  95. Ewell, Benjamin Stoddert1810-1894
  96. Farnam Henry Walcott1853-1933
  97. Field, Cyrus West1819-1892
  98. Fields Henry Martyn1822-1907
  99. Fisher, George Park1827-1909
  100. Fisher Irving1867-1947
  101. Folwell, William Watts1833-1929
  102. Fosters Dwight1828-1884
  103. Foster, Henrietta Perkins (Baldwin)1830-1910
  104. Foster, Roger Sherman Baldwin1857-1924
  105. Gabb, William More1839-1878
  106. Garcin de Tassy, Joseph Heliodore Sagesse Vertu1794-1878
  107. Gibbs, George1815-1873
  108. Gibbs, Oliver Wolcott1822-1908
  109. Gildersleeve, Basil Lanneau1831-1924
  110. Gilman, Arthur1837-1909
  111. Gilman, Daniel Coit1831-1908
  112. Gilman, Nicholas Paine1849-1912
  113. Ginn, Edwin1838-1914
  114. Godkin, Edwin Lawrence1831-1902
  115. Goldstücker, Theodor1821-1872
  116. Goodwin, William Watson1831-1912
  117. Gorham, Nathaniel1738-1796
  118. Gould, Benjamin Apthorp1824-1896
  119. Gray, Asa1810-1888
  120. Green, William Henry1825-1900
  121. Greenough James Bradstreet1833-1901
  122. Grimm, Herman1828-1901
  123. Griswold, John Augustus1818-1872
  124. Griswold, William McCrillis1853-1899
  125. Gurney, Ephraim Whitman1829-1886
  126. Guyot, Arnold Henry1807-1884
  127. Habersham Joseph1751-1815
  128. Hadley, Arthur Twining1856-1930
  129. Hadley, James1821-1872
  130. Haight, Henry Huntly1825-1878
  131. Haldeman, Samuel Steman1812-1880
  132. Hale, Charles Reuben1837-1900
  133. Hale, Edward Everett1822-1909
  134. Hale Horatio1817-1896
  135. Hale, William Gardner1849-1928
  136. Hall, FitzEdward1825-1901
  137. Hall, Granville Stanley1844-1924
  138. Hall, Issas Hollister1837-1896
  139. Hall, James1811-1898
  140. Harkness, Albert1822-1907
  141. Harper, William Rainey1856-1906
  142. Harrington, Mark Walrod1848-l926
  143. Harris, Samuel1814-1899
  144. Harrison, James Albert1848-1911
  145. Hastings, Serranus Clinton1814-1893
  146. Hawley Joseph Roswell1826-1905
  147. Hayden Ferdinand Vandiveer1829-1887
  148. Henry, Joseph1797-1878
  149. Hewett, Waterman Thomas1846-1921
  150. Hibben, James1824-1856
  151. Higginson Thomas Wentworth1823-1911
  152. Hilgard, Julius Erasmus1825-1891
  153. Hitchcock Charles Henry
  154. Hittell, John Shertzer1825-1901
  155. Hoar, Ebenezer Rockwood1827-1894
  156. Hoar, Elizabeth1814-1878
  157. Hoar, George Frisbie1826-1904
  158. Hodge, Frederick Webb1864-1956
  159. Holden, Edward Singleton1846-1914
  160. Holt, Henry1840-1926
  161. Hooker, Worthington1806-1867
  162. Hopkins, Mark1802-1887
  163. Hopkins Samuel1807-1887
  164. Hoppin, James Mason1820-1906
  165. Howe, Julia Ward1819-1910
  166. Howells, William Dean1837-1920
  167. Hoyt, Albert Harrison1826-1915
  168. Hoyt, John Wesley1831-1912
  169. Hubbard, Gardiner Greene1822-1897
  170. Ingersoll, Charles Roberts1821-1903
  171. Jackson, Charles Thomas1805-1880
  172. Janes, Lewis George1844-1901
  173. Jenkins, Thornton Alexander1811-1893
  174. Johnson, William Woolsey1841-1927
  175. Jordan David Starr1851-1931
  176. Joy, Charles Arad1823-1891
  177. Joynes, Edward Southey1834-l917
  178. Kellogg, Martin1828-1903
  179. Kendrick, Asahel Clark1809-1895
  180. Key, Thomas Hewitt1799-1875
  181. King, Clarence1842-1901
  182. Kingsley, William L
  183. Knapp, William Ireland1835-1908
  184. Kuhn, Adalbert1812-1881
  185. Lane, George Martin1823-1897
  186. Lanman, Charles Rockwell1850-1941
  187. Learned, Sarah Birdseye (Whitney)1824-1864
  188. LeConte, Joseph1823-1901
  189. Leidy, Joseph1823-1891
  190. Lepsius, Karl Richard1810-1884
  191. Lesley, [J] Peter1819-1903
  192. Lewis, Charlton Miner1866-1903
  193. Leypoldt, Frederick1835-1884
  194. Lockyer, Sir Joseph Norman1836-1920
  195. Lodge, Henry Cabot1850-1924
  196. Loomis, Elias1811-1889
  197. Lord, David Nevins1792-1880
  198. Lovering, Joseph1813-1892
  199. Lowell, James Russell1819-1891
  200. Lymank Benjamin Smith1835-1920
  201. McCartee, Divie Bethune1820-1900
  202. McCosh, James1811-1894
  203. Macdonell, Arthur Anthony1854-1930
  204. McGee, William John1853-1912
  205. Mckinstry, John Alexander1811
  206. Magill, Edward Hicks1825-1907
  207. Magoun, George Frederic1821-1896
  208. Manatt, James Irving1845-1915
  209. March, Francis Andrew1825-1911
  210. Marsh, Dwight Whitney1823-1896
  211. Marsh, Henry1797-1852
  212. Marsh, Othniel Charles1831-1899
  213. Martin, Willier Alexander Parsons1827-1916
  214. Mason, Otis Tufton1838-1908
  215. Mead, Charles Marsh1836-1911
  216. Meek, Fielding Bradford1817-1876
  217. Mendenhall, Thomas Corwin1841-1924
  218. Mitchell, Donald Grant1822-1908
  219. Moore, George Foot1851-1931
  220. Morgan, Lewis Henry1818-1881
  221. Mori, Arinori1847-1889
  222. Morse, Samuel Finley Breese1791-1872
  223. Morton, Henry1836-1902
  224. Muir, John1810-1882
  225. Müller, Frederick (Friedrick) Maximilian [Max]1823-1900
  226. Newberry, John Strong1822-1892
  227. Newcomb, Simon1835-1909
  228. Newton, Charles Thomas1816-1894
  229. Nichols, John Benjamin1867-1954
  230. Norton, Charles Eliot1827-1908
  231. Nott, Eliphalet1773-1866
  232. Oertel, Hans1868-
  233. Olcott, Henry Steel1832-1907
  234. Olmstead, Frederick Law1822-1903
  235. Owen, Sir Richard1804-1892
  236. Page, Walter Hines1855-1918
  237. Paine, John Alsop1840-1912
  238. Paul, Charles Kegan1828-1902
  239. Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer1804-1894
  240. Peckham, Stephen Farnam1838-1918
  241. Peirce, Benjamin1809-1880
  242. Peirce, James Mills1834-1906
  243. Perkins, Frances W.1839-
  244. Perkins, Frederic Beecher1828-1899
  245. Perrin, Bernadotte1845-1920
  246. Perry, Arthur Latham1830-1905
  247. Perry, Thomas Sergeant1845-1928
  248. Pertsch, Wilhelm1832-1899
  249. Peters, John Punnnett1852-1921
  250. Phelps, Austin1820-1890
  251. Phelps, William Walter1839-1894
  252. Pike, Albert, 1809-1891
  253. Platt, Orville Hitchcock1827-1905
  254. Plimpton, George Arthur1855-1936
  255. Porter, John Addison1822-1866
  256. Porter, Noah1811-1892
  257. Porter, Samuel1810-1901
  258. Porter, Sarah1813-1900
  259. Powell, John Wesley1834-1902
  260. Putnam Elizabeth Noble (Whitney)1822-1863
  261. Putnam, Samuel Osgood
  262. Quincy Josiah Phillips1829-1910
  263. Raymond, John Howard1814-1878
  264. Regnier, Jacques Auguste Adolphe1804-1884
  265. Reid, Whitelaw1837-1912
  266. Rhoads, James [E]1828-1895
  267. Rice, Charles1841-1901
  268. Richardson, Charles Francis1851-1913
  269. Ridpath, John Clark1840-1900
  270. Ripley, George1802-1880
  271. Rockhill William Woodville1854-1914
  272. Rogers, Harriet Burbank1834-1919
  273. Rogers, William Barton1804-1882
  274. Rost, Reinhold1822-1896
  275. Roth, Rudolph von1821-1895
  276. Salisbury, Edward Elbridge1814-1901
  277. Sanders, Frank Knight1861-1933
  278. Sargent, John Osborne1811-1891
  279. Scarborough, William Saunders1852-1926
  280. Schele de Vere, Maximillian1820-1898
  281. Schuyler, Eugene1840-1890
  282. Scribner, Charles1821-1871
  283. Sedgwick, William Thompson1855-1921
  284. Seelye, Laurenus Clark1837-1924
  285. Sewell, Amanda Brewster-1926
  286. Seguin, Edward Constant1843-1898
  287. Seyfforth, Gustavus1796-1885
  288. Seymour, Thomas Day1848-1907
  289. Sheldon, Edward Stevens1851-1925
  290. Short, Charles1821-1886
  291. Silliman, Benjamin1816-1885
  292. Sloane, William Milligan1850-1928
  293. Smith, Benjamin Eli1857-1913
  294. Smith, Charles Sprague1853-1910
  295. Smith, John Lawrence1818-1883
  296. Smith, Roswell1829-l892
  297. Spiegel, Friedrich von1820-1905
  298. Spofford, Ainsworth Rand1825-1908
  299. Sprague, Homer Baxter1829-1918
  300. Stearns, William Augustus, [illegible]-1876
  301. Stevenson, James1840-1888
  302. Strong, Caleb1745-1819
  303. Strong, Stephen Chester1824-1909
  304. Sumner, William. [illegible]raham1840-1910
  305. Tarbell, Frank Bigelow1853-1920
  306. Tarbox, Increase Miles1815-1888
  307. Taylor, Issaac1829-1901
  308. Taylor, Samuel Harvey1807-1871
  309. Tea11, Francis Augustus1822-1894
  310. Tenney, Edward Payson1835-1916
  311. Thacher, Thomas Anthony1815-1886
  312. Thayer, Alexander Wheelock1817-1897
  313. Thayer, James Bradley1831-1902
  314. Thayer, Joseph Henry1828-1901
  315. Thomas, Calvin1854-1919
  316. Thomas, Joseph1811-1891
  317. Thompson, Joseph Parrish1819-1879
  318. Thompson, Robert Ellis1844-1924
  319. Thompson, William Gilman1856-1927
  320. Ticknor, William Davis1810-1864
  321. Torrey, Charles Cutler1863-
  322. Toy, Crawford Howell1836-1919
  323. Trumbull, Henry Clary1830-1903
  324. Trumbull, James Hammond1821-1897
  325. Tutwiler, Henry1807-1884
  326. Tutwiler, Julia Strudwick1841-1916
  327. Tyler, Moses Coit1835-1900
  328. Tyndall, John1820-1893
  329. Van Am[illegible]inge John Howard1835-1915
  330. Van Name, Addison1835-1922
  331. Verrill, Addison Emery1839-1926
  332. Waldo, Horatio1778-1846
  333. Walker, Francis Amasa1840-1897
  334. Walker, Williston1860-1922
  335. Ward, William Hayes1835-1916
  336. Warren, Henry Clarke1854-1899
  337. Warren, william Fairfield1833-1929
  338. Waters, Lewis Edson1837-1901
  339. Waters, william Everett1856-1924
  340. Wayland, Francis1826-1904
  341. Weber, Albrecht Friedrich1825-1901
  342. Wedgewood, Hensleigh1803-1891
  343. Weir, John Ferguson1841-1926
  344. Wells, William Harvey1812-1885
  345. Wheeler, Benjamin Ide1854-1927
  346. Wheeler, William Adolphus1833-1874
  347. Wheelock, John1754-1817
  348. White, Andrew Dickinson1832-1918
  349. White, Richard Grant1821-1885
  350. Whitehouse, Frederick Cope1842-1911
  351. Whitney, Clarissa (James)1801-1876
  352. Whitney, Edward Baldwin1857-1911
  353. Whitney, Edward Payson1833-c.1858
  354. Whitney, Eli1820-1895
  355. Whitney, Elizabeth Wooster (Baldwin)1824-1912
  356. Whitney, Henry Mitchell1843-1911
  357. Whitney, James Lyman1835-1910
  358. Whitney, Josiah Dwight1786-1869
  359. Whitney, Josiah Dwight1819-1896
  360. Whitney, Louisa (Goddard) Howe1819-1882
  361. Whitney, Maria1830-1910
  362. Whitney, William Collins1841-1904
  363. Whitney, Marian Parker1861-1946
  364. Whitney' William Dwight1827-1894
  365. Whiten, James Morris1833-1920
  366. Williams, Talcott1849-1928
  367. Winchell, Alexander1824-1891
  368. Winlock, Joseph1826-1875
  369. Winslow, William Copley1840-1925
  370. Woodford, Arthur Burnham1861-
  371. Woolsey, Theodore Dwight1801-1889
  372. Wright, John Henry1852-1908
Guide to the William Dwight Whitney Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Manuscripts and Archives Staff
July 1998
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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