The Strong Family Collection consists of correspondence, legal and financial papers, diaries, writings, and other papers documenting the lives and activities of several generations of Strong family members and the related Fowler, Pond, and Huntington families of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The bulk of the collection concerns the extended family of Phinehas Strong of Northhampton, Massachusetts, particularly the career of his granddaughter Josephine Elizabeth Strong, a teacher of freedmen. Papers of the Connecticut Strong families relate primarily to the colonial era and Revolutionary War; Milford town history; and Chatham, Milford, and Norwich church history.
Series I is the larger and contains the papers of the Strong and related Fowler families of Hampshire and Hampden counties in Massachusetts, while Series II is composed of Connecticut Strong and related Pond and Huntington family papers. The Connecticut and Massachusetts families appear to be unrelated.
The bulk of Series I consists of correspondence and personal papers of Josephine Elizabeth Strong, although the series also contains personal papers of her father Noah Lyman Strong and her brother Henry Hastings Strong, as well as an extensive correspondence between her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins. Josephine Elizabeth Strong's own correspondents include all these relatives and school friends, fellow teachers, and former pupils. The papers were the gift of the estate of Henry Hastings Strong in 1930.
Josephine Elizabeth Strong's outgoing letters (folders 1-5) are far fewer than the incoming letters she saved (folders 7-70), and, therefore, the details of her life are less fully documented than the lives of her father and other relatives. The correspondence begins with her letters from school at Ipswich Female Seminary and the Williston Academy (Easthampton, Mass.) in the 1850s. Folder 6 includes her school compositions from this period. In 1857 and 1859 she visited her aunt Cynthia Fowler Hobart in Michigan, and her letters describe "life in a western parsonage" and her early experiences teaching school. During and immediately after the Civil War she journeyed to occupied Southern territory as a missionary teacher to black troops, contraband blacks, and freedmen around Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia. Her letters describe the conditions there. Letters from the late 1860s to 1877 are infrequent--a few describe her teaching duties at the Cooper Seminary in Dayton, Indiana. About 1877 Josephine Strong again went to teach blacks in the South, this time as a teacher for the American Missionary Society in New Orleans. Letters from this period describe her teaching duties and visits to the sugar plantation of her cousin Lewis Clark in St. Mary Parish.
The incoming correspondence as well as the general correspondence of other family members (folders 87-116) provides a fuller picture of the lives of several Strong and Fowler family members. The earliest letters are between Eunice Lyman Strong and her sister (1816) and discuss family matters. In 1829 Phinehas and Eunice Strong's daughter Eunice moved to Springfield, in Clark County, Ohio, to settle as a teacher. Her long letters describe her travels, teaching duties, and school. There are also letters of Noah Lyman Strong while a student at Williams College, and various letters relaying information about the illnesses and early deaths of several family members.
Letters from Cynthia Fowler in the 1840s and 1850s describe her teaching in the South and Midwest and eventual marriage to the Rev. L. Smith Hobart. Noah Lyman Strong's letters to his family during the 1840s and 1850s relay information concerning his service in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and give accounts of his political views, events taking place in Boston, and his business trips to the South and Kansas. Correspondence of Henry Clapp in the 1850s describes his student days at Amherst College.
Written during the Civil War, Noah Lyman Strong's letters to his daughters and other family members describe his duties in the Boston Custom House and his strong anti-slavery feelings. Family members were interested in the work of the New England Freedmen's Aid Society and letters to Josephine E. Strong concern arrangements for her to travel south to teach blacks for the American Missionary Society. The files also contain numerous letters written by black soldiers and other black students to their former teacher and letters from other teachers.
In the correspondence of the late 1870s and 1880s there are several letters from Lewis Clark, an Ohio cousin who had moved to Louisiana and had invested in a sugar plantation. His letters to Josephine and others describe the difficult circumstances of his situation, including the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, in which his brother Oliver died, and the severe flood of 1882. In the 1880s and 1890s there are frequent letters between Noah Lyman Strong and his cousin Joseph Lyman, which give details of family life in Westfield, Massachusetts; family history; Henry Hasting Strong's fledgling business interests; and Noah Strong's political views and temperance activities.
The correspondence also includes a large quantity of letters by Elizabeth Fowler Strong to her husband, daughters, parents, and sisters. Her letters are, for the most part, undated and are found in boxes 5-7 and 12.
In addition to correspondence, Series I also includes personal papers of Josephine Elizabeth, Henry Hastings, and Noah Lyman Strong. These include Josephine's diaries from the end of her life, which include records of her charitable donations; Henry's diary of an around the world voyage with a Yale classmate; wills and estate papers; legal and financial records concerning domestic accounts and investment property; and papers of Noah Lyman concerning attempts to secure claims against the government for the heirs of Revolutionary War officers.
The papers in Series II are organized in three sections by geographic area and then by individual family member. The papers of Chatham are those of Cyprian Strong and consist of his minister's account book with the First Society of Chatham from 1770-1799; manuscripts and sermons; and a few pieces of correspondence, including a lengthy discussion of religious topics by Jeremiah Day. The library purchased the Cyprian Strong materials in 1952 from Mrs. F.P. Lord.
cluding items from Catharine Beecher, Benjamin Butler, Jonathan Edwards, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Charles Sumner, and Jonathan Trumbull, as well as an account of the Boston Tea Party by Benoni Upson. All of the Milford materials were donated to the library by J. Lawrence Pond in 1952.
The Strong and related Huntington families are represented in the Norwich section of Series II. These materials include sermons, orations, and notebooks of Joseph Strong, a minister of First Church in Norwich, and legal notebooks and domestic accounts of his son Henry Strong. The Huntington material relates to Henry Strong's wife's family and includes diaries and correspondence of her mother and other female relatives. The library acquired the Norwich materials through a donation from Harry P. Keffer in 1939 and a purchase from Tyson in 1942.