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Farnam family papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 203

Scope and Contents

The Farnam Family Papers contain the correspondence, diaries, letterbooks, financial papers, writings, scrapbooks, and memorabilia of the Farnam family of New Haven, Connecticut, 1721-1929. The papers of Henry Farnam (1803-1883), and two of his sons, Henry Walcott Farnam (1853-1933) and William Whitman Farnam (1844-1929), form this collection. The papers of Henry Farnam include personal and professional correspondence concerning his family, life in New Haven, and the building of several canals and railroads in Connecticut and the Midwest. Materials documenting the New Haven and Northampton Company, Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, Mississippi and Missouri Valley Railroad, Northern Indiana Railroad, and Peoria and Bureau Valley Railroad are arranged here. The papers of Henry Walcott Farnam include personal and professional correspondence, financial papers, writings, subject files, and scrapbooks relating to his family, life in New Haven, student and teaching experiences at Yale, membership in local, state, and national academic and reform organizations, and philanthropic activities on behalf of educational and charitable institutions. The papers of William Whitman Farnam include correspondence and topical files relating to family matters, Yale University, and New Haven Park Commission activities.

The papers are arranged in 313 boxes, totalling 150 linear feet. The collection is organized in three series: I. HENRY FARNAM, 1721-1898; II. HENRY W. FARNAM, 1841-1941; and III. WILLIAM WHITMAN FARNAM, 1860-1929.
SERIES I, HENRY FARNAM, 1721-1898, contains the correspondence, railroad papers, diaries, and financial papers of Henry Farnam, an engineer, railroad builder, and philanthropist. Correspondence and Letterbooks include material detailing Farnam's extensive business career with the New Haven and Northampton Company (canals and railroads), the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, the Mississippi and Missouri Valley Railroad, Northern Indiana Railroad, and the Peoria and Bureau Valley Railroad. Farnam supervised much of the construction of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, including the design of the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River. Railroad Papers include account books, financial papers, payroll data, cost estimates, surveying material, land claims, cashier's records, vouchers, and other material detailing the planning, construction, and financing of many railroads. Letters with numerous railroad employees and officials elaborate upon the daily activities involved in railroad construction. (See: Letterbooks)

Correspondence and Letterbooks also include personal letters with several family members and friends, including children, brothers, and his wife Anna Sophia Whitman Farnam. Other correspondents include Noah Porter, Chauncey Goodrich, and Joseph E. Sheffield.

Diaries contains volumes written by Henry Farnam and his wife. An 1830 diary is that of George Theodore Kingsley and describes his student life and activities at Yale. Henry and Anna Farnam's diaries contain remarks on family and business matters.

Financial Papers consists of account books, bills, and deeds relating to family expenses and property. Material pertaining to the family home on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven and for Sheffield Farm are also available.

SERIES II, HENRY W. FARNAM, 1853-1933, contains correspondence, letterbooks, financial papers, writings, subject files, and scrapbooks of Henry Walcott Farnam, an economist and professor at Yale University. Academic, political, financial, and personal interests are documented in these materials. As an active member on the boards and executive committees of many educational, academic, and charitable organizations, Farnam participated in policy decisions and financial campaigns.

General correspondence and Select correspondence contain incoming letters from family members; colleagues at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Germany; many social reform organizations and figures; a variety of New Haven and national charitable and educational bodies; local, state, and national political figures; and Yale University officials and employees.

Letterbooks (boxes 202-207) contains copies of outgoing correspondence to these individuals and organizations. These volumes are indexed and include letters to such individuals as: Simeon Eben Baldwin, Samuel Clarke Bushnell, William Henry Carmalt, James Lewis Cowles, Edward Salisbury Dana, Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Chauncey Goodrich, Arthur Twining Hadley, John Koren, Francis E. Leupp, John Punnett Peters, Noah Porter, Alfred Riggs, Thomas Lawrason Riggs, Carl Schurz, James Rockwell Sheffield, William Graham Summer, Horace Dutton Taft, and Booker T. Washington. Among the organizations and associations. represented in Farnam's letters are: the American Academy of Political and Social Science, American Economic Association, American Missionary Association, Calhoun Colored School (Calhoun, Ala.), Civil Service Reform League, Hampton Institute, Hopkins Grammar School, Indian Rights Association, Lowell House, Morning News, New Haven Hospital, Tuskegee Institute, Yale-China Association, and other Yale University organizations.

His writing, teaching, business, and philanthropic interests are documented through materials relating to alcohol and Prohibition, civil service reform, the labor movement and public welfare, the use of tobacco, World War I relief work, New Haven and its development, and United States politics and government. Writings includes drafts and material for Chapters in the History of Social Legislation, and course materials includes lectures on the modern labor movement, public finance, and social politics. Additional files contain lecture notes from his studies in Germany and articles and speeches written from 1871-1933. The latter include items written while a student at Yale and in Germany, and range from academic, to political, economic, and historical topics. Speeches to a wide range of groups are arranged here as well (boxes 235-241), with audiences including students at Yale-China functions and many gatherings of New Haven area residents.

Subject files consists of correspondence, notes, printed material, and miscellanea relating to Farnam's academic and literary research interests, family history, Yale University, and many of the organizations and associations he supported through membership and financial contributions. The largest quantities of material concern alcohol, civil service reform, Hopkins Grammar School, Lowell House Association, Morning News, Yale Review, Yale University, Class of 1874, and tobacco.

Scrapbooks contains several volumes of newspaper clippings and memorabilia relating to the personal and professional life of Henry W. Farnam. Volumes organized under the heading "Yale University" include material from Farnam's undergraduate years and his work on behalf of the Yale Bicentennial, Class of 1874, and Yale Review. Other volumes contain material relating to examination papers, Lowell House, New Haven Hospital, and World War I relief appeals.

SERIES III, WILLIAM WHITMAN FARNAM, 1844-1929, contains the papers of William W. Farnam, a Yale graduate (B.A., 1866), lawyer (Columbia, LL. B., 1871), trustee of Yale University (1885-1891), treasurer of Yale University (1888-1899), and member of the New Haven Commission of Public Parks (1880-1014). This series is arranged in two sections: Correspondence and Topical files.

Correspondence includes select files for letters from Timothy Dwight, family members, William Howard Taft, and from individuals associated with the New Haven Park Commission and the Yale Bicentennial.

Topical files includes material relating to Susan W. Farnam, William's wife, and financial papers.

Dates

  • 1721-1941

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donors of Accession 2004-M-028 has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact mssa.assist@yale.edu. Copyright status for other 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

Donated by the Henry W. Farnam estate, 1934 and later additions. Gift of Louise Guion and Elizabeth K. Harvey, 2003, and Louise Guion, 2004.

Arrangement

Arranged in three series: I. Henry Farnam, 1721-1898. II. Henry W. Farnam, 1841-1941. III. William W. Farnam, 1860-1929.

Extent

150 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.0203

Overview

Correspondence, diaries, letterbooks, financial papers, writings, scrapbooks, and memorabilia of the Farnam family of New Haven, Connecticut, 1721-1929. The papers of Henry Farnam (1803-1883), and two of his sons, Henry Walcott Farnam (1853-1933) and William Whitman Farnam (1844-1929) form this collection. The papers of Henry Farnam include personal and professional correspondence concerning his family, life in New Haven, and the building of several canals and railroads in Connecticut and the Midwest. Materials documenting the New Haven and Northampton Company, Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, Mississippi and Missouri Valley Railroad, Northern Indiana Railroad, and Peoria and Bureau Valley Railroad is arranged here. The papers of Henry Walcott Farnam include personal and professional correspondence, financial papers, writings, subject files and scrapbooks relating to his family, life in New Haven, student and teaching experiences at Yale, membership in local, state, and national academic and reform organizations, and philanthropic activities on behalf of educational and charitable institutions. The papers of William Whitman Farnam include correspondence and topical files relating to family matters, Yale University, and New Haven Park Commission activities.

Biographical / Historical

The Farnam family first settled in Connecticut in the person of Henry Farnam (1803-1883). Farnam engaged in the engineering and building of canals and railroads in Connecticut, and supervised the construction of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad and the Missouri and Mississippi Valley Railroad in the Midwest. His eldest son, Henry Walcott Farnam (1853-1933) was educated at Yale University (A.B., 1874; A.M., 1875) and in Germany. He taught political economy and economics at Yale, served on many national boards and commissions, authored numerous articles and books, chaired the Yale Review (1892-1911), and was an active national reformer in the areas of civil service, prohibition, and tobacco use. He also supported many educational institutions, Indian missionaries, and charitable organizations in the United States.

William Whitman Farnam (1844-1929), also a son of Henry Farnam, studied at Yale (B.A., 1866), in Germany, and received his law degree from Columbia in 1871. His college societies were Linonia, Kappa Sigma Epsilon, Alpha Sigma Phi, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Skull and Bones. He was one of the Spoon Committee and a member of the Varuna Boat Club. After graduation he spent three years in Europe; studied at the Universities of Berlin and Heidelberg, receiving from the latter degree of J.U.D. He entered Columbia College Law School in 1869 and was graduated with degree of LL.B. in 1871. He began practice in 1873 in New Haven. He was trustee of Yale University from 1885 to 1891; treasurer of Yale University from 1888 to 1899, and director of National New Haven Bank from 1888 to 1900. He was a member of the New Haven Commission of Public Parks from 1880 to 1914, serving as its vice-president and president; first president of the Connecticut Branch of the American National Red Cross, and for many years a member of the Central Committee of the National Organization. He was a trustee of the Sheffield Scientific School, and a trustee of the Peabody Museum. He married Miss Susan Frances Strong, June 4; 1873, youngest daughter of late General William K. Strong of New York city.
Title
Guide to the Farnam Family Papers
Status
Under Revision
Author
compiled by William E. Brown, Jr. and John Espy, Terry Hsu, and Betsy Maurer
Date
June 1984
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

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)

Location

Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours