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Seymour family papers

Call Number: MS 440

Scope and Contents

The Seymour Family Papers is a collection of unusual quality which spans the years 1711 to 1969, with the greatest concentration occurring from 1870 to 1945. The papers represent six generations of an intellectually and socially prominent family which included two Yale presidents as well as teachers, lawyers, prep school head masters, a Civil War general, a newspaper editor, and a sculptor.

The papers are rich in detail concerning social life and customs in New Haven, Hartford, and nineteenth century Ohio. Family members traveled extensively both professionally and for pleasure, and the papers contain interesting views of American travelers, both in the U.S. and abroad. Because these are family papers there is much in them dealing with daily family life, childbearing, and the role of women in the family, and because so many family members were teachers the papers will prove to be a fertile source for those interested in the history of education, particularly the histories of Yale University, Case Western Reserve University (at the time Western Reserve College), and Choate School.

The papers came to Manuscripts and Archives through numerous donations from family members, the most recent gift being from Mrs. Charles Seymour, Jr. in 1979. The papers now include correspondence and other material of Charles Law Watkins, formerly MSS Group 657.

The papers are divided into eighteen series with separate series for major family groups and individuals. All material pertaining to a married woman is filed under her married name, even if the material was generated prior to her marriage. The series are arranged as follows:

  5. V. CHARLES SEYMOUR (1843-1913)
  11. XI. CHARLES SEYMOUR (1885-1963)

Each series contains a wide variety of material which may include correspondence, writings, legal and financial documents, printed material, and memorabilia. Only photographs have been segregated into a separate series.

In all cases letters between family members are filed in the series of their recipient. Thus, the researcher will have to refer to two series to follow the correspondence between any two individuals. Whenever a letter is addressed to more than one person, it is placed with the series of the eldest addressee.

At the beginning of each series is a description of the arrangement of that series. In most cases there is also a brief biographical sketch which will provide some insight into the interests of the particular family member and some suggestions as to the wide range of subjects that could be covered in the series. For additional biographical information see The Family of the Rev. Jeremiah Day of New Preston and George Dudley Seymour's A History of the Seymour Family. Familycharts, which follow this description, will help identify the relationships between family members.

Initials and Nicknames

  1. Elizabeth Day Seymour Angel --- EDSA --- Beth
  2. Katharine Seymour Parsons Dean --- --- Katie
  3. Lee Maltbie Dean --- --- Sebastian
  4. Clara M. Hitchcock --- ---- Kittie
  5. James Merriam Howard, Jr. --- --- Jim
  6. James Merriam Howard, III --- --- Jerry
  7. Sarah Seymour Howard --- SSH --- Sally
  8. Harriet Day Parsons --- HDP --- Hallie
  9. William Cheney Parsons --- --- Will
  10. George St. John --- --- Clargo
  11. George St. John, Jr. --- --- Jim
  12. Charles Seymour (1885-1963) --- CS --- Charlie
  13. Elizabeth Atwater Seymour --- EAS --- Betsey
  14. Gladys Watkins Seymour --- GWS ---
  15. Sarah Hitchcock Seymour --- SSH --- Sadie
  16. Thomas Day Seymour --- TDS --- Tom
  17. Charles Law Watkins --- --- Law


4' (10 boxes), 1843-1933

The Seymour Family Papers Add. 1981, housed in ten boxes and spanning the years from 1843 to 1933, was donated to Yale University in 1981 by Seymour St. John.

The original collection is divided into eighteen series and this addition is arranged in the same manner as the larger collection. All correspondence, therefore, is filed in the series of the recipient of the letters. Letters written to Thomas Day Seymour, for example, are found in Series VII, while those written by him to other family members are located in the appropriate series. Please refer to the introductions to each series in the register to the Seymour Family Papers for additional information. The add. 1981 contains material for ten series, but the bulk of the correspondence and other papers are found in THOMAS DAY SEYMOUR, SARAH (HITCHCOCK) SEYMOUR, and ST. JOHN FAMILY.

The add. 1981 fills several important gaps in the Seymour Family Papers. These papers focus on the family of Thomas Day Seymour. The chief correspondents and recipients of letters are Thomas Day Seymour, Sarah (Hitchcock) Seymour, and their three children, Elizabeth Day (Seymour) Angel, Clara Hitchcock (Seymour) St. John, and Charles Seymour (1885-1963).

The single most important correspondent is Clara Hitchcock (Seymour) St. John. Clara's college years at Bryn Mawr are well documented. Letters written by Clara from college to her family fill folders 37-58 of Series VII. The correspondence covers her freshman, junior, and senior years at college. (Letters from her parents, sister Elizabeth, and brother Charles to her are found in Series X.) After graduation Clara and her sister travelled to Europe in the company of their uncle Charles Seymour (1843-1913). Sixty letters written by the two young women between June and September 1900 describe this exciting journey. See Series VII folders 11-12, 58-61. The same series also contains several letters written by Clara and her mother from Italy in 1903.

Clara married George St. John in June 1906 and correspondence in Series VII folders 64-68, and Series VIII, folder 115, describes their honeymoon in pastoral New Hampshire and George's experiences teaching at the Adirondack-Florida School. In a letter to her parents written September 6, 1909 from Windsor, Vermont, Clara describes a visit to the home of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and recounts his problems designing a new $20 gold piece. The Adirondack-Florida School was located at Rainbow Lake in Franklin County, New York and Coconut Grove, Florida. The bride who was accustomed to the amenities of life had to adjust to living in a primitive cabin in the Adirondack woods. Moreover, when the headmaster became ill in early October, Clara took over his teaching assignments.

In one particularly significant group of letters in Series VIII, folders 116-119, Clara St. John relates the difficulties endured by her first child, Elizabeth Seymour St. John, "Betty," in her first year. Although she weighed a healthy eight pounds at birth on August 3, 1908, Clara was unable to nurse the child and the infant suffered from severe adverse reactions to cow's milk, formula, medicines, and baby food. The baby weighed only 71/4 pounds at three months and her ordeal culminated with a bout of diphtheria in April 1909. (See Series IX, folder 148, and Series XI, folders 245-246 for additional material on this subject.)

In addition to the extensive Clara Hitchcock (Seymour) St. John correspondence in Series VII, the same series contains two other important groups of letters. The Seymours' elder daughter, Elizabeth Day (Seymour) Angel, taught Greek from 1901 to 1903 at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. Letters in folders 13-17 cover her activities for much of the 1902-1903 academic year. (Series VIII, folder 91, and Series X, folder 156, contain further Lake Erie College correspondence.) In letters written betwen 1892 and 1894 Thomas Day Seymour's colorful brother Charles discusses his financial activities, national politics, and his brother's children. Charles Seymour (1843-1903) held strong Republican views. In several letters he blasts the Democratic party for its mismanagement of the economy. "I stood the panic of '73," he asserts on November 14, 1892, "the broken leg, the grip[pe], and the nerve exhaustion that followed it last Spring, but the election news fairly knocks me out. I never dreamed that the liars and robbers would be able to deceive the entire body of the people." Bachelor Charles Seymour in a letter written on October 18, 1893 says that a college education for women was useless. He was also deeply pessimistic about the nation's future. He mourned the decline of "the Puritan stock" and advised his brother on February 7, 1894 to keep his namesake Charles Seymour (1885-1963) "out of doors." Due to Puritan decadence, "only those will survive who abolish intellectual stuffing" and follow the "manly sports."

Series VIII SARAH (HITCHCOCK) SEYMOUR contains correspondence addressed to Thomas Day Seymour's wife, twelve folders of Hitchcock Family Papers, and a small amount of other papers. It has several interesting letters written by Charles Seymour (1885-1963) from Athens, Constantinople, and Munich in the summer of 1909. One ten page letter dated August 18 describes his journey from Constantinople to Munich. This series also includes a substantial group of letters of Sarah (Hitchcock) Seymour's parents, brothers, and sister. Two brothers, John Ford and Henry Valentine Hitchcock, served in the Union armies. John Ford Hitchcock enlisted in September 1861 and served in the 18th U.S. Infantry of the Army of the Ohio. He was killed in battle, probably at Stones River on December 31, 1862. Several of his letters contain interesting commentaries on the military and political situations. Henry Valentine Hitchcock, John's older brother, enlisted in 1863 and became a chaplain. In one letter dated May 12, 1865, he discusses the reaction in North Carolina to President Lincoln's assassination. See folders 109-110 and 135-137. Several other Hitchcock letters, written by Sarah's parents, describe their trip to Europe in 1867-1868. The series also contains several folders of correspondence of school friends of Sarah (Hitchcock) Seymour.

Series X ST. JOHN FAMILY contains a large number of letters written to Clara (Seymour) St. John by her family and friends, folders 155-200, and a large group of letters addressed to Seymour St. John in 1928-1929 when he was attending the Insitut Carnal in Gstaad, Switzerland. The largest volume of correspondence in Series X covers Clara's Bryn Mawr years. The letters are personal and discuss normal mother and daughter, brother and sister, and school friend subjects. Clara's mother, for example, wrote about clothes, her social activities in New Haven, family doings, and news of friends and relatives. During her senior year at Bryn Mawr, Clara was "Chairman" of the De Rebus Club, which provided a forum for visiting speakers. She corresponded with potential speakers, including Jacob A. Riis and William Dean Howells, both of whom declined her invitation.

Folders 201-220 contain letters written to Seymour St. John in 1928-1929 from family and friends. The most interesting are those from his mother and older brother George St. John, Jr. Clara (Seymour) St. John in a letter written December 12, 1928, for example, describes a dinner she and her husband attended at the home of Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon in Washington, D. C. The affair was also attended by President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge. Due to a social error, the St. Johns rode up on the elevator with the President and his wife, thus when the receiving line was formed, "Cal skipped us, with a laconic 'I believe I met you downstairs.'" The 1928 presidential election is alluded to in several letters, folders 204, 206, and 216.

George St. John, Jr., called Jimmy, was at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge at the same time his younger brother was in Switzerland. George's letters give a good view of his activities at the English university, for his correspondence is filled with discussions of concerts, rowing, skating, bicycling, hockey, the food, and the weather. Indeed, the letters of all the boys show a preoccupation with sports, especially baseball and football.

Henry Lawrence Hitchcock, Thomas Day Seymour, George St. John, and Charles Seymour (1885-1963) were all leaders in the field of education, yet little in this collection concerns their professional careers. The Seymour Family Papers Add. 1981 provides a good deal of documentation on the family of Thomas Day Seymour, in particular for Sarah (Hitchcock) Seymour and Clara (Seymour) St. John, although there is also useful information on the Hitchcock family, Elizabeth Day (Seymour) Angel's teaching career, and the youth and early adulthood of Charles Seymour (1885-1963). The addition also contains letters written by a large number of Day and Hitchcock relatives. The correspondence is personal in character and should be of use primarily to researchers interested in family history or biography.


  • 1711-1969
  • Majority of material found within 1870 - 1945


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for 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 family members, 1945-1981; some material transferred from the Charles Seymour Papers (MS 441) and the Charles Law Watkins Papers (MS 657); transfer from the History of Art Library, 1998.


51 Linear Feet (126 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


This collection is made up of the papers of ten individual members and six branches of the Seymour family: the Day family, Parsons-Dean families, Watkins-Law families, Leggett-Seymour-Doolittle families, St. John family, and Howard family. The largest sections are those of Thomas Day Seymour, Charles Seymour (1885-1963), and Charles Seymour, Jr. The collection represents six generations of an intellectually and socially prominent family and through correspondence and diaries offers detailed evidence on social life and customs in New Haven, Hartford and nineteenth-century Ohio.

Biographical / Historical

For charts outlining the genealogical relations of the Seymour family, please consult theGenealogical Charts.

Index to the Correspondence of the Seymour Family Papers

  1. Acheson, Alice
  2. Acheson, Dean
  3. Allen, Frederic DeForest
  4. Andrews, Catharine Augusta (Day)
  5. Andrews, Harriet Day
  6. Andrews, Mrs. James H.
  7. Andrews, Julia
  8. Andrews, Laura Day
  9. Angel, Elizabeth Day (Seymour)
  10. Angel, Henry Seymour
  11. Angel, James Rowland
  12. Angel, John
  13. [Angell, Kay?)
  14. Bakewell, Charles
  15. Bayne-Jones, Mrs. Stanhope
  16. Beves, Donald H.
  17. Blass, Frederick
  18. [Blauvert, Mary?]
  19. Bonaparte, Ellen Channing (Day)
  20. Bowers, A. Margaret
  21. Bowles, John
  22. Boyd, Morrison C.
  23. Bradford, Arthur
  24. Brewster, Kingman, Jr.
  25. Bullitt, William C.
  26. Buss, Elle E.
  27. Butcher, Samuel
  28. Campbell, Mary
  29. Carlsen, Dines
  30. Chamsaur, Gwyn
  31. Clapp, Edward P.
  32. Clement, Jean
  33. Cleveland, Grover
  34. Coit, Hannah (Abel)
  35. Coman, Martha Seymour
  36. Conant, James B.
  37. Cooksey, Betty
  38. Cushing, Harvey
  39. Cutler, Francis E.
  40. Davies, Walter G.
  41. Davison, F., Trubee
  42. Day, Alice H.
  43. Day, Arthur
  44. Day, Edward L.
  45. Day, Ellen P.
  46. Day, George Parmley
  47. Day, Harriet
  48. Day, Henry Noble
  49. Day, Katharine Seymour
  50. Day, Nancy
  51. Day, Sarah (Coit)
  52. Day, Thomas
  53. Day, Thomas Mills
  54. Dean, Katharine (Parsons)
  55. Dean, Lee Maltbie
  56. DeVane, Mabel
  57. D'Ooge, Martin
  58. Doolittle, Laura (Seymour)
  59. Doolittle, Thomas Benjamin
  60. [Dreir?], Katherine
  61. Edmonson, Marie
  62. Eliot, T.S.
  63. Ellinte, Janet J.
  64. Ely, Mary Frances (Day)
  65. Farr, Hollon A.
  66. Farnham, Thomas
  67. Fromkes, Eva and Maurice
  68. Gaillard, Edward
  69. Garmany, Carrie
  70. Gelat, A. Thomas
  71. Gibbs, Josiah Willard
  72. Goodell, Thomas D.
  73. Greene, Jerome D.
  74. [Hadley, Arthur T.?]
  75. Hadley, Morris
  76. Halifax, Lord
  77. Halifax, Lady Dorothy
  78. Harkness, Nancy
  79. Hawkins, George W.
  80. Heermance, Laura (Woolsey)
  81. Hemingway, Louise
  82. Hemingway, Minerva Hart
  83. Hitchcock, Charles
  84. Hitchcock, Clara Maria
  85. Hitchcock, Grace
  86. Hitchcock, Herbert
  87. Holden, Margaretta
  88. Holden, Reuben A.
  89. Holley, Sarah Coit (Day)
  90. Howard, James M., Jr.
  91. Howard, James M., III
  92. Howard, Sarah (Seymour)
  93. Hunt, A. Everett, Jr.
  94. Hunt, Samuel F.
  95. Hutchison, Ralph Cooper
  96. Jackson, Katherine D.
  97. Jackson, Rose
  98. Jebb, Sir Richard
  99. Jenks, Marjorie
  100. Jones, Louise Seymour
  101. Kane, Elliot
  102. Keep, Elizabeth
  103. Keep, Robert Porter
  104. Kellery, Mary B.
  105. Kerr, Chester
  106. Kirby, William
  107. Knapp, William
  108. Lansbury, Clara
  109. Law, Archibald
  110. Law, Ellen Atwater
  111. Law, John
  112. Lawton, Carolyn Fox
  113. Lee, George
  114. Leggett, Leverett
  115. Leggett, Marilla (Wells)
  116. [Leggett, Mary (Strong)?]
  117. Leggett, Mortimer Dormer
  118. Leggett, Mortimer Marcellus
  119. Leggett, Wells Willner
  120. Lindsay, Elizabeth
  121. Linen, Joseph, Jr.
  122. [Lovett, Sid?]
  123. McAfee, Helen
  124. McCarthy, Leighton
  125. McClure, Helen
  126. McCook, Anson T.
  127. [Marshall, George?]
  128. Mason, Mary
  129. Mendell, Clare
  130. Metcalf, Julia
  131. Michelet, Jules
  132. Miller, Rebecca
  133. Monier, Helen Warren (Hall)
  134. Morley, Eliza Melissa (Hitchcock)
  135. Morrell, Norman
  136. Morrill, Frank Forrest
  137. Nettleton, George
  138. Nicolay, Helen
  139. Norton, Charles Eliot
  140. Odell, Joseph H.
  141. Otis, Philo Adams
  142. Oviatt, Heman
  143. Packard, Lewis R.
  144. Page, Thomas Nelson
  145. Parker, Horatio
  146. Parker, Mary
  147. Parlow, Minnie
  148. Parsons, Barrie (O'Neill)
  149. Parsons, Charles Seymour
  150. Parsons, Christina
  151. Parsons, Dorothy
  152. Parsons, Elizabeth
  153. Parsons, Harriet Day
  154. Parsons, Hugh Galt
  155. Parsons, Mary (Blackman)
  156. Parsons, Myra
  157. Parsons, Robert, Jr.
  158. Parsons, Robert Day
  159. Parsons, Sarah (Seymour)
  160. Parsons, Seymour
  161. Parsons, William Cheney
  162. Parsons, William Edward
  163. Peabody, Annie Putnam
  164. Pearson, Lester
  165. Perkins, Don
  166. Perkins, William Rufus
  167. Perrin, Bernadotte
  168. [Perrin?], Lester
  169. [Peters, Philip T.?]
  170. Pflieger, Robert P.
  171. Phillips, Caroline D.
  172. Phillips, Duncan
  173. Putnam, Ellen Day
  174. Putnam, Harriette (Day)
  175. Putnam, Katharine Day
  176. Reeve, Irma
  177. Reid, Helen
  178. Reynolds, Alice E.
  179. Roberts, W. Rhys
  180. Robinson, Charles E.
  181. Robinson, Clara
  182. Rogers, Edward Pendleton
  183. Roosevelt, Eleanor
  184. Roosevelt, Theodore
  185. Roper, Dorothy
  186. Rudd, Maria C. Holley
  187. Saarinen, Loja
  188. Sachsen-Meinigen, Prinz Friedrich V.
  189. St. John, Clara (Seymour)
  190. St. John, Connie
  191. St. John, George Clair
  192. St. John, George Clair
  193. St. John, Margaret
  194. St. John, Seymour
  195. St. John, Susan
  196. Sandys, Sir John Edwin
  197. Schley, Reeve
  198. Scott, Walter
  199. Scranton, William
  200. [Scranton, Worthington?]
  201. Seymour, Charles (1777-1852)
  202. Seymour, Charles (1807-1886)
  203. Seymour, Charles (1843-1913)
  204. Seymour, Charles (1885-1963)
  205. Seymour, Charles, Jr.
  206. Seymour, Charles, III
  207. Seymour, Charlotte
  208. Seymour, Charlotte (Ball)
  209. Seymour, Elizabeth Atwater
  210. Seymour, Elizabeth (Day)
  211. Seymour, Ella B.
  212. Seymour, Emily
  213. Seymour, Fannie F.
  214. Seymour, George Dudley
  215. Seymour, Gladys (Watkins)
  216. Seymour, Henry Albert
  217. Seymour, Joel M.
  218. Seymour, Julia
  219. Seymour, Mary (Leggett)
  220. Seymour, Nathan Perkins
  221. Seymour, Pearl
  222. Seymour, Sarah (Hitchcock)
  223. Seymour, Thomas Day
  224. Sherman, John
  225. Sill, Edward R.
  226. Simmons, Mrs. Charles
  227. Smith, Charles Josiah
  228. Spellman, Francis Cardinal
  229. Stanley, Harold
  230. Stanton, Louise (Parsons)
  231. Stevens, William Arnold
  232. Stewart, Nikey
  233. Stimson, Henry
  234. Stokowski, Leopold
  235. Strong, George A.
  236. Strong, Sidney
  237. Talcott, Mary Kingsbury
  238. Terry, Milton S.
  239. Tinker, Chauncey Brewster
  240. Townsend, George
  241. Townsend, Timothy Dwight
  242. Trimble, John
  243. Tuttle, H. Emerson
  244. Tweedsmuir, Lord
  245. Waldstein, Charles
  246. Walker, John
  247. Waring, Thomas R.
  248. Warren, Charles
  249. Watkins, Charles Law
  250. Watkins, Elizabeth (Law)
  251. [Watkins?], Jean
  252. Watkins, Marie Bader
  253. Watkins, Thomas Hamer
  254. Welles, Kenneth B.
  255. [Wells?], Harriet
  256. West, Andrew T.
  257. White, E. B.
  258. White, Williams
  259. Whitney, William Dwight
  260. Wilbur, Philo Adams
  261. [Wilkinson, Harriet?]
  262. Willard, Emma
  263. Williams, Rebecca
  264. Williamson, Edith Ely
  265. Williamson, James DeLong
  266. Willkie, Mrs. Wendell
  267. Wilson, Hugh R.
  268. Windsor, Duke and Duchess
  269. Winternitz, Mrs. Milton
  270. Woodbine, Helen
  271. Wright, Henry Burt
  272. Wright, James K.
  273. Wright, John H.
  274. [Wyath, John Allan?]
Guide to the Seymour Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Ann C. Newhall
September 1980
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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