Administrative Information

Biographical Sketch

Source

Related Collections

Scope and Content Note

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Series Description and Folder Listing


2 record cartons, 1 document box, 1 oversized box
2.70 cubic feet
Processor: Mark Vassar
Date: March 2002 – Revised February 2005

Acquisition: The Swan Family Papers were donated by Louis and Elizabeth Wiesner to the Cambridge Historical Society in 1995. The Sarah Hodges Swan diaries were donated to the Cambridge Historical Society by Mrs. J. Bertram Williams in 1951.

Access: There are no restrictions to items in this collection.

Permission to Publish: Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.

Copyright: The Cambridge Historical Society does not hold copyright on the materials in the collection.


Biographical Sketch:

Sarah Hodges Swan was born on 21 March 1825 at Bridgewater, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Rev. Richard Manning Hodges who was minister of the First Congregational Church of Bridgewater from 1821 to 1833. Her mother was Elizabeth Quincy Donnison, daughter of William Donnison, Judge of Common Pleas, Adjutant General, and aide to Governor Hancock. She had two siblings, Catherine Hodges Tower and Richard Manning Hodges Jr.

In 1836 the family removed to Cambridge and purchased a house on the corner of Waterhouse and Garden Streets. Sarah attended a school that stood in Harvard College Yard and later took private lessons with Margaret Fuller. She was married to Rev. Joshua Swan on 16 April 1851 and went to live in Kennebunk, Maine where Rev. Swan was ordained minister of the First Congregational Church. The couple had three daughters and one son. During the Civil War she joined her local Soldier’s Aid Society and, in 1863, became local manager for the United States Sanitary Commission, a national organization that in part served to provide clothing and foodstuffs to Union soldiers on the war front. In 1869, due to Rev. Swan’s failing health, he was forced to resign his position, and the family returned to Cambridge, purchasing a house at 6 Berkeley Street. Sarah Swan was a member of several local clubs, including the Cambridge Historical Society and the Basket Club, a local women’s sewing group that was originally organized to produce clothing and bandages for the newly opened Cambridge Hospital (now Mt. Auburn Hospital). She was active in the work of the First Church and the Cambridge Hospital and the Home for the Aged. She was also very interested in arranging the records of her family and wrote an account of her mother’s old home in Boston, at the corner of Washington and Winter Streets, entitled The Story of an Old House and the People who Lived in it. She died at her home on 167 Brattle Street on 17 October 1910.


Source:

Cambridge Historical Society. Proceedings, V. Cambridge, Mass: The University Press, 1911.


Related Collections:

The original material owned by the Wiesner family was split into three parts. Most of the items from Frank Bolles and Elizabeth Quincy Swan (who was the daughter of Sarah Hodges Swan) were donated to the Tamworth Historical Society. The exception to this is a series of three tintypes of a group of young women identified as having been mailed to “The Misses Bumstead,” one having belonged to Elizabeth Bolles. Those papers of Frank Bolles who was a cofounder and a president of the Harvard Coop and a secretary of Harvard University were donated to the Harvard University Archives. Researchers should contact these institutions in order to view the original collection in its entirety.


Scope and Content Note:

The bulk of the Swan Family Papers contains a series of diaries kept by Sarah Hodges Swan, spanning the years 1840‑1909 (non‑inclusive) and written during her time in both Cambridge, Massachusetts and Kennebunk, Maine. Early diaries contain her reflections on sermons heard at Sunday meetings, on biblical passages and books that she has read, and on several trips throughout New England and one to West Point (1840-1844). Later diaries are peppered with descriptions of Swan’s daily domestic duties, her friends and family, and her gardens. Local events described in this series include Swan’s attendance at the lectures of Louis Agassiz, noted zoologist, the Cambridge Conferences, hosted by local notable Sarah Bull, and her regular attendance at meetings of the Basket Club. In addition to her description of travel in New England, she describes several tours of Europe (1868-1869, 1887, 1904-1906), one trip in which she tours the American southwest, California, and western Canada (1890), and one journey to Florida (1898). She also records her attendance at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (1871-1875) and the Chicago Colombian Exposition (1893). Other items of note in this series is her description of her work with the Soldier’s Aid Society and the United States Sanitary Commission (1861‑1867) and her work with the Cambridge Hospital and Home for the Aged (1891‑1903).

Many pages have been removed from the earlier diaries, presumably by Sarah Swan herself since notes in the margins of pages for other days (in the same hand) attempt to provide brief descriptions of those pages missing. Photographs, news clippings, and pressed plants and flowers are found throughout the series, as well as received correspondence that has been tipped into the diaries themselves. All loose ephemera have been removed, the original location noted, and placed in folders following the appropriate diary. The last two volumes at the end of the series contain a sort of autobiographical sketch beginning in 1793, thirty-two years before her birth, and ending in 1852, just after her marriage to Joshua Swan.

The collection also contains correspondence received by Sarah Hodges Swan from her friends and family that date from about the time of her marriage to a few years prior to her death (1851‑1908). In large part the subject of this correspondence seems to have been Sarah Hodges Swan’s inquiry into her family genealogy and the history of her mother’s home in Boston. Little of it appears to describe her work with local organizations. Also included is a small sample of letters written to Sarah Swan’s sister “Kitty” Catherine Hodges Tower. Several letters written to her husband, Joshua Swan, and her father, Richard Manning Hodges, seem to have been retained for their value as autographs, having been written by Nathaniel Bowditch, Edward Everett, John T. Kirkland, and Thomas Starr King. Several other letters received by various family members and friends are also present.

Land records dating from 1698 to 1829, an assortment of contemporary notes and clippings, transcripts of the correspondence of Edmund Quincy (1756-1783), various seventeenth-century accounts and ephemera, and a bound copy of Swan’s article The Story of an Old House and the People who Lived in it comprise Series III. It appears that many of these documents, (e.g. land records and accounts) had been passed down through the family and were used by Swan in performing research for her published article. The balance of these was compiled by Sarah Hodges Swan for the same purpose. The land records document the ownership of land by Sarah Swan’s ancestors, most relating to the ownership of her mother’s home in Boston at the corner of Washington and Winters Streets. A few document land ownership in Rhode Island and New York during this period.

Two additional series complete the collection. Series IV consists of the inventories and/or wills of Richard M. Hodges and Charles Tower. One daguerreotype of Elizabeth Quincy Donnison Hodges in a black leather case, and a series of tintypes identified only as having been sent to “The Misses Bumstead,” one belonging to Elizabeth Bolles, comprise Series V. All series are arranged chronologically. Wallets that formerly contained land records and other eighteenth through early nineteenth century documents are housed in Box 4.


Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • Tower, Catherine Hodges – Correspondence.
  • Donnison, Elizabeth Quincy – Photographs.
  • Hodges, Richard M. – Estate.
  • Swann family.
  • Swan family.
  • Cambridge Hospital (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Cambridge Homes for Aged People (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Soldier’s Aid Society (Kennebunk, Me.)
  • United States Sanitary Commission.
  • Dwellings — Massachusetts — Boston.
  • Hospitals — Massachusetts — Cambridge.
  • Old age homes — Massachusetts — Cambridge.
  • Real property — Massachusetts.
  • Real property — New York (State)
  • Real property — Rhode Island.
  • Soldiers — Services for.
  • Travelers’ writings, American — Massachusetts.
  • Women travelers — Europe — Diaries.
  • Women — Massachusetts — Diaries.
  • Europe — Description and travel.
  • Kennebunk (Me.) — Description and travel.
  • United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — Women.
  • United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — War work.
  • Massachusetts — History — Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Massachusetts — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — Women.
  • Massachusetts — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — War work.
  • Women — Societies and Clubs
  • Correspondence. aat
  • Diaries — Massachusetts — Cambridge. aat
  • Family papers. aat
  • Photographs. aat
  • Property records. aat
  • Genealogists — Massachusetts. lcsh


Hodges – Swan FamilymPapers, 1698‑1910
Series Description and Folder Listing

Box Folder Series I – Diaries
1 1 1840‑1844
1 2 1845‑1846
1 3 Items removed from 1845-1846
1 4 1846-1847
1 5 1849-1852; includes
1.01 SHS – Sarah Hodges? – ca. 1851
1 6 1853-1855
1 7 1855‑1860; includes
1.02 SHS – Catharine “Kitty” Manning Hodges – ca. 1858
1.03 SHS – “Society meeting” – 1860
8 Items removed from 1855-1860
1 1857
10 1861‑1867
11 Items removed from 1861-1867
12 1868‑1869; includes
1.04 SHS – Cathedral [Chester] – 1868
1.05 SHS – “Effigy of Shakespeare” –1868
1.06 SHS – Stratford on Avon – 1868
1.07 SHS – Warwick Castle – 1868
1.08 SHS – Warwick Castle – 1868
1.09 SHS – Warwick Castle – 1868
1.10 SHS – Kenilworth – 1868
1.11 SHS – Kenilworth – 1868
1.12 SHS – Kenilworth – 1868
1.13 SHS – Farm buildings, Kenilworth -1868
1.14 SHS – Stoneleigh Abbey – 1868
1.15 SHS – Coventry Church – 1868
1.16 SHS – Coventry Church Interior – 1868
1.17 SHS – Westminster Abbey, N. Transept – 1868
1.18 SHS – “On the Choir” – 1868
1.19 SHS – Parliament House – 1868
1.20 SHS – Palais de Justice – 1868
1.21 SHS – The Seine – 1868
1.22 SHS – Louvre – 1868
1.23 SHS – Louvre – 1868
1.24 SHS – Unidentified – 1868
1.25 SHS – St. Sulpice – 1868
1.26 SHS – Luxembourg – 1868
1.27 SHS – Unidentified – 1868
1.28 SHS – Unidentified – 1868
1.29 SHS – Versailles? – 1868
1.30 SHS – Fontainbleu – 1868
1.31 SHS – Fountainbleu – 1868
1.32 SHS – Saint-Michel – 1868
1.33 SHS- Dijon – 1868
1.34 SHS – Eglise de Brou – 1868
1.35 SHS – Eglise de Brou – 1868
1.36 SHS – Eglise de Brou – 1868
1.37 SHS – Eglise de Brou – 1868
1.38 SHS – Grand Hotel du Ville – 1868
1.39 SHS – Grand Hotel – 1868
1.40 SHS – Marseilles – 1868
1.41 SHS – Marseilles – 1868
1.42 SHS – Turbie? – 1868
1.43 SHS – Unidentified – 1868
1.44 SHS – Villa Palaviani? – 1868
1.45 SHS – Pisa – 1868
1.46 SHS – Naples – 1868
1.47 SHS – Naples – 1868
1.48 SHS – Villa Nationale – 1868
1.49 SHS – Unidentified – 1868
1.50 SHS – Pompeii – 1868
1.51 SHS – Pompeii – 1868
1.52 SHS – Roman Forum – 1868
1.53 SHS – Coliseum – 1868
1.54 SHS – Rome – 1868
1.55 SHS – Barberini Palace? – 1868
1.56 SHS – Rome – 1868
1.57 SHS – Trevvi Fountain – 1868
1.58 SHS – Spanish Steps – 1868
1.59 SHS – Rome – 1868
1.60 SHS – Pantheon – 1868
1.61 SHS – Capuchin Church? – 1868
1.62 SHS – Aqueduct – 1868
1.63 SHS – Uffizi? – 1868
1.64 SHS – Florence? – 1868
1.65 SHS – Uffizi? – 1868
1.66 SHS – Florence? – 1868
1.67 SHS – Unidentified – 1868
1.68 SHS – Unidentified – 1868
1.69 SHS – St. Anastasius Cathedral? – 1868
1.70 SHS – St. Anastasius Cathedral? – 1868
1.71 SHS – “On the Bremer Pass” – 1868
1.72 SHS – Munich? – 1869
1.73 SHS – Munich? – 1869
1.74 SHS – Munich? – 1869
1.75 SHS – Munich? – 1869
1.76 SHS – Sarah Swan? – 1869 [Kaulbach]
1.77 SHS – Joshua Swan? – 1869 [Kaulbach]
1.78 SHS – Hannover – 1869
1.79 SHS – Strasburg? – 1869
1.80 SHS – Strasburg? – 1869
1.81 SHS – Strasburg? – 1869
1.82 SHS – Strasburg? – 1869
1.83 SHS – Windsor – 1869
1.84 SHS – Windsor Castle – 1869
1.85 SHS – Windsor Castle – 1869
1.86 SHS – Kennebunk, ME – 1869
1.87 SHS – Great Falls, Mousam River, ME – 1869
1.88 SHS – Great Falls, Mousam River, ME – 1869
1.89 SHS – Bald-head Cliff, York, ME – 1869
1.90 SHS – Bald-head Cliff, York, ME – 1869
1.91 SHS – “On the Mousam, Kennebunk” – 1869
1.92 “At Bald-Head Cliff, York, ME” – 1869
1 13 1870‑1871
1 14 1871‑1875; includes 1.93 SHS – “Lodge Hill” – 1873 [E.C. Mack]
1.94 SHS – “Lodge Hill” – 1873 [E.C. Mack]
1.95 SHS – “Catharine Amory Parsons” – 1876
1.96 SHS – “Centennial Buildings” – 1876
1.97 SHS – “Centennial Buildings” – 1876
1.98 SHS – “Centennial Buildings” – 1876
1.99 SHS – Eskimos – 1876
1 15 1887
1 16 1890
1 17 1891
1 18 1892; includes
1.100 SHS – Olive Jones Swan – 1892
1.101 SHS – Catharine Donnison Tower – 1892
1.102 SHS – Unidentified child – 1892
1 19 1893; includes
1.103 SHS – William D. Hodges? – 1893
20 Items removed from 1893
21 1894
1 22 1895; includes
1.104 SHS – Unidentified house – 1895
2 23 1896
2 24 1898
2 25 1899; includes
1.105 SHS, “Clumps of Iris in my garden photographed by Lois Howe”
2 26 1900
2 27 1901; includes
1.106 SHS – Salisbury, England – 1901
1.107 SHS – Oriel Temperance Hotel, Winchester, England – 1901
1.108 SHS – Oriel Temperance Hotel, Winchester, England – 1901
2 28 Items removed from 1901; includes
1.109 SHS – “Tintern Abbey” – 1901
2 29 1902
2 30 1903; includes
1.110 SHS – “B[ertram] & O[live] at Atlantic City” – ca. 1903
2 31 1904
2 32 1905; includes
1.111 SHS – “Irises in my garden photo’d by Lois Howe” – ca. 1905
2 33 1906; includes
1.112 SHS – Avignon – 1906
1.113 SHS – Villeneuve – 1906 [Elizabeth Bolles]
1.114 SHS – “Photo of SHS taken by EQB on Feb 16, Arles – 1906 [Elizabeth Bolles]
1.115 SHS – Villa Mafalda – 1906
1.116 SHS – Villa Mafalda? – 1906 1.117 SHS – Arched bridge at Verazze – 1906
1.118 SHS – “Fortress Ribot from the window of Quai de la Republique no. 5” – 1906
1.119 SHS – “Looking up the Isere to St. Egnard Convent…” – 1906 [Elizabeth Bolles]
1.120 SHS – “La Roche” – 1906
2 34 Items removed from 1906
2 35 1907; includes
1.121 SHS – “Picture sent while in the country near Canterbury taking tea under the trees” – 1907
1.122 SHS – “Margaret Russell, John & Robert” – 1907
1.123 SHS – “Cricket at Canterbury, John, Robert & Margaret” – 1907
2 36 1908; includes
1.124 SHS – Unidentified woman gardening – 1908
2 37 Items removed from 1908
2 38 1909
2 39 Items removed from 1909
2 40 Autobiographical sketch 1793-1843
2 41 Autobiographical sketch 1844-1852
Series II – Correspondence
3 42 Sarah Hodges Swan, n.d., 1844-1897
3 43 Sarah Hodges Swan, 1902-1908
3 44 Catherine (Kitty) Hodges Tower, 1869-1882 with gaps
3 45 Joshua Swan, R. M. Hodges, 1761, 1821, 1826, 1847, 1852, 1853
3 46 Miscellaneous, n.d., 1830, 1873, 1876, 1885, 1893
Series III – Research (Collected documents and notes)
3 47 The Story of an Old House…, 1897
3 48 Accounts, Notes 1720-1829
3 49 Notes, n.d., 1866-1879
3 50 Edmund Quincy Correspondence (transcripts) 1756, 1776-1777, 1792, 1793
4 55 Land Records 1698-1829 (Oversized)
Series IV – Wills and Inventories
3 51 R. M. Hodges, C. B. Tower, n.d., 1875-1876, 1911
4 54 R . M. Hodges, n.d. (Oversized)
Series V – Photographs
3 52 5.125 SHS – Elizabeth Quincy Donnison Hodges, n.d.
3 53 5.126 SHS – 5.128 SHS – Unidentified tintypes of a group of young women, n.d.