THOREAU FAMILY COLLECTION, 1828-1858

Plate from "Cambridge Mathematics"
Illustration from plates for Cambridge Mathematics

Vault A45, Thoreau, Unit 4

 

EXTENT: Fifty-eight items (in one archival box and one oversize folder, with one item shelved separately).

ORGANIZATION: Organized into four series: I. Cynthia Dunbar Thoreau item, 1854 ; II. Helen Thoreau item, [undated] ; III. Henry David Thoreau material/possible H.D.T. material, 1828-1858 ; and IV. Sophia Thoreau sheet music and related material, 1833-1841 .

BIOGRAPHY: Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)—American author, lecturer, naturalist, student of Native American artifacts and life, land surveyor, pencil-maker, active opponent of slavery, social critic, and almost life-long resident of Concord, Massachusetts—was one of four children born to storekeeper and pencil-maker John Thoreau (1787-1859) and his wife, Cynthia (Dunbar) Thoreau (1787-1872), who were married in 1812. John and Cynthia Thoreau's other children were Helen (1812-1849), John (1815-1842), and Sophia (1819-1876). Henry Thoreau's mother, sisters, and aunts were ardent abolitionists. His musical younger sister Sophia played the piano. None of the four Thoreau children married.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: Fifty-eight items once belonging to several members of the Thoreau family. Dated items range between 1828 and 1858; a significant proportion are undated. The collection includes: Cynthia Thoreau's copy of an antislavery newspaper ( National Anti-Slavery Standard , September 30, 1854, containing an article on the Anthony Burns case); an antique trunk bearing Helen Thoreau's initials; fifteen items that may have once belonged to Henry Thoreau (a book of engraved plates to accompany volumes of the Cambridge Mathematics ; a printed plan—dated 1828—for the Boston and Providence Railway; two copies of a prospectus and four printed maps issued by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; a printed booklist dated July, 1858; Gale's 1832 printed map of Haverhill; an 1850 printed broadside (To carpenters), issued by David Loring to solicit "sealed proposals" to build a barn in Northboro (relating to nos. 80a-80g in the Concord Free Public Library's Thoreau survey collection); Walling's 1852 printed map of Concord; and four rolled sheets of blank paper of the type used by Thoreau in drafting surveys); and Sophia Thoreau's printed and manuscript sheet music and related items—blank staffed sheets for copying music by hand and Graupner's piano instruction book—dating between 1833 and 1841.

SOURCE OF ACQUISITION: Likely a gift or bequest of Sophia Thoreau during the 1870s.

ASSOCIATED MATERIALS: The Concord Free Public Library also holds a major collection of Henry David Thoreau papers (including some 200 of Thoreau's manuscript surveys and a volume of his surveying field notes), a collection of Thoreau family correspondence, Helen Thoreau's antislavery scrapbook, and a number of other collections offering materials generated by or relating to various members of the Thoreau family. Consult other finding aids on the CFPL website or contact the library's Special Collections for additional information.

PROCESSED BY: LPW; finding aid completed 02/18/05 .

 

CONTAINER LIST

SERIES I. CYNTHIA DUNBAR THOREAU ITEM, 1854 (in oversize folder, outside box):

Pages [1]-[2] of the National Anti-Slavery Standard for September 30, 1854 . Lead article on page [1]: “Gov. Washburn and the Burns Case.” Inscribed in ink on page [1]: “C.D. Thoreau.”

 

SERIES II. HELEN THOREAU ITEM, [undated] (outside box, shelved separately):

Trunk (covered with animal hide and studded with tacks forming the initials “H.L.T.”). Used by library to store Thoreau family collection prior to processing.

 

SERIES III. HENRY DAVID THOREAU MATERIAL/POSSIBLE H.D.T. MATERIAL, 1828-1858 (fifteen items, nine in box and six in oversize folder):

Folder 1 :
Book of engraved plates (untitled; undated) apparently published to accompany volumes of the Cambridge Mathematics (a series of mathematical texts translated by Harvard professor John Farrar, first published beginning in 1818, later reprinted, and familiar to H.D.T. while a student at Harvard). Includes plates showing applications to surveying. Inscribed in ink on front of wrapper: “William A. Henry [?] / Cambridge .”

Folder 2 :
Hayward, James. Plan of a Survey for the proposed Boston and Providence Rail-Way [folded printed plan] (1828). Inscribed in pencil on verso of map: “Reuben Brown / Concord .”

Note: H.D.T. surveyed a woodlot belonging to Reuben Brown in October 1851 (see CFPL Thoreau survey #14a). He also attended the estate auction for the deceased Brown's property, recording his observations on what he found there in his journal entry for January 27, 1854 .

Folder 3 :
Prospectus and maps issued by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge:

A Series of Maps , Modern and Ancient, Published Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge ( prospectus , 1832 [?]; two copies ).

Asia Minor . Published under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (London: Baldwin & Cradock, 1830).

The Eastern Part of the Ancient Persian Empire , by G. Long, M.A., 1831. Published under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge ([ London ]: Baldwin & Cradock, 1831).

Persia , with Part of the Ottoman Empire , by G. Long, M.A., 1831. Published under the Superindentence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (London: Baldwin & Cradock, 1832).

Turkey , Containing the Provinces in Asia Minor . Published under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (London: Baldwin & Cradock, 1830).

Note: In calling for a higher, more intuitive, less lettered kind of knowledge in his essay “Walking,” H.D.T. referred ironically to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.

Folder 4 :
Randolph's Quarterly List of Books, For sale at his Bookstore and Bindery, No. 121 Main Street, Richmond, Va. At head of title: No. 8. July, 1858 .

In oversize folder, outside box:
Gale, James. Map of Haverhill , Massachusetts (1832). Note: In 1850, H.D.T. surveyed property in Haverhill belonging to the heirs of Nehemiah Emerson. See CFPL Thoreau survey #30.

Loring, David. To carpenters. Sealed proposals will be received by the subscriber until the 15th of January, 1851, to build a barn in Northboro', sixty feet long by thirty-eight wide, with sixteen and a half feet posts, and twenty-four feet rafters ... Concord, December 16, 1850. David Loring. Note: This broadside relates to nos. 80a-80g in the CFPL's Thoreau Survey Collection. Pencil inscription on blank verso: "J.T. / C.T. / S.T. / Mrs. B. / Maria--."

Walling, H.F. Map of the Town of Concord , Middlesex County , Mass. (1852). From printed “Remarks” in lower left corner of map: White Pond & Walden Pond from Surveys by H.D. Thoreau, Civ. Engr.

Unfoldered in box:
Four sheets (rolled) of blank paper , of the type used by Thoreau in his draft surveys.

 

SERIES IV. SOPHIA THOREAU SHEET MUSIC AND RELATED MATERIAL, 1833-1841 (forty items, all foldered and in box):

PRINTED SHEET MUSIC:

Folder 5:
Ah! What is the Bosoms commotion . Sung by Mr. Darley In the Grand Dramatic Romance, of the Forty Thieves, Composed by Mr. Kelly ( Boston : G. Graupner, [undated]). Several Thoreau inscriptions on blank page [1].

As the Robin When Once Fondly Cherished . A Ballad. The Words by G.E. Inman, Composed by Henry R. Bishop ( Boston : Parker & Ditson, [undated]).

Bring Roses . A Favorite Song Written by Mrs. L.P. Smith, Late of this City. Music Composed & Respectfully Inscribed to his Friend and Pupil Miss Caroline Sanford by O. Shaw (Providence: Published by the Author, 1834). Inscribed in pencil on page [1]: “S.E.T.”

By the Sad Sea Waves . Ballad in the Brides of Venice . Composed by J. Benedict ( Boston : Oliver Ditson, [undated]). Inscribed in pencil on page [1]: “A.H.B. / Sophia.”

The Captive's Lament . Words by a Member of the Mass. F.E. Society. Music by H.W. Day of Boston . Printed on page [4] of an issue—December 1840?—of the Ladies' Emancipation Gazette . Item consists only of sheet bearing pages 3-4 of the issue.

Christmas Carol . Written by William R. Spencer Esq. Set to Music By A Gentleman of Boston ([without place of publication]: S. Wetherbee , [undated]).

Columbia's Birth-Day , Again We Behold.” Ode for 4 th July, 1836 . Words by H.F. Gould,—Music by L. Mason ([without place of publication]: Shepley & Wright, 1836). Inscribed in pencil on page [1]: “Miss Thoreau.”

The Exile , from the Gems of German Songs, Music by C. Keller ( Boston : Parker & Ditson, [undated]). Inscribed in pencil on page [1]: “Sophia.”

Fleuve du Tage , or Come Rest in This Bosom. Arranged with Variations for the Piano Forte by G. Kiallmark ( Boston : C. Bradlee, [undated]). Inscribed in pencil on page [1]: “Sophia.”

Folder 6 :
Hours There Were , A Favorite Duett, as Sung by Miss M.H. Woodward and Mr. Solomon, At the New York Concerts, Arranged by Mr. J. Long (New York: Atwill's, [undated]).

I Would That My Love ( Boston : G.P. Reed & Co., [undated]). Fragment—front cover only, bearing collective title: Mendelssohn's 6 Two Part Songs Arranged for the Piano… Pencil inscription (“G.E.C.”?) at top of page.

Jessie the Flow'r o'Dumblane . A Favorite Scottish Song Written by R. Tannahill; Composed By R.A. Smith ([ Boston ]: G. Graupner, [undated]). Pencil inscription (date “ April 1 st 1828 ”) on title-page (page [1]). Manuscript musical notations (in pencil) on blank page [4].

The Lancer's Quick Step , Respectfully dedicated to General Davis, & the Officers & Members of the National Lancers. As performed by J. Bartlett's Brass Band, Aug. 30 th , 1837 . Music by F.L. Raymond (Boston: H. Prentiss, [1837]). Inscribed in pencil on page [1]: “S.E.T.”

The Lee Rigg With Variations ( Boston : G. Graupner, [undated]). Inscribed in pencil on page 2: “S.E.T.”

Softly waft ye southern breezes. Composed by Mr. Hook ( New York : Wm. Dubois, [undated]).

Third Calisthenic Rondo … By Wilhelm Hugho (New York: Firth & Hall, 1833).

Was It Not at One ? (Boston: Wm. H. Oakes, 1841). Printed front cover bears collective title: Tyrolese Melodies, as Sung by the Rainer Family. Arranged with Symphonies and Accompaniments by Friedrich F. Müller … Inscribed in pencil on front cover: “S.E. Thoreau.”

The Yellow hair'd Laddie ( New York : W. Dubois, [undated]).

Folder 7 :
Unidentified printed fragment.

 

MANUSCRIPT (COPIED) SHEET MUSIC:

Folder 8 :
Air.

The Alpine Hunters. Tyrolese melodies.

Ben Bolt. Piece copied on page [1] of four pages on one folded sheet. Copied on pages [3]-[4]: A Place in thy Memory Dearest .

The Brave Old Oak. Piece copied on pages [1]-[2] of four pages of one folded sheet. Copied on page [3] (upside down in relation to The Brave Old Oak )— The Opera Reel ; and on page [4] (also upside down)— Ship Ahoy .

Comin thro the Rye .

Hop Waltz.

The Indian Song. Piece copied on page [1] of single sheet. Copied on reverse (page [2]; upside down in relation to The Indian Song ): In the days when we went gipseying .

The Mother's Farewell. Air …

Nelly Bly. Piece copied on page [1] of single sheet. Copied on reverse (page [2]): Jeannette & Jeannot.

Regna Terrae. Trio for three soprani voices.

The Switzers Song of Home. By J. Moschelles. At bottom of page [2]: Haymaker's Dance.

Was it not at one [?]. Piece copied on page [1] of single sheet. Copied on reverse (page [2]): Tyrolese War Song —Rainers.

Folder 9 :
Three unidentified manuscript fragments .

Folder 10 :
Five blank staffed sheets for copying music.

Folder 11 :
Piano instruction book with running title (at foot of pages) Graupners Art of playing on the Piano Forte . Copy imperfect (lacks title and undetermined number of pages).

c2005 Concord Free Public Library, Concord, Mass.  Not to be reproduced in any form without the permission of the Curator of Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library.

 

Back to the Selected Finding Aids page

Back to Special Collections homepage

Home