Vault A35, A.B. Alcott, Unit 1
Bronson Alcott in study of Orchard House
Stereoptic card from Special Collections Photofile.
Image not to be reproduced without permission of the Concord Free Public Library
.425 linear ft. (1 container)
ORGANIZATION: Organized in a single sequence.
BIOGRAPHY: American educator, philosopher, mystic, lecturer, essayist, poet, Transcendentalist, idealist, and reformer. Resident of Concord, Mass.; neighbor of Emerson, friend of Thoreau. Born at Spindle Hill near Walcott, Connecticut, 1799; died in Boston, 1888. With little formal education, he made his living as a young man as a peddlar in New York and Pennsylvania. He founded and taught at the Temple School in Boston, 1834-1838; Elizabeth Palmer Peabody served as his assistant. In 1840, the disapproval of parents alarmed by his educational methods having forced the closing of the school, he moved his family to Concord. He travelled in 1842 to England, where he found support for his educational theories. A founder in 1843 of the Fruitlands community in Harvard, Massachusetts, where he and his family lived until Jan. 1844. Superintendent of Schools in Concord 1859-1865. In 1879, he founded the Concord School of Philosophy, which continued until 1888, largely under the direction of William Torrey Harris (particularly after Alcott’s stroke in 1882). Through Harris, who later became United States Commissioner of Education, Alcott’s educational theories had a broad influence. Both in teaching children and in presenting his ideas to groups of adults, Alcott’s technique was the Socratic conversational method. Married Abigail May in 1830. Father of four daughters, including author Louisa May Alcott, whose writing gave the family financial security. A.B. Alcott's Emerson was printed in 1865, Tablets in 1868, Concord Days in 1872, Table-Talk in 1877, New Connecticut in 1881, Sonnets and Canzonets in 1882. Odell Shepard's edition of journal selections was published in 1938.
SCOPE AND CONTENT: Transcriptions of Alcott’s Socratic conversations, literary manuscripts, and one letter. Papers include: Notes of Conversations [etc.], 1843-1875 (including transcriptions in Alcott’s hand, printed transcriptions, and transcriptions by Ednah Dow Littlehale Cheney); Concord Book (holograph, ); Emerson (holograph prose piece; printed 1865, BAL 109); Tablets (holograph of portions of book printed 1868, BAL 112); ALS to Prescott Keyes, 1879 June 1; Love’s Morrow, a poem in memory of May Alcott Nieriker (printed separately 1880, BAL 119, and in Sonnets and Canzonets, 1882, BAL 124); H.D.T. (sonnet included in Sonnets and Canzonets); Emerson / R.W.E. (draft and copy of poem, copy dated Jan. 1881; printed in Sonnets and Canzonets); New Connecticut: Farmer’s Boy (holograph; printed 1881, BAL 121); verse for William J. Bok, written 1878, copied 1882; sonnet (two versions, one entitled Childhood, the other Fountains; printed in Sonnets and Canzonets); Emerson (holograph sonnet read at funeral of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1882); miscellaneous poems and stanzas (10 holograph items, including The Cheshire School and TheSchoolmaster’s Apprenticeship).
SOURCES OF ACQUISITION: Partially established. Emerson (prose ms.) and New Connecticut: Farmer’s Boy presented by Edith Harris, 1944. Verse for W.J. Bok presented by Leonard Kleinfeld, Feb. 1948. Love’s Morrow presented by Fred A. Tower, 1954.
ASSOCIATED MATERIALS: A.B. Alcott letters and journals were transferred from the Concord Free Public Library to the Houghton Library, Harvard University, and microfilm made 1956-1957 for use at the Concord Free Public Library.
NOTES/COMMENTS: Most of the papers are available on microfilm, for use in the Library. Papers as described in NUCMC (MS 75001942) are more inclusive than as here described. Nineteen items in papers transferred from Letter Files (Letter File 3, A2-A17, A17a; Letter File 3A, A1; Letter File 9, A4), Mar. 1995. Various items sent to NEDCC for dismounting, washing, deacidification, and other treatment, 1975-1976.
PROCESSING NOTE: Papers processed under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Processed by LPW; finding aid prepared 1/15/96, rev. 12/24/2003.
Notes of Conversations [etc.], 1843-1875 (including conversations transcribed in Alcott’s hand, printed transcriptions, transcriptions in hand of Ednah Dow Littlehale Cheney, and two by unidentified transcribers).
Concord Book (holograph, ; see Shepard ed. of Journals, p. 332).
Emerson (holograph prose piece; printed in Cambridge, 1865, BAL 109).
Tablets [holograph sections] (printed in Boston, 1868, BAL 112).
ALS, A.B. Alcott to Prescott Keyes, 1879 June 1.
Love’s Morrow (poem in memory of May Alcott Nieriker; printed separately, 1880, BAL 119, and in Sonnets and Canzonets, 1882, BAL 124).
H.D.T. (sonnet; published in Sonnets and Canzonets, 1882).
Emerson / R.W.E. (one draft and one copy of poem, the copy dated Jan. 1881; printed in Sonnets and Canzonets, 1882).
New Connecticut: Farmer’s Boy (holograph; printed 1881, BAL 121).
Manuscript verse for William J. Bok (written 1878; copied at Concord, Jan. 1882).
Sonnet (two versions, one entitled Childhood, the other Fountains; printed Jan. 1882 in Journal of Speculative Philosophy, v. 16, p. 95, and in Sonnets and Canzonets, 1882).
Emerson (holograph sonnet read at funeral of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1882; published in Journal of Speculative Philosophy, v. 18, p. 219, Apr. 1884).
Miscellaneous poems and stanzas (10 items):
c1999 Concord Free Public Library.