HERBERT WENDELL GLEASON PAPERS, -1937
Vault A45, Gleason, Unit 1
EXTENT: 0.16 linear feet (one container)
ORGANIZATION: Organized into five series: I. Correspondence, 1921-1937; II. Notes, indexes, and list (undated); III. Galley proofs, ; IV. Maps, 1906, plus undated; V. Stationery (undated).
BIOGRAPHY: Born in Malden, Massachusetts on June 5, 1855, Herbert Wendell Gleason graduated from Malden High School in 1873, Williams College in 1877, and received a BD degree from Andover Theological Seminary in 1881. In 1883, he married Lulie Wadsworth Rounds and moved to Pelican Rapids, Minnesota to begin a career as a Congregational pastor.
In 1888, he left the ministry and worked as the managing editor of and contributor to the Northwestern Congregationalist (later The Kingdom), a denominational weekly newspaper. By this time, he was an avid outdoorsman and photographer, and wrote many articles for The Kingdom featuring outdoor scenes. In 1899, he actively committed himself to photography as a profession, and moved back to the Boston area. By the time he returned to New England, he had become interested in the writings of Henry David Thoreau, and in Thoreau's Transcendental approach to nature as symbolic of something higher than concrete reality. He visited Concord repeatedly between 1899 and his death in 1937 to take pictures of the landscape that Thoreau had known. Houghton Mifflin used some of Gleason’s images to illustrate the 1906 Manuscript and Walden editions of Thoreau’s writings. (Gleason himself researched the map of Thoreau’s Concord included in the 1906 editions.) His photographs also appeared in Through the Year with Thoreau (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1917). The result of Gleason’s sustained interest in Thoreau and in Concord was an exhaustive and meticulously identified visual archive of Thoreau’s world, now held primarily by the Concord Free Public Library.
In addition to his Concord work, between 1899 and 1937 Gleason photographed places all across this country and in
Gleason supported himself in part as a highly successful slide lecturer. He developed slide lectures around a number of the different subjects that he photographed. An undated brochure lists 33 different slide lectures.
Mrs. Gleason died in 1934, Herbert Wendell Gleason on October 4, 1937. They had no children.
SCOPE AND CONTENT: Papers, -1937, including correspondence, notes, indexes, list, galley proofs, maps, and stationery. Correspondence (1921-1937) includes letters to/from Allen French, E. Harlow Russell, William Wheeler, G. Waldo Brown, Charles Bullard, Percy W. Brown, R.J. Eaton, Raymond Emerson, and Fanning Hearon. Undated notes, indexes, and list include typed sheets of quotations from Thoreau’s writings for use with slide lectures and manuscript, typed lecture- and publication-related subject indexes and notes on a variety of topics, and typed list of Gleason photographs illustrating the 1906 editions of Thoreau’s writings. The corrected galley proofs are for the second volume (“The Last Journey of Thoreau”) of The First and Last Journeys of Thoreau (1905). Maps include an undated reduced adaptation of the 1852 Walling map of Concord (mounted on card stock), two copies of the Gleason map from the 1906 editions of Thoreau’s writings, and an undated pencil copy of Thoreau’s survey “Plan of the ‘Ox Pasture (so called) Belonging to Thomas Wheeler” (original 1856). Stationery includes two unused pieces of Gleason letterhead (“Herbert W. Gleason Illustrated Lectures on Travel and Nature-Study”).
SOURCES OF ACQUISITION: Undocumented; probably multiple. Some of the papers may have come from Allen French or his heirs.
ASSOCIATED MATERIALS AT THE CONCORD FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY: Robbins Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason Photographic Negatives of Images of Concord, Mass., 1899-1937; Robbins-Mills Collection of Herbert Wendell Gleason Photographic Negatives, 1899-1937; two sets of albums of Concord and Thoreau-related Gleason prints, mounted on guards and captioned by the photographer; Herbert Wendell Gleason Slide Lecture "Thoreau's Country," [ca. 1915-1917, with later additions].
PROCESSED BY: Miriam Leigh; finding aid prepared 05/06/06; edited by LPW.
SERIES I. CORRESPONDENCE, 1921-1937:
Correspondence with Allen French, 1921-1922, 1936, plus undated (arranged chronologically):
TLS, Allen French to HWG, Concord, 1921 June 28, regarding vote by Trustees of Concord Free Public Library to purchase albums of Gleason prints.
TL (copy), HWG to Allen French, 1922 Jan. 28, regarding preparation of albums of photographs for CFPL.
TLS, Allen French to HWG, Concord, 1922 Feb. 7, regarding the subject composition of albums of photographs for CFPL.
TLS, HWG to Allen French, Boston, 1922 Feb. 15, regarding whether or not photographs for CFPL albums should be toned; on embossed Herbert W. Gleason Illustrated Lectures letterhead.
TL (copy), HWG to Allen French, Boston, 1922 Mar. 10, regarding completion of photograph albums for CFPL.
TLS, Allen French to HWG, Concord, 1922 Apr. 11, regarding binding, indexing, and labeling of photograph albums for CFPL. (Also, a carbon copy of this letter.)
TLS, HWG to Allen French, 1922 Apr. 12, regarding titling photograph albums for CFPL; on Herbert W. Gleason Illustrated Lectures on Travel and Nature-Study letterhead. (Also, a carbon copy of this letter.)
TL (copy), Allen French to HWG, 1922 May 2, regarding titling photograph albums for CFPL.
Typed bill (copy) for photograph albums, HWG to Trustees of Concord Public Library [via Allen French], 1922 May 10.
TLS (copy), Allen French to HWG, 1936 Oct. 29, regarding purchase of another set of photograph albums by the CFPL and regarding Gleason’s offer of slide lecture “Thoreau’s Country” for sale to the CFPL.
TLS (copy), Allen French to Prescott Keyes, 1936 Oct. 29, regarding Gleason’s offer of slide lecture “Thoreau’s Country” for sale to CFPL.
TLS, HWG to Allen French, Boston, [no year given] Apr. 6, regarding planned visit to Concord “next Saturday morning”; on embossed Herbert W. Gleason Illustrated Lectures letterhead.
All other correspondents, 1901-1937 (arranged chronologically):
TLS, E. Harlow Russell to HWG, Worcester, 1901 Apr. 23, regarding enclosure of original of a letter from Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, and thanking Gleason for photographs.
TL (copy), HWG to William Wheeler, Boston, 1921 Mar. 24, regarding preparation of albums of photographs for CFPL.
TLS, G. Waldo Brown to HWG, Manchester, N.H., 1922 Jan. 23, regarding boating on the Merrimack; on Standard Book Company letterhead.
ALS, Charles Bullard to HWG, Gray Herbarium, 1933 Jan. 23, regarding plant specimens collected by Edward Sherman Hoar and by Henry David Thoreau; on New England Botanical Club letterhead.
ALS, Charles Bullard to HWG, Gray Herbarium, 1933 Apr. 13, regarding identification of plant names for specimens; on New England Botanical Club letterhead.
TL (copy), HWG to Percy W. Brown, Boston, 1936 Oct. 21, regarding Gleason’s location of Beck Stow’s Swamp using Thoreau survey collection in CFPL; accompanied by typed notes (original and carbon copy) from Thoreau’s journal about Beck Stow’s Swamp.
TLS, R.J. Eaton to HWG, Boston, 1936 Oct. 23, regarding Gleason’s location of Beck Stow’s Swamp; on Houghton Mifflin Company letterhead.
TLS, Raymond Emerson to HWG, Boston, 1937 Apr. 1, regarding Cyrus Hubbard survey of Ralph Waldo Emerson property at Walden Pond; accompanied by pencil sketch of Hubbard survey; on Raymond Emerson letterhead.
TLS, Fanning Hearon to HWG, 1937 June 29, regarding return of thirty negatives borrowed by Gleason from the Department of the Interior to make prints for the Concord Free Public Library; on United States Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary letterhead.
SERIES II. NOTES, INDEXES, AND LIST (UNDATED):
Typed sheets of quotations from Thoreau’s writings, for use with slide lectures.
Manuscript and typed lecture- and publication-related subject indexes and notes. Among the subjects represented: Conantum; Miles Swamp, Bound Rock; Dugan Desert; river places; Beck Stow's Swamp; bridges; brooks; cliffs; Concord residences and sites; Concord River; Assabet River; Fair Haven Cliffs; Fair Haven Hill; farmhouses; fields; flowers; trees; glaze; Haverhill; hills; May; June; meadows; night views; ponds; roads; springs; summer views; swamps; Sweet-Briar Cliffs; Thoreau's distant tramps; Thoreau's houses; Thoreau's night walks; Thoreau's river trips; Walden Pond; White Pine Woods; winter. Many items are written on the reverse of scraps of paper, including Department of the Interior letterhead, tickets to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 1917 Thoreau centenary Gleason slide lecture and 1923 “Mt. Desert and Lafayette National Park” lecture, and Gleason’s statement of terms for slide lectures. Some of the notes are in shorthand.
Typed list (carbon copy) of Gleason photographs illustrating the 1906 Manuscript and Walden Editions of Thoreau’s writings (listed volume-by-volume).
SERIES III. GALLEY PROOFS, :
Galley proofs (corrected) for Volume 2 (“The Last Journey of Thoreau”) of The First and Last Journeys of Thoreau, Lately Discovered Among His Unpublished Journals and Manuscripts. Edited by Franklin Benjamin Sanborn (Boston: Printed exclusively for members of The Bibliophile Society, 1905), plus related notes by Gleason, manuscript (shorthand) and typed.
SERIES IV. MAPS, 1906, PLUS UNDATED:
Reduced adaptation of the 1852 Walling map of Concord, single fold, mounted on card stock.
Two copies of the Gleason map (with note and index) from the 1906 editions of Thoreau’s writings.
Pencil copy of Thoreau’s survey “Plan of the ‘Ox Pasture’ (so-called) Belonging to Thomas Wheeler Concord, Mass. … May 5, 56” (no. 145a in the Concord Free Public Library’s Thoreau survey collection).
SERIES V. STATIONERY (UNDATED):
Two sheets of unused Gleason letterhead (“Herbert W. Gleason Illustrated Lectures on Travel and Nature-Study”).
c2006 Concord Free Public Library, Concord, Mass.
Not to be reproduced in any form without permission of the Curator of Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library.
Mounted 31st May 2006. rcwh.