(BULK 1850-1908)
Vault A45, Emerson, Unit 5


Ellen Tucker Emerson
Ellen Tucker Emerson, Photographed by Elliot and Fry, London 1873

Extent: 1.33 linear feet (two containers).

Organization and arrangement:  Organized in a single sequence; arranged chronologically.

Biography:  Second child and elder daughter of philosopher, essayist, poet, and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson and his wife Lidian (Lydia Jackson) Emerson, Ellen Tucker Emerson (1839-1909) was a resident of Concord, Massachusetts.   She was born at Bush (the Emerson home on the Cambridge Turnpike) and named for her father’s first wife.  She attended Elizabeth Sedgwick’s school for girls in Lenox, Massachusetts, the Agassiz School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Frank Sanborn’s school in Concord.  Never married, Ellen Emerson was an active community member in her home town—she served on Concord’s School Committee and  belonged to the First Parish in Concord (where she taught Sunday school for over forty years) and to other local organizations.  She planned and hosted social events, including public dances held in the Town Hall in Concord’s Town House on Monument Square, and looked after her parents as they aged.  She traveled to Britain, Europe, and Egypt with her father after Bush burned in 1872, helped him keep his place in his notes as he lectured during his declining years, and assisted James Elliot Cabot (Emerson’s literary executor and biographer) in editing his manuscripts.  Her manuscript biography of her mother was edited by Dolores Bird Carpenter and published in 1980; a two-volume edition of her letters edited by Edith E. W. Gregg was published in 1982.   Ellen Emerson’s siblings were Edith Emerson Forbes (Mrs. William Hathaway Forbes) of Milton, Massachusetts, and Dr. Edward Waldo Emerson of Concord, both of whom survived her.  (Her older brother Waldo, born in 1836, died in 1842.)  Ellen Emerson died in Milton early in 1909.

Scope and content:  Carbon copies of twentieth-century typed transcripts of letters, 1850-1908, written by Ellen Tucker Emerson, plus a single original letter by Ellen Emerson to her cousin “Haven” (John Haven Emerson), January 7, 1851; a carbon copy of a typed  transcript of a letter by James Russell Lowell to Ellen Emerson, March 7, 1873; and a carbon copy of a typed transcript of a letter by Helen Legate to Edith Emerson Forbes, February 24, 1920.

Correspondents represented in the collection include Ellen Emerson’s father, mother, sister, and brother; her brother-in-law William Hathaway Forbes (“Will”); her sister-in-law Annie Keyes Emerson; uncle William Emerson and his wife Susan Woodward Haven Emerson (“Aunt Susan”); Elizabeth Hoar (“Aunt Lizzy”); cousins John Haven Emerson (“Haven”) and his wife Susan Tompkins Emerson (“Susie”), Charles Emerson, Hannah Haskins Parsons (“Cousin Hannah”), Sarah Haskins Ainslee (“Cousin Sarah”), Sophia Bradford Ripley Thayer (“Sophy”);   nieces and nephews Ralph Forbes, Edith Forbes (“Violet”), Waldo Forbes, William Cameron Forbes (“Cameron” or “Cam”), John Murray Forbes (“Don”), Florence Emerson,  and William Emerson, Jr.; Sarah Swain Hathaway Forbes (“Mrs. [John Murray] Forbes”);   Miss [M. E.] Waterman (a teacher at Sanborn’s Concord School); Mrs. [Gisela von Arnim] Grimm; Helen [Legate]; “Miss Clara [Dabney]; Edith Davidson, and others (schoolmates, friends, and family members), among them “Caroline,” “Mrs. Lewis,” “Mary,” “Kitty,” “Lucy,” “Emma,” “Alice,”  “Ida,” “Addy,” and “Sally.” 

The transcripts overlap with the contents of Edith Gregg’s The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson but include a significant number of letters not in that two-volume set.  The original letters from which the transcriptions in this collection were made are presumed to form part of the Emerson family papers deposited in the Houghton Library at Harvard by Emerson descendants. 

Source of acquisition:  Presented by Paul Elias, March 30, 2018.

Notes/comments:  Transcripts removed from  seventeen ring binders and foldered during processing (binders discarded).  Accessioned March 30, 2018 (AMC 269).

Processed by:  LPW.


Box 1, Folder 1:


In addition to transcribed letters, this folder includes one original letter by Ellen Tucker Emerson to her cousin “Haven” (John Haven Emerson), January 7, 1851.

Box 1, Folder 2:


Box 1, Folder 3:


Box 1, Folder 4:


Box 1, Folder 5:


Box 1, Folder 6:


Box 1, Folder7:


Box 1, Folder 8:


Box 1, Folder 9:


Box 1, Folder 10:


Box 1, Folder 11:


Folder includes a carbon copy of a typed transcript of a letter by James Russell Lowell to Ellen Tucker Emerson, March 7, 1873.

Box 1, Folder 12:


Box 1, Folder 13:


Box 1, Folder 14:


Box 1, Folder 15:


Box 1, Folder 16:


Box 1, Folder 17:


Box 1, Folder 18:


Box 1, Folder 19:


Box 2, Folder 1:


Box 2, Folder 2:


Box 2, Folder 3:


Box 2, Folder 4:


Box 2, Folder 5:

Folder contains a single transcribed letter, Helen Legate to “My dear Mrs. Forbes” (Edith Emerson Forbes), February 24, 1920.