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Sturgis-Tappan family papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00186

Scope and Contents

The Sturgis-Tappan Papers consist of 1.25 linear feet dating from 1812 to 1983, approximately two thirds of which is correspondence and the rest of which is writings and drawings. Types of material include correspondence, pencil drawings and watercolors, drafts of poems, and one published volume.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1812-1982


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection. Original letters by Ralph Waldo Emerson are in a secure location in the Sophia Smith Collection; photocopies for normal use are in the Sturgis-Tappan Family Papers, although researchers may request special permission to examine the originals.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the papers of Sturgis-Tappan family members. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Biographical / Historical

William Sturgis was born 25 February 1782, the son of William Sturgis and Hannah Mills. He was a prominent Boston merchant and co-founder of Bryant and Sturgis, and made his fortune in the China Trade. He married Elizabeth Marston Davis and they had six children, among them two daughters, Ellen (1812-1848) and Caroline (1819-1888). Caroline Sturgis married William Aspinwall Tappan, son of Lewis Tappan, a noted abolitionist, and Susanna Aspinwall; they had two children, Ellen Sturgis Tappan and Mary Aspinwall Tappan. Caroline Sturgis Tappan and her sister, Ellen Sturgis Hooper, were minor Transcendentalist poets whose work was occasionally published in the Dial. They counted among their acquaintances William Ellery Channing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, and Henry David Thoreau. The sisters, especially Caroline, were also friendly with Margaret Fuller and regularly attended her celebrated "conversations," begun in 1839.

The Tappans lived in Boston and summered in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. In 1936, Mary Aspinwall Tappan and her niece, Rosamond Sturgis Dixey Brooks (Caroline Sturgis Tappan's granddaughter), gave the family's summer estate, Tanglewood, to the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


2.209 linear feet (6 containers)


Authors and Poets. Approximately two thirds of material is correspondence and the rest is writings and drawings. Includes pencil drawings and watercolors, drafts of poems, and one published volume. Some biographical material.


This collection is organized into three series:

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Writings and Drawings

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Daphne Brooks Prout donated the Sturgis-Tappan Family Papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1983 and 1985.

Related Material

Caroline Sturgis Tappan's collection of travel photographs is located in the Smith College Art Museum, and material pertaining to Tanglewood may be found in the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Burd Schlessinger, 2002.

Sturgis-Tappan family papers
Finding Aid
Burd Schlessinger
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss112 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:10-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063