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Grant family papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00066

Scope and Contents

It is clear from their content and their provenance, however, that they are actually the papers of her brother Elijah Grant, his wife Elizabeth Phelps Grant, their children, and the descendents of the eldest son, Elijah Phelps Grant. The correspondence consists mainly of letters exchanged within the family from the l830s to the l860s. Most of Zilpah Grant's letters were written to her nephews Marcus and John after she had married and given up teaching. John Grant, who taught at Yale and later established his own private school, sought her counsel as a former school principal. Correspondence of other family members relates to such topics as the maintenance of the original Connecticut homestead, banking in Canton, Ohio, and the starting of businesses in Nebraska and Illinois.

The early financial records, beginning in the l770's, are mostly from the settlement of the estate of Elijah Grant's uncle Samuel Cowles, of Colebrook, Connecticut, who died in l843. Account books belonging to Elijah Grant (l822-56) Elijah P. Grant (l866-67), James M. Grant (l868); Jennie Wallace (l890-97) and William Wallace (l90l-07) add to the fragmentary family financial record.

Notebooks, lectures, essays, and newspaper articles by Elijah P. Grant span the period from his college days at Yale to old age. One of his college notebooks contains transcriptions of letters describing the death of Mary Zilpah Grant Burgess who died of cholera in India where she and her husband were missionaries. The balance of the collection consists of diaries, a few photographs, compositions, and legal papers relating to various family members.

Portions of the Grant Family Papers have been digitized for the Five College Digitization Project Web site.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1778-1913
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1830-1870


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

The Grant family Papers represent three generations, including educators, missionaries, a banker, pioneer lawyer, social reformer, writer and lecturer. Zilpah Polly Grant Banister, 1794-1894, was born in Norfolk, Connecticut. She was a pioneering educator and founder of Adams Female Seminary in Derry, NH, 1824, and Ipswich Female Seminary with Mary Lyon, 1827. She married William Banister, 1841. Her brother, Elijah Grant, was a town officer, who married Elizabeth Phelps Grant, 1809-1875. They had 8 children. Elijah Phelps Grant was a lawyer, philosopher, social reformer, and banker in Carleton, OH, and John Grant a teacher at Yale and founder of his own private school. Other family members were bankers, homesteaders in CT, pioneers in Nebraska and Illinois. Mary Z. Grant Burgess was a missionary in India.


1.771 linear feet (5 containers)


The Grant family papers include correspondence, diaries, account books and financial/legal papers, biographical and genealogical material, printed material, dating from 1778 to 1913. Topics include education, maintenance of Connecticut homestead, banking in Ohio, starting businesses in Nebraska and Illinois, and accounts of Mary Grant's experiences as a missionary in India and her death from cholera.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Grant Family Papers were a gift of Mary R. Wallace, descendant of the Grant family, in 1959.

Related Material

Additional Grant family papers are located in the Adams Female Academy Records and papers of Zilpa H. P. Grant Banister at Mount Holyoke College Archives, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Portions of the Grant Family Papers have been digitized for the Five College Digitization Project Web site.


Additional biographical information on Zilpah Polly Grant Banister can be found in Notable American Women, 1607-1950; a biographical dictionary. Edward T. James, editor (1971).
Grant family papers
Finding Aid
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 (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:16-04:00: 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