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Brewster family papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00021

Scope and Contents

The Brewster Family Papers are comprised primarily of the papers of Anna Gertrude Brewster and Mary Kate Brewster, dating from 1882 to 1967. The collection includes biographical material, family photographs, diaries, scrapbooks and other memorabilia, correspondence, writings, and the Brewster children's family newspaper (1884-1885). Mary Kate's papers include records of her two trips around the world (1893-1894 and 1896-1897), typescripts of novels and plays, correspondence with family members as well as with actors and actresses of the day, and her newspaper articles and theatre reviews. Anna Gertrude's papers include personal diaries and family correspondence, as well as letters received from former students. Both sisters kept annual records of finances, books read, and letters written and received. In addition, Anna Gertrude generally kept a record of social calls received and returned in a given year. These notations are located at the back of the diaries.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1882-1967


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

The copyright owner for unpublished works of Brewster family members in unknown. 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

Civil War veteran Major Charles Harvey Brewster (1833-1893) was a prosperous Northampton businessman. He originally sold windows, doors, blinds and paints, and later transformed the enterprise into a successful florist shop. He married Anna Williams (1843-1935) in 1868 and the couple had six children: Anna Gertrude, Mary Kate, Caroline Williams, Charles Russell, Harold, and Helen Campbell.

Anna Gertrude (1869-1967) attended local schools and graduated from Smith College in 1893. She began her teaching career soon after, holding positions in Brewster, Massachusetts and Nashua, New Hampshire before studying for a year at Oxford University (1906-07). She taught English at Northampton High School from 1907 until her retirement in 1940, after which she taught at the Northampton School for Girls. Anna Gertrude was a charter member of the Betty Allen Chapter of the DAR, served on the advisory board of the Young Women's City Club, and was a long-time Trustee of the Forbes Library.

Mary Kate (1871-1957) was an avid traveler and a prolific writer. She went twice to Australia (1893 and 1896) and later to the American West (1920-21); she also traveled often to other parts of the United States. Her great love was the theatre, and she was especially committed to the Academy of Music in Northampton. She wrote several books and plays, some of which were published, as well as a treatise on the cultural value of municipal theatre. She corresponded with various actors and wrote reviews for "The New York Dramatic Mirror". She reviewed Smith College theatre productions for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Springfield Republican and the Boston Globe, and also regularly contributed articles about topics of interest in Northampton to these newspapers.

Only two of Charles Harvey and Anna Williams Brewster's six children married. Harold married Margaret B. Cable and they had three children: Gertrude, George and Margaret. Margaret graduated from Smith in 1932 and married Alfred C. Chard; they had two children, James and Carol. Margaret Brewster Chard died in 1982. Helen Campbell Brewster married Karl Brownson Allured in 1919. Their only child, Jonathan (b. 1920), married Nancy Babcock, and they had four children: David, Karla, Caroline and Charles.


4.384 linear feet (12 containers)


Traveler, author, English teacher, Smith graduate, and librarian. Papers are primarily those of Anna Gertrude Brewster and Mary Kate Brewster. Both sisters were devoted to theatre, particularly to the Academy of Music in Northampton. They also wrote several books and plays, some of which were published. Material documents world travel, and includes scrapbooks, photographs, diaries, correspondence, and the Brewster children's family newspaper.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. General Family Information
  2. II. Mary Kate Brewster
  3. III. Anna Gertrude Brewster
  4. IV. Other Family Members


Series I includes general family information, articles about the Brewsters, photographs, and the children's newspaper. It is followed by Series II and III, the papers of Mary Kate Brewster and Anna Gertrude Brewster, respectively. In both series, diaries are arranged chronologically. Correspondence is divided into two sub-categories, family and other. Letters to and from Mary Kate during her two trips to Australia are filed separately. Writings are arranged by type and then listed alphabetically by title. Personal memorabilia appear at the end of each series. Series IV consists of correspondence and memorabilia of other family members.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Brewster Family Papers were donated in 1966 by Philip Butcher of Baltimore, Maryland. He obtained them through Carl Waltz of Northampton when Mary Kate and Anna Gertrude Brewster moved from their family home to smaller quarters.

Additional Formats

Diaries (1889-1927) of Mary Kate Brewster are available on the History of Women microfilm series (New Haven: Research Publications) available in the Sophia Smith Collection and Neilson Library, Smith College and through interlibrary loan.

Related Material

Related collections are located elsewhere in Northampton. The Forbes Library holds copies of newspaper articles written by Mary Kate Brewster for the Daily Hampshire Gazette (1907-1935), as well as articles about Anna Gertrude Brewster. Both sisters were knowledgeable about local history, and were frequently asked to lecture to local organizations. The Forbes Library (Northampton, MA) has copies of several of these lectures and papers, including a history of Northampton schools by Anna Gertrude (read before the Northampton Historical Society, April 26, 1946). In addition, the library has the original typescripts of "Early Days of St. John's Episcopal Church in Northampton" (1954) and "Early Public and Private Schools" (1954), both by Anna Gertrude Brewster. Historic Northampton holds the original Civil War letters of Charles Harvey Brewster, as well as memorabilia and a collection of family photographs. See also: When This Cruel War is Over: The Civil War Letters of Charles Harvey Brewster David

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger, 1995.

Brewster 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: mnsss6 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:23-04:00: 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