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Beecher Family Collection


This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Manuscripts Division . Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Manuscripts Division
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896.
Beecher Family Collection
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
1 box
0.2 linear feet
English .
Consists of selected manuscript material of three members of the Beecher family -- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Beecher, and Henry Ward Beecher -- who became nationally known for their work on abolition and women's suffrage.
Cite as:
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Beecher Family Collection, Box and Folder Number; Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
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Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896.


Harriet Beecher Stowe, an American abolitionist and novelist, was the seventh child of Roxana and Lyman Beecher, a famous Congregationalist minister. Harriet was educated and subsequently taught at the Hartford Female Academy, founded by her sister Catharine in 1823. She also taught at the Western Female Institute in Cincinnati, established by Catharine in 1832. Harriet's most famous work, Uncle Tom's Cabin> (1852), attacked the cruelty of slavery, and brought Stowe international fame. It was first published in the Cincinnati abolitionist newspaper The National Era under the ns2:title Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly. Other works by Stowe include A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853) and Dred, a Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp(1856). In 1836 Harriet Beecher married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a clergyman and widower.

Catharine Beecher, Harriet's Beecher's oldest sister, was an author, educator, and reformer. She was a determined opponent of women's suffrage, and became one of the leaders of the early anti-suffragists. Her writings include A Treatise on Domestic Economy for the Use of Young Ladies at Home and at School (1841) and The Duty of American Women to Their Country(1845).

Henry Ward Beecher was the eighth child of Roxana and Lyman Beecher. He was a prominent, theologically liberal, American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker. He was an advocate of women's suffrage, temperance, and Darwin's theory of evolution, and a foe of slavery. Beecher held that Christianity should adapt itself to the changing culture of the times. He was also anti-Catholic and was contemptuous towards Irish-Americans. An adultery trial in 1875 in which he was accused of having an affair with a married woman was one of the most famous American trials of the nineteenth century. His published works include Life of Jesus Christ (1871) and Evolution and Religion(1885).

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of an autograph manuscript of Catharine Beecher, and correspondence of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Beecher, and Henry Ward Beecher. Harriet Beecher's material includes an autograph letter to her niece, Mrs. Edward Hale; a letter (1886) addressed to "Dear Sir" about her book Uncle Tom's Cabin, an autograph letter (1876) addressed to "Dear Major," and a document (1850) appointing C. G. Crane as her agent. Also included is a lithograph portrait of Beecher and an autograph signature (1890). Catharine Beecher's material consists of an autograph manuscript titled "The McWhorter Case" (20 leaves), which details the facts of a love affair between "Ms. Bacon" and "Mr. McWhorter," and an autograph letter (1845) to Miss Mary Hilhouse. Material of Henry Ward Beecher includes a letter (1860) to Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, trying to get his sister's son, Charles Stowe, into the Naval Academy and an autograph letter addressed to "My Dear Sir," dated August 14, 1865.


Arranged alphabetically by author.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts Division

Revision Description

Run through PULFA 2.0 normalization routines. 2012-06-20T14:52:04.438-04:00

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The letter to Gideon Welles was a gift of William H. Morris, Princeton Class of 1932 in May 29, 1987.

"The McWhorter Case" manuscript was a gift of Chester S. Moeller, Princeton Class of 1940, and Herbert L. Moeller Jr., Princeton Class of 1939, on December 18, 1961.

The letter appointing C. G. Crane was a transfer from the Rare Books Division, tipped in an un-cataloged copy of the 1st edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Various AM.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dina Britain in September 26, 2007. Finding aid written by Lauren Kustner in November 16, 2007. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.


No appraisal information is available.

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Controlled Access Headings

  • Social reformers -- United States --19th century -- Correspondence.
  • Women authors, American - 19th century -- Manuscripts.
Personal Name(s)
  • Beecher, Catharine Esther, 1800-1878
  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887

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Collection Inventory

"The McWhorter Case" manuscript by Catharine E. Beecher, undated. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


Letter from Catharine E. Beecher to Miss Mary Hilhouse, 1845. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


Unaddressed Letter from Henry Ward Beecher, 1865. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


Letter from Henry Ward Beecher to [Gideon] Welles, Secretary of the Navy, 1865. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


Letter from Henry Ward Beecher to Joseph Howard, 1883. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


Letter from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Mrs. Edward Hale signed "Your loving Aunt", undated. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


Letter from Harriet Beecher Stowe to "Dear Sir" about "Uncle Tom's Cabin", Letter to "Dear Major" about magazine subscriptions, 1876-1886. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


Document by Harriet Beecher Stowe appointing C.G. Crane as her agent, 1850. 1 folder.
Immediate Source of Acquisition


1 Note by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Portrait, 1890. 1 folder.