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Collection Blackwell Family Papers

About this Collection

The Blackwell Family Papers span the years 1759-1960, with the bulk of the material dating from 1845 to 1890. Consisting of approximately 29,000 items (58,002 images), most of which were digitized from 76 reels of microfilm, the collection predominantly represents two generations of the Blackwell family and twenty individual family members. Nearly two centuries of the family’s daily lives are documented in correspondence, diaries, speeches, and other papers, exemplifying the family’s long commitment to social reform movements, such as abolition; women’s rights, including the right to equal education; women’s suffrage; and temperance.

The collection features the papers of Lucy Stone; her husband, Henry Browne Blackwell; and their daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, all of whom were prominent in the women’s rights and women’s suffrage movements. Also included in the collection are papers of Elizabeth Blackwell, Henry Browne Blackwell's sister, who as a doctor pioneered in the role of women in medicine, and Kitty Barry Blackwell, Elizabeth Blackwell’s adopted daughter and companion. Other Blackwell family members are also represented within the collection, including Emily Blackwell and Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell. 

A finding aid (PDF and HTML) to the Blackwell Family Papers is available online with links to the digital content on this site.

The collection is arranged in seven series:

Alice Stone Blackwell Papers, 1848-1957 (Reels 1-38)

The Alice Stone Blackwell Papers include detailed diaries, 1872-1937, which document her interest and work on behalf of women’s rights and other causes. Among her correspondents are Susan B. Anthony, Ekaterina Konstantinovna Breshko-Breshkovskaia (Catherine Breshkovsky), Carrie Chapman Catt, Ricardo Flores Magón, Thomas J. Mooney, Maud Wood Park, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. One of her major interests was the translation of foreign poetry, and her papers include correspondence with several Russian, Armenian, and Spanish poets, including Gabriela Mistral. A subject file contains drafts and printed versions of most of her translations.

Elizabeth Blackwell Papers, 1836-1946 (Reels 39-50)

The Elizabeth Blackwell Papers contain extensive diaries, 1836-1908, family and general correspondence, and speeches and writings which document her efforts to open the medical profession to women in the United States and England. Included are numerous letters from Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron (Baroness Byron) and Florence Nightingale, who gave support to Blackwell’s medical work abroad. Elizabeth Blackwell wrote widely on various aspects of medicine, and her papers include many of her published works unavailable elsewhere.

Henry Browne Blackwell Papers, 1834-1909 (Reels 50-55)

Henry Browne Blackwell, an enthusiastic reformer, corresponded with many of the leaders in both the women’s rights and the abolition movements. There are also extensive financial papers as well as autobiographical sketches covering the years 1825-1858. Handwritten autobiographical material is accompanied by transcripts made by Alice Stone Blackwell.

Kitty Barry Blackwell Papers, 1855-1938 (Reels 55-62)

The Kitty Barry Blackwell Papers include a large group of correspondence which sheds considerable light on Elizabeth Blackwell’s years in England. Kitty Blackwell, whom Elizabeth Blackwell adopted in 1854, served as her mother’s secretary and companion. Letters from Alice Stone Blackwell in the series contain detailed accounts of the Blackwell family’s activities in the United States. In 1921 Kitty Blackwell left England and spent her remaining years with Alice Stone Blackwell.

Lucy Stone Papers, 1759-1960 (Reels 62-71)

The papers of Lucy Stone, a leading antislavery and women’s rights advocate, include correspondence with Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ward Beecher, William Lloyd Garrison, Sarah Moore Grimké, Julia Ward Howe, Lydia Mott, Wendell Phillips, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Her papers also contain many of her speeches and articles. Included among the biographical material are reminiscences by Henry Browne Blackwell and Alice Stone Blackwell.

Other Blackwell Family Papers, 1834-1945 (Reels 71-76)

Among the Other Blackwell Family Papers series, perhaps the most outstanding are those of Emily Blackwell and Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell. Emily Blackwell followed her sister Elizabeth into the medical profession and was a cofounder of the first woman’s hospital staffed by female physicians in the United States. Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell was the first woman ordained as a minister in the Congregational Church. She later became a Unitarian. Active in the antislavery, women’s rights, and prohibition movements, Antoinette Blackwell was the author of The Island Neighbors (New York: Harper, 1871), The Sexes Throughout Nature (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1875), and other works. Family members represented in this series include:

  • Agnes Blackwell Jones Papers, 1890-1945
  • Anna Blackwell Papers, 1834-1900
  • Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell Papers, 1846-1929
  • Emily Blackwell Papers, 1850-1910
  • Emma Lawrence Blackwell Papers, 1879-1911
  • Ethel Blackwell Robinson Papers, 1901-1943
  • Florence Blackwell Mayhew Papers, 1867-1936
  • George W. Blackwell Papers, 1841-1912
  • Grace Blackwell Papers, 1875-1906
  • Hannah Blackwell Papers, 1840-1896
  • Helen Thomas Blackwell Papers, 1906-1937
  • Howard L. Blackwell Papers, 1892-1937
  • Marian Blackwell Papers, 1840-1897
  • Samuel C. Blackwell Papers, 1838-1901
  • Sarah Ellen Blackwell Papers, 1840-1901

Addition, 1854-1958 (not filmed; scanned from originals)

An addition to the papers consists of letters from Alice Stone Blackwell to Armenian author and activist Bedros Arakel Keljik pertaining to the cause of Armenian independence and to Blackwell’s translations of Armenian poems; a letter from Emily Blackwell to Elizabeth B. Phelps concerning the need for Phelps to return to work at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children; and a letter from Emma Lawrence Blackwell to her son, Howard Blackwell, describing Alice Stone Blackwell’s thoughts on the establishment and membership of the Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission and the relocation of The Woman’s Journal to New York. The addition also includes printed matter relating to the Blackwell family and two unsigned notes which were transferred from the Manuscript Division’s Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection to the Blackwell Family Papers in 1997.