Archives and Other Holdings at Longfellow House

The artifacts and manuscript collections of Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site reflect the accumulation of generations of inhabitants, their varied intellectual pursuits, and their desire to preserve and memorialize the past. Museum collections complement each other, giving the collections depth and exceptional research value. They reveal the major themes of the site: Colonial and Revolutionary War history, literary history, arts patronage and education, and historic preservation.

Please visit the official website for additional information about all the collections, including finding aids to the document collections. To use the collections, contact the Park Service archivist at the site at 617-491-1054 or by email (

Fine Arts Collections
The fine arts collection showcases the tastes and interests of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), his wife, Frances Appleton (1817-1861), and their children. Major fine arts collections include the sculpture collection of Longfellow’’s close friend Charles Sumner and the art collection of Fanny Longfellow’’s brother Thomas Gold Appleton. Artists represented include: John Kensett, Eastman Johnson, William Morris Hunt, George Healy, Thomas Crawford, John Gadsby Chapman, Benjamin Champney, and Winkworth Allen Gay. Also included are works by earlier American masters, such as Washington Allston, Gilbert Stuart, and Mather Brown. Of particular note for their fine quality are thirteen crayon portraits by Eastman Johnson, commissioned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of his family and friends in 1846.

In addition to the American artists, well-known nineteenth-century English, German, and Italian born artists are represented in the collection, including Albert Bierstadt, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, Myles Birket Foster, Eugene and Jean Baptiste Isabey, Samuel Prout, Friedrick Overbeck, Pierre Jules Mene, Lorenzo Bartolini, and Jacques Louis David (att. to). A 1664 church interior by Dutch painter Daniel de Blieck is included in the collection as well. Most of the collection is personal in nature —– gifts from artists the family met or knew, or purchases made during their travels.

Historic Furnishings and Decorative Arts
The historic furnishings and decorative arts in the museum collections date from the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. Henry and Fanny Longfellow acquired the majority of furnishings in the house. Like many early collectors, the Longfellow acquired antiques not for aesthetic or investment purposes, but rather for historical reasons. The Longfellows’ collection of colonial pieces and Washingtonia reveals their reverence for the past. For them, having old-fashioned furnishings in the house stimulated their awareness of America’s past. This interest in antiques is just one aspect of a spirit of nationalism in the country, the same nationalism that prompted writers such as Longfellow in the ante-bellum decades to plead for the creation of an independent literature.

Joining their love of American history, the Longfellows also took delight in the international literary and artistic traditions. The furnishings and decorative arts in the house reflect the family’s international taste, including collections of nineteenth-century Asian ceramics and furniture, and eighteenth-century pieces from Germany, Holland, and France. The house retains most of its elegant light fixtures and wallpapers dating from Henry and Fanny Longfellow’s early years of residency, in the 1840s. In fact, the mid-eighteenth-century Chinese wallpaper is still in place under the 1844 parlor wallpaper – a wallpaper which could well have been in place during Washington’s occupancy. The collection also contains over a thousand textile fragments, which provide a chronology of costume and interior decorating styles, from the 1840s until the 1950s. Other noted textiles include Henry and Fanny Longfellow’s clothing and Charles Longfellow’s Civil War uniform.

Asian Collections
The Japanese and Chinese collections at Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site reflect generations of interest in Asian art, culture, and literature. The Longfellows’ Asian collections are significant because of their provenance and context, and provide insights into the importance of international art to one nineteenth-century family. Many of the Chinese ceramics in the house are import ware, collected by Henry and Fanny Longfellow in the 1840s-1850s.

Charles Longfellow (1844-1893), Henry and Frances Appleton Longfellow’s oldest son, collected a wide range of ceramics, textiles, paintings, and bronzes during his twenty-month sojourn in Japan, from June 1871 until March 1873, shipping over twenty crates of furnishings and decorative arts home to his family in Cambridge. A year after his return, Charles and his cousin Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr. decorated his sitting room in the Longfellow House with many of his finds, covering the ceiling with Japanese fans, and displaying prints and furniture in the room. The Longfellow House’s Japanese collections reflect transformations in both Japanese and American culture. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japanese culture became increasingly westernized. In turn, late nineteenth-century Americans’ lives were transformed by the increased availability of Japanese imports, travel, and participation with Asian economies. A “Japan craze” spread through Boston and beyond in the 1870s-1890s.

In addition, the site holds a rich collection of high-style kimono, obi, and other Japanese textiles, including custom-designed costumes for Charles Longfellow to wear. The site holds over 350 photographs of Meiji-era Japan, including rare photographs of the Ainu people.

Library of 14,000 Volumes
The collection includes Longfellow’s international academic interests, as well as family books. Of note are the books in over a dozen languages, including Finnish, Danish, German, Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, and Russian. Significant volumes include numerous folios printed by Giambattista Bodoni, illustrated atlases of China, Africa, and Asia from the 1670s, Gustave Dore’s illustrated works of Dante, and a 1496 Venetian edition of Plutarch. The book collection includes Fanny Longfellow’s and her children’s books, and 50 volumes from Washington Allston’s library.

Archives and Manuscript Collections
One of the strengths of Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, the extensive archives and manuscript collection contains over 360 linear feet of papers (approx. 765,191 items), dating from c. 1650 to– 1972. This collection provides a rare opportunity to view eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American history through the eyes of multiple generations of the Longfellow, Appleton and Dana families. Various family members were actively involved in or were firsthand witnesses to the Revolutionary, Barbary and Civil Wars; nineteenth century American art, theater and literary culture , and politics; world travel; and social movements such as abolition, women’s education, historic preservation and socialism. In addition, the collection illuminates the daily lives of the house’s occupants with great immediacy; outlines the history and use of objects (now in the museum collections) acquired by the Longfellows; and documents changes to the structures and grounds.

Highlights of the collection include:
  • Letters written by Henry Wadsworth while on duty aboard the USS Constitution, 1803-1804; his journal written aboard the USS Chesapeake.
  • Revolutionary War materials/letters written by George Washington.
  • Charles Longfellow'’s journals from his trips to Japan and China, 1871-1874.
  • Fanny Longfellow’'s journals with her reflections on raising and educating her children; her children'’s drawings, their home-made newsletters, and “literary journals” with their own short stories, 1840s-1850s.
Cataloged and processed:
  • Frances Elizabeth Appleton Longfellow Papers, 1825-1961 4 linear feet
    The papers of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wife: a skilled artist, art collector, and insightful commentator on nineteenth-century Boston literary culture. Fanny Longfellow’s papers include her sketchbooks, made as a teenager on trips across the United States and Europe, her dairies detailing her educational philosophy when raising her children, and letters documenting her interaction with intellectuals of the day, including Julia Ward Howe and Charles Sumner.
  • Alice Mary Longfellow Papers, 1850-1965 15.5 linear feet
    The eldest daughter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alice’s papers reveal her interest in preservation and education. Correspondence documents her support of women’s education and Native American and African-American students, including work with Radcliffe College and the Tuskegee and Hampton Institutes. In addition, Alice served on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Also included are her numerous articles, logbooks of travels abroad, photographs, and personal correspondence documenting her work to preserve her family’s home as a museum.
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana Papers, 1744-1971 100 linear feet
    The papers of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana (1881-1950), grandson of both H.W. Longfellow and Richard Henry Dana, Jr., reflect the diversity of his personal interests and prolific literary output. Harry Dana acted at the Longfellow House’s first curator, and did extensive research and writing about Revolutionary-era Cambridge, Longfellow’s life and works and the history of the Dana and Longfellow families. Dana believed strongly in workers’ education and helped found the Boston Trade Union College, as well as lecturing at other workers’ schools. A socialist and pacifist, Harry traveled extensively in the Soviet Union and became an expert on Russian Theater.
  • Appleton Family Papers, 1752-1962 3.4 linear feet
    This collection consists of personal materials, correspondence, official and legal documents of twenty-six members of the Appleton family, beginning with the papers of Nathan Appleton (1779-1861). Nathan Appleton was a prominent businessman and politician associated with the development of the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, and father of Frances Appleton Longfellow, the wife of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Also included is a section of research material compiled by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana on his Appleton relatives, including genealogies.
  • Dana Family Papers, 1661-1960 67 linear feet
    Includes collected manuscripts, genealogies and research material of over five generations of the Dana Family, including some correspondence of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1815-1882), author of Two Years Before the Mast, and legal consultant in the litigation surrounding the Fugitive Slave Law. The collection also includes some papers of Francis Dana (1743-1811), appointed minister to the court of Catherine the Great in 1781, and Chief Justice of Massachusetts from 1791-1806.
  • Wadsworth-Longfellow Family Papers, 1610-1971 27 linear feet
    The papers of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ancestors and their close relatives includes journals and diaries maintained by Henry Wadsworth while serving on the USS Constitution, and letters of Peleg Wadsworth, general to George Washington and member of Congress. Also included are the papers of Judge Stephen Longfellow (1750-1824), Henry’s grandfather; Stephen Longfellow (1776-1849), Henry’s father who was a lawyer in Portland, Maine and member of Congress; and Capt. Samuel Longfellow, Henry’s uncle, as well as letters from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s mother, Zilpah Wadsworth Longfellow (1796-1851). Primarily to members of her family, they reveal her years growing up in Maine, family history, domestic life, her literary and religious interests, visits to Henry in Cambridge, and visits to Plymouth. Due to her husband Stephen’s frequent travels on business and to Washington, D.C. as a member of Congress, there are several years of extensive correspondence with him during the 1820s. Family groups represented in the collection include those of William Longfellow (1650-1690) (“the Emigrant”), Stephen Longfellow (1685-1764), Peleg Wadsworth (1748-1829), and Stephen Longfellow (1776-1849).
  • Dana Collected Correspondence Collection, 1808-1938 43 linear feet
    Letters of primarily women members of the Dana family. The letters document adolescent life in antebellum New England, including insights into boarding school life. Civil War-era letters record the poignant thoughts of young women experiencing the war through losses of friends and privations at home. A sizable portion of the collection includes correspondence generated by Elizabeth Ellery Dana (1846-1939), the sister-in-law of Edith Longfellow (Longfellow’s second daughter). She was a prolific writer and historian who published a British officer’s 1770s diary, and wrote extensively on Revolutionary War history and the Dana family.
  • Richard Henry Dana III Papers, 1797-1947 32.3 linear feet
    The papers of Richard Henry Dana III reveal a life of public service. The childhood friend of the Longfellow children and husband of Edith Longfellow, Richard H. Dana III (1851-1931) was a lawyer who worked for the reform of the ballot system to make elections more democratic and reform of civil service to make democracy efficient. He was president of the New England Conservatory of Music, the Boston YMCA, and worked tirelessly on behalf of the Episcopal Theological Seminary. His papers include some of the records of his law practice, personal and business correspondence and much material related to civil service reform, including correspondence with his Harvard classmate, Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Elizabeth Ellery Dana Personal Papers, 1829-1940 8.6 linear feet
    Elizabeth Ellery Dana (1846-1939) was one of the daughters of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. and Sarah Watson Dana. A lifelong resident of Boston and Cambridge, her papers reflect the life of a middle class woman from a well-known family during the second half of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. An interest in genealogy and family history, sparked when she was nineteen years old, continued her whole life as she gathered data for The Dana Family in America, which was not published until after her death. Most of her research and writing for this book is contained in the Dana Family Papers (see above), although her correspondence also reflects this interest. She collected the correspondence of her immediate family and it is believed she was responsible for the Dana Collected Correspondence Collection (see above). This collection contains correspondence, notes, journals, legal records and photographs.
  • Longfellow House Trust Papers, 1852-1973 11 linear feet
    Financial records, correspondence, administrative records and materials related to the management of the house as a museum. The papers reveal the developing preservation philosophy for one of the oldest historic house museums, and include guest books noting the visits of many eminent guests to the Longfellow House, such as Paul Robeson.
  • Washington Allston Materials as Compiled by H.W.L. Dana, 1868-1955 18.8 linear feet
    This collection consists primarily of materials collected or produced by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana that deal with the life and works of Washington Allston (1779-1843), considered America’s first Romantic artist. A small portion of the papers are notes and correspondence of Harry Dana’s father, Richard Henry Dana III, and of his aunt, Elizabeth Ellery Dana, which Harry incorporated into his own Washington Allston research papers. Also included are approximately 50 books from Washington Allston’s own library and many photographs of Allston’s works.
  • Patricia R. Pratt Papers, 1759-1994 4.8 linear feet
    This collection documents the grounds of the Longfellow House before, during, and after restoration by the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club in 1969-1972; ongoing maintenance of the Longfellow House and garden; and preservation and renovation of Longfellow Park. The papers consist primarily of documentation generated by the Longfellow House and Garden Committee and the Longfellow Park Committee of the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club. The papers were assembled by Patricia Pratt while she was a member of that club. She served at times as president of the club and chairman of the Longfellow House Garden Committee.
  • Frederick Haven Pratt & Stephen D. Pratt Research Papers, 1783-1996 1.7 linear feet
    These papers were generated as a result of research conducted by Frederick Haven Pratt, M.D. to publish The Craigies in 1942, and by his son, Stephen D. Pratt, to publish a new edition, The Craigies: A Footnote to the Medical History of the Revolution, in 1996. These materials focus primarily on Andrew Craigie, Jr., the first Apothecary General of the United States and former owner/resident of the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House. Included are some primary legal documents and correspondence of the Craigie, Foster and Haven families dating from 1783-1840.
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Family Papers, c. 1815-1971 est. 25 linear feet
    Processing of these papers will be completed in 2004. This collection includes some papers of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (exclusive of his manuscripts, correspondence and journals which are held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University), those of his son Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow (1845-1921), daughters Edith Longfellow Dana (1853-1915) and Anne Longfellow Thorp (1855-1934), as well as his sisters Anne Longfellow Pierce (1810-1901) and Mary Longfellow Greenleaf (1816-1902), and his brother Stephen Longfellow (1805-1850) and their families The papers of Henry’s sister Anne document life in Portland, Maine during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Since she lived in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House most of her life her papers document her stewardship of the house, which she donated to the Maine Historical Society as a memorial to her brother. Papers of Longfellow’s daughters provide insights into their /youth and travels, marriage, and contributions to the formation of the Longfellow House Trust, the preservation society dedicated to preserving the Craigie-Longfellow House.
  • The, Rev. Samuel Longfellow (1819-1892) Papers, c. 1845-1890 est. 12 linear feet
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s youngest brother and biographer, Samuel was a Unitarian minister and author of many hymns still in use today. His papers document his belief in Transcendentalism, Temperance, and Women’s Suffrage, and include correspondence with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and others. He was also interested in photography and experimented with calotypes while a student at Harvard in 1839 with his Harvard roommate Edward Everett Hale, and with daguerreotypes in 1843 while a teacher for the Dabney children in the Azores in Portugal.
  • Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Family Papers, c. 1795-1945 est. 25.5 linear feet
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s brother Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Sr. (1814-1901) worked for the U.S. Coast Survey and his papers record much information about that work and the scandals in the organization. Also included are a journal and letters documenting his trip to South America as secretary to his uncle, Captain (later Commodore) Alexander Scammell Wadsworth in 1833-1834. Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr. (1854-1934) was a noted Colonial Revival architect and partner in the firm of Longfellow, Alden & Harlow, one of the founders of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, and active in the Marine Museum of the Bostonian Society. “Waddy’s” papers reflect his interests in architecture and boats. His papers consist of correspondence, scrapbooks, log books and journals with a number of photographs, including some of European architecture and of his own commissions. This collection also includes the papers of Mary King Longfellow (1852-1945), an accomplished artist, including her journals notated daily for many years, and Richard King Longfellow (1864-1914).
  • Charles Longfellow (1844-1893) Papers, c. 1845-1909 est. 4 linear feet
    Processing of the papers of Henry and Fanny Longfellow’s oldest son will be completed by 2005. The collection includes several dozen journals and diaries chronicling his world travels including Japan, China, India, and Russia. Of special interest are the several hundred photographs of Charles Longfellow’s travels to Russia, India, Cambodia and the South Pacific during the late 1860s to 1880s. Rare photographs of Meiji-period Japan taken between 1871-1873 include photographs of the Ainu tribe.
Approximately 11,500 photographs and negatives ranging from 1840 to 1970 encompassing a wide range of photographic processes and topics. These include daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cyanotypes, albumen prints and others. Many of the photographs are part of collections of individual’s papers. In addition, the following photograph collections consist of images unassociated with a singe individual:
  • Longfellow Family Photograph Collection
  • Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site House and Garden Photograph Collection
  • Art Reproductions Photograph Collection
Architectural Drawings, 1847-1936
Includes drawings and blueprints created by twelve different architectural firms, including A.W. Longfellow (Henry’s nephew and formerly an associate in H.H. Richardson’s firm) and Ellen Shipman. The collection documents the historically sensitive changes made to the Craigie-Longfellow House, enabling it to become a historic house museum.
Longfellow, Appleton, and Dana Family Art Collections, c. 1837-1900
Includes several hundred drawings made by Henry and Frances Longfellow’s children, documenting the development of art education, and issues important to mid-nineteenth century childhood. The collection also includes sketchbooks, drawings, watercolors and oils by Ernest Longfellow, who became a professional artist, and his cousin, Mary King Longfellow, also an accomplished artist. Included as well are some sketches by both Fanny and Henry Longfellow, his brothers Alexander and Samuel, and other family members and friends.
Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site Print Collection 1,222 items
The Longfellow NHS Print Collection is a diverse assortment of lithographs, etchings, engravings, wood block prints, and other types of prints and printing plates, varied in subject and date. It ranges from pages of the Nurenberg Chronicles printed in 1493 to twentieth-century prints and includes scenes of Europe, reproductions of artworks in galleries and museums, portraits of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and other notables, views of the Vassal-Craigie-Longfellow House, as well as illustrations for Longfellow’s poems. Many of the prints were collected by Longfellow and his family and consequently reflect the interests, social associations, and taste of a Victorian New England family.
Postcard Collection of the Longfellow Family, c. 1870-1970 2,700 items
This collection consists of picture postcards received by members of the Longfellow family, or blank postcards collected by them. They represent scenes from around the world, views of the Longfellow House, and subjects such as fine arts and theater.