The Bee Records, 1861–1934

Administrative Information

Historical Sketch


Related Collections

Scope and Content Note

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Container List

2 ½ Boxes
Processor: Mark Vassar
2 linear feet
Date: September 2003

View photos of this collection on Flickr

Acquisition: Donated 4 January 1934 by Alice C. Allyn on behalf of the surviving members of the Bee. One oversized photograph (2.015 BEE) was donated 23 April 1947 by Ingabord Gade Frick.

Access: There are no restrictions to items in this collection.

Permission to Publish: Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.

Copyright: The Cambridge Historical Society does not hold copyright on the materials in the collection.

Historical Sketch:

The Bee, originally organized as the Banks Brigade, in honor of the Massachusetts general who led the Massachusetts forces at the onset of the Civil War, was formed in 1861 in response to the need of the Massachusetts (and later Union) forces for supplies. Their initial meeting was held in the home of eminent botanist Asa Grey, on 1 November 1861, at which sixteen teenage girls met, the original members being: Susan Hunt Dixwell, Caroline Louisa Parsons, Julia Bragg (niece of Asa Grey), Mary Elizabeth Harris, Mary Helen Deane, Mary Greenwood Buttrick, Mary Oliver Hastings, Helen Rebecca Allyn, Ruth Charlotte Dana, Elizabeth Ellery Dana, Lucy Nichols, Mary Nichols, Anna Winter Page, Clara Crowninshield Thies, Katharine Vanderburg Toffey, and Emily Cabot Atkinson. They gathered weekly to knit socks and make shirts, nightclothes, quilts, and bandages for local units for the duration of the war (1861-1865). The club became involved with the Western Sanitary Commission, a mid-west organization based in St. Louis, MO that served in a similar capacity to the United States Sanitary Commission, to act as a central repository and distribution agency for domestically produced goods for the war effort. Goods produced by local soldiers’ aid societies were sent to the Commission who then distributed them to soldiers on the front or in hospitals, wherever the goods were most needed. They adopted the name the Bee following the Civil War, due to the lack of a continuing connection with the name of Banks.

While mainly devolving into a social club, the Bee would continue to produce bedding, towels, and nightclothes for the newly opening Cambridge Hospital, a relationship that would last throughout their existence. They later produced clothing and bandages for subsequent war efforts such as the Spanish-American War and World War I, appearing in a local parade in 1918 in an effort to raise funds for Liberty Bonds. During World War I, the Bee also became involved with the New England Clothing Committee for the Comite Franco-Americain pour la Protection des Enfants de la Frontiere, producing clothing for children affected by the war in Europe. Following the war, they became involved in the Boston Committee for Fatherless Children of France, under whose auspices they “adopted” children of French soldiers who had been orphaned in the war. The Bee sent contributions for the support of Louis Blaise and Robert and Yvette Salles to the Boston Committee for Fatherless Children of France from 1919 until December 1920, when the central office in New York closed its doors. In its final correspondence with the Bee, the organization encouraged subscribers to continue to support their charges directly. The Bee appears to have done so with their “adopted” children (with the exception of Robert Salles who appears to have died 24 December 1920), since correspondence with the children continues into 1922.

For the remainder of their existence the Bee continued its support of the Cambridge Hospital, continuing to raise money for the completion of a children’s solarium in the 1927 enlargement to the hospital. The Bee continued in a social capacity until it disbanded in 1931.


Palmer, Mary Towle. The Story of the Bee. Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside, 1924.

Steele, Chris and Ronald Polito. A Directory of Massachusetts Photographers, 1839-1900.
Camden. ME: Picton, 1993.

Related Collections:

Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, Cambridge, MA holds the personal papers of Elizabeth Ellery Dana (1829-1940), an early member of the Bee, which has references to the activities of the organization.

Scope and Content Note:

I. Records

II. Photographs

The Bee collection consists of attendance and account books, business correspondence, minutes and reports, poetry and songs, anniversary materials, photographs, and several miscellaneous objects created or collected by Bee members during their organization’s existence. It is arranged in two series. Series I. Records and Series II. Photographs.

Series I. Records, comprises the bulk of the collection and contains attendance and account books (1863-1927), business correspondence (1862-1927 with gaps), minute and reports (1902-1919 with gaps), poetry and songs (1897-1919 with gaps), anniversary materials (1886, 1911), a published history of the Bee (1924), and several objects. Attendance books serve to document the attendance at weekly meetings of the various members and in several instances identify the location where these meetings were held. One account book (1926-1927) documents collections received for the intended solarium for the Cambridge Hospital.

Business correspondence (1862-1919 with gaps) documents the interaction between the Bee and other organizations in their philanthropic efforts, among them the Western Sanitary Commission (1862-1865), the New England Clothing Committee for the Comite Franco-Americain pour la Protection des Enfants de la Frontiere (1918-1919), Boston Committee for Fatherless Children of France (1919-1922), and the Cambridge Hospital. Also included are acceptance letters for invitations to various events, among them the anniversary events of 1886 and 1911, and congratulatory letters regarding anniversaries and the publication of the organization’s history, entitled The Story of the Bee.

Very few minutes and reports survive. Reports and minutes from various meetings in 1902, 1904, 1914, 1917, 1919 generally describe activities regarding anniversary events or donations made to various organizations. Poetry, songs, and reminiscences were written by Bee members, as well as members of their sister organization, the Club (formerly known as the McClellan Club after the Civil War general), and generally serve to commemorate anniversaries. The same is true of the various anniversary materials, which describe the celebration and series of events at the Bee’s and the Club’s 25th anniversary in 1886, the Bee’s 40th anniversary in 1901, and the Bee’s and the Club’s 50th anniversary in 1911. Also contained in this series is a copy of The Story of the Bee (1924), a history of the Bee to 1924, written by Mary Towle Palmer.

Several objects are included in this series, including the Bee banner (1918) used on their parade float in an effort to encourage the purchase of Liberty Bonds, an honor flag (1917) presented to them for their purchase of Liberty Bonds, fabric samples formerly housed in the Bee basket and likely from their effort at providing clothing for European children affected by World War I, and the Bee chair, given to Elizabeth Harris at a dinner held by Lucian Sharp (1916) in memory of early Bee member Mary Oliver Hastings Longstreth.

Series II. Photographs, is comprised of 89 photographs, mainly carte de visite contained in the Bee album. These photographs consist of various individual portraits of members of the Bee, as well as several group portraits of the Bee at various times in their history. Two oversized photographs have been removed and stored in the CHS Image Collection, Oversized Photographs. Please refer to the photograph inventory completed by Chris Steele in order to identify individual members. Several additional loose photographs are images of French orphans “adopted” by the Bee under the auspices of the Boston Committee for Fatherless Children of France and their family members. These photographs were received with correspondence sent by these children. The relation of the remaining loose photographs to the Bee is unclear. It is assumed that they are photographs of friends and family of Bee members as several photographs of children of Bee members are found in the Bee album. The most prominent photographer identified in the collection is James Wallace Black (active in Boston 1852-1901), both in his own right and as a partner with Perez Mann Batchelder in the firm Black&Batchelder (active in Boston 1860-1861) and John G. Case in the firm Black&Case (active in Boston 1865-1867). Several other Boston photographers have been identified including: John Adams Whipple, James Notman, C.F. Conly, A. Marshall, E. Chickering, W. Shaw Warren, J.J. Hawes, E.L. Alien, Miles S. Cahill, and the firms of Alien & Horton, Silsbee, Case & Co., Alien & Powell, and Boynton & Heald. Cambridge photographers include the firms of the Pach Brothers and James Warren. Other U.S. photographers identified in the collection include: George Parlow of New Bedford, MA; Manchester Brothers & Angell of Providence, RI; Randall of Detroit, MI; G.D. Morse of Chicago, IL; Mrs. L. Condon of Atlanta, GA; Herman Wunder of Brooklyn, NY; and Hargrave & Gubelman, G. W. Pach, W. Kurtz, Napoleon Sarony, and H.E. Mendelssohn of New York City. Photographers practicing outside of the U. S. identified in the collection include: M. Desgrange of Paris, Franz Hanfstaengl of Munich, W. Hoffeh of Dresden, J.E. Livernois of Quebec, and Wilh Cappelen and L. Abel & Co. of Christiana, Denmark.

Photographs have been assigned identifying numbers that corresponds to its respective series and its order within that series, followed by BEE to identify it as part of the collection. For example, the photograph of Louise Blaise is the second photograph in series number II, hence it is numbered 2.002 BEE. The identity of the photographer or photographic firm is noted in brackets in the box and folder list, following the identification of the subject of the photograph.

Library of Congress Subject headings:

Western Sanitary Commission.
Fatherless Children of France (Organization). Boston Committee.

Comite Franco-Americain pour la protection des enfants de la frontiere.
New England Clothing Committee.

Cambridge (Mass.) – Social life and customs.

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – Hospitals.

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – War work – Women.

Massachusetts – History – Civil War, 1861-1865.

Women – Massachusetts – Cambridge – Societies and clubs.

Sewing – Societies, etc.

Photography – Massachusetts – Boston.

Photography – Massachusetts – Cambridge.


Military hygiene.

Orphans – France.

World War, 1914-1918 – War work – Women – Massachusetts-

Spanish-American War, 1898 – War work – Women – Massachusetts –

World War, 1914-1918 – Health aspects.

Black, James Wallace, 1825-1896.

Whipple, John Adams, 1822-1891.

Corporate Author: Black & Batchelder (Boston, Mass.)

Corporate Author: Black and Case (Boston, Mass.)

Corporate Author: Banks Brigade.

Uniform Title: Story of the Bee.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listings

The Bee (Organization) Records 1861-1934 (Bulk 1861-1865,1899-1924)
[table tablesorter=”0″ class=”table table-border”]
||Series I: Records

1|1|Attendance Book, 1863-1892
1|2|Attendance Book, 1892-1927
1|3|Bee Fund Record Book, 1926-1927
1|4|Business Correspondence, n.d.
1|5|Business Correspondence, 1862
1|6|Business Correspondence, 1863
1|7|Business Correspondence, 1864
1|8|Business Correspondence, 1865
1|9|Business Correspondence, 1899
1|10|Business Correspondence, 1901, 1903
1|11|Business Correspondence, 1909
1|12|Business Correspondence, 1911
1|13|Business Correspondence, 1911
1|14|Business Correspondence, 1916
1|15|Business Correspondence, 1917
1|16|Business Correspondence, 1918
1|17|Business Correspondence, 1919
1|18|Business Correspondence, 1920
||1.001 BEE – Robert and Yvette Salles
1|19|Business Correspondence, 1921
1|20|Business Correspondence, 1922
1|21|Business Correspondence, 1923
1|22|Business Correspondence, 1924,1927
1|23|25th Anniversary Book, 1886,1901,1906
1|24|Bee Handbook, 25th Anniversary, 1886
1|25|Anniversary Yearbook, 1911
1|26|Papers removed from Anniversary Yearbook, n.d.,1911, 1922
1|27|Minutes & Reports, n.d., 1902,1904,1914,1917,1919
1|28|Bills & Receipts, 1924
1|29|Poems & Songs, n.d.
1|30|Poems & Songs, 1897, 1902, 1906,1911,1911, 1915-1917,1919
1|31|Memories of the Bee, n.d., 1920, 1921
1|32|Miscellaneous, n.d.
1|33|Fabric Samples
1|34|Honor Flag (Liberty Bonds), 1917 – Removed to Map Case
1|35|Bee Banner, 1918 – Removed to Map Case
1|36|Bee Chair, 1916 – Chandler Room Display
1|37|The Story of the Bee, 1924 – RESTRICTED
1|38|The Story of the Bee, 1924 – Use Copies
[table tablesorter=”0″ class=”table table-border”]
|||Series II: Photographs
Box|Folder|Photo #|Description|

2|39|2.001 BEE|Mary Oliver Longstreth
2|40|2.002 BEE|Louise Blaise (View image on Flickr)
2|41|2.003 BEE|Robert Salles (View image on Flickr)
2|41|2.004 BEE|Yvette Salles and Grandfather (?)
2|41|2.005 BEE|Yvette Salles (View image on Flickr)
2|41|2.006 BEE|Grandfather (?) Salles – [M. Desgranges] (View image on Flickr)
2|42|2.007 BEE|Anne & Bill Remsen; Herbert, Winchester, and Herbert (III) Sherman (View image on Flickr)
2|43|2.008 BEE|Anna White Sherman & Herbert A. Sherman III (View image on Flickr)
2|43|2.009 BEE|Roger Sherman (1919) (View image on Flickr)

2|43|2.010 BEE|Elizabeth Sherman (1924)
2|43|2.011 BEE|Herbert A. Sherman, Anna Sherman, Winchester Sherman, Herbert A. Sherman III (View image on Flickr)
2|44|2.012 BEE|Susan Hunt Dixwell (1863) (View image on Flickr)
2|44|2.013 BEE|The Bee (1917) (View image on Flickr)
2|44|2.014 BEE|The Bee at Lowell, MA (ca. 1924) (View image on Flickr)
2|44|2.015 BEE|The Bee (1863) – [James Wallace Black] – Removed to CHS Image Collection, Oversized Images
2|44|2.016 BEE|The Bee (1863) – [James Wallace Black] – Removed to CHS Image Collection, Oversized Images
2|44|2.017 BEE|The Gold Crown Bee (1914) – Removed to CHS Image, Collection, Series VI, Oversized Images
2|45||Bee Album
||2.018 BEE|Helen Rebecca (Allyn) Gade [L. Abel & Co.]
||2.019 BEE|Katherine Vanderburg (Toffey) Smith [Napoleon Sarony] (View image on Flickr)
||2.020 BEE|Elizabeth (Stone) Allen [James Notman]
||2.021 BEE|Anna Winter (Page) Allyn [Pach] (View image on Flickr)
||2.022 BEE|Brochure, Sara G. Farwell (View image on Flickr)
||2.023 BEE|Susan Hunt (Dixwell) Miller (View image on Flickr)
||2.024 BEE|Caroline Louisa Parsons [Black & Batchelder] (View image on Flickr)
||2.025 BEE|Mary Greenwood (Buttrick) Goodwin [James Wallace Black]
||2.026 BEE|Elizabeth Harris [Black & Batchelder] (View image on Flickr)
||2.027 BEE|Anna Whiter (Page) Allyn (View image on Flickr)
||2.028 BEE|Mary Helen Deane [James Wallace Black] (View image on Flickr)
||2.029 BEE|Julia Bragg [Cahill] (View image on Flickr)
||2.030 BEE|Clara Crowinshield (Thies) Van Ekenstein [Alien &Horton] (View image on Flickr)
||2.031 BEE|Elizabeth Ellery Dana [James Wallace Black]
||2.032 BEE|Emily Cabot (Atkinson) Holdrege [Silsbee, Case& Co.] (View image on Flickr)
||2.033 BEE|Helen Rebecca (Allyn) Gade [James Wallace Black] (View image on Flickr)
||2.034 BEE|Lucy (Nichols) White (View image on Flickr)
||2.035 BEE|Margaret W. (Storer) Warner [James A. Whipple] (View image on Flickr)
||2.036 BEE|Mary (Towle) Palmer [E.L. Allen] (View image on Flickr)
||2.037 BEE|Caroline Parsons and Clara Thies [James Wallace Black]
||2.038 BEE|Bee Group [James Wallace Black] (View image on Flickr)
||2.039 BEE|Mary Helen Deane [Black & Batchelder] (View image on Flickr)
||2.040 BEE|Helen Rebecca (Allyn) Gade [Warren] (View image on Flickr)
||2.041 BEE|Susan Hunt (Dixwell) Miller [J.J. Hawes] (View image on Flickr)
||2.042 BEE|Mary (Nichols) White [James A. Whipple] (View image on Flickr)
||2.043 BEE|Lucy (Allen) Gage [Herman Wunder]
||2.044 BEE|Anna B. Shaw [Franz Hanfstaengl] (View image on Flickr)
||2.045 BEE|Clara (Thies) Van Ekenstein [W. Hoffet] (View image on Flickr)
||2.046 BEE|Florence (Sparks) Moore [James Wallace Black] (View image on Flickr)
||2.047 BEE|Anna Morgan Rotch [George F. Parlow] (View image on Flickr)
||2.048 BEE|Susan (Whitney) Dimock [James A. Whipple] (View image on Flickr)
||2.049 BEE|Mary (Fuller) Cobb [W. Shaw Warren]
||2.050 BEE|Virginia R. Waterman [Manchester Bros. & Angell] (View image on Flickr)
||2.051 BEE|Margaret W. (Storer) Warner [J.E. Livernois] (View image on Flickr)
||2.052 BEE|Alice (Parsons) Byerly [Alien & Rowell] (View image on Flickr)
||2.053 BEE|Lilian (Horsford) Farlow [James Notman] (View image on Flickr)
||2.054 BEE|Alice James [Boynton & Heald] (View image on Flickr)
||2.055 BEE|Alice (Page) Schaff
||2.056 BEE|Caroline A. Farley [Alien & Rowell] (View image on Flickr)
||2.057 BEE|Grace M. (Hopkinson) Eliot (View image on Flickr)
||2.058 BEE|Alice (Page) Schaff (View image on Flickr)
||2.059 BEE|Mary Gale (View image on Flickr)
||2.060 BEE|Elizabeth (Stone) Allen (View image on Flickr)
||2.061 BEE|Mary (Nichols) White and Carrie Webster
||2.062 BEE|Susanna Willard (View image on Flickr)
||2.063 BEE|Mabel (Lowell) Burnett [Black & Case] (View image on Flickr)
||2.064 BEE|Elizabeth Harris [Notman Photo Co.] (View image on Flickr)
||2.065 BEE|Lilly M Hoppin [James Wallace Black] (View image on Flickr)
||2.066 BEE|Martha C. (Walker) McDaniels [W. Kurtz] (View image on Flickr)
||2.067 BEE|Anna White “Bee Baby” [James A. Whipple]
||2.068 BEE|Alice (Carpenter) Alien, Elizabeth R. Simmons, and Caroline (Kettell) Brewster (View image on Flickr)
||2.069 BEE|Frances (Lombard) Hubbard [Randall] (View image on Flickr)
||2.070 BEE|Grace (Owen) Scudder [G.D. Morse] (View image on Flickr)
||2.071 BEE|Susan (Whitney) Dimock [H.E. Mendelssohn] (View image on Flickr)
||2.072 BEE|Anne (Abbot) Morison (View image on Flickr)
||2.073 BEE|Grace M. (Hopkinson) Eliot [E. Chickering]
||2.074 BEE|Bee Group
||2.075 BEE|Bee Group on porch
||2.076 BEE|Alice (Carpenter) Allyn [Wilh Cappelen] (View image on Flickr)
||2.077 BEE|Roger Sherman [Hargrave & Gubelman]
||2.078 BEE|Roger Sherman [Hargrave & Gubelman] (View image on Flickr)
||2.079 BEE|Helen Lawrence (Appleton) Brooks [A. Marshall]
||2.080 BEE|Alice (Carpenter) Allyn [G.W. Pach]
||2.081 BEE|Caroline L. Parsons, Susan Hunt Dixwell, Mary Helen Deane, Helen Rebecca Allyn, Mary Greenwood Buttrick, and Ana Whiter Page
||2.082 BEE|Martha C. (Walker) McDaniels [Mrs. L Condon] (View image on Flickr)
||2.083 BEE|Esther (Lombard) Mann [C.F. Conly] (View image on Flickr)
||2.084 BEE|Julia Marcou [Alien & Rowell] (View image on Flickr)
||2.085 BEE|Mr. & Mrs. John S. Cobb
||2.086 BEE|Mary (Fuller) Cobb (View image on Flickr)
||2.087 BEE|Alice (Freeman) Palmer [Smith] (View image on Flickr)
||2.088 BEE|Mary O. (Hastings) Longstreth
||2.089 BEE|Postcard, Deutsches Kaiserhaus