Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911) Carte de Visite Album (1862-1866)

Administrative Information

Biographical Sketch

Related Collections


Scope and Content Note

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Series Description and Folder Listing

1 Album
.1 linear feet
Processor: Mark Vassar
Date: December 2007

Acquisition: The carte de visite album was donated to the Cambridge Historical Society by Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Although the exact date is unknown it would have to have been donated between 1905 (founding year of CHS) and 1911 (the year of Higginson’s death).

Access: There are no restrictions on 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.

Biographical Sketch:

Thomas Wentworth Higginson was born 22 December 1823 in Cambridge Massachusetts. He was a descendant of Francis Higginson, a Puritan minister who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was a grandson of Stephen Higginson, a member of the Continental Congress.

Higginson attended Harvard, graduating in 1841, and served as a schoolmaster for two years. He returned to Harvard, studying at Harvard Divinity School. He first became the pastor of the First Religious Society (Unitarian) in Newburyport, Massachusetts, but was considered too liberal by the congregation and asked to leave after two years. He then went on to establish the Free Church in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1852, serving there until 1858.

Higginson was well known for his support of the abolitionist movement, having supported John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859. During the Civil War he first volunteered for the 51st Massachusetts Volunteers as captain, leaving this post to serve as colonel for the First Carolina Volunteers (which became the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops), the first regiment of African-Americans approved by the U. S. government to serve the Union.

Higginson also advocated equality of rights for women, publishing Common Sense about Women in 1881 and Women and Men in 1888. He established a correspondence with Emily Dickinson, later becoming a mentor to her. After Dickinson’s death, Higginson collaborated with Mabel Loomis Todd in publishing several volumes of her poetry.

In 1847, Higginson married Mary Elizabeth Channing, daughter of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, who died in 1877. In 1879, Higginson married his second wife, Mary Potter Thacher, daughter of Cambridge lawyer Peter Thacher. The couple had two daughters, only one of which survived into adulthood. Higginson died in Cambridge on 9 May 1911.


“Higginson, Thomas Wentworth.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 17 December 2007.

Edelstein, Tilden G. “Higginson, Thomas Wentworth.” American National Biography Online. 17 December 2007.

Related Collections:

T.W. Higginson Scrapbooks (Ms Am 1256-1256.4) and T. W. Higginson Additional Scrapbooks and other Papers (Ms Am 2545) are held by the Houghton Library at Harvard University. The Harvard University Archives also holds additional materials related to T. W. Higginson.

Scope and Content Note:

The album (entitled “Harvard Photographs”) consists of twenty-five cartes de visite collected by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, mainly of Harvard University graduates, professors or administrators, with the three exceptions being a carte de visite of a crayon drawing of Mrs. W.E. Channing (the original artist being identified as Cheney), a carte de visite of Francis Jackson, and a carte de visite of Holworthy Hall on the Harvard University campus. Most have been identified as having been taken between 1862 and 1866.

Cartes de visite have been individually numbered and a three-letter suffix added (TWH) to identify each as part of the album. The box list identifies individual names, year of graduation for Harvard Graduates, and photographer. Photographers identified in the album are: (Boston) Allen & Horton, H.G. Smith, Hussey, Black, Black & Case, Marshall, Silsbee, Case & Co., and A. Sonrel; (New York) D. Appleton & Co. and A.A. Turner; (Brooklyn, NY) Van Dorn; (Concord, NH) Kimball; and George Kendall Warren (active in Lowell and Cambridgeport, MA). Two cartes de visite appear to be missing from the number originally placed in the album, that of Col. Robert S. Shaw and a second identified only as “S.H.P. 1st Head, life size – 1863.”

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

  • Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873
  • Bowen, Francis, 1811-1890
  • Channing, William Ellery, 1780-1842
  • Channing, Ruth Gibbs
  • Channing, Walter, 1786-1876
  • Curtis, George William, 1824-1892
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882
  • Felton, C. C. (Cornelius Conway), 1807-1862 (Spirit)
  • Harvard University Buildings
  • Higginson, Waldo, 1814-
  • Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882
  • Longfellow, Samuel, 1819-1892
  • Lowell, Charles Russell, 1835-1864
  • Lowell, James Jackson, 1837-1862
  • Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891
  • Jackson, James, 1777-1867
  • Lovering, Joseph, 1813-1892
  • Motley, John Lothrop, 1814-1877
  • Peirce, Benjamin, 1809-1880
  • Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866
  • Ware, John F. W. (John Fothergill Waterhouse), 1818-1881
  • Wyman, Jeffries, 1814-1874
  • Wyman, Morrill, 1812-1903

Thomas Wentworth Higginson Cartes de visite Album, 1862-1866
Series Description and Folder Listing

Box|Photo|Series I. Cartes de Visite Album

1|1.001 TWH|James Jackson, M.D., HC 1796

1|1.002 TWH|W.E. Channing, D.D., HC 1798 [Allen & Horton, Boston] (from a portrait by Gamberdella)

1|1.003 TWH|Mrs. W. E. Channing (Ruth Gibbs), [H.G. Smith, Boston] (from a crayon drawing by Cheney)

1|1.004 TWH|Walter Channing, M.D., HC 1808, [Hussey, Boston] (“for my dear daughter, Mary.” 1865)

1|1.005 TWH|Louis Agassiz [D. Appleton & Co., New York, phot. A.A. Turner] (“From T.W. Higginson”, 1862)

1|1.006 TWH|Rev. J.F.W. Ware, HC 1838, [Black, Boston]

1|1.007 TWH|R.W. Emerson, L.L.D., HC 1821 (from a bust)

1|1.008 TWH|John Lothrop Motley, L.L.D., HC 1831,[Black & Case, Boston]

1|1.009 TWH|Waldo Higginson, HC 1833, [Marshall, Boston]

1|1.010 TWH|George W. Curtis, L.L.D., HU 1881, [Kimball, Concord, NH] (January 1863)

1|1.011 TWH|Unidentified

1|1.012 TWH|James Russell Lowell, L.L.D., HU 1838, [pub. By E & HT Anthony from negative by Brady]

1|1.013 TWH|Pres. Jared Sparks, L.L.D., HC 1815, [Black & Case, Boston]

1|1.014 TWH|Prof. Henry W. Longfellow, [Silsbee, Case, & Co., Boston]

1|1.015 TWH|Prof. Benjamin Pierce, HC 1829 [Warren, Lowell] (1863)

1|1.016 TWH|Pres. Cornelius C. Felton, L.L.D., HC 1827, [Warren, Lowell] (1863)

1|1.017 TWH|Prof. Joseph Lovering, L.L.D., HC 1833, [Warren, Lowell] (1863)

1|1.018 TWH|Prof. Francis Bowen, L.L.D., HC 1833, [Warren, Lowell] (1863)

1|1.019 TWH|Gen. Charles Russell Lowell, HC 1854, [Black & Case, Boston] (1866, Memorial on Cambridge Common)

1|1.020 TWH|Lieut. James Jackson Lowell, HU 1858, [Warren, Cambridgeport]

1|1.021 TWH|Morrill Wyman, M.D., HC 1833 (1863)

1|1.022 TWH|Prof. Jeffries Wyman, M.D., HC 1833, [Warren, Lowell] (1863)

1|1.023 TWH|Francis Jackson, Esq., [A. Sonrel, Boston] (“son of Dr. Jackson (see page 1) (I think, TWH)”

1|1.024 TWH|Holworthy Hall [Warren, Cambridgeport]

1|1.025 TWH|Rev. Samuel Longfellow, A.B., HC 1839, [Van Dorn, Brooklyn] (1864)