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Houghton Family Correspondence

Identifier: MSN/EA 5036

Scope and Contents

All the letters in the collection are directed to one (or more) of six Houghton family members: William Houghton, his wife Marilla Clay Houghton, and children Diantha, Maria, Henry Oscar, and Marilla. Forty-two of the letters are directed to Henry, mostly in Burlington, Vermont (1839-1846) or Cambridge/Boston (1846-1850). Another 26 letters are directed to William and/or his wife, in Vermont (1832-1837), Nunda, New York (1839-1841), and Dana, Massachusetts (1846-1850). Forty-seven of the letters were written by eight of the eleven Houghton children, most notably Albert (17 letters), Daniel (9), Maria (7), James (4), and Marilla (4). There are 2 letters of Henry Oscar Houghton. There are also 28 letters written by other family members, friends, and business acquantances. Content is primarily personal, with much on life in the South (from the many family members who moved to Alabama) and much with a bearing on education. The letters to Henry Oscar Houghton include several pieces of early business correspondence, up to the establishment of the printing firm Bowles & Haughton in 1849.


  • Creation: 1832-1850

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

The present papers relate to the family of Captain William Houghton (1774-1863) and Marilla Clay Houghton (1780-1858), who were married on 11 February 1802 and settled in Lyndon, Vermont. William Houghton was a tanner, who seems never to have established himself in the trade; by the time the family moved to Sutton, Caledonia County, Vermont in 1818 he was working mostly as a farmhand. The couple had twelve children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood, with dates of birth ranging from 1802 to 1825. The family subsequently lived in Bradford, Vermont and Nunda, Livingston County, New York (1839), by which time most of the children were pursuing their own livlihoods, some with conspicuous success. In later years William and Marilla lived with their son William, Jr. at Nunda, and with their son Henry in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The following are the children of William and Marilla Houghton:

1. Stella Houghton Scott (1802-1844): left Vermont for Alabama to teach school, and settled in Tuscaloosa following her marriage (1830) to David Scott, a successful merchant and manufacturer.

2. Harriet Houghton Tyler (1804-1853): married Barton Tyler in Vermont in 1831; settled in Alabama.

3. Diantha Houghton (1806-1842): moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the 1830s; never married.

4. William Houghton, Jr. (1808-1874): settled in Nunda, New York, where he operated a boot and shoe store (m. Amarilla Martin, 1833).

5. James Clay Houghton (1810-1880): studied at Dartmouth College and Hartford Theological Seminary; ordained a Congregational minister 1839/40. Held pastorates in Vermont and Massachusetts (m. Julia Morton, 1840).

6. Albert Gallatin Houghton (1812-1880): left for Alabama in 1833 and ended up settling in Wetumpka, where he was engaged in cotton and general merchandising. Returned North after the Civil War, joined his brother Henry Oscar Houghton in the publishing firm Hurd & Houghton (m. Maria Otis, 1838; Harriet Otis, 1844).

7. Daniel Clay Houghton (1815-1860): held degrees from the University of Vermont (1840) and Wesleyan (1843); Presbyterian clergyman, settled in Brooklyn (m. Rosanna Corliss, 1840; Juliana Alton, 1842).

8. Justin Houghton (1817-1844): married Mary Pardee, ca. 1841; settled in Alabama.

9. Martha Maria Houghton Hancock (1819-1851): married Joseph W. Hancock, a teacher, in 1846, and settled in Saratoga Springs, New York. Left for missionary work among the Sioux, 1849.

10. Henry Oscar Houghton (1823-1895): born on 30 April 1823 in Sutton, Caledonia County, Vermont. At age 13 he began an apprenticeship at the Burlington Free Press, where his older brother Daniel was then working. Entered the University of Vermont in 1842 and graduated in 1846. He subsequently found work in Boston in the printing trade, as a compositor with S. N. Dickinson and as a proofreader with Freeman & Bolles. Over the period 1849-1852, with capital borrowed mainly from family members, he bought our Freeman and Bolles, establishing the printing house H. O. Haughton and Company, whose facility in Cambridge became known as the Riverside Press. Over the course of the 1850s the firm prospered, most notably through an annually renewed contract with the publisher Little, Brown. The cancellation of this contract led Houghton into the publishing business, as partner in the firms Hurd & Houghton (1864), Houghton, Osgood & Co. (1878), and Houghton, Mifflin & Co. (1880). Houghton's firms published the Atlantic Monthly for more than 20 years, and he held the copyrights (and stereotype plates) for the works of the major New England authors. Houghton Mifflin was incorporated in 1908, 13 years after H. O. Houghton's death.

11. Marilla Houghton Gallup (1825-1894): graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, 1846; served as an educator at several female seminaries before founding, with her husband Dr. John Chester Gallup (m. 1858), Houghton Seminary at Clinton, New York (1861).


.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



A group of 76 letters written by or to members of the William and Marilla Clay Houghton family of Vermont, Massachusetts, Alabama, and elsewhere, 1832-1850. Included are 43 letters directed to printer/publisher Henry Oscar Houghton, when the latter was in his teens and 20s.


The collection consists of one series, Letters. Materials are arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Zoe Thrumston
August 2009
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556