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Green Family Papers

Identifier: MSN/EA 0508

Scope and Contents

The Green papers include more than 200 letters, as well as family records, journals, account books, and other manuscript material. There are also a few pieces of printed ephemera. The letters range in date from 1773 to 1885, but the greater number are personal letters written between the ten children of Dr. John Green and Mary Ruggles Green in the 1790s, 1800s, and 1810s. Series 1 includes 84 letters directed to William Elijah Green at Worcester, from eight of his brothers and sisters and, to a lesser extent, from members of the next generation of Greens (mostly nephews and nieces). There are also a few letters from acquaintances. Notable in this series is a group of 23 letters directed to William by Meltiah Green (1797-1802), in which the younger brother speaks of his developing career in trade and of life in New York and the Caribbean. Other correspondence contains personal news, commentary on the events of the day, and discussion of business and financial matters (including land speculation in the West and South). Series 2 includes 76 letters directed to William's sister Mary in Worcester (1800-1818); 45 of these were written by her younger sister Elizabeth in New York, speaking of personal, family, and social matters. Series 3 includes nine family letters to Timothy Green (1787-1804). Series 4 includes 38 miscellaneous letters, many directed to or written by the aforementioned Green siblings, but some dating from as late as the last quarter of the nineteenth century. There is also a letter of Dr. John Green, from 1773. Among the relatively small number of family records present in the collection are two copies of the will of this same John Green, and one copy of the will of his daughter Elizabeth. Most of Series 5 consists of family manuscript material dating from the 1870s well into the twentieth century. Most prevalent are items created by the two older children of Samuel and Margaret Green, Julia and Lucy; some of this is juvenilia. These materials include copybooks, short-entry journals, account books, and assorted memoranda. There is also a journal of Anna Harrington Green, the wife of Julia and Lucy's brother Nathan.


  • Creation: 1773-1937


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 forebears of the Green family members central to these papers came to Massachusetts Bay during the Great Migration of the 1630s. In 1757 Dr. John Green (1736-1799) built a house on 180 acres purchased by his father, on what would become known as Green Hill, northwest of the town of Worcester, Massachusetts. Over the subsequent century and a half Green Hill was developed by the family into a substantial estate. Andrew Haswell Green (1820-1903), for a time head of New York State's Central Park Commission, doubled the size of the property to almost 600 acres and transformed much of its farmland to cultivated parkland. Green Hill remained a family homestead until the sale of the mansion and most of its acreage to the city of Worcester in 1905, with the intent that it be turned into a public park.

Many of the earlier papers in the collection, dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, are letters written between the children of Dr. John Green and his second wife, Mary Ruggles Green (1740-1814). These ten siblings were all born at Green Hill, though many settled outside New England, most notably in New York and South Carolina. Many of the male members of the family attended Rhode Island College (Brown University); all went on to careers in medicine, the law, or trade, though many died at relatively young ages. They are:

1. Dr. John Green, Jr. (1763-1808), like his father a prominent physician, who lived and practiced in Worcester (m. Nancy Barber, 1783).

2. Timothy Green (1765-1813), a 1786 graduate of Rhode Island College, who practiced law in New York City (m. Mary Martin of Providence).

3. Samuel Green (1767-1837), who attended Rhode Island College and owned a general mercantile store in Columbia, South Carolina.

4. Dr. Elijah Dix Green (1769-1795), a 1793 graduate of Rhode Island College who briefly practiced medicine at Charleston, South Carolina.

5. Mary Green (1772-1824), who lived at Green Hill and then with her brother Samuel in Columbia, South Carolina; she never married.

6. Elizabeth (Betsey) Green (1774-1854), who also never married; she spent much of her life in New York.

7. William Elijah Green (1777-1865), a 1798 graduate of Rhode Island College who remained in Worcester as a practicing attorney; in 1812 he succeeded to ownership of the Green Hill house and property, and lived there for the remainder of his life.

8. Meltiah Green (1779-1809), who entered trade and settled in Jamaica before dying of yellow fever.

9. Bourne Green (1781-1806), also engaged in trade in the West Indies, who died at sea.

10. Isaac Green (1784-1807), who died while a student at Columbia College in New York.

There was also a half-brother, Rev. Thomas Green (1761-1814), the son of Dr. John Green and Green's first wife, Mary Osgood.

Many of the later (post-1850) papers in the collection relate to the children of Samuel Fisk Green (1822-1884) and Margaret Phelps Williams (m. 1862). Samuel Fisk Green was the eighth of William Elijah Green's eleven children. He was for many years a medical missionary in Ceylon, working among the Tamil. Following his marriage he and his wife lived at Green Hill. Their children are: Julia E. Green (b. 1864); Lucy Maria Green (b. 1865); Mary Ruggles Green (b. 1867); and Nathan Williams Green (b. 1871).


1.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Family correspondence and other manuscript materials of the influential Green family of Worcester, Massachusetts, and New York. Of the 200-odd letters in the collection, the greater number were written by and to the ten children of Dr. John Green and Mary Ruggles in the 1790s, 1800s, and 1810s.


The papers are arranged into five series, as follows: 1. Letters Written to William Elijah Green, 1797-1850; 2. Letters Written to Mary Green, 1800-1818; 3. Letters Written to Timothy Green, 1787-1804; 4. Miscellaneous Letters, 1773-1885; 5. Records and Miscellaneous Manuscripts.

Related Materials

Some 2200 lots of material preserved for generations by members of the Green family were sold at public auction in Worcester in September 2010, by R. W. Oliver's of Kennebunk, Maine. Among the active bidders at this sale was the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, who added to their holdings on the Green family with the acquisition of 30 lots, including many manuscripts of William Elijah Green. See also the Samuel Green Papers and the Green Family Papers at the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.

Green Family Papers
Mairead O'Malley
April 2014
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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