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Lyman family papers

MS017 (RS17536)


The Lyman family papers (MS017) reflect the personal, social, and professional life and work, of the Lyman family of Boston and Waltham, Massachusetts. Most of the collection is comprised of personal and business correspondence; bills and receipts; genealogical material; estate inventories; and trust fund papers. The collection is arranged in three series.


In 1951, Historic New England received the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, as a gift from the children of Arthur and Susan Cabot Lyman. A later gift, in 1988, from Martha Miller, formed the bases of the collection: Lyman family papers (now MS017).

Update: 2013-2014

In 2013-2014, through a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13: "Family Manuscript Collections: Expanding Online Access to New England Heritage Project"), twenty-six Historic New England manuscript collections of family papers were re-evaluated and processed/reprocessed to meet current archival standards and "best practices;" corresponding finding aids were created/updated to be DACS-compliant and converted into electronic Microsoft Word document form; and the finding aids were made accessible/searchable online through the use of the Minisis M2A archival database of the Minisis Collections Management System. The Lyman family papers (MS017) were part of the grant project.

Prior to the 2013-2014 collection processing, the Lyman family papers (MS017) comprised two file boxes (approx. 0.83 linear ft.), which contained correspondence and related envelopes; an account log; bills, receipts, and other financial records; genealogical material; trust fund material; material related to the Lyman family estate, the Vale; and other Lyman family papers. During processing, the collection was arranged according to record type; most of the original folder titles were maintained (appropriate headings and folder titles were supplied, as applicable); related folders were combined or rearranged, as applicable; and brief research was engaged to create a biographical/ historical sketch and genealogy. Preservation issues were identified and basic preservation methods were applied, as applicable; papers throughout the collection were removed from envelopes (if applicable), unfolded, flattened, and related pages were noted with corresponding information in brackets ([x-1/3], [x-2/3], [x-3/3]; and oversize material was rehoused appropriately (or materials were interleafed within file boxes), as applicable. The collection was rehoused (in acid-free folders and boxes), numbered, labeled, barcoded, and stored accordingly; subsequent accessions were tracked and noted with their corresponding items; and related collections held by Historic New England and other repositories were researched and noted. A DACS-compliant, electronic 2010-2013 Microsoft Word document finding aid was created (with corresponding paper finding aid) and entered into the collection record in the Minisis M2A online database.

NOTE: Processing/updating the collection and making the finding aid accessible online were made possible through grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13), the Bedford Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor.


Collection Name
Lyman family papers
Collection Code
1818-2000, undated, predominant 1818-1939
Biographical and genealogical material; correspondence; financial records; an estate inventory; photographs; a house plan; works of poetry; trust fund material; clippings; dried flowers; oversize material; and related; reflecting the personal, social, and professional life and work of the Lyman family of Boston and Waltham, Massachusetts.
Acquisition Type
Date of Acquisition
Physical Description
Family papers: 1.04 linear ft. (2 file boxes, 1 half-file box) plus 3 oversize folders
Finding Aid Info
An electronic finding aid is available through Historic New England's Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library & Archives.

Collection Type
Description Level
Custodial History
Accessions:·1951 - Acquisition of the Lyman Estate, Waltham, Massachusetts; Gift of the children of Arthur and Susan Lyman·1988 - Gift of Martha Miller [Lyman family papers]·2013 - Purchased from eBay, Incorporated [letters: Theodore Lyman (1753-1839) to his ship builders, 1831-1834] (#3.9)
Credit Line
Gift of Martha Miller, 1988
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

In 1631, Richard Lyman (c.1580-1640) arrived in America with his wife Sarah (Osbourne) Lyman (died 1640) and their family. The Lymans settled first in Charlestown and Roxbury, Massachusetts, and later became proprietors of Hartford, Connecticut. After Richard Lyman's death, his son John (1623-1690) (from whom Historic New England's Lymans descend) moved to Northampton, Massachusetts. John's great grandson, Isaac Lyman, was born in 1725 in Northampton, Massachusetts. Isaac presided over a parish in York, Maine. In 1750, Isaac married Ruth Plummer (1730-1824); they had nine children. Theodore Lyman (1753-1839), son of Isaac and Ruth (Plummer) Lyman, worked as a clerk for Waldo Emerson, a store owner in Kennebunk, Maine. In 1776, he married Emerson's daughter, Sarah (1762-1784). After inheriting his father-in-law's fortune, Theodore commissioned the building of ships for his own use in the West India Trade and he built a mansion in Maine. In 1786, two years after Sarah's death, Theodore Lyman (1753-1839) married Lydia Pickering Williams (1763-1826) of Salem, Massachusetts. The Lymans lived in Kennebunk, Maine, for two years, and then established a residence in Boston on Bowdoin Square/ Tremont Street at Southack's Court (later Howard Street). Theodore continued his involvement with the West India Trade and had several ships built by John Bourn (dates unknown). In 1793, Theodore commissioned architect, Samuel McIntire (1757-1811) of Salem, Massachusetts, to design a country estate. Known as the Vale (now the Lyman Estate), the estate was comprised of 450 acres, which Theodore had purchased in Waltham, Massachusetts. Following Theodore's death in 1839, the property was inherited by his eldest son, George Williams Lyman (1786-1880). After graduating from Harvard in 1806, George continued in the shipping business, trading in China and Europe. He also invested in textile mills in Waltham, Lowell, Lawrence, and Holyoke, Massachusetts; served as a director ofthe Boston and Lowell Railroad; was director of the Columbian Bank; president of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company; and president of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture. In 1810, he married Elizabeth Gray Otis (1791-1824), the eldest daughter of Harrison Gray and Sally Foster Otis (for whom Historic New England's Otis House was built). Three years after Elizabeth's death, he married his mother's niece, Anne Pratt (1798-1875). Arthur Theodore Lyman (1832-1915), son of George Williams and Anne (Pratt) Lyman, purchased his father's estate in 1880 from his half-brother, George Theodore Lyman (1821-1908) and other surviving heirs. Arthur trained as a lawyer but continued working in the textile industry in Lowell, Lawrence, and other nearby communities. He also held many notable positions on manufacturing, commercial, and institutional boards. In 1858, he married Ella Bancroft Lowell (1837-1894); they had six children. Following Arthur's death in 1915, his son, Arthur Theodore Lyman, Jr. (1861-1933) and his wife, Susan (Cabot) Lyman (1864-1951) inherited the estate. Arthur, Jr., held positions as director and officer of textile manufacturing companies, as well as the Massachusetts Life Insurance Company. He also served on the boards of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Waltham Hospital; was president of the Democratic Club of Massachusetts; chairman of the State Democratic Committee; director of finance for the Massachusetts branch of the National Democratic Committee; chair of the Board of License Commissioners in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1894; and mayor of Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1896. Arthur and Susan were the last Lyman family members to reside at the Vale, in Waltham, Massachusetts.

*Sources: Material within MS017; Lyman Estate Research Files; Library of Congress. Library of Congress Authorities. Retrieved from; "Lyman Estate History," Historic New England, last modified 2014, http://www.hi

Material within MS017 Lyman Estate Research Files Library of Congress. Library of Congress Authorities. Retrieved from "Lyman Estate History," Historic New England, last modified 2014, Lyman Coleman, Genealogy of the Lyman Family in Great Britain and America (Albany, 1872)

Material in other collections

Lyman family papers, 1785-1956; (bulk: 1805-1900), Ms. N-1609, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ella Lyman Cabot papers, 1855-1934, A-139, the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


The collection is arranged in three series: I. Correspondence. II. Financial records. III. Genealogical material, estate records, and related.

*Collection housing/storage code: #x.x=file box (i.e., #1.2= file box 1, folder 2); C=carton; FB=folio box; FF=fragile files; MB=multi-purpose box; OB=oversize box/folder; OV=oversize volume; VF=vertical files/flat files

Record details

Lyman family
Other People
Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848
Appleton, James Amory
Bourne, John
Cabot, Ella Lyman
Dennis, Frank
Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926
Eliot, Grace (Hopkinson)
Eliot, Mary (Lyman), 1802-1875
Emerson, Waldo
Endicott, William, II
Kimball, Fiske, 1888-1955
Lyman, Anne (Pratt), 1798-1875
Lyman, Arthur T. (Arthur Theodore), 1832-1915
Lyman, Arthur T. (Arthur Theodore), Jr., 1861-1933
Lyman, Arthur Theodore, III, 1894-1968
Lyman, Charles, 1850-1905
Lyman, Ella (Ella Bancroft Lowell), 1837-1894
Lyman, Frank M., 1849-1868
Lyman, George Gray, 1846-1883
Lyman, George Theodore, 1821-1908
Lyman, George Williams, 1786-1880
Lyman, J. O. (James Otis), 1847-1881
Lyman, Richard, 1580-approximately 1640
Lyman, Sally (Otis), 1825-1894
Lyman, Susan Channing (Cabot), 1864-1951
Lyman, Theodore, 1753-1839
McIntire, Samuel, 1757-1811
Meredith, Elizabeth Gray (Lyman), 1858-1946
Miller, Martha Otis (Stengel), 1912-
Munroe, Bethiah, d. ca. 1859
Otis, Elizabeth Henderson (Boardman), 1796-1873
Otis, Harrison Gray, 1765-1848
Otis, James
Otis, Martha (Church)
Paine, Robert Treat, 1835-1910
Pepper, Alice (Lyman), 1852-1935
Post, Abby
Sears, Philip Howes, 1822-1898
Sears, Sarah Pratt (Lyman), 1835-1911
Other Organizations
Archaeological Institute of America. Committee on Colonial and National Art
First Parish in Waltham (Unitarian) (Waltham, Mass.)
Harvard University
Instructive District Nursing Association (Boston, Mass.)
King's Chapel (Boston, Mass.)
Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company
Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture
Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, Mass.)
Mrs. Arthur T. Lyman Fund
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Descriptive Terms
account books
bills of lading
bills of sale
black-and-white photographs
burial records
business letters
clippings (information artifacts)
country houses
deed registers
estate inventories
financial records
flower gardens
foundations (organizations)
letters (correspondence)
letters of recommendation
personal correspondence
real estate
registrations (licenses)
site plans
tax records
Material Type
family papers
Historic New England properties
Waltham (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Cambridge (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Kennebunk (York county, Maine)
Northampton (Hampshire County, Massachusetts)
Salem (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
York county (Maine) [county]
Places (Buildings)
Lyman Estate (Waltham, Mass.)
·This collection is available for research.
·Unrestricted except for #2.2 and OB.3.2, which require handling with care; and #1.17, which contains fragile material and requires handling by Library and Archives staff only.
·Allergy note: #1.19 contains dried flowers.
Location Note
HGO-02-105-A-E-305; HGO-02-105-A-E-106; HGO-02-105-A-E-105
Accruals Note
Accruals are not expected.
Conservation Note
See Scope and Content note.
Language Note
Materials in English.
Preferred Citation
[Item identification.] Lyman family papers (MS017). Historic New England, Library and Archives.
Processing Information
·2013 November: Originally processed by Megan E. Gallagher, intern; under the supervision of Bridgette A. Woodall, project archivist; and with assistance from Jennifer Pustz, museum historian

Rules and Conventions
Finding aid is DACS-compliant.

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