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Cooper-Frost-Austin family papers


The Cooper-Frost-Austin family papers (MS039) contain material which reflects the personal, social, and professional life and work of the Cooper, Frost, and Austin families who inhabited the house built by Samuel Cooper (1653/54-1718) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The majority of the collection focuses on Gideon Frost (1724-1803); his great-granddaughter, Susan S. Austin (c. 1807-1885); and her husband, Richard Thomas Austin [formerly Reuben Seiders] (1809-1847). The collection is arranged in four series.


In 1913, Historic New England purchased the Cooper-Frost-Austin House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Martha (Frost) Kuhn. The papers within the house at the time of purchase formed the bases of the collection: Cooper-Frost-Austin manuscript collection (now MS039).

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 Cooper-Frost-Austin family papers (MS039) were part of the grant project.

Prior to the 2013-2014 collection processing, the Cooper-Frost-Austin manuscript collection (now MS039) was comprised of one file box (approx. 0.42 linear ft.). The contents of the file box were arranged in four large folders noted as: correspondence, deeds, probate records, and miscellaneous. During processing, most of the folder headings were maintained as series titles and the contents were divided into folders accordingly (appropriate headings and folder titles were supplied, 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
Cooper-Frost-Austin family papers
Collection Code
1718-1886, undated
Correspondence; deeds; estate inventories; financial records; indentures; memorabilia; memoranda; printed material; probate records; site plans; wills; oversize material; etc.; reflecting the personal, social, and professional life and work of the Cooper, Frost, and Austin families (descendant from John Cooper, ca.1617-1691) of Cambridge, Massachusetts.\n \n
Acquisition Type
Date of Acquisition
Physical Description
Family papers: 0.83 linear ft. (2 file boxes) plus 1 oversize folder
Finding Aid Info
An electric finding aid is available through Historic new England's Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library and Archives.

Collection Type
Description Level
Custodial History
·1913 (May 16) - Purchase of Cooper-Frost-Austin House, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and all its contents from Martha (Frost) Kuhn of Boston, Massachusetts
·Undated - Gift of Eleanor (Clarke) Bowser (died 1975) of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts [papers: Cooper, Frost, and Austin families]

Credit Line
Gift of Eleanor (Clarke) Bowser, undated
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

Around 1657, John Cooper (c.1617-1691) and his family immigrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts from Suffolk, England. On December 15, 1657, he was sworn in as a selectman of Cambridge, Massachusetts; he also served as a deacon at the First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1668 to 1691. John Cooper's eldest son, Samuel (1653/54-1718), also became a deacon of First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he served from 1705 to 1718; he was also a town selectman from 1704 to 1716. In 1681, Samuel Cooper (1653/54-1718) built the house now known as the Cooper-Frost-Austin House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on land granted to him by his father. The Cooper and Frost families established strong ties through marriage: two of Samuel Cooper's daughters, Hannah and Sarah, married brothers Edmund and Ephraim Frost, respectively. When Samuel Cooper died on January 8, 1718, he bequeathed a third of the property to his widow Hannah (Hastings) Cooper (1665-1732) and the remainder to his son, Walter Cooper (1696-1751). On January 1, 1722, Walter Cooper married Martha (Goddard) Cooper (c.1703-1768). His will, dated September 18, 1751, directed that his wife, Martha, “should have the West half of the Dwelling house and the liberty of ovens on t'other room” and that his son Walter Cooper, Jr. (c.1729-1756) have the “East half of my dwelling house and the New shingles to repair it” together with the western half at Martha's death. The house descended through the Cooper family until 1788 by a complicated set of property conveyances, until it was sold to Gideon Frost (1724-1803), a grandson of Samuel Cooper (1653/54-1718). Gideon was the son of Edmund Frost (1679/80-1752) and Samuel Cooper's daughter, Hannah (Cooper) Frost (1683-1767). This transaction transferred the house to a different family, but one with strong connections to the Coopers.

Gideon Frost (1724-1803), himself a selectman and a church deacon, left the house to his son William Frost (1774-1832). In 1805, William equally divided the house between his two daughters, Martha (Frost) Austin (1769-1838) and Sarah Frost (1754-1821). On March 22, 1807, Martha married Thomas Austin (died 1829) of Boston, Massachusetts. Later, Thomas bought the east half of the house from Sarah Frost as well as the barn and orchard for five hundred dollars. In 1837, Thomas and Martha (Frost) Austin's only child, Susan S. Austin (c.1807-1885), married Reuben Seiders (1809-1847), who had changed his name to Richard Thomas Austin. Richard (formerly Reuben) was a minister; he had graduated from Bowdoin College in 1831 and Harvard Divinity School in 1847. Susan S. Austin died in 1885, leaving the house to a distant relative, Martha (Frost) Kuhn of Boston, Massachusetts, a granddaughter of Gideon Frost (1724-1803).

Material within MS039 "Cooper-Frost-Austin House History," Historic New England, last modified 2014, Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 ( Lucius R. Paige, History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877: with a genealogical register, 1877 Norman Seaver Frost, Frost Genealogy in Five Families (West Newton, Mass.: Frost Family Association of America, 1926) Myron O. Stachiw, "Cultural Change in Cambridge: Cooper-Frost-Austin House and its Occupants" Old-Time New England Vol. LXX, Ser. 257 (1980) Cooper-Frost Austin Research Files


The collection is arranged in four series: Series I. Correspondence. Series II. Deeds and site plans. Series III. Probate records. Series IV. Other family papers.

*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

Bowser, Eleanor Clarke, d. 1975 (Donor)
Other People
Austin, Agnes
Austin, Martha (Frost), 1769-1838
Austin, Richard Thomas, 1809-1847
Austin, Susan S., ca. 1807-1885
Austin, Thomas, d. 1829
Bowser, Eleanor (Clarke), d. 1975
Bowser, Henry Reed
Bowser, Nathaniel
Bowser, Noah
Bowser, Samuel
Clarke, George Kuhn
Clarke, Martha Anne (Kuhn), 1827-1891
Cooper, Hannah (Hastings), 1665-1732
Cooper, John, ca. 1617-1691
Cooper, Jonathan, 1707/8-1766
Cooper, Martha (Goddard), ca.1703-1763
Cooper, Samuel, 1653/54-1717/18
Cooper, Walter, 1696-1751
Cooper, Walter, Jr., ca. 1729-1756
Frost, Abigail
Frost, Edmund, 1679/80-1752
Frost, Ephraim
Frost, Gideon, 1724-1803
Frost, Hannah (Cooper), 1683-1767
Frost, Henrietta
Frost, Lucy (Adams), ca.1773-1809
Frost, Sarah (Cooper)
Frost, Sarah, 1754-1821
Frost, Walter, 1766-1818
Frost, William, 1774-1832
Kuhn, Austin, 1824-1844
Kuhn, George Horatio, 1795-1879
Kuhn, Martha (Frost), 1799-1872
Quincy, Josiah, 1772-1864
Seiders, Reuben, 1809-1847
Other Organizations
Bowdoin College
Cambridge Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Cambridge, Mass.)
First Parish (Cambridge, Mass.)
Harvard Divinity School
Harvard University
Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, Mass.)
Union Bank (Boston, Mass.)
Vermont Central Railroad Company
Descriptive Terms
New Year's Day
burial records
estate inventories
financial records
insurance policies
legal documents
probate records
real estate
receipts (financial records)
site plans
stock certificates
tax records
Material Type
family papers
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Cambridge (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Concord (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Somerville (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Woburn (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Charlestown (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Leominster (Worcester county, Massachusetts)
Portsmouth (Rockingham county, New Hampshire)
Kensington (Rockingham county, New Hampshire)
New York City (New York state)
Wellesley (Norfolk county, Massachusetts)
Places (Buildings)
Cooper-Frost-Austin House (Cambridge, Mass.)
This collection is available for research. Unrestricted except for #1.9, 1.11, 1.13, 2.1, 2.8, and 2.15, which contain fragile material and require handling by Library and Archives staff only. Note: due to aging materials and condition of the materials, the whole of the collection requires handling with care.

Location Note
HGO-02-105-A-E-205; 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.] Cooper-Frost-Austin family papers (MS039). Historic New England, Library and Archives.

Processing Information
·2014 January: Originally processed by Bridgette A. Woodall, project archivist; with assistance from Megan E. Gallagher, volunteer; and Jennifer Pustz, museum historian

Rules and Conventions
Finding aid is DACS-compliant.

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