Collection Type

  • Manuscripts


predominant 1845-1939

Location Note




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Series I, Correspondence, 1820-c.2000, undated (bulk, 1845-1939) (#1.1-1.26, 3.9), contains correspondence received by individual members of the Lyman family of Boston and Waltham, Massachusetts, and includes letters, related envelopes, works of poetry, oversize material, etc. The letters focus on such topics as family and friends; holidays; social occasions; the family properties in Boston, Massachusetts; the family estate, the Vale (also, the Lyman Estate), in Waltham, Massachusetts; and other family related affairs. The majority of the correspondence belongs to Alice (Lyman) Pepper (1852-1935). Also included in the series is an 1840 unidentified poem (#1.5); a collection of letters from Charles William Eliot (1834-1926), president of Harvard University (1869-1909) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Susan (Cabot) Lyman (1864-1951) (#1.12); dried flowers accompanying a letter from Elizabeth Gray Lyman (1858-1946) to her sister, Alice (Lyman) Pepper (1852-1935) (#1.19); and a ca.2000 Boston lawyer's business card (#1.25). The series is arranged alphabetically by surname of the recipient, and thereunder chronologically; when applicable, women are identified by married name.


Descriptive Terms


Physical Description

Correspondence (2 file boxes)

Collection Code


Collection Name

Lyman family papers

Date of Acquisition


Reference Code


Date Notes

1820-ca.2000, undated

Credit Line

Gift of Martha Miller, 1988

Record Details

Material Type


Description Level


Location Note


Historical/Biographical Note

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 (also, 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 cousin, 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 http://authorities.loc.gov/; "Lyman Estate History," Historic New England, last modified 2014, http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/lyman-estate/lyman-estate-history.