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Horsford Family papers

Identifier: MC 5

Scope and Contents

The Horsford Family papers (MC 05) comprises a collection of papers created by various members of the Horsford, Gardiner, and L’Hommedieu families spanning more than two centuries. The central collection is that of Eben Norton Horsford (1818-1893), Rumford Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University (1847-1863), co-founder of Rumford Chemical Works and expert on the chemistry of foods. The bulk of this collection comprises correspondence and scientific writings created during the course of his career from 1846 to 1893. The correspondence details personal and professional matters and includes extensive communication with Horsford’s colleagues in science and technology. Family letters provide an intimate view of nineteenth century life including health, medical treatment, domesticity, politics, religion, and travel. Major correspondents include: Edward Everett, James Hall, E. B. Hunt, John Newland, J. R. Nichols, Justus von Liebig and close family members. Letters regarding the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University, letters from George F. Wilson regarding the Rumford Chemical Works and letters from Phoebe Gardiner Horsford have been divided into sub-series. The scientific writings of Eben Norton Horsford include notes, reports, articles, manuscripts, addresses, experiments, and patents. The writings cover a wide array of professional interests including chemical analysis and manufacture, bread making, submarine design and army rations. Horsford’s research and writings regarding Norumbega (the Norse settlement in New England) have been subdivided. The collections of Mary Gardiner Horsford and Phoebe Gardiner Horsford consist mainly of correspondence with Eben Norton Horsford and close family members. Mary and Phoebe were sisters and first and second wives of Eben. Eben’s letters to his wives reveal his character, personality and ambition. Details regarding civil suits, patent applications, professional pursuits and travel can be found in this correspondence. Correspondence between Mary and Phoebe, their cousins and friends includes family news, medical treatments and details of fashion and society. Poems written by Mary and collected by Phoebe make up part of each series. Other family members’ material comprises correspondence, documents, photographs and objects. The papers of Mary Catherine L’Hommedieu and Samuel Gardiner contain material kept for estate matters and passed down from one generation to another. The papers of Lilian, Mary Katherine and Cornelia are primarily remnants of family correspondence and collected writings.


  • Created: 1681-1954
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1840-1893
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1966



32.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Horsford Family Papers comprises a collection of papers created by various members of the Horsford, Gardiner, and L’Hommedieu families.

Arrangement Note

Organized into fourteen series.

Related Materials

Rumford Chemical Works Papers (1855-1964), MC 77. Institute Archives and Special Collections, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.

Processing Information

Published volumes have been removed, cataloged individually and added to special collections.

Amy Rupert & Jes Zacher
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Institute Archives and Special Collections Repository

110 8th Street
Institute Archives and Special Collections
Rensselaer Libraries, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy NY 12180-3590 US
518 276 8340