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Gillett Family Papers, 1848-circa 1920
2 archives boxes; 2 flat boxes (1.5 linear ft.)

Scrapbook, journal, herbarium, photographs and college notebooks of various members of the Gillett family, many members of which attended Amherst College: Edward Bates Gillett (AC 1839), Frederick Huntington Gillett (AC 1874), Arthur Lincoln Gillett (AC 1880), and Robert Swift Gillett (AC 1916). The herbarium is believed to have been kept by Lucy Douglass Fowler Gillett.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the Gillett Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from Gillett Family Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Amherst, MA

Biographical Note

Edward Bates Gillett (1817-1890) graduated from Amherst in 1839 and from Harvard Law School in 1841. He was the District Attorney for Hamden and Berkshire Counties from 1856 to 1871, during which time his eloquence in the courtroom became the stuff of legend. Two famous cases he tried, the Starkweather libel suit and the prosecution of "the Northampton Bank Robbers," got state- and even nation-wide attention and he was pressed to run for governor of Massachusetts but declined. He was badly injured in a carriage accident during the Northampton Bank robbery case, in 1877, and never fully recovered. He was awarded an honorary LL.D. from Amherst in 1885. Edward Bates Gillett was chosen by Sophia Smith as one of the first Trustees as well as the Vice-President (1871-1890) of Smith College and served as a trustee of Amherst College and the Hartford Theological Seminary. He married Lucy D. Fowler in 1848 and was survived by three children: Frederick, Arthur, and Lucy Douglass Gillett.

Lucy Douglass Fowler Gillett (1830-?), mother of Frederick Huntington Gillett and Arthur Lincoln Gillett, married Edward Bates Gillett on November 1, 1848.

Frederick Huntington Gillett (1851-1935), son of Edward Gillett (AC 1839) was a member of the Amherst College Class of 1874. He received an M.A. from Amherst College in 1877 and an LL.B. from Harvard University in the same year. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1877, practiced law in Springfield Mass., 1877-1893, and served as assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts, 1879-1882. He was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, 1890-1891; a U.S. Congressman, 1893-1925 (Speaker of the House, 1919-1925); and a U.S. Senator, 1925-1931.

Arthur Lincoln Gillett (1859-1938), son of Edward Bates Gillett (AC 1839), graduated with a B.A. from Amherst in 1880. He returned to Amherst after four years of study at the Hartford Seminary to receive his M.A. in 1884 and his D.D. in 1901. He was an eminent theologian who spent many years as the chair of the department of religion and philosophy at the Hartford Theological Seminary. Arthur Lincoln Gillett was a trustee of Amherst and Smith Colleges.

Robert Swift Gillett (1895-1918), son of Arthur Gillett, graduated from Amherst in 1916 and enrolled in Harvard Law School. When the United States entered the war, he enlisted. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant at Plattsburg, N.Y. Subsequently, he made 1st Lieutenant and was assigned to aviation services. During an observation trip to Kingsville, Texas, he was killed in a plane accident on September 17, 1918.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection consists of a scrapbook composed of chronologically jumbled newspaper clippings (circa 1867-1890); Edward Bates Gillett's undated journal and Lucy Douglass Fowler Gillett's herbarium; 12 notebooks, circa 1910-1924, containing notes taken by Frederick Huntington Gillett from Amherst classes in Latin, history, political science and religion, and one notebook serving as his commonplace book; two journals chronicling Robert Swift Gillett's 1915 and 1916 summer military training; and, photographs of Edward Bates Gillett, Lucy Douglass Fowler Gillett, Frederick Huntington Gillett, Arthur Lincoln Gillett and Robert Swift Gillett, singly and in groups.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the Gillett Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from Gillett Family Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

[Identification of item], in Gillett Family Papers [Box #, folder #], Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library

History of the Collection

Accession numbers: 86-101; 2003-271

Processing Information

Processed by David Schaich in November 2003; reprocessed in November 2009 by John Emil Vincent, with the addition of newly acquired material.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Phone: (413) 542-2299
Fax: (413) 542-2692

Email Reference Form:

Contents List
Series 1: Scrapbook,
circa 1867-1890

Scrapbook (53 pp.) bearing the label "Edward Bates Gillett and Family," containing newspaper clippings. The clippings include marriage notices, obituaries for family friends, and memorial poems, but largely follow the careers and accomplishments of Edward Bates Gillett, Frederick Huntington Gillett and Arthur Lincoln Gillett. The bulk covers Edward Bates Gillett's legal career. Highlights are local and regional coverage of Edward Bates Gillett's high-profile 1876 defense of The Republican against charges of libel by Dr. Starkweather and Edward Bates Gillett's prosecution of the infamous 1877 Northampton Bankrobbers. The clippings also include coverage of encouragement of Edward Bates Gillett to run for governor of Massachusetts after the 1877 case. Also included are Frederick Huntington Gillett's "Junior Prize Composition" winning essays "The Brutus of Shakespeare," and "Emulation," likely published in the Amherst Student. There are several announcements about Arthur Lincoln Gillett's preaching engagements and involvement in local education. Many of the clippings are undated, and late in the scrapbook, many are clearly misdated (for instance, dating coverage of Edward Bates Gillett's activities after his death).
circa 1867-1890

Box 1: folder 1
Series 2: Edward Bates Gillett Journal,

Edward Bates Gillett's Journal is labeled "Records" on the spine and can be secured by a lock. It contains many fragments of speeches, some broken off abruptly, and all written in a very difficult to decipher hand. There are numerous loose pieces of note paper with fragments covering them tucked into the Journal, several of these notes are scrawled on "United States Hotel, Boston" stationery. Several small newspaper clippings are also tucked into the spine. They are undated and unattributed anecdotes of various sorts, likely saved for use in oratory.<lb /><lb />A note from "L.D.B.," Edward Bates Gillett's daughter, is tucked inside the front cover. It reads: "My father Edward Bates Gillett was often called upon to make an address before large or small groups-in church, colleges, public assemblings. He never wrote out a speech but made preparations chiefly while walking back + forth in the house or street-I know he often carefully prepared illustrations. [Paragraph break.] Evidently he used this book as a treasure house of suggestion. [Paragraph break.] If he could only have used a type writer [sic] these pages would be interesting to read! [Signed.] L.D.B. April 1941 [With additional note:] I wish I knew where this book was stashed."

Box 1: folder 2
Series 3: Lucy Douglass Fowler Gillett Herbarium,
bulk 1848

The herbarium contains heavyweight and variously colored and textured paper, some with various types of embossed frames. The first half of the herbarium consists of unlabelled samples, often simply pressed on the page or affixed to separate pieces of paper and then glued into the album. Many of these are very handsome and well-preserved. The first labeled (though unnamed) and mounted (by use of tabs likely cut by a pen-knife) sample is titled "From the Patent Office garden / Washington. June, 1848." The samples are of four types, unlabeled, labeled by name, labeled by site of collection, or labeled by name and site. Lucy Douglass Fowler Gillett doesn't have too much interest in typing the samples. Though there is no direct attribution, one sample is labeled, "From a Bouquet presented on my 18th birth day - Feb 18th, 1848." This is the year of Edward Bates Gillett's marriage to Lucy Fowler, when he was already 31.
circa 1848

Box 1: folder 3
Series 4: Frederick Huntington Gillett Amherst Notebooks,

A 5x7 1/2" black, soft-cover notebook dated "March '74" on the inside cover containing Frederick Huntington Gillett's notes for a class "European Progress, 1500-1800." Inside the front cover there is a loose, handwritten editorial for The Amherst Student about the choice not to row in Saratoga as "expedient" rather than "principled."

Box 2: folder 1
A purple, hardbound, 7X8 notebook containing notes on 17 lectures and titled "Lectures on The Hebrew Theocracy."
circa 1872

Box 2: folder 2
A green, hardbound, 7 1/4X8 1/2 notebook with notes running from the front of the book from Prof. Mather's February to March 1871 lectures on Greek Writers and Playwrights and from the back from Professor Crowell's 1871 course in Latin Literature.

Box 2: folder 3
A dappled, hardbound, 7x8 1/4 notebook containing notes from reading and lectures for a class on "European History (to the Reformation)" dated April 16, 1874 to June 5, 1874. The notebook is full from beginning to end, recto and verso.

Box 2: folder 4
A dappled, hardbound, 7X8 1/4 notebook dated September 25, 1873 to circa March 1874 containing notes from "Lectures in History and Political Science by Prof. Burgess."

Box 2: folder 5
A hardbound, 7X8 notebook dated "April '73" containing notes on "Lectures by Prof. Tyler" on Greek Epic.

Box 2: folder 6
A hardbound, vertical, 7X4 notebook dated "April '72" containing notes for a Chemistry class with Professor Harris.

Box 2: folder 7
A hardbound, vertical, 7X4 notebook dated September 30, 1872 containing notes from Professor Ty's lectures in Greek history.

Box 2: folder 8
A hardbound, vertical, 7X4 notebook dated September 1873 with notes from "Lectures on History and Political Science by Prof. J. W. Burgess."

Box 2: folder 9
A hardbound, horizontal, 7X4 ledger-type notebook dated December, 1873, containing notes on "Lectures on History & Political Science, Prof. Burgess, Commenced Fall term '73."

Box 2: folder 10
A hardbound, vertical, 7X4 notebook titled "Lectures by Prof. Stearns" containing notes on Religion taken between January 14, 1874 and February 5, 1874.

Box 2: folder 11
A hardbound, vertical, 7X4 notebook beginning with some notes on proper grammar and continuing, undated, with notes on Contemporary European History.

Box 2: folder 12
Series 5: Frederick Huntington Gillett Commonplace book,
circa 1910-1924

A hardbound, black, 7X8 1/4 notebook containing, from the front, notes and bon mots that merge into a journal on p. 27 where Frederick Huntington Gillett dates his first entry, a five line piece of doggerel, July 1915. The journal makes big temporal jumps between entries. There are two from 1915, two from 1922, and several from 1924. An entry dated November 1922 describes a conversation with President Harding about his being asked to appoint a Catholic to "the Supreme bench." Starting from the back there is a small collection of quotations, many about politics. Some of the unattributed notes seem like personal anecdotes or verbal inventions.
circa 1910-1924

Box 2: folder 13
Series 6: Robert Swift Gillett Journals
Summer 1915 and Summer 1916

A soft-bound, 5X7 7 3/4, notebook labeled "Summer of 1915-Tacoma, Concrete, Marblemount, Ruby Creek, Rolland Ranch, Boundary Station, Beaver Creek, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco." It contains a very detailed account of nearly each day of Robert Swift Gillett's military training.

Box 2: folder 14
A soft-bound, 5X7 3/4, notebook labeled "Summer of '16-Plattsburg Training Camp." Inside the front cover, it details the locations and dates of the later Summer for Squad 11: "July 11-Aug 9 Hartford/ Greensboro Aug 15-25/ Penobscot Aug 26-Sept 10th." The notebook includes records of target practice accuracy, letters sent and received, &c, followed by a diary titled "Continued," and starting on July 11, 1916. The first half of the diary is not included in this collection. The diary is a nearly daily account of Robert Swift Gillett's activities. Often Robert Swift Gillett addresses "M," who provides some drama in the otherwise flat narrative, as Robert Swift Gillett's friend Buddie has announced his unique love of "M."

Box 2: folder 15
Series 7: Photographs,

Photographs of Edward Bates Gillett. Two 1862, 2 1/2X4 studio photographs. Two undated 4X6 photographs of Edward Bates Gillett in later life, likely in the early 1870s. One color copy of Edward Bates Gillett, likely in the later 1870s. One 5X7 of Lucy Douglass Fowler Gillett, Edward Bates Gillett and "probably Grandson Robert S. Gillett, Mary's father." Also one 4 1/2X6 matted reproduction of a painting, which appears to represent a fable-an old woman holding an hourglass next to a young woman playing a fiddle.

Box 2: folder 16
Photographs of Frederick Huntington Gillett. The folder includes an early undated 2 1/2X4 portrait, a 4X6 portrait dated 1884, a 4X6 portrait with "Senator Frederick Huntington Gillett" written on the back but unlikely to have been taken during the period when Frederick Huntington Gillett was a Senator because he appears too young, and a 4X6 of an older Frederick Huntington Gillett.

Box 2: folder 17
Photographs of Arthur Lincoln Gillett. The folder includes three photos of Arthur Lincoln Gillett, one 4X6 of him as a student, one 4X6 of him labeled "Pastor Arthur Lincoln Gillett," and one 4X6 from late in his teaching career, which bears a remarkable resemblance to the final photograph in the folder: a photograph of a portrait of Arthur Lincoln Gillett in professorial regalia.
circa 1860-1930

Box 2: folder 18
Photographs of Robert Swift Gillett. The folder includes two 4X4 1/2 color copies of undated snapshots of Robert Swift Gillett. It also includes two studio photos, one 3X5 photo inscribed, "To Grandma With lots of love from, Bob / October 13, 1911" and a 4X7 that appears to have been taken slightly later, perhaps during college.
circa 1911-1916

Box 2: folder 19
One 10X13 photograph labeled "Amherst June 28, 1887" at what looks like a reunion. There is a map of the locations of Edward Bates Gillett, Frederick Huntington Gillett, and Arthur Lincoln Gillett on the back.

Map case 4, drawer 9

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Gillett, Arthur L.
  • Gillett, Edward Bates
  • Gillett, Frederick Huntington, 1851-1935.
  • Gillett, Lucy Douglass Fowler
  • Gillett, Robert Swift

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