Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
Hudson Family Papers, 1807-1963
6 boxes (3 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 332

Papers from five generations of five New England families, principally the Hudson family (antislavery organizer and prosthetic physician Erasmus Darwin Hudson and thoracic physician and educator Erasmus Darwin Hudson, Junior). Includes journals, correspondence, account books, family records and writings, notes on branches of medicine, handwritten drafts of lectures, clippings, certificates, photographs, and printed materials. Also contains genealogies of the Hudson, Shaw, Clarke, Fowler, and Cooke families.

Terms of Access and Use:

The collection is open for research.

Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Biographical Note

Erasmus Darwin Hudson, Sr. (1806-1880), was an anti-slavery organizer, agent for the Connecticut and American Anti-Slavery Societies between 1838-1849, pioneer orthopedic surgeon, and inventor of prosthetic devices.

Born December 15, Torringford (now part of Torrington) CT, to Daniel Coe and Rhoda Fowler Hudson
Educated at Torringford Academy
1823-1827 Studied medicine with Dr. Remus M. Fowler, New Marlboro, MA; then at Berkshire Medical College (Pittsfield, MA), a branch of Williams College
1827 Received M.D. from Berkshire Medical College; member of Berkshire Historical Society; married Martha Turner, daughter of Deacon Isaac and Martha Humphrey Turner of Marlboro, MA
1828-1833 Private medical practice, Bloomfield, CT; member Hopkins Medical Association, Hartford County Medical Society, Connecticut Medical Society; physician and surgeon, Connecticut State Emigrant Hospital; temperance advocate and local leader in philanthropic work
1833-1837 Co-principal, with Rev. Epaphras Goodman, of Goodman and Hudson's Family Boarding School, Torringford, CT
1838-1839 Lecturing agent, Connecticut Anti-Slavery Society
1839-1850 General agent, American Anti-Slavery Society; circuit included in turn, Connecticut, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware; family relocated to Oberlin, OH, then to Northampton, MA
1850-1855 Orthopedic surgeon in private practice, Springfield, MA
1855-1880 Orthopedic surgeon in private practice, New York City
ca. 1861-1865 Commission from Surgeon General of United States Army for the care and treatment of wounded soldiers requiring amputation and resection at the military hospital at Central Park in New York City and other hospitals; invented orthopedic apparatus, and wrote related surgical reports to the United States Sanitary Commission.
1867 Received awards for orthopedic apparatus, Exposition Universelle, Paris, France
1872 European Tour
1876 Received awards for surgical apparatus, Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, PA
1880 Died of pneumonia December 31 in Riverside, Greenwich, CT

See Series 1, folder 5 for a bibliography of E.D. Hudson, Sr.'s published writings.

Erasmus Darwin Hudson, Jr. (1843-1887), was a thoracic physician and educator.

1843 Born November 10, Northampton, MA, to Erasmus Darwin, Sr. and Martha Turner Hudson
1855 Moved with family to New York City, attended public schools
1864 Graduated from College of the City of New York
1867 Received M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons
1867-1868 House surgeon, Bellevue Hospital, and private practice, New York City
1869-1870 Health Inspector, New York City
1870-1880 Attending physician, Bellevue Hospital, Trinity House, and Trinity Chapel Parish; professor, Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary; consultant to other physicians
1871 Married Laura Shaw, daughter of Dr. Samuel and Elizabeth Clarke Shaw of Plainfield, MA
1880-1887 Professor, New York Polyclinic; attending physician Bellevue and St. Elizabeth's Hospital, New York City; librarian and member of the Library Committee, New York Academy of Medicine; chairman, Ethics Committee, Medical Society of the County
1887 Died of pneumonia May 9 in New York City

See Series 2, folder 1 for bibliography of E.D. Hudson, Jr.'s published writings.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Hudson Family Papers (1807-1963) derive from five generations of five New England families. They include the Hudsons and those related to them by marriage: the Fowler, Shaw, Clarke, and Cooke families.

Of principal interest are the papers, 1809-1880, n.d., of Erasmus Darwin Hudson, Sr. (1806-1880) which document through journals, correspondence, and writings, his service with the Connecticut Anti-Slavery Society and eleven-year tenure with the American Anti-Slavery Society (A.A.-S.S.). Covering a circuit of at least eleven states in the Midwest, middle-Atlantic region, and his native New England between 1839 and 1850, Hudson recorded, often daily, his experiences organizing local anti-slavery societies: traveling, arranging meetings, attending conventions, raising funds, confronting what was frequently violent opposition, and maintaining contact with supporters of abolition such as William Lloyd Garrison, Sydney Gay, Isaac Hopper, Abby Kelley, Wendell Phillips, Gerrit Smith, Theodore Weld, and Henry Wright.

In some respects the wealth of information contained in Hudson's papers is not easily accessible. His handwriting poses one obstacle; his wife and other correspondents admonish him on this count. In addition, it was characteristic of him, particularly in the early years, to incorporate indiscriminately into a single volume financial records pertaining to the A.A.-S.S., personal financial records, and a faithful record of events, making it difficult for the reader to follow any one of these lines chronologically or thematically. Another factor is the amount of space he devotes to the reiteration of his moral stance, which had also motivated his establishing a boarding school with the Reverend Epaphras Goodman, as well as his temperance work. These problems can be circumvented owing to the contributions to the papers by their donor, Sidney Kaplan. The transcripts Kaplan prepared for most of the collection often include underlining to highlight names, dates, and places. He has also provided identification for many items and fragments, and an invaluable calendar of selected items (filed in the first folder of Box 1). Viewed from another perspective, Hudson's eclectic style offers a sense of immediacy--a vivid account of his daily life and convictions until his participation in the A.A.-S.S. drew to a close (coinciding with the movement's shifting emphasis from evangelism to politics). Samples of the articles Hudson wrote for The Liberator and the Anti-Slavery Standard (Boston and New York, 1837-1849), and The Charter Oak (Hartford, 1838-1841), which he co-edited, must be sought from other sources.

Regarding Hudson's medical career, more material is available from his student years and private practice in Connecticut (e.g., notes, financial and academic records, and letters of recommendation) than from the period beginning in 1850, when he adopted orthopedic surgery as his specialty, becoming a distinguished inventor of prosthetic devices during and after the Civil War. In later years he cultivated an interest in family history and acquired most of the Hudson and Fowler genealogies included in the papers.

The son of Erasmus Darwin and Martha Turner Hudson, E. Darwin Hudson, Jr. (1843-1887), also achieved prominence as a physician, and his papers, 1862-1887, establish his credentials as a surgeon, educator, public health officer, staff physician at several hospitals, and consultant, all in New York City. As such, they tend to include more biographical records (e.g., certificates, letters of award and appointment, and printed materials) than personal papers. Insight into Hudson Jr.'s character can be gathered from his private correspondence, and from a lengthy memorial address, 1887, delivered by a fellow physician, Laurence Johnson.

The Hudson Family Papers contain correspondence, legal and financial records, writings, genealogies, clippings and other printed materials relating to extended family members who may be considered significant in a regional context. Clara Elizabeth Hudson (1880-1963) was a community leader and the last of the Hudsons. Her papers, 1923-1951, and her book of family and local history, Plain Tales from Plainfield, provide several important links within this diverse collection. Samuel Shaw (1790-1869), a physician in Plainfield, MA, his son, Samuel Francis Shaw (b.1833), a surgeon who served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, Charles Lyman Shaw (1842-1902), an educator, and Anne Laura Clarke (1788-1861), who traveled widely as a lecturer on history and who originated many of the Cooke and Clarke family records in the collection, are represented each by fewer than a dozen items. Even less is contained here for Martha Turner Hudson (1806-1887), Laura Shaw Hudson (1846-1921), Darwin Shaw Hudson (1876-1959), Sibyl Catlin Fowler (ca. 1787-1855), Elizabeth Clarke Shaw (ca. 1799-1863), and Stella Augusta Shaw (b. 1835). There is also a folder of unidentified letters, writings and fragments.

The accretion from Arvilla Dyer, 1984, includes Erasmus D. Hudson, Sr. correspondence, 1837-1888; bio-bibliographic materials; journal "1845?"; writings; letters to Martha Turner Hudson. Also additional materials re: Erasmus Darwin Hudson, Jr., Clara Hudson, and Samuel Shaw.

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

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Hudson Family Papers (MS 332). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Sidney Kaplan in 1979. Accretion acquired from Arvilla Dyer, 1984. Copies of related papers were received from the Smith College Sophia Smith Collection, the Forbes Library, and the Northampton Historical Society in 1983.

Processing Information

Processed by Laurie B. Gans, October 1983.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Special Collections and University Archives
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9275

Phone: (413) 545-2780
Fax: (413) 577-1399
Related Materials

Additional Hudson family papers passed from Clara Elizabeth Hudson, either directly or indirectly, to the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, the Forbes Library, the Northampton Historical Society (all in Northampton, Mass.), and the Shaw Memorial Library and Shaw Historical Homestead (Plainfield, Mass.). Photocopies of some of these materials are available in the collection.

Separated Material

The following books have been transferred to the Rare Books stacks:

Barber, John Warner, Historical Collections: Being a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes & c., Relating to the History and Antiquities of Every Town in Massachusetts, with Geographical Descriptions, Illustrated by 200 Engravings. Worcester: Dorr Howland & Co., 1840. Call number: Special Collections F64 B23 1840.

Darby, William, and Theodore Dwight, Jr., A New Gazetteer of the United States of America. Hartford: Edward Hopkins, 1833. Call number: Special Collections E 154 D21 1833.