Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Hudson Family Papers
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.
This collection is organized into seven series: