Lyman Family Papers, 1839-1942
The descendants of Joseph Lyman (1767-1847) flourished in nineteenth century Northampton, Mass., achieving social prominence, financial success, and a degree of intellectual acclaim. Having settled in Northampton before 1654, just a generation removed from emigration, the Lymans featured prominently in the development of the Connecticut River Valley. A Yale-educated clerk of the Hampshire County courts, Joseph’s descendants included sons Joseph Lyman (an engineer and antislavery man) and Samuel Fowler Lyman (a jurist), and three Harvard-educated grandsons, Benjamin Smith Lyman (a geologist and traveler in Meiji-era Japan) and brothers Joseph and Frank Lyman (both trained in the natural sciences). Consisting of the scattered correspondence and photographic record of three generations of an intellectually adventurous Northampton family, the Lyman collection explores the ebb and flow of family relations, collegiate education, and educational travel in Europe during the mid-nineteenth century, with important content on antislavery and the Free State movement in Kansas. Although the family’s tendency to reuse names (repeatedly) presents a challenge in distinguishing the various recipients, the focal points of the collection include the geologist Benjamin Smith Lyman, his uncle Joseph (1812-1871), cousins Joseph (1851-1883) and Frank, and Frank’s son Frank Lyman, Jr. Antislavery is a major theme in the letters of Samuel F. Lyman to his son Benjamin, and in the letterbook of the Kansas Land Trust, an affiliate of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, of which the elder Joseph was Treasurer.