The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, 1698-1968

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The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers document the history of one extended family over 270 years - eight complete generations. The collection is the property of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation, which operates the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum in Hadley, Massachusetts. The papers were deposited on extended loan in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections in 1980, and are now available for use at Frost Library. With the exception of some fragile original documents, the papers are directly available to researchers and scholars.

To view the online Finding Aid, click here

There are links to the history and significance of the papers, the methods of organization, and a list of individuals with brief biographies that are included in the collection of papers.

A rich source for scholarly research on life in America from the early eighteenth century down to the present, the collection comprises over one hundred linear feet of documents - among them letters, diaries, deeds, and account books - all generated by one extended family. Together these papers provide rare and extraordinary access to the personal and civic lives of this family: the Porters, Phelpses, Huntingtons and their descendants.

Forty Acres was a working farm, its name not a true description of the land under cultivation, which consisted of six hundred acres acquired by its first owner, Moses Porter, and a significant growth in acreage under his son-in-law, Charles Phelps. Subsequent generations produced a number of clergy, lawyers, a sea captain, merchants, factory owners, army officers and doctors. There were artists, writers, publishers, an actress, and numerous housewives, of necessity, multi-skilled. The personal papers from these family members contribute valuable specific information to our understanding of the evolution of American society during the last 250 years. Letters and diaries reveal the significant impact of major events in American history, beginning with the French and Indian War up through the twentieth century. These writings provide scholars a glimpse into personal perspectives on wars, political and economic upheavals, religious revivals, social developments, family relationships, divisions of labor between men and women, as well as the day-by-day domestic life of the family, their servants and slaves.

Global Valley Projects

The American Studies Department at Amherst College is currently engaged in an ongoing effort to transcribe letters from the family Collection. Annotated transcriptions of letters written by Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington to her eleven children are available on their website for public use. Please contact Amherst College Archives and Special Collections to publish or reproduce these materials.