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Anne Whitney papers

Identifier: MSS-004

Scope and Content

The majority of this collection is made up of Whitney's correspondence with her family, friends, and partner Addy Manning. Other correspondents include contemporary artists, writers, and social activists. Most letters are either to or from Whitney, although some are to her sister Sarah, Manning, and others. The content of the correspondence covers Whitney's personal and professional life, as well as current events and her travels to Europe. There is a small amount of material pertaining to Whitney's finances, including documentation of stock purchases and donation receipts, in addition to three albums of photographs, genealogical information, correspondence relating to the campaign to boycott the slogan "Remember the Maine," manuscript copies of Whitney's poems and a study of French art, and photographs of Whitney's sculptures. Also included are items which belonged to Addy Manning, including her diaries, commonplace books, and engagement books. Biographer and Wellesley alumna Elizabeth Rogers Payne '26 worked with the collection in the 1960s.


  • 1834-1915



Access to fragile and digitized materials may be restricted.


Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by the authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

Anne Whitney (1821-1915) was a poet and sculptor who lived and worked in the Boston area. She was raised in Watertown, the youngest of seven children in a liberal Unitarian family. Whitney ran a small school in Salem from 1846-1848 and published a volume of poetry before turning to sculpture in the late 1850s, studying in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia as well as Italy and France. Whitney took on challenging subject matter; her Africa depicts a woman awakening from the sleep of slavery and her Roma represents the plight of Roman citizens under the papacy. She created a number of busts and statues, most notably Samuel Adams in the United States Capitol, Charles Sumner in Harvard Square in Cambridge, and Leif Erikson on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston. As a philanthropist, Whitney worked for organizations supporting abolition, women's suffrage, and the New England landscape.

Whitney met her longtime partner, the painter Addy Manning (1836-1906), while boarding at Manning's family home in Brooklyn in 1859; they were together until Manning's death.

The Whitney family had ties to Wellesley College. Whitney's mother was invited to the opening of the College and Whitney herself taught here for at least a semester; she was a friend of President Alice Freeman Palmer and her husband George Herbert Palmer, as well as Wellesley professors Eben Horsford and Vida Scudder. Wellesley College owns seven of Whitney's sculptures, including portraits of the Palmers and Horsford, and a bronze cast of Roma; her seated Harriet Martineau was a focal point in College Hall until it was destroyed in the 1914 fire.


12.6 Linear Feet (13 file boxes, 14 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is composed of correspondence to and from Anne Whitney, a poet and sculptor from the Boston area who was active during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Correspondents include her family members, artists and writers, and social activists. The collection also includes business and financial records, poetry, and photographs ofWhitney's work, as well as items belonging to her partner Abby Adeline (or Addy) Manning.


This collection is divided into six series: I. Correspondence ; II. Personal ; III. Business, Charity, and Activism ; IV. Writings ; V. Addy Manning ; and VI. Photographs. The Correspondence series is organized chronologically and alphabetically by correspondent.

Custodial History

The bulk of the correspondence in this collection was willed by Anne Whitney to her friend, writer Olive Tilford Dargan, for eventual publication. Mrs. Dargan, however, was unable to do so and instead gave the papers to Antoinette Rotan Peterson, who gifted them to Wellesley College in 1944. Elizabeth Rogers Payne worked with the collection in the 1960s. During this time, she was allowed to remove documents from the library to facilitate her research. Two scrapbooks listed in a 1960 inventory disappeared after Payne's death.

Acquisition Information

The papers were a gift of Antoinette Rotan Peterson to the Wellesley College Library in 1944. Accruals have been made to the collection.

Related Materials

Wellesley College Special Collections holds both editions of Anne Whitney's poetry. In addition, the Davis Museum holds seven of her sculptures. Archives also houses the typescript of Elizabeth Rogers Payne's unpublished biography of Anne Whitney.

Processing History

An inventory of the collection was completed in 1960 by Whitney biographer Elizabeth Rogers Payne. The organization she created was largely kept intact in the current arrangement. This is most notable in the separation of alphabetical and chronological correspondence. Numerous notes were added to the collection, most of which have now been removed. Payne's notations on the original documents remain.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Chrissy Hartman, under the guidance of Jane A. Callahan, Spring 2012.
Anne Whitney papers, 1834-1915: a guide.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository