Skip to main content

Hamlin Family Papers

Identifier: SpC MS 0219

Scope and Contents

The Hamlin family papers consist primarily of the personal, political and business papers of Hannibal Hamlin, his sons Charles, Cyrus, Hannibal E., and Frank Hamlin, Charles Hamlin's son, Charles E. Hamlin and his wife, Myra Sawyer Hamlin, and their daughter, Louise Hamlin. The collection also includes papers of Hannibal Hamlin's brother, Elijah L. Hamlin and his son, Augustus C. Hamlin, as well as photographs, and materials about other family members.

The papers of Hannibal Hamlin and his descendants were acquired by Fogler Library in a series of gifts from Louise Hamlin in 1963-1965. A few materials were also purchased as they became available. The papers of Elijah L. Hamlin and Augustus C. Hamlin were acquired as a gift from Mrs. Elinor Hamlin Waid, wife of Jesse E. Waid, Esq. in 1965. A portion of the collection, mostly the correspondence of Hannibal Hamlin, was microfilmed by Columbia University in the 1960's; this microfilm is also available at Fogler Library (Microfilm H181). At some point after the collection's arrival at the Library, a detailed card index to a majority of the correspondence was prepared by Library staff. The index lists each letter alphabetically by surname of sender; a brief synopsis of the content of many letters is also provided. In addition, a chronological index is available for the years 1800 through 1866.

The collection is arranged in eleven series: I. Papers of Hannibal Hamlin; II. Papers of Ellen Emery Hamlin; III. Papers of Charles Hamlin; IV. Papers of Cyrus Hamlin; V. Papers of Hannibal E. and Frank Hamlin; VI. Papers of Charles E. Hamlin; VII. Papers of Myra Sawyer Hamlin and Louise Hamlin; VIII. Hamlin family photographs; IX. Papers of Elijah L. Hamlin; X. Papers of Augustus Choate Hamlin; and XI. Ancillary materials. Some of the series have several sub-series.

The series outline and description which follows lists the major types of papers to be found in each series and sub-series.

Series Outline and Description

Series I: Papers of Hannibal Hamlin

Subseries 1: Correspondence

The largest sub-series, correspondence, is a mixture of political and personal and begins with incoming letters, 1840's-1891. Correspondents include James G. Blaine, Jacob Brinkerhoff, Salmon P. Chase, Neal Dow, William Pitt Fessenden, Preston King, Thomas B. Reed, William H. Seward, and Israel Washburn, Jr. The correspondence also includes many letters from Hamlin's father-in-law, Stephen Emery, and his son, Charles Hamlin, who was actively involved in his father's business affairs.

The sub-series also includes outgoing correspondence from Hannibal Hamlin, 1828-1891. Hamlin kept no copies of his own letters, but in planning a biography of his father in 1886, Charles Hamlin appealed to recipients of his father's letters to send them to him. The letters included here are those received from that appeal. Considerable correspondence from Hannibal Hamlin can also be found in the papers of Ellen Hamlin, Charles Hamlin and Elijah Hamlin.

Subseries 2: Writings and speeches

This sub-series opens with a few articles written by Hannibal Hamlin, followed by his speeches, both manuscript and printed, arranged in chronological order. The speeches were given during his political life in both Maine and Washington. A few speeches of other politicians are also included here.

Subseries 3: Financial and legal records

This small sub-series contains a daybook, 1833-1849, documents outlining Hamlin's financial and property holdings, bills and receipts, and a copy of his will, 1878.

Subseries 4: Political life

This very small sub-series contains a few notes and lists compiled by Hamlin, some political flyers, and newspaper clippings.

Subseries 5: Records as Collector of Customs

The records included here document Hamlin's brief tenure as Collector of Customs at the port of Boston, and include his commission, 1865, various papers of those seeking positions in the office, and letters and reminiscences about Hamlin's resignation from the post.

Subseries 6: Records as Minister to Spain

Included in this sub-series are letters of appointment to the post, 1881, Hamlin's presentation address, calling cards of various dignitaries, and correspondence, 1882.

Subseries 7: Memorabilia

This sub-series, a mixture of political and personal, includes various tributes to Hamlin, invitations, membership cards, calling cards, Hamlin's writing set and a blotter fragment from his desk.

Subseries 8: Books from library of Hannibal Hamlin

Many books stamped "Library of Hannibal Hamlin" were included with the collection. They are found in this sub-series, arranged alphabetically by author. Many date from the early part of the 19th century and have a strong religious or political tone.

Subseries 9: Materials relating to the death of Hannibal Hamlin

Although Hamlin had been retired from public service for almost ten years, his death in 1891 was the occasion for a great many newspaper articles and resolutions honoring his life. Those materials are gathered in this sub-series.

Subseries 10: Articles and books about Hannibal Hamlin

This sub-series contains a few articles and newspaper clippings written about Hamlin during his lifetime. The majority, however, were written after his death, some on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, others on the dedication of his statue in Bangor in 1927. A Bible presented to Bangor Theological Seminary in 1908 by Ellen Hamlin in honor of Hannibal Hamlin is also included here.

The Special Collections Department at Fogler Library also holds a Spanish vargueno owned by Hannibal Hamlin and a bronze bust of Hamlin, both items given by his descendants.

Series II: Papers of Ellen Emery Hamlin

Subseries 1: Correspondence

This sub-series makes up the largest section of Ellen Hamlin's papers. For the convenience of the user, letters to her from Hannibal Hamlin, 1856-1891, are presented first. He wrote to her often during his frequent absences from home; the letters talk mostly of personal matters, but also outline Hamlin's activities and his frequent desire to return to Maine and his family.

This section of the collection also contains Ellen Hamlin's personal correspondence, 1841-1920, most of it from members of the Emery and Hamlin families or from family friends. More than two hundred letters of condolence on the death of Hannibal Hamlin can also be found here. A small section of correspondence from Ellen Hamlin, 1881-1882, is also included.

Subseries 2: Personal and financial records

Included here are school papers, diaries, and a date book. Also included are a cashbook and account book, plus receipts, 1881-1882, for items purchased in Paris. Ellen Hamlin's scrapbook of obituaries of Hannibal Hamlin is also contained in this section.

Series III: Papers of Charles Hamlin

Subseries 1: Correspondence

Charles Hamlin received letters from his father frequently while the elder Hamlin was away from home. Covering both personal matters and business affairs, this correspondence began while Charles was a student at Bowdoin and continued throughout Hannibal Hamlin's long political career. These letters, 1853-1889, from father to son are arranged first in this sub-series. They are followed by general correspondence to Charles Hamlin, 1853-1911. Included here are personal letters to Charles while at Bowdoin, letters to Charles and Sarah Hamlin from their son, Charles E. Hamlin while away at college, letters from fellow Civil War veterans, business correspondence, etc. A folder of correspondence to Sarah Hamlin, 1855-1911, mostly from her husband and sons, is also included here. A small amount of Charles Hamlin's outgoing business correspondence, much of it from 1904, forms part of this sub-series.

Subseries 2: Bowdoin College material

Charles Hamlin was a student at Bowdoin from 1853 to 1857. Materials from his study there include bills and receipts for expenses, class notebooks of problems, and lecture notes. Also included is a scrapbook he maintained which contains photographs and autographs of classmates, programs, and memorabilia.

Subseries 3: Financial records

This small sub-series contains account books and ledgers, 1857-1910, insurance papers, bills and receipts, and copies of promissory notes, all relating to Charles Hamlin's various business ventures.

Subseries 4: Business records

Charles Hamlin practiced law in Bangor for most of his life and also served as Reporter of Decisions for many years. The records in this sub-series reflect that involvement as well as some of his business ventures. Included are materials involving the legal affairs of his sister, Sarah Hamlin Batchelder, deeds and receipts for family land holdings in the Dakota Territory, accounts and correspondence relating to Charles Hamlin's part-ownership of the ship "Challenger," and correspondence of the Blanchard Slate Mining Company, 1891-1905, of which Charles Hamlin was president and treasurer. Researchers interested in the Blanchard Slate Mining Company should also consult the Stetson Family Papers (MS 480) which contain records for that company as well.

Subseries 5: Miscellaneous personal papers

This sub-series contains records of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association and the Maine Gettysburg Commission, including by-laws, reports of committees, correspondence, bills and receipts, drafts of reports to appear in the Commission's book, reminiscences and accounts of the battle at Gettysburg, and newspaper clippings about the commemoration of the battle.

The sub-series also contains copies of speeches given by Charles Hamlin on various occasions, reports and documents, including a company descriptive book and a company clothing register, from his service in the Civil War, scrapbooks he maintained of anecdotes and reminiscences about his father, as well as newspaper clippings at the time of his death in 1891. Two scrapbooks of clippings, 1896-1911, on politics, local history, public affairs, etc., are also included. The sub-series ends with obituaries and eulogies at the death of Charles Hamlin in 1911, as well as documents about his estate.

Series IV: Papers of Cyrus Hamlin

This small series consists primarily of documents reflecting Cyrus Hamlin's service in the Civil War. It includes volunteer descriptive lists, 1861-1863, giving payment and clothing issued to soldiers in various regiments in which Cyrus Hamlin served, general and special orders, payment received, and correspondence, 1864-1865. It also contains a folder of condolences on the death of Hamlin in 1867.

Series V: Papers of Hannibal E. Hamlin and Frank Hamlin

The papers of Hannibal Hamlin's youngest sons are arranged in one small series. Of particular interest are letters written to them either separately or together by their father when they were children or young men. Also included are small amounts of general incoming correspondence, much of it from their mother, diplomas and school papers, newspaper clippings about each, and memorabilia.

Series VI: Papers of Charles E. Hamlin

This series opens with incoming correspondence, 1885-1916, much of which deals with the publication of Charles E. Hamlin's biography of his grandfather in 1899. The series also contains school papers, a Harvard notebook, and exercises and letters from a correspondence course in playwriting, 1905-1906.

Much of the series is made up of chapter drafts and a manuscript copy of the text of the Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin, published by Charles E. Hamlin in 1899. The series also contains draft copies and revisions of various plays and librettos written by Hamlin, including Geraldine, Nicolette, and others. Obituaries, eulogies, and information about the estate of Charles E. Hamlin complete this series.

Series VII: Papers of Myra Sawyer Hamlin and Louise Hamlin

The papers of Myra Hamlin include an essay she wrote entitled Recollections of my childhood in the 60's, as well as a journal of a European trip, 1873-1874. Also included is incoming correspondence, 1873-1914, much of it from Charles E. Hamlin, and correspondence of Myra Hamlin to Anna Hayford Peirce, 1896-1925. Some financial documents and newspaper clippings complete this part of the series.

The papers of Louise Hamlin include incoming correspondence, 1901-1911, as well as correspondence to Ada Peirce McCormick, 1902-1975. Also included are papers, lectures and exercises from Louise Hamlin's course of study at the Pratt Institute Library School, 1908-1909.

Series VIII: Hamlin family photographs

The series begins with photographs and illustrations of Hannibal Hamlin, arranged chronologically, followed by photographs of Hamlin family homes. Also included are photographs of the Hamlin children and grandchildren. A series of cartes de visite of politicians, perhaps belonging to Hannibal Hamlin, and a series portraying actors and musicians, perhaps belonging to Charles E. Hamlin, finishes out the series.

Series IX: Papers of Elijah L. Hamlin

This series opens with a folder of correspondence, 1844-1866, to Elijah Hamlin from his brother, Hannibal Hamlin. A small section of general correspondence, 1836-1859, as well as various personal account books, 1820-1864, follows. The bulk of the series consists of correspondence and other documents from Elijah Hamlin's tenure with the U.S. Fishery Commission. Correspondence of Commissioners G.G. Cushman, 1855-1858, and John Hubbard, 1859-1860, is also included. Correspondents include Canadian Commissioners John Hamilton Gray, Joseph Howe and Moses H. Perley, as well as U.S. Surveyor Richard Cutts.

Series X: Papers of Augustus Choate Hamlin

This series contains correspondence, hospital inspection reports, mortality statistics, orders and circulars from Augustus Hamlin's work as a surgeon and medical inspector during the Civil War. It includes reports and recommendations on conditions in Union hospitals in Washington, D.C. and Nashville, Tennessee. It also includes medical notes on a variety of subjects and notes from Hamlin's European medical studies.

Series XI: Ancillary materials

This series contains scattered documents of various other members of the Hamlin family, as well as items from the Emery family. It also contains correspondence, 1830-1844, between Dixey W. Thompson and his wife, Sarah Purinton Thompson of Topsham, Maine. The Thompsons were the parents of Sarah Thompson Hamlin, Charles Hamlin's wife. Dixey W. Thompson was a sea captain and the correspondence deals primarily with his sea voyages; also included are family financial accounts and wills. The series ends with miscellaneous material not clearly associated with any one person.


  • Creation: 1802-1975
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1850-1911


Restrictions on Access

Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

Use Restrictions

Rights assessment remains the responsibility of the researcher. No known restrictions.


The collection contains the personal papers and business records of several generations of the Hamlin family of Maine. It centers on the papers of Hannibal Hamlin and his wife, Ellen Emery Hamlin, Hannibal Hamlin's sons, Charles, Cyrus, Hannibal E., and Frank Hamlin, and Charles Hamlin's son, Charles E. Hamlin. It also contains papers of Hannibal Hamlin's brother, Elijah L. Hamlin and Elijah's son, Augustus C. Hamlin.

Hannibal Hamlin was born in 1809 in Paris Hill, Maine, the son of Cyrus and Anna Livermore Hamlin. He was educated at Hebron Academy and studied law in the office of Fessenden and Deblois in Portland. He was admitted to the bar in 1833 and began to practice law in Hampden, Maine. A Democrat, he represented Hampden in the Maine legislature from 1836 to 1841 and then in 1847, serving as speaker for three terms. In 1842 he was elected to Congress, serving from 1843 to 1847. In 1848 he was elected to the U.S. Senate to finish the term of John Fairfield, who had died in office. Hamlin was elected in 1851 for a full term, becoming chairman of the Committee on Commerce. Increasingly dissatisfied with the Democratic Party's policy toward slavery, Hamlin became a Republican in 1856. In that year he was elected governor of Maine; he served only a few weeks as governor, resigning to begin a new term in the Senate. In 1860 he was nominated as Abraham Lincoln's vice-president, serving throughout Lincoln's first term in office. He failed to be re-nominated in 1864, returning to Maine and then acting for a short time as collector of the port of Boston. In 1869 he was re-elected to the Senate, serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and remaining there until 1881. At that time he was appointed by President Garfield as minister plenipotentiary to Spain, serving in that post from 1881 to 1882. After that he returned to Bangor, Maine, spending his last years there.

Hannibal Hamlin was married twice: first to Sarah Jane Emery of Paris Hill in 1833, and after her death in 1855 to her half-sister, Ellen Vesta Emery, in 1856. He and his first wife had four children: George, Charles, Cyrus and Sarah. He had two children, Hannibal E. and Frank, with his second wife. Hannibal Hamlin died on July 4, 1891. Ellen Hamlin died in 1925.

Hannibal Hamlin's son George was born in 1835 and died in 1844. His second son Charles, whose papers make up a major portion of the collection, was born in 1837 in Hampden. A lawyer, businessman and soldier, Charles Hamlin was in constant contact with his father and managed his affairs in Maine while the elder Hamlin was in Washington. He attended the Hampden, Bethel and Bridgton Academies and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1857. After reading law with his father, he was admitted to the bar in 1858, beginning a practice in Orland, Maine. During the Civil War he served with various Maine regiments, was Assistant Adjutant-General on the staff of Major-General Hiram G. Berry, fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, and left the service in 1865 as a Brigadier-General of Volunteers. Following the war, he resumed his law practice in Bangor, served as city solicitor, 1867, as U.S. Register in Bankruptcy, 1868-1878, and as U. S. Commissioner, 1867-1911. He was also Reporter of Decisions of the Maine Supreme Court, 1888-1905; in this position he edited volumes 81 to 98 of the Maine Reports, writing headnotes for many of the cases. Considered an authority on bankruptcy and insolvency law, he was the author of a book on the insolvency laws of Maine. He was the representative from Bangor in the Maine Legislature in 1883 and 1885, serving as speaker in the second term. He was active in the formation of loan and building associations, served as president of Eastern Maine General Hospital in Bangor, and was a trustee of the Penobscot Savings Bank. He was also president of the Blanchard Slate Mining Company and was part owner, along with Edwin H. Thompson, of the ship "Challenger" of Bath. He chaired the executive committee of the Maine Gettysburg Commission and was instrumental in the publication of its report, Maine at Gettysburg, in 1898. He was also active in the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, which was formed in 1864 to preserve the battleground and to make provision for the commemorative monuments to be erected there.

Charles Hamlin married Sarah P. Thompson of Topsham, Maine, in 1880, and they had four children: Charles Eugene, Addison, Cyrus, and Edwin T. Hamlin. Sarah Thompson Hamlin died in 1905, and Charles Hamlin died in 1911.

The papers of Hannibal Hamlin's third son, Cyrus Hamlin, are also found in this collection. Cyrus Hamlin was born in 1839 in Hampden, Maine. He was educated at the Hampden Academy and studied at Waterville College (now Colby College), Waterville, Maine. He was admitted to the bar in 1860 and practiced law for a year in Kittery, Maine. He entered military service in 1862, joining the staff of Gen. John C. Fremont. Cyrus Hamlin was among the first to advocate enlisting African-American troops in the Union Army and was the first appointed from Maine to command a regiment of these troops, the 80th United States Colored Troops. He commanded this regiment in battles in Louisiana and at the fall of Port Hudson. After the war he stayed in Louisiana, practicing law in New Orleans and taking a role in public affairs of the Reconstruction period. He died of yellow fever in New Orleans in 1867.

Hannibal Hamlin's youngest sons, Hannibal E. and Frank Hamlin, are also represented in the collection. Hannibal E. Hamlin was born in Hampden in 1858. He was educated in the Bangor public schools, graduated from Colby College in 1879 and from Boston University Law School in 1882. He was admitted to the bar in 1883 and began practicing law in Ellsworth, Maine, in the firm of Hale and Emery, which became Hale and Hamlin shortly thereafter. Hannibal E. Hamlin was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1893 and 1895, serving as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 1895. He also served as Judge Advocate General on the staff of Maine Governor Llewellyn Powers, 1897-1904, was in the Maine Senate, 1899-1901, serving as president of the Senate in 1901, was attorney general of Maine, 1905-1908, and president of the Maine Bar Association, 1923-1924. Hannibal E. Hamlin was unmarried and died in 1938.

Frank Hamlin was born in Bangor in 1862, the youngest son of Hannibal and Ellen Hamlin. He was a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, N.H., of Harvard, class of 1884, and of Boston University Law School in 1888. After graduating from Harvard, he spent a year in the offices of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company in Chicago and returned there after graduating from law school to form the law partnership of Hamlin and Holland. He became active in Republican party politics and was Assistant Corporation Counsel for Chicago, as well as chief attorney for the Sanitary District. Frank Hamlin was unmarried and died in 1922.

The collection also contains the papers of Charles Eugene Hamlin, son of Charles and Sarah Hamlin and grandson of Hannibal Hamlin. Charles E. Hamlin was born in Bangor in 1861. He attended the Bangor schools, graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and from Harvard in 1884. A talented composer and playwright, he wrote songs, operas and plays which were performed in Bangor and other places to considerable success. He lived in New York, where he worked for the New York Tribune in varying positions, including music and theater critic. He also worked for the New York Press and was managing editor of the State, a newspaper in Albany, New York. He later returned to New York to edit the periodical School, "a weekly devoted to the interests of school teachers." He was also the author of a biography of his grandfather, The Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin, published in 1899.

Charles E. Hamlin married Myra Sawyer in 1886, and they had one daughter, Louise Hamlin. Charles E. Hamlin died in 1921.

Myra Hamlin, whose small group of papers is contained in the collection, was a writer born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1856, the daughter of Frederick Adolphus and Delia Case Sawyer. The family lived in Charleston, South Carolina both before and after the Civil War, and Frederick Sawyer served in various government positions during Reconstruction. Myra Sawyer married Charles E. Hamlin in 1886 and published her first book, A Politician's Daughter, in that year. She also wrote a five-volume set of girls' books, the Nan series, between 1896 and 1908. In 1909 she was the author of a privately-printed book, Eleazer Hamlin and his Descendants: Their Homes. In addition, she worked with her husband at School magazine, reviewed books, and gave lectures on art and literature. She died in New York City in 1927.

Louise Hamlin, the daughter of Charles E. and Myra Sawyer Hamlin and the donor of large portions of the collection, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1886. She grew up in Bangor, attended high school there and later studied at the Pratt Institute Library School in Brooklyn. She worked for a time at the Bangor Public Library and also at the New York Public Library. She spent her summers at Hancock Point and lived in Bangor in later life. Louise Hamlin died in 1980.

The collection also contains papers of Elijah Livermore Hamlin and his son Augustus Choate Hamlin. Elijah Hamlin, the eldest brother of Hannibal Hamlin, was born in 1800 in Livermore, Maine. He was a lawyer, businessman and historian. After graduating from Brown University, he studied law and set up a practice in Waterford, Maine and then moved to Columbia, Maine. He settled in Bangor in 1835 and lived there for the rest of his life. Active in politics, he ran for governor of Maine in 1848 and 1849, served in the legislature and was elected mayor of Bangor in 1851 and 1852. He was appointed commissioner of the U.S. Fishery Commission by President Lincoln and served from 1860 to 1866. He was also president of the Bangor Savings Bank and the Penobscot Mutual Insurance Company. Known for his scientific and historical research, he was the discoverer in 1820 of Mt. Mica in Paris, Maine. Elijah Hamlin died in 1872.

Augustus Choate Hamlin was born in 1829 in Columbia, Maine, the son of Elijah L. and Eliza Choate Hamlin. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1851 and from Harvard Medical School in 1857. After studying in Europe for two years, he returned to Bangor to practice medicine. In April, 1861, he entered the Civil War as assistant surgeon of the Second Maine, was promoted in 1862 to brigade surgeon, and in 1863 became a medical inspector. He was assigned to the Department of Washington, the Army of the South, and the Department of the Southwest. He was mustered out in December, 1865, and returned to Bangor to resume his practice. He was mayor of Bangor in 1879 and 1880 and served as Surgeon-General of Maine from 1882 to 1886. He made a study of minerals, especially tourmalines, and owned a quarry on Mt. Mica. Augustus Hamlin died in 1905.


32 boxes

13 boxes (index cards)

Language of Materials



The Hamlin family papers consist primarily of the personal, political and business papers of Hannibal Hamlin, his sons Charles, Cyrus, Hannibal E., and Frank Hamlin, Charles Hamlin's son, Charles E. Hamlin and his wife, Myra Sawyer Hamlin, and their daughter, Louise Hamlin. The collection also includes papers of Hannibal Hamlin's brother, Elijah L. Hamlin and his son, Augustus C. Hamlin, as well as photographs, and materials about other family members.

Conservation Note

The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes, and photographs have been housed in polypropylene sleeves.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Hamlin Family Papers came to the Special Collections Department, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine in two major gifts: papers of Hannibal Hamlin, Ellen Hamlin and their descendants were given by Louise Hamlin in 1963-1965; papers of Elijah L. Hamlin and Augustus C. Hamlin were given by Mrs. Elinor Hamlin Waid in 1965. Additional items have been acquired by gift or purchase.

Existence and Location of Copies

A portion of this collection was microfilmed by Columbia University (New York, NY) and is available through other libraries. See the WorldCat catalog for more information,, accessed Nov. 8, 2022.

Guide to the Hamlin Family Papers
Box And Folder List Available
June 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States