The Thoreau Society Archives

The Thoreau Society is the oldest and largest organization devoted to an American author and is dedicated to promoting Thoreau’s life and works through education, outreach, and advocacy. Established in 1941, The Thoreau Society has long contributed to the dissemination of knowledge about Thoreau by collecting books, manuscripts, and artifacts relating to Thoreau and his contemporaries, by encouraging the use of its collections, and by publishing articles in two Society periodicals. The mission of the Society is to stimulate interest in and foster education about Thoreau’s life, works, and philosophy and his place in his world and ours; to encourage research on Thoreau’s life and writings; to act as a repository for Thoreauviana and material relevant to Thoreau; and to advocate for the preservation of Thoreau Country.


This collection consists of the research collection of The Thoreau Society and materials relating to the corporate history of the Society. The research collection is comprised of donations received over many years, and it includes the following material which may be of special interest:

  • Leaf of “Autumnal Tints” in Thoreau’s hand (First line: “October is the month of painted leaves.”) in Set 383 of the Manuscript Edition of The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, 1906)
  • Leaf of “Moonlight” in Thoreau’s hand (First line: “Why not walk a little way in the light?”)
  • Thoreau survey of Charles Gordon’s Farm (1858)
  • Thoreau letter of 31 July 1849 to Ellen Emerson
  • Thoreau letter of 19 February 1855 to Elizabeth Oakes Smith
  • Thoreau letter of 1 April 1857 to Daniel Ricketson
  • Sophia Thoreau Letters to Mary Anne Dunbar
  • The Correspondence of Francis Allen, relating to the production of the 1906 edition of Thoreau’s works
  • Liakos Ricketson/Guerrier Papers
  • The Parmenter Collection of Ricketson Papers, including letters from Daniel Ricketson to Henry David Thoreau
  • Ricketson/Guerrier Family Correspondence
  • Sewall Family Papers
  • Ward Family Correspondence
  • Photographic or pictorial material in the collection includes daguerreotypes of Henry and Sophia Thoreau and of John Thoreau Sr. as well as images of Concord people and places photographed by Herbert W. Gleason and Alfred W. Hosmer

Related Collections

The Collection is Organized into the following Series

  • Series I. Records of the Society
  • Series II. Publications of the Society
  • Series III. Reference Collections
  • Series IV. Manuscript Collections
  • Series V. Scrapbook
  • Series VI: Clippings Collections
  • Series VII: Books: Search the Library Catalog
  • Series VIII: Photographic and Pictorial Material
  • Series IX: Non-Print Material
  • Series X: Memorabilia/Artifacts/Realia

The Thoreau Society Archives: A Guide to the Collection